“Why is the government telling women what they can and cannot do, perpetuating harmful stereotypes about women’s role in society as being that of a mother and caretaker?”
~ Polina Andrianova, director of Coming Out, on the Russian laws that prohibit women from working jobs that are "too dangerous".
From the UN: The WHO held the Sixth High-level Meeting of Small Countries in San Marino. Delegates from Andorra, Cyprus, Iceland, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, San Marino, Estonia, Latvia, and Slovenia met to discuss health issues on the theme “Equity and sustainable development – keeping people at the centre”. Among the highlights was praise for Malta’s legislation for transgender healthcare—a set of policies that support both the physical and psychological wellbeing of trans people of all ages. In January, Malta’s Ministry of Health released “Transgender Healthcare”, a document created with a multi-disciplinary team of health and social care professionals after nearly a year of in-depth discussions with trans people, civil society organizations, and LGBTIQ activists.
The UNDP and Asks Insights hosted the Future Fluent Global Summit, an international conference on integrating diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. Over 400 business leaders and humanitarian experts came to New Delhi, India to consider strategies and “big-picture trends” that will impact the future. Some of the highlights discussed included new training interventions, mentorship programs, and establishing an LGBTQ friendly organizational culture.
The UN Office in Armenia issued a statement urging local authorities to investigate abuse against LGBT people. The European Union and embassies of EU Member States in Armenia also released a statement expressing “grave concern” over hate speech and death threats directed at trans rights activist Lilit Martirosyan and others of the LGBT community. Martirosyan recently appeared in the country’s parliament to tell lawmakers about hate crimes experienced by trans people that go unpunished. Eurasianet reported that this was the first time a trans person has spoken in Parliament. The government issued a statement that international partners should “demonstrate more respect and sensitivity” towards Armenian society and refrain from public debate.
HIV, Health, and Wellness: The South African Medical Journal (SAMJ) published a new feasibility study on HIV self-testing in South Africa. The study found that despite high interest among MSM in testing kits, affordability was a significant barrier. Researchers recommended that gay men and other MSM should be provided free or low cost at home HIV testing kits through community based organizations.
The Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), with support from three American universities, hosted “4 Youth by Youth Designation 2019”. The program invited 14 to 25-year-olds to create initiatives that will encourage young people to use HIV self-testing kits. Thirteen entries were selected from over 127 submissions for presentation and further development.
Sexually Transmitted Infections published a new study on PrEP use among black gay men and other men who have sex with men in London. Researchers found that many men were challenged by the intersection of their ethnic background, family history, and religion. These factors often kept them from discussing sex and sexual health with other gay men thereby reducing their exposure to PrEP information.
In Thailand, the "Princess PrEP" program (supported by Her Royal Highness Soamsawali) provides free HIV testing and PrEP at seven community organizations. New analysis of the program published in BMC Public Health found that 37.4% of men and trans women followed for 13 months had low adherence to the program. Younger people were statistically more likely to have low adherence than other participants. Researchers suggested integrating PrEP within the national health service would increase resources and improve initiatives to engage this population.
The Cuban government in collaboration with the Pan-American Health Organization launched a pilot program to distribute PrEP free of charge, as reported by Ganmaand the Washington Blade.
From the UK, Health Protection Scotland released a new report on the National Health Service’s roll out of PrEP. The report called the program a "resounding success" despite several challenges including the lack of public funds, the short time to enact the program, and greater than expected demand.
From the US, research presented at the National HIV Prevention Conference (NHPC) showed that at its current price PrEP is “impossible to scale up”. Truvada is currently 45% more expensive than it was when approved for use in 2012. Using the current list price, they calculated that it currently costs the healthcare system four times the amount that would be considered cost effective.
Despite being the original researchers on the use of Truvada for PrEP, the Washington Post reported that the US CDC does not receive any royalties from Gilead Sciences, the company that distributes the pill. Researcher Thomas Folks identified the effectiveness of this treatment at the CDC using $50 million in federal grants. Gilead, who earned over $3 billion off of Truvada last year ($2.6 billion from US sales), claims the government's patents are no longer valid. Activists say the CDC should force manufacturers to buy a license. They suggest that royalties from Gilead and companies creating generics could pay for programs to promote and fund PrEP.
