Tag Archives: homophobia

The First Woman To Come Out Publicly In Egypt Faces Death Threats – But Says She Has No Regrets

A two minutes video circulated on social media a few days ago with the opening statement ‘Hi…I’m most hated lesbian in Egypt’.

The message came from a young Egyptian woman named Dalia Al-Faghal, who recently publicly came out as a lesbian on Facebook.

Last month, Al-Faghal – who was born and raised in Saudi Arabia to Egyptian parent – posted to Facebook about coming out to her father as a lesbian, providing screen shots of his supportive comments, and a picture of her with her girlfriend.

Al-Faghal wanted to show the public how proud she was of his acceptance, however her loving post was met with an unprecedented wave of attacks and hate comments.

She has received violent backlash from some social media users who saw her sexual orientation as a violation of the conservative Egyptian society and its Islamic ideals.

She was verbally attacked, compared to animals and told she was causing the apocalypse and should be stoned.

Her dad was sent death threats, her privacy was invaded and details of her personal life were disseminated.

While homosexuality is not illegal in Egypt, according to The Guardian, police routinely arrest individuals based on decades-old prostitution and debauchery laws.

According to media reports from earlier this year, Egyptian police have even been targeting gay men through hookup apps like Grindr.

Despite the hate, the trailblazer, who lives in San Francisco, is trying to focus on the positives.

I used to be a kid who was raised in Saudi Arabia. Now that I am all queer, head to toe, in f***en SF – that is a hell damn miracle to me”.

#SafeWordSociety Is the Safe Space Podcast We Need Right Now

A safe word is magical.

Many couples use it during sex, especially when practicing BDSM. If you get too overwhelmed with what your partner is doing, you can say your safe word – and boom, the uncomfortable situation ends. You feel safe and comfortable again.

If only the world worked like that. Wouldn’t it be great if, whenever a straight white man speaks over you in a meeting or you remember that Donald Trump is the US President, you could speak a “safe word” and return the world to something comfortable?

#SafeWordSociety is the next best thing. This podcast is a comforting safe space where you can be free from racism, misogyny, homophobia and ableism, at least for one hour each week.


The podcast delves deeply into the nuances of surviving as a queer or transgender person of color (QTPOC). The podcast specifically focuses on NYC, but it’s uplifting and applicable for queer women who live all over the globe. Their purpose is to “create a safe space in media for versatility while uplifting the stories of those that aren’t often heard.”

Every week, the bubbly host Kristen McCallum teams up with Lamika Young to conduct interviews with influential people fighting for QTPOC rights.

For example, on the episode The Quench, they sat down to chat with Morgen Bromel, CEO and Founder of Thurst, who will help you get got this cuffing season.

This revolutionary app focuses on queer and transgender people of color, who are often overlooked on mainstream social networking sites because they’re not conventionally desirable.


In the episode “Workplace Woes,” they shot the breeze with a transgender IT professional and a gender nonconforming university administrator, discussing the fails of workplace inclusivity.

New episodes debut every week. Learn more at the official website, or get caught up by bingeing the first dozen episodes directly on their Libsyn page. If you’re a QTPOC and have ideas for what you would like to see covered, don’t hesitate to contact them – they need your voice on air.

Ellen Page Confronts Homophobic Preacher At D.C. Protest

Ellen Page – who is in D.C. for some inaugural events (including the Women’s March this weekend) – confronted a homophobic preacher during Donald Trump’s swearing in ceremony.

Page confronted the man who wore a t-shirt worn, which said that LGBT people are “worse than animals”. During the debate he continued to preach that homosexuality is “demonic”.

Page kept her cool, despite being talked over by the preacher, who abruptly left.


Well played, Ellen.


Stop This Anti-Gay American Pastor From Opening More Churches in Africa

Why can’t some pastors just let gay people live?

Homophobic pastor Steven Anderson was kicked out of parts of Africa for his rants against LGBT people. He praised the Orlando shooter for killing 49 LGBT people and said, “There are 50 less pedophiles in the world.”

He also claimed that most gay people are drug addicts and child molesters who are to blame for “sex acts on children.”

Botswana deported him and South Africa banned him from ever entering.

Despite the ban, Anderson plans to sneak into Cape Town in order to open anti-gay churches in South Africa. He hopes to spread his churches to Malawi as well.

In fact, he posted on his personal blog that his organization, Faithful Word Baptist church, is seeking missionaries to come to Malawi and participate in a “soul-winning marathon” scheduled for late April. When LGBT organizations publically voiced their concerns about his modern-day crusade, he called them all sodomites and liars, then asked “soul winners” to join him on this “very special missions trip.”

Many LGBT organizations point fingers at African countries for making gay marriage illegal (sometimes punishable by death). But we must recognize that it’s insufficient to critique a country’s view on gay rights without situating those views within a historical context – one which usually intertwines with colonialism.

Many African countries only adopted anti-LGBT views after Christian missionaries razed their cultures to the ground, built churches and taught that sex between two men was an abomination. Today, liberal western organizations often blame “backwards”

Africans for holding homophobic views even through the west imposed these views in the first place.

