Be kind. Be brave. Be yourself.

"Be kind. Be brave. Be yourself."

Rui Si Theresa Goh of Singapore, a self-described "a queer, disabled, paralympic medalist athlete", discussed the challenges of coming out and her desire to support a more inclusive society.

Goh won a bronze medal for swimming at the Rio Paralympics. 

From the UN: Several UN Experts and Special Rapporteurs, including Vitit Muntarbhorn, the Independent Expert on sexual orientation and gender identity, issued a statement urging officials in Honduras to combat violence against human rights defenders. The statement was released following targeted attacks against LGBT human rights activists, including the attempted murder of Osmin David Valle Castillo, program manager at the Center for LGBTI Development and Cooperation.

The UNDP has published "Advancing the Human Rights and Inclusion of LGBTI People: A Handbook for Parliamentarians" to provide practical information, tools, and resources to support governments to undertake the activities needed to promote the rights and inclusion of LGBTI people.

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HIV, Health, and Wellness: In Indonesia, a crackdown on gay and transgender individuals has forced some NGOs to shut down HIV awareness campaigns and mobile testing clinics in fear that the groups will be targeted by officials. Meanwhile, in Nigeria, a police raid of a private party led to the arrest of 70 men for allegedly engaging in homosexual acts. Sources from the event claim the party was being held to promote HIV counseling and testing. 

In the UK, a group of researchers, clinicians, and biotech have worked together to introduced the country’s first HIV test vending machine at The Brighton Sauna, the largest gay sauna in southeast England. 

A study from Malawi found that gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men who live in rural areas are more likely to be HIV positive than those who live in large cities.

The Philippines Department of Health approved a new trial to bring PrEP to more trans women, gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men. This past May the Department recorded the highest ever monthly figure of new HIV cases since the country began recording in 1984. 

On his blog, Sexual Observer, Antón Castellanos interviews people about their experiences using PrEP and how to negotiate safer sex. 

In the US, insurance group United Healthcare caused public outcry after a company letter went viral that denied a patient coverage of PrEP medication Truvada due to his  “high-risk homosexual behavior”. United issued a public apology and noted the PrEP policy would be changed “effective immediately”.

UK author Topher Gen discussed how the pressure within the gay community to have ‘perfect’ physiques leads to body dysmorphia and eating disorders among LGBTI people. The UK’s first openly gay Rugby referee Nigel Owens revealed his own struggle with bulimia

Support group Sexual Minorities Uganda launched a 24 hour hotline for LGBTIQ people, friends, and family impacted by intimate partner violence.

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From the World of Politics:  The Parliament of Pakistan is reviewing its first ever bill to protect the rights of transgender persons noting that, “transgender persons constitute one of the most marginalized and disadvantaged communities in the country”. Meanwhile, the General Assembly of Uruguay is considering several bills to support trans citizens, including a pension fund that will pay those born before 1975 to compensate for mistreatment.

The Senate of Haiti passed a bill that bans “public demonstration of support for homosexuality” and criminalizes participants and “accomplices” to same-sex marriage ceremonies. Charlot Jeudy, president of a local LGBTI support group, warned that “This text divides our society, it reinforces prejudices and discrimination.” 

The South Korean government announced that it is reviewing laws that punish soldiers for homosexual activity in response to UN recommendations on the rights of gay soldiers. Although gay male Koreans must fulfill the country’s two-year mandatory army requirement, the Military Criminal Act currently punishes homosexual activity with up to two years in prison. 

In the US, reports emerged that the White House quietly issued “A Guidance Policy for Open Transgender Service Phase Out”. Meanwhile, Senators across party lines and policy experts have warned that the trans military ban will "degrade readiness” and could cost the US $960 million. Five currently serving trans military personnel have filed a lawsuit against the administration.

More from the World of Politics

The Politics of Union:  Australia’s Liberal-National Coalition voted against holding a Parliamentary vote on marriage equality despite pressure from many MPs and advocates to avoid a public vote, estimated to cost $122 million AUD. The vote will be conducted through a mail-in ballot.

Australian journalist Creatrix Tiara spoke to activists and LGBTQ organizations from across the Asian continent to gauge how the ruling by Taiwan’s Judicial Yuan in May to legalize marriage equality will or will not impact LGBT rights in other countries. 

In South Korea, a coalition of around 300 organizations has formed to object to same-sex marriage and the possibility of constitutional equal rights regardless of sexual orientation. Although gay marriage is not currently permitted in South Korea, coalition members worry that ongoing National Assembly revisions to the constitution could revise gender-related language and bring “confusion” to Korean society.

British and American cruise lines registered in Bermuda that tour the Caribbean will begin to conduct same sex weddings at sea. The move became possible with the Supreme Court of Bermuda’s decision to legalize marriage equality this past May.

For the first time in Nepal, a third gender person has been allowed to register for marriage to their husband. Nepal has no legal protections for same-sex or transgender marriages.  

More from the Politics of Union

Let the Courts Decide:  In Russia, the Pervomaisky District Court ruled against a shop who refused to hire a man due to his “feminine manner of speaking and gestures” that created “an impression” that he is a sexual minority. The shop, which argued that they had the right to fire him under Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law, was fined 30,000 roubles. 