Writing for Contagion, Laurie Salmon reported that doctors don't always inform patients that “Undetectable = Untransmittable”. Some doctors would rather encourage condom use because of high incidence of other STIs among patients. Others question whether they can be confident of "U=U" in resource-limited settings where competing priorities in life can compromise adherence to medications.
A new Australian study published in JAMA followed 2981 mostly gay and bisexual men taking PrEP. Within a year 48% had been diagnosed with chlamydia, gonorrhea, or syphilis. A subset of 25% accounted for 76% of all STIs. Researchers concluded that men taking PrEP need to have frequent STI testing.
After months of protests by human rights groups, Google has dropped an app from its store that helped people “recover” from same-sex attractions. The app was previously removed from all other major online stores including Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft. Google initially resisted requests to remove the app leading the Human Rights Campaign to remove the company from HRC’s annual Equality Index.
In Australia, the government of the state of Victoria announced a series of funding initiatives to support survivors of conversion therapy. Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews has also announced that the state intends to criminalize the practice.
In Spain, the minister of health, Maria Luisa Carcedo Roces, held a press conference in which she warned that conversion therapy is illegal in the city of Madrid and that those caught practicing could face jail time. The regional government said it was investigating the diocese of Alcala de Henares after an undercover operation suggested that the diocese was running courses to “cure” being gay.
Co-founder of the US-based conversion therapy organization Exodus International, Michael Bussee, spoke to the Daily Beast about why he no longer believes the so-called therapy should be practiced. He and other former leaders are trying to reverse the “terrible emotional and spiritual damage it can cause”:
“When the full extent of what Exodus had done to people hit me, I must have sobbed for days. It was just gut-wrenching. The guilt was overwhelming, crushing guilt. I thought, ‘How am I ever going to deal with this guilt?”
In the US, North Carolina lawmakers have filed a bill to outlaw therapies that aim to “cure” people of their sexuality or gender identity. Massachusetts passed legislation to ban the so-called therapy for minors—becoming the 16th state to do so. The governor of Puerto Rico also banned the practice through executive order after other politicians refused to consider legislation. Meanwhile, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney has introduced a bill to Congress to ban “misleading billing practices” that allow government funding to be used to pay for conversion therapy:
“Until we can just ban conversion therapy altogether, we must ensure taxpayer dollars aren't funding a fraudulent practice that has been roundly discredited by the medical community.”
From Uganda, Kuchu Times Media Group launched a new magazine on mental health and intimate partner violence within the sex worker and LGBTQ communities. Check out the free online version!
From the World of Politics: Brunei put into effect its Sharia Penal Code that punishes adultery and same-sex relations with death by stoning. The Equal Rights Coalition issued a statement signed by 36 member nations that expressed “profound dismay” over the implementation of the code.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called the punishments, which include amputation, public flogging, and an expansion of the death penalty for various crimes, “cruel and inhuman”. She urged the government to reject the laws which she says “seriously breach international human rights law”. Bachelet recalled the Beirut Declaration—a faith-based framework of 18 commitments that incorporate faith and human rights—and noted:
“Human rights and faith are not opposing forces – indeed, it is human interpretation that creates tensions.”
UNAIDS and the UNFPA released a joint statement emphasizing that criminalization “works against the Sustainable Development Goals” and that:
“Evidence shows that where communities are criminalized, they are more vulnerable to violence, less likely to access necessary HIV and other health services, and less able to protect themselves against HIV infection.”
In a letter to UN officials, Brunei’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Erywan Yusof, defended the new laws saying they are designed “to educate, deter, rehabilitate and nurture rather than to punish”—as reported by Reuters.
The South China Morning Post spoke to LGBT activists and Bruneians many of whom said they were less concerned about the punishments—which they doubt will actually be carried out—and more concerned with how the laws use religion to create an environment of acceptable homophobia. Meanwhile, some Islamic groupsand authors have come forward to say that Brunei’s Penal Code does not represent their interpretation of the religion. They emphasize that nowhere in the Quran is there a punishment for homosexuality and point out that the Ottoman Empire decriminalized homosexuality in 1858.
