«Vous n'aurez pas ma haine» / “You will not have my hatred”
~ Etienne Cardiles in his moving eulogy of his partner Xavier Jugelé, the policeman killed during a terror attack on Champs Elysees.
From the UN: The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released a statement from experts calling for the immediate release and an end to the abuse and persecution of men perceived to be gay in Chechnya. They urged Russian authorities to condemn homophobic speech and to conduct thorough, impartial investigations into all suspected cases of abduction, unlawful detention, torture, and unlawful killing.
The UNDP and the Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institution hosted “Celebrating 10 Years”, a Conference on the Yogyakarta Principles. Over 100 experts from LGBTI civil society groups, human rights institutions, and UN representatives gathered to discuss how the principles have impacted human rights law as a tool for advocacy for sexual and gender minorities.
UNAIDS launched a new effort to map existing tools to address HIV-related stigma and discrimination in health care. With comprehensive sorting capabilities, the database helps stakeholders quickly identify current and past programming. Executive Director Michel Sidibé reiterated that UNAIDS is committed “to addressing the gaps in social justice and inclusion that are precluding efforts to end the AIDS epidemic”.
The the 61st UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) which wrapped up in New York last month is an annual meeting of representatives from Member States, civil society, and the UN to evaluate progress and to negotiate the priorities and recommendations for governments, civil society, and other stakeholders to promote gender equality. Erin Aylward of ARC International reflected on the challenges faced by those working for lesbian, bisexual, trans, and intersex people at this year’s session.
HIV, Health, and Wellness: From the UK, Valerie Delpech of Public Health England confirmed that new HIV diagnoses among gay men dropped “substantially” between 2015 and 2016. Presenting to the British HIV Association (BHIVA) conference, she argued that the change is a result of increased engagement with high-risk individuals and improved testing and treatment-as-prevention.
A meta-analysis of HIV interventions found that face-to-face behavior change interventions have significant impact on reducing condomless sex among HIV-negative gay men. The authors used the results to suggest a framework for behavior interventions that include the latest up-to-date prevention methods, such as PrEP and decisions based on partners’ viral load.
South African group OUT launched a new program to provide free PrEP to gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men. Representatives from the Department of Health, South African NGO Right to Care, the Clinton Health Initiative, and a delegation from Kenya joined the LGBT community to celebrate the country’s third site to provide treatment.
A US study found that nearly all interviewed LGBT patients believe their sexual orientation is relevant to their healthcare and would be willing to disclose it to providers. However, 80% of healthcare providers believed patients would be offended if asked these questions.
Ugandan LGBT advocate Douglas Mathew Mawadri wrote about the “chronic stress and trauma” faced by African human rights workers and reviewed the barriers preventing them from accessing appropriate mental health care.
In Singapore, the Institute of Mental Health has opened a clinic for the transgender community with guidance from LGBT activists on how to best communicate with the community. It is the only known public hospital in Singapore to offer such services.
Using data from Aging with Pride: National Health, Aging, and Sexuality/Gender Study, a new study found that legally married and unmarried partnered LGBT couples over 50 years old reported better quality of life and better health than LGBT individuals not in a relationship.
In Malaysia, some psychiatrists and religious experts are lobbying the Health Ministry to include “Islamic psychospiritual therapy” in the complementary medicine packages available at public hospitals. Proponents claim that Islamic psychospiritual therapy, which involves reading scriptures for healing, can cure many mental and physical ailments, including “LGBT problems.” Speaking at a conference of supporters, Dr Zul Azlin Razali of Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia warned there is not enough rigorous research on the validity of these treatments.
From the World of Politics: India’s Parliament passed the HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Bill that forbids discrimination against people living with HIV when seeking healthcare, education, property rights, and employment. The bill also entitles all HIV-positive people free treatment “as far as possible” by the government. Some advocates warn that the bill has left loopholes that allow local governments from adhering to the requirements.
The Government of Guyana announced it will hold a future referendum to determine if laws criminalizing homosexuality should be reformed. The announcement came as a response to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) session evaluating Human Rights Violations against Young Persons in Guyana. Two local LGBT activists groups who participated in the session responded to the proposal, noting that it falls far short of the specific and practical recommendations that could immediately protect LGBT youth from violence and discrimination.
Germany’s Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party nominated openly gay international businesswoman Alice Weidel as the far-right’s candidate for the general election to the parliament.