A South African court found guilty a 31-year-old man for the murder of a 16-year-old gay school boy from Potchefstroom city. Chairperson of Action For Social Justice International, Thabiso Mogapi wa Tsotetsi, said the ruling should “send a strong message” that the LGBT community should be respected. Mamba Online reports that the city has been the site of several recent attacks against alleged gay and lesbian people.

A US court has issued a landmark settlement of $440,000 in favor of an intersex child who underwent genital surgery as an infant while in the care of South Carolina’s Department of Social Services. The child’s adoptive parents sued the State, the hospital system, and the surgeons who performed the medically unnecessary surgery which, they say, has left the child with psychological and physical trauma. 

More from the Courts

Winds of Change:  A new Pew Research Center survey of US Muslims found that Muslim-Americans’ views of homosexuality have positively changed more than any other surveyed group—52% now believe homosexuality should be accepted by society, up from 27% in 2007. 

Following the German Parliament’s June vote to legalize same-sex marriage, journalist Matt Baume talked to activists about the next issues most important to the community, including health care, gender and ethnic inclusion, and asylum for queer refugees. 

In the UK, the London borough of Tower Hamlets is requiring that all potential companies looking to redevelop the historic Joiners Arm pub site must include sustaining an LGBT focused venue for a minimum of 12 years. The borough council added the requirement to support the community which has seen 58% of LGBT venues closed over the last decade. 

Jamaican obstetrician Michael Abrahams wrote an op-ed for the Jamaican Gleaner that presents a lengthy argument in favor of repealing the country’s “Buggery Law” and states:

The buggery law is archaic and inequitable, has no justifiable reason to exist, and ought to be repealed. In the meantime, there should be organized efforts to educate the populace on human sexuality and safe sexual practices, free of religious bias.

As Canada continues to celebrate Pride, the CBC spoke to LGBT Quebecers about combating loneliness and finding family through Fierté Agricole, a support group for LGBT+ people interested in agricultural and rural life. 

More from Winds of Change

Fear and Loathing:  A new report from the Russian LGBT Network not only explores the current persecution of LGBTQ in Chechnya and across the region, but also argues that state-sponsored anti-LGBTQ violence reinforces authoritarian ruleby painting LGBTQ people as “Western” outsiders that must be punished. 

The Kuwait moral committee, comprised of representatives from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour, the Ministry of Commerce, the Ministry of Interior, and Kuwait Municipality, announced they have deported 76 alleged gay people and have shut down 22 massage parlors as part of an on-going crackdown. 

From the Nigerian state of Jigawa, police officials announced 15 teenagers have been arrested for beating to death a fellow classmate they suspected to be gay. 

From Ghana, president of the Concern Youth Association described how efforts by politicians to “permanently ban homosexuality in the country” have increased violence and discrimination against LGBT people, including sexual assault and “corrective rape”. 

More from Fear and Loathing

School Days: US author John Paul Brammer revealed the circumstances around his rape and his subsequent fears of acquiring HIV. Brammer discussed how abstinence-only sex education and rules forbidding discussion of sexual orientation at school left him vulnerable and uneducated when faced by a predator.  

The Philippines Department of Health has called on parents to talk to their children about HIV.  Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Ubial urged parents to take children to nearby health facilities if they feel uncomfortable discussing sexuality themselves.

In India, organizers of Queer Pride Keralam used the event to bring attention to issues of bullying, marginalization, and school dropouts—noting that "Almost 68% of the sexual minority individuals in the State are school dropouts."

And from Indonesia, activists warn that young LGBT people are increasingly isolated, routinely bullied by peers, and afraid of being disowned by their parents. King Oey, leader of the Indonesia's largest LGBTI rights group, says that the government crackdown on the community hinders support groups from reaching at risk youth.

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Business and Technology:  From Singapore, Linda Lakhdir of the Human Rights Watch described how over 100 local companies stepped up to support the annual Pink Dot festival after the government banned participation or support by foreign and multinational companies. 

In Cambodia, LGBTI support group Micro-Rainbow organized a series of monthly meetings for LGBTI persons seeking to open small businesses.

Japanese beer company Kirin became the latest in a long list of major Japanese companies to recognize same-sex marriages and provide employee benefits to same-sex spouses. 

More Business and Technology

Sports and Culture: Indian track and field star Dutee Chand’s lawsuit against the International Association of Athletics Federations has reopened as the IAAF claims it has new information to ban female athletes determined to have “naturally high testosterone”. The decision will affect Chand and Olympic champion Caster Semenya who have both been forced to undergo humiliating gender “tests”.  

 Young adult author Victoria Schwab was shocked to learn from readers that her popular Shades of Magic book series was heavily censored when translated into Russian by publishing house Rosmen. Rosmen stated the redactions were necessary to stay in compliance with Russia’s anti-gay propaganda laws.  

US California non-profit RADAR Productions worked with local drag queens to create "Drag Queen Story Hour", an event to promote literacy and provide children the opportunity to meet and interact with queer role models in a safe and positive space. The program has been replicated across the US, South Africa, Australia, Hong Kong, and the UK.  Despite its international success, the program has faced backlash in some areas that have prevented events from taking place. 

With a standing ovation from at the Sundance Film Festival, the independent film Call Me by Your Name is already generating Oscar buzz. The story, based on the award winning novel by André Aciman, tells the "tender" love story of of two young men in 1980s Italy.  Check out the new dynamic trailer

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photo via wazzuppilipinas