From the US, Reuters reported that the federal government’s new policy preventing trans people from serving openly in the military has gone into effect. Ashley Broadway-Mack, president of the American Military Partner Association, said the ban is a return to “the dark days of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. Using Department of Defense reports, the Palm Center estimated that around 14,700 trans people are serving the military in Active duty and the Selected Reserves. Buzzfeed News reported that four lawsuits remain challenging the policy. While they are being considered, the Supreme Court has said that the ban can go ahead.
In the Ukraine, politicians are increasingly using homophobic and transphobic language in their speeches, as reported by Oleksiy Matsuka for openDemocracy. Last month a women’s march was derailed because politicians focused on the inclusion of a small group of LGBTQ people instead of the larger group’s demands for reform. Matsuka warns that it is “politically more profitable to flirt with the majority of the population which enjoys bad jokes” about LGBTQ people than to “start a real discussion about human rights and European values”:
“The desire to preserve their popularity prevents Ukrainian politicians from solving the real problems of their fellow citizens - a part of whom are cast aside or are forced to follow the “generally accepted” political “norms” of today's Ukraine.”
Israel held its elections with a record five openly LGBT candidates gaining seats in the Knesset to represent the Likud, Labor, and Blue and White parties. According to the Times of Israel, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud party will form a coalition with five other right-wing and ultra-Orthodox parties to retain power and keep him in office. For the first time in 10 years, the Prime Minister met with LGBT activists who hoped to get LGBT rights in the party platform. However, Netanyahu refused, saying the religious members of the coalition prevent him from advancing equality issues.
In Poland, the Law and Justice Party (PiS) has continued to campaign on the idea that LGBT people are a threat to Polish families and a “threat to civilization, not just for Poland but for the entire Europe”. Some party leaders have called for Poland to be a region “Free from LGBT” as reported by the New York Times. Despite the attacks, some LGBT activists feel there is still support for the community. As Maciej Gosniowski described:
“The two wings of society seem to be spreading apart. I have found more support than ever. But also people who are more hateful than ever.”
In Japan, the first openly trans person was elected to a prefectural assembly seat. Ayako Fuchigami will take office in the Hokkaido assembly, Japan’s most northern prefecture. She noted:
“I am representing minority people who face many difficulties every day. I feel the weight of their burden on my shoulders… We just want to live a normal life.”
India began its general elections—a process that lasts five weeks. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) included socio-economic commitments for the transgender community in its platform. Leading opposition party Indian National Congress (Congress) has gone farther, promising to immediately withdraw the controversial “Transgender Bill of 2018” that many trans people have opposed. The Congress manifesto promises to introduce a progressive bill to support equality rights for LGBTQIA+—lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, and other sexual and gender minorities. The party also appointed transgender activist Apsara Reddy to be general secretary of its women’s wing—the party’s first trans office bearer according to DW. Both Congress and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI-M) have promised to advance same-sex marriage.
Reuters reported that at least five trans candidates in India are running for office. Joining politics to “weed out homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia and the politics of hate”, award winning activist Harish Iyer reflected:
"We cannot make [people] understand what queerdom is unless we enter the system. No political party should be in a position to say that they don't know any LGBT person."
In the Australian state of Tasmania, the government passed amendments to the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act that makes gender optional on birth certificates, enables gender recognition without surgery requirements, and allows those aged 16 and up to apply without parental approval. Liberal speaker Sue Hickey noted:
"This is not a win for any particular political party, rather it grants dignity to the transgender community."
Upon taking office, Hong Kong’s Equal Opportunities Commission new chairman, Ricky Chu Man-kin, said that there should be a public consultation before making any laws on LGBT rights. Chu said the Commission should stay neutral and act as a facilitator to encourage discussion. He added that “transforming culture and customs” takes time. Openly gay politician Raymond Chan Chi-chuen called Chu’s comments “absurd”:
“You can’t be neutral when it comes to human rights and equal opportunities. It is his job to promote equal opportunities.”
The Politics of Union: Peru’s Superior Justice Court ruled that the National Registry must recognize a lesbian couple’s marriage that took place in the US despite Peru’s Civil Code which defines marriage as a union of one man and one woman. The justices cited the opinion from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights that member states must recognize marriage equality. It further noted that Peru is behind others in the region who have already established marriage rights:
“Societies must advance towards organizations and States of democratic tolerance, where minorities may accede to rights under equal conditions and without suffering, due to a certain condition, situations or norms that discriminate against them.”