The French presidential race has come down to centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron and far-right candidate Marine Le Pen. Macorn, who founded his own party to run for election, has been relatively silent on LGBTI issues though he recently published an open letter to the LGBTI community promising to tackle discrimination and violence through education, legislation, and ending impunity for those that break the law. Meanwhile, Le Pen’s Front National party has a history of anti-LGBT sentiment, and she has promised to repeal marriage equality.
Journalist Michael Segalov explored why some gay men, including activists, support conservative candidates like Le Pen across Europe and the US.
The Parliament of Tasmania issued an official apology to those impacted by laws criminalizing homosexuality, which were repealed in 1997. Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman said he supports legislative action to expunge the convictions of homosexual activity and cross-dressing.
In Japan, Osaka city officials formally granted the first same-sex couple the right to be foster parents and recognized as a single household. Previously, a couple in the Kantō region were allowed to register independently as guardians for the same child. Advocates say that although there is no specific law forbidding same-sex couples from becoming parents, LGBT applicants are routinely turned away.
The Politics of Union: Taiwan's highest court, the Judicial Yuan, announced it will publish the ruling on the constitutionality of banning same-sex marriage on 24 May. Ahead of the historic decision, a backlash against LGBT people has emerged, pitching the rights of LGBT against “traditional Chinese culture”. Speaking at an international forum on gender equality, Vice-President Chen Chien-jen said he believes that the Taiwanese people will be wise enough to resolve their differences.
In Northern Ireland, leaders of the Democratic Unionist Party are threatening to split the party if it accepts the Sinn Féin party’s demands for marriage equality. DUP member and former Health Minister Jim Wells said they will prevent a civil forum on marriage as that led to a successful referendum on the issue in the Republic: “We will strangle that idea at birth if that's what it's going to bring.”
In the US, the states of Alabama, Michigan, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas have introduced a variety of bills meant to undermine the legality of same-sex marriages within the states. Although an outright rejection of marriage equality (North Carolina) did not move forward, legislation to adhere to gender-specific terms such as husband/father (Tennessee), to allow religious practitioners to refuse to conduct a wedding (Michigan), to allow officials to ‘recuse’ themselves of issuing marriage licenses (Texas), and to eliminate marriage licenses all together and force each couple to seek approval to marry by a judge (Alabama) have all moved forward.
Let the Courts Decide: US courts continue to split on issues impacting the LGBT community. While the Nebraska Supreme Court condemned the state for attempting to reinstate a ban against LGBT people acting as foster parents or adopting children, Alabama has passed a bill allowing adoption and foster care agencies to refuse LGBT people based on their religious beliefs. Meanwhile, the Washington State Supreme Court overturned a ruling that allowed sexual orientation to be considered when granting child custody rights.
The US Second Court of Appeals ruled that laws preventing ‘sex discrimination’ in the workplace do not include sexual orientation, thus allowing employers to discriminate against lesbian, gay, and bisexual employees. The decision contradicts the US Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruling last month. Meanwhile, the District Court of Illinois ruled that a church is legally allowed to fire employees based on their sexuality due to religious exemptions in civil rights laws.
In Jamaica, several transgender women were arrested for entering a women’s only area of the University of the West Indies. The group said that they had been invited for a Transgender Awareness event. Although arresting officers were not swayed, Chief Parish Judge Judith Pusey accepted the defense and has scheduled a trial for review.
In Nigeria, 53 people were arrested for “unlawful assembly and belonging to a gang of unlawful society” and accused of conspiring to celebrate ‘gay wedding’, though representatives say the young people were arrested at a birthday party. The Magistrates’ Court of Kaduna State released the group on bail pending a hearing.
Fear and Loathing: According to reports, the crackdown on gay men in Chechnya continues, and at least 100 men have been arrested and three killed. Officials have denied there is any official policy targeting gay people, whom they say “don’t exist” in the region. Elena Milashina, the Novaya Gazeta reporter who first broke the story, has gone into hiding after receiving death threats. Meanwhile, the Russian LGBT Network has set up emergency shelters and has helped several young men escape and reach medical treatment for their injuries.
Around the world, people descended on local Russian Embassies and Consulates to protest the action in Chechnya. Carrying pink triangles in remembrance of the Nazi symbol for homosexuality, supporters marched across London, Amsterdam, Madrid, Santiago, and many other cities. A demonstration in St Petersburg, Russia was broken up by police and around 10 protesters carrying Chechen and rainbow flags were arrested.
Although Indonesia does not have laws criminalizing same-sex activity, police raided two hotels rooms in the city of Surabaya and detained 14 men for allegedly having a “gay party”. Eight were charged under local anti-pornography laws.
The Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees (IRQR) report that police raided a private party and violently arrested over 30 allegedly gay teens and young adult men. IRQR said that the prisoners have been assigned a special prosecutor and will undergo ‘anal examinations’.
From Canada, prisoners spoke out about the violence LGBT people face while incarcerated. One gay aboriginal man suggested a separate facility would allow prisoners to focus on self-improvement instead of only survival. Turkey and Thailand have both experimented with special facilities for LGBT prisoners.
In South Korea, the Military Human Rights Center for Korea claims that the military has conducted a nationwide investigation using phone records and gay dating apps to identify soldiers suspected of violating the Military Criminal Act which forbids same-sex intimacies among the military.
Five British lesbians were attacked by a gang of 15 men outside of a pub in Portsmouth, UK.
In the US, Floridian Chay Reed is the ninth transgender woman of color to be murdered this year. Although lack of data and under-reporting make analysis difficult, the Human Rights Campaign says a conservative estimate shows that US trans women face 4.3 times the risk of being murdered than other women.
From El Salvador, charity Astrans LGBTI described the increasing demand for services as trans people are targeted by gang members, verbally and sexually harassed in the street, and even attacked by authorities. According to trans advocacy group Colectivo Alejandría, an average of 16 trans people are killed every year in the country.
In the Name of Religion: The Church of Scotland will hold a debate during the General Assembly to discuss whether ministers will be allowed to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies. Additionally, the Theological Forum is asking the Assembly to consider making an apology to the gay community for failing “to value, encourage, and support gay people in its pews”.
In Ireland, the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, used his Good Friday and Easter sermons to criticize the Catholic Church for being a “religion of fear” and for the “judgmental and hurtful” treatment of misjudged groups, including gay and lesbian people.
In Barbados, as local LGBT advocacy groups continue to fight against violence and discrimination, including life imprisonment for ‘buggery’, they are facing increasing pressure from North American Christian fundamentalists and the World Congress of Families.
Winds of Change: Amsterdam hosted the Fourth International Intersex Forum with representatives from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, Post-Soviet countries, North America, and Oceania. Participants discussed global issues, medical care, and how to build capacity and support youth, among other topics.
Dutch LGBT advocacy group COC Netherlands released a new video and guide that explains the European Union “LGBTI guidelines” and how LGBTI groups can access support from EU Member States and diplomats.
The UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) released findings which, for the first time, includes self-identified lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. Using data from three years of the Annual Population Survey and interviews with 560,000 individuals, the county-by-county mapping found that the number of LGB people is higher than expected in some rural areas.
Indonesian transgender women spoke to correspondent Adam Harvey about how they survive in the face of discrimination. In Rwanda, several LGBT people spoke to journalist Hamada Elrasam about how they survived a violent backlash against the community. And from Yemen, journalist Maria de la Guardia spoke to a gay Christian man about surviving persecution in a city overrun by Al Qaeda.
Cameroonian lawyer and human rights activist Michel Togué explored the history of homosexuality in Africa and presented a thorough argument for the continent to abandon colonialist laws that criminalize lesbian and gay people.
In their op-ed, Luka 林-Cowley announces “I am afakasi, queer, trans, autistic, and fa’atama.” Of Samoan descent, Luka describes how they have come to understand their own gender and sexual identity.
Australian Quinn Jean drew attention to the ableism and exclusionary behavior of some queer communities that regularly organize in venues inaccessible to people with limited mobility, lack interpreters for deaf and hard of hearing, and fail to address disability politics.
Nominees for the prestigious Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders were announced. Among the three finalists is LGBTI activist Karla Avelar, an El Salvadoran HIV-positive trans woman who has survived extreme violence and continues to work on both local and international platforms to fight injustice.
On the March: Human Rights Watch issued a statement urging Spanish authorities to move LGBT asylum seekers from the country’s Centro de Estancia Temporal de Inmigrantes (CETI) housing center. CETI is located in Ceuta, a Spanish territory in Northern Africa. After visiting the center, Human Rights Watch noted that it is overcrowded and that LGBT residents suffer abuse from fellow asylum seekers.