The Constitutional Court of Ecuador heard arguments for and against accepting the Inter-American Court marriage ruling. Thirty eight people people participated in the hearings including several couples who have been denied marriage licenses. Protestors held a demonstration and submitted to President Lenín Moreno an open letter with over 17,000 signatures against marriage equality.
In Chile, the Court of Appeals of Santiago heard arguments from a gay couple who were prevented from being allowed to marry. The court had previously refused to hear their case, however the Supreme Court intervened in their favor.
In the Cayman Islands, the Court of Appeal has blocked same-sex marriages from going forward while the court considers government objections to marriage equality. Last month Chief Justice Anthony Smellie ruled that marriage is a constitutional right and that the law should be changed to define marriage as the union between “two people”. The government quickly filed an appeal. Chantelle Day, one of the plaintiffs who has been seeking to marry her partner of seven years, called the government response “appalling”:
“The types of homophobic abuse that Vickie, I and the rest of the LGBTQ+ community have been subjected to by the elected officials has been shocking and would never happen in any other advanced democratic society. It’s even more disappointing that the UK stands by and allows this iniquity to continue when they have the power to remedy this instantly.”
Ahead of the ruling, hundreds of supporters of LGBTI rights held a “peaceful and colorful event” to celebrate marriage rights and to “remind those few that we are many and that we are proud, to acknowledge our existence and hold our heads high”. The Cayman News Service reported that over 1,000 people attended an opposing demonstration led by local churches. Several politicians attended the anti-gay rally including the Health Minister and the House Speaker. In February, the UK House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee issued a report calling on all British Overseas Territories including the Cayman Islands to legalize same-sex marriage.
The Czech Republic’s parliament continued to debate two different bills on marriage—one would allow same-sex marriages while the other would redefine marriage as between one man and one woman. The debate is expected to come to a close in May. Prime Minister Andrej Babiš told a local conservative news program that he will vote in favor of marriage equality, but said that party members are free to vote their conscience.
Fiji’s Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama made comments about the “rumors” regarding gay marriage during an official event according to FBC News. Bainimarama remarked that “Fiji is a God fearing country” and that marriage equality will never happen in the country. Social media backlash led the Director for Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission Ashwin Raj to release a statement saying that “international human rights law does not necessarily recognize same sex marriage as a right”. Meanwhile, the Fiji NGO Coalition on Human Rights(NGOCHR) said it was “disturbed” by the PM’s comments and that he is threatening the progress of human rights:
“It’s important not to reinforce these discriminatory structures and regressive ideologies. Instead, we should be promoting equality, human rights and non-discrimination for all Fijians. As the Prime Minister has continued to reiterate in the past, all Fijians are equal no matter who they are or where they come from.”
Let the Courts Decide: For the first time in Russia, a district court has ruled that a trans woman should not have been fired after changing genders the RFE/RLreported. The employer claimed that she was fired because her job is one of 450 jobs from 35 industries that the government prohibits women from performing because the jobs are considered dangerous or arduous. The court ordered her former employer to pay two years of lost wages.
In the US, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has settled the case between a trans employee and the business that fired him. In the settlement Egan Woodward, who was hired and then abruptly fired after the hiring manager discovered he is trans, must receive a letter of apology and a settlement of $60,000—as reported by the Denver Post.
Lawyer Amy Epstein Gluck reviewed the recent US court rulings that present conflicting opinions as to whether sexual orientation and gender identity are protected by the Civil Rights Act as they are not explicitly mentioned by the law. Meanwhile, Los Angeles Times reported that the Supreme Court is considering whether to hear the case of Aimee Stephens, a funeral home employee who was fired after coming out as trans to her boss.
Regarding Religion: Speaking with the Spanish journalist Jordi Évole, Pope Francis clarified remarks he made last summer that seemed to suggest he supported conversion therapy for young LGBT people. News media had conflicting interpretations of the Pope’s comments suggesting parents seek psychiatric help if their children show “homosexual traits”. The Vatican later deleted the phrase from the official transcript of the press conference. In his new interview, the Pope explains that he meant that “professionals” can help children who express “strange symptoms”. Francis DeBernardo of New Ways Ministry praised the attempt to clarify; however, he noted that the remarks were still too ambiguous:
“It is one thing for the Church to not have all the answers, but that does not mean church leaders should not seek some up to date information. The People of God, however, need more than well-intentioned answers that can be harmful in their ambiguity.”
The Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, met with lawyers, human rights organizations, and LGBT activists to discuss the criminalization of LGBT people and other human rights violations. Participants urged the Vatican to make a clear statement against criminalization. Parolin promised to inform the Pope of their meeting. After the meeting, Luz Elena Aranda of ILGA reflected on the positive changes in some regions but warned:
“[T]here is growing hysteria – often fuelled by populist politicians and some religious leaders – around a so-called ‘gender ideology’ that LGBTI persons and feminist groups are accused of imposing on society. This hysteria is polluting otherwise-constructive dialogue between churches and LGBTI persons, and driving us apart at the very moment we need to speak more.”
For more information check out the excellent resource from New Ways Ministry that traces the Church’s response to these laws since 2009 including information on Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, India, Malawi, Cameroon, Belize, Trinidad and Tobago, Singapore, the UK, and the Caribbean.
Cardinal Robert Sarah spoke with the French publication La Nef about his new book The Day Is Now Far Spent. In the interview he says there is a global “spiritual crisis” because Westerners have “rejected God”—as translated by the Catholic Herald. He disparages gender identity as a false “ideology” and a “Luciferian refusal to receive a sexual nature from God”. The Herald has previously commented on Sarah’s “unstoppable rise” in the church and several media outlets have suggested he is a front runner for being a future Pope.
During the Mormon Church’s 189th Annual General Conference, officials released a statement announcing a reversal of the Church policy towards children of LGBT parents. Since 2015, children of gay parents could not be baptized. Those over 18-years-old had to disavow same-sex relationships and leave their parents’ homes if they wanted to be in the Church. LGBTQ Mormons are coming forward to talk about the trauma the policy caused and how they struggled to maintain their faith even as they “felt rejected by God”. Over the years, many have blamed the policy and the Church’s attitude towards LGBTQ people for the high rate of suicide among Mormon youth—as reported by the Atlantic and others. Although the reasoning behind the suicides is unclear, in 2018 the Church contributed funds for suicide prevention training.
Fear and Loathing: From Paraguay, LGBT activists spoke to Reuters about the setbacks the community has faced that are creating an atmosphere of isolation and fear. Carolina Robledo of lesbian rights group Aireana said that verbal attacks from the government lead people to “feel comfortable and protected to say whatever they want and to mistreat you however they want”.
Speaking to SBS News, Malaysian activists talked about the impact political rhetoric has had on the community. Trans activist activist Nisha Ayub explained that this rhetoric has encouraged “vigilantes” to attack the most vulnerable.
In Azerbaijan, activists say police targeted LGBT people in a coordinated raid that saw at least 14 individuals, mostly trans women, arrested. ILGA’s Niamh Cullen told Reuters that laws were being applied “arbitrarily” to “drive LGBTI communities underground”. Human rights lawyer Samad Rahimli called the charges against the individuals “bogus” and said:
“Police in these cases act not with legitimate law enforcement interests but with a moral agenda.”
Writing for the South China Morning Post, Eduard Merigo took a deep look at the impact Indonesian police and vigilante raids have had on the community. (Check out his accompanying short film.) Although not specifically criminalized throughout the country, hundreds of LGBT and suspected gay people have been arrested since 2017, often under charges of violating pornography laws. Homophobic rhetoric and “moral” panic has kept many living in fear. As one man described:
“I feel like I have to accept the fact that I’m a criminal because I was arrested, because I was sentenced.”
From the US, the Washington Post shared the story of Ashanti Carmon—a trans sex worker and one of the latest trans women of color to be murdered. The Human Rights Campaign reports at least 128 known trans and gender non-conforming people have been killed in the US since 2013— 70% of the victims were black trans women.