School Days: he Global Alliance for LGBT Education (GALE) filed a protest to UNESCO for scheduling the international “Youth and their Social Impact” forum in Saudi Arabia. Due to laws criminalizing homosexuality, GALE warned that it is not safe for LGBT youth to attend and that the forum could be legally unable to discuss LGBT issues.
Ireland’s Minister for Children and Youth Affairs announced the country will develop the world’s first “LGBTI+ National Youth Strategy” through public consultations with experts and young people between 15 and 24-years-old.
In Australia, the government of New South Wales and Tasmania announced they will no longer fund Safe Schools, the anti-bullying program to protect LGBTI students. The program became a controversial political topic with strong opposition from the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL). As government support for Safe Schools has drifted, the ACL is now lobbying policy makers to stop financing comprehensive sex education abroad.
In the US, students around the country participated in a Day of Silence. Started in 1996 by university students, the daylong vow of silence protests the “silencing effects of anti-LGBTQ name-calling, bullying, and harassment in schools”. Meanwhile, the first comprehensive report on US laws and policy protections for vulnerable trans and gender non-conforming youth was published. It found that although this group is overrepresented in child welfare, juvenile justice, and homeless shelters, nearly all US states have little or no explicit protection for them.
A survey of Armenian LGBT students found that over 80% respondents have experienced harassment and violence at school.
After Japan revised its national bullying policy to include LGBT students, many advocates hoped the 10-year national curriculum review would include comprehensive sexuality education and LGBT issues. The Ministry of Education has determined not to include these topics in the new curriculum because they are not yet accepted by the public. Human Rights Watch argues, “This is patently untrue.”
New Zealand’s Ministry of Youth Development handed out the 2017 Youth Awards, including the Change Maker Award to four young LGBTI leaders for creating safe spaces, training peers, and reporting on LGBTI issues.
Business and Technology: The UK launched the “Online Hate Crime Hub” which includes specially trained Met police who will track online hate crimes and provide support for victims located in London.
Some Russian business owners are using social media to organize a campaign to forbid LGBT customers from entering their shops.
The Taiwanese government appointed child software prodigy Audrey Tang to help push the Digital National Plan to build the tech economy. Tang is the first transgender official in the Executive Yuan, the executive branch of the government. Tang describes herself as “post-gender or post-genre, meaning that I don't think there should be things that only one gender should do”.
In the US, the National Basketball Association (NBA) announced a new partnership with the advocacy group National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC). The partnership will help LGBT-run businesses obtain contracts as suppliers and service providers at major sporting events. NGLCC president Justin Nelson noted it’s just “smart business” and that diversity of opinion, product, and audience creates a better, more productive and profitable atmosphere.
Sports and Culture: The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) fined the football governing bodies of Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico for failing to stop fans from shouting homophobic chants.
Venezuelan artist Daniel Arzola talked to Gay Star News about how surviving a vicious attack as a child inform the ‘artivism’ he makes today and how Madonna changed his life by tweeting her appreciation of his work.
The US television Emmy Awards have allowed gender non-binary actor Asia Kate Dillon to choose which gender category they will compete in this year. Dillon, who identifies as neither male or female, chose to be represented in the Best Supporting Actor category as ‘actor’ is originally a non-gendered term that can apply to any performer.
In India, the Kerala State Sports Council held the country’s first ever state-level sports meet for transgender athletes. To encourage participation, athletes were invited early to train with coaches sensitized in how best to work with trans individuals.
When 23-year-old Russian violinist Artem Kolesov posted his coming out to Дети-404, LGBT support group Children-404, he took the unusual step of showing his face. Kolesov, currently studying in Chicago, knew his video could be considered in violation of Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law if he returns home, but wanted to share his story to give other kids hope.
Germany photographer Lia Darjes’s series “Being Queer. Feeling Muslim” showcases the “struggles and joys in life” of LGBTQ Muslims living throughout Europe and North America
In the US, conservative media has blasted popular Bill Nye “the Science Guy” for his short cartoon that uses talking ice-cream cones to explain that there are “lots of flavors to sexuality”. Check out the clip—if you’re not offended by a little ice cream on ice cream fun.
Check out the new podcast Food 4 Thot, a roundtable discussion from multiracial queer writers talking about sex, relationships, race, and identity—or, as they say, “a delectable meal of brain food and junk food”.
Finally, watch this short video celebrating Digital Pride Week from HIV/AIDS advocacy network M-Coalition as people in the Middle East and North Africa talk about what makes them proud.