Winds of Change: In the Ukraine, DW reported that the site for the European Lesbian* Conference was attacked by protesters hoping to prevent the conference from starting. The Kyiv hotel was vandalised for several days and protesters attempted to break through security with tear gas. Despite the violence, over 300 attendees came to the conference. Writing for Human Rights Watch, Gizem Özbek shared their experience at the event.
The Washington Post reported that over 2,500 Google employees protested the company’s new Artificial Intelligence ethics advisory board for including Kay Coles James, president of the Heritage Foundation. Employees argued that:
“In selecting James, Google is making clear that its version of ‘ethics’ values proximity to power over the wellbeing of trans people, other LGBTQ people, and immigrants.”
Vox reported that other board members were caught in ethical debates about collaborating with James. Within a week Google decided to dissolve the board.
In the US, Arizona tribes held their first Two-Spirit Powwow celebrating LGBT people. Although many Native American and indigenous traditions include a nuanced interpretation of gender and sexuality, Professor Chris Finley of University of Southern California and member of the Colville Nation says that colonization and assimilation erased many of those traditions:
“There’s no way you can talk about colonization without talking about gender and sexuality.”
Journalist Josh Israel discovered that in 2017 the US-based fast food chain Chick-fil-A donated over $1.8 million to organizations with anti-LGBTQ links. The chain came under fire a decade ago when leadership publicly opposed gay marriage—leading to nationwide boycotts, as reported by the New York Times. The brand has since downplayed its rhetoric, but Israel’s investigation has led to new backlash with several airports announcing they would no longer allow them on site. And when airport officials in San Jose, California said it was too late to reject a new contract with them, City Council members endorsed an idea to place LGBT and transgender pride flags throughout the airport.
From Lesotho, journalist Bokang Bane spoke to transwoman Layla about why being respectful of a person’s personal pronouns is so important to helping them feel comfortable and accepted.
In Russia, prison authorities announced yoga classes would no longer be suspended. The classes were introduced to help support the health of prisoners but MKRU reported that a lawmaker had forwarded complaints by a theologian stating that yoga would cause prisoners to become gay. Deputy head of the Federal Prison Service, Valery Maximenko, dismissed the complaints stating “no one will be drawn to homosexuality” by yoga and that:
“Even if it does, we’re in a democracy and everyone has the right to choose their own path.”
School Days: In Calgary, Canada, hundreds protested proposed legislation that would let schools inform parents if their child participates in Gay-Straight Alliance groups. Protestors say the change could put vulnerable kids at risk in their own homes.
Stanford University and Pacific Standard have been collaborating on the series “Understand Gen Z”—a deep exploration of the behavioral changes between generations. In the latest piece, Phillip Hammack discovered a “quiet revolution” in the concepts of gender and sexuality where young people are more likely to identify on a spectrum that doesn’t fit the traditional terms of gay/straight or male/female.
Exploring the non-binary attitudes young people are embracing, Hammack defines his vision of a “non-binary future”:
“It's about a new culture of collective appreciation for the differences among us. It's about opening up to creativity and authenticity in how we think, feel, and act in the world. It's about being able to look in the mirror and see reflected back what feels "right" in our minds.”
German authorities suspect one person has been stalking and harassing at least 10 gay teens, as reported by Buzzfeed News and other German media. One victim, Max, has come forward to share his story in hopes that the perpetrator will be stopped. He received several hundred threats online and offline, harassing phone calls, and death threats. The perpetrator impersonated him online, used photoshopped pictures to out him to family, posted photos of Max around town, and targeted friends and family. Although investigators believe they have identified a suspect, the case has been stalled for several years.
Sports and Culture: Australian rugby star Israel Folau was fired after posting homophobic messages on Instagram. He was reprimanded last year for his social media activity. ESPN reported that Folau will fight his dismissal.
In Bulgaria, the Plovdiv City Council rejected a call to fire the artistic director of the Plovdiv 2019 Foundation. Critics wanted to stop “Balkan Pride”, a photo exhibit of past Prides, a concert, and discussion forum. The series is part of the Plovdiv 2019 European Capital of Culture event whose theme this year is “Together”. Speaking at the council meeting member Slavi Georgiev said the word “together” does not exist:
“It is, unfortunately, a dead word. A slogan that failed to materialise. What is happening today is shameful. It damages everyone.”
Top photo by Tom Grimbert (@tomgrimbert)