That’s why modern-day crusaders like Anderson are so dangerous. They not only spread hateful rhetoric that will get gay people killed, but they also expand the legacy of modern-day colonialism.

What can you do? Because homosexuality is illegal in Malawi, it’s unlikely that the country will revoke the 12-month visa they recently handed to Anderson.

However, you can notify the South African organization Equality Courts, where hate speech complaints are registered.

To learn more about anti-gay missionaries and how they helped pass the “death to gays” bill in Uganda, check out the documentary God Loves Uganda.

A Good Caribbean Woman: Homophobia and Misogyny in the Caribbean Community

When the clock struck midnight, I traded in my boxers.

I, a proud butch woman, swapped my button-downs for a crop top and my bowties for short shorts. For exactly one day a year, I had to be a Good Caribbean Woman.

What is a Good Caribbean Woman? It varies by island and by family, but according to my mother, a Good Caribbean Woman has a perfect G.P.A., a high-paying job, and a closet full of dresses. She is as feminine as she is educated. She knows how to hook a man.

As I dug through my drawers to find the only non-sports bra I owned, I doubted whether my mother would be happy at the idea of me dancing half-naked in front of a quarter of a million people. But I knew that she would be happy that I finally fit in with the other island girls.

At 4 a.m. on Labor Day, 250,000 people flooded into Brooklyn swinging cans of house paint. Baby powder exploded into rainbows. Men tied their island’s flags around their necks, women wrapped theirs to cover their hair, and Eastern Parkway became a sea of Jamaican greens and Trinidadian reds. J’Ouvert had begun.

To outsiders, J’Ouvert looks like a giant, drunken paint party, but the holiday has hundreds of years of significance in the Caribbean community. Slaves began hosting yearly celebrations called Carnival in 1783 because they were banned from white masquerade balls in Trinidad, and J’Ouvert began as an expression of freedom after the island emancipated slaves in 1838. By grinding on strangers, not only would I be fulfilling my mother’s expectations of femininity, but I would also be celebrating history. (Right?) My girlfriend tagged along to laugh at me.

When the music started, I charged straight into the mass of sweaty, dancing strangers and let the drums control my hips. I gyrated to steel pan and salsa danced to clave. I squealed girlishly when men poured paint down my shirt. I shook pink baby powder out of my hair.

“Get your flag!” my girlfriend shouted, and I proudly tied it around my neck while she took a photo from behind. My mother would probably frame it.

When I looked at the photo, my stomach twisted. With my fists planted proudly on my hips and the V.I. eagle catching the sunlight, I looked like a Good Caribbean Wonder Woman. But a man in the background was staring at me slack-jawed, eyes fixated on my body like he was about to undress me.

Cold hands slithered around my waist, and I jumped. “Let’s dance,” the same man said.

I yanked my girlfriend away. Was this what I really wanted?

Someone reached out to smack an orange handprint on her shorts, and another man grabbed at me, saying, “Hey, Superman!” I felt sticky with dirt and sweat and paint and a panic I couldn’t quite place.

At home, I stood under the scalding shower and watched the paint on my skin pool into rainbows beneath my feet. Gone, gone, gone. I couldn’t make the water hot enough.

My girlfriend knocked. I thought she was going to join, but instead, she read me an article: Barely an hour ago, a twenty-two-year-old woman had refused to dance with a man at J’Ouvert, and he shot her through the eye.

The accompanying photograph showed the woman smiling broadly, hair curling down her back, a dress brushing her knees. My mother would have loved her, because she looked like a Good Caribbean Woman. And she’d been killed.

I thought of all the men I’d run away from that day. What if one, just one, had pulled a gun? If I’d dressed in my usual men’s trousers, would I have been safer? That was unlikely; guys often confronted me to “fix” my gayness. In the eyes of those men, being a good woman had nothing to do with the way I was dressed, because they were already thinking about what was under my clothes. My mother’s definition was tied to my ability to entice men, but I couldn’t rely on them – or her – to define “good” womanhood for me, I had to define it for myself. And I was tired of being good.

I’m still trying to figure out what womanhood will mean for me, because it entails a long process of undoing years of internalized heteronormativity and misogyny. But right now, being a Good Caribbean Woman is about saying no when I want to say no. It’s about wearing what I want to wear. It’s about fighting the next guy who tries to slap an orange handprint onto my girlfriend’s shorts.

Maybe my mother wouldn’t approve, but I’m proud of my Caribbean womanhood. I have the painted flag hanging in my room to prove it, and I just bought a button-down to wear to next year’s J’Ouvert.

Stop Saving the World: A Love Letter to Activists

Pop quiz.

Would you rather be:

  1. Dehumanized and brutalized for being black
  2. Sexualized and belittled for being a woman
  3. Ostracized and fetishized for being queer

Pick two.

I had to ask myself that question as I decided which activist sphere to commit to. I wanted to be a feminist, an LGBT rights activist and a Black Lives Matter organizer. Unfortunately, the problem with activism is that certain spheres are not open to certain identities.

The feminist movement is historically antiblack, and it remains pretty racist. The Black Lives Matter movement has silenced the voices of its queer, female founders Patrisse Cullors and Alicia Garza, in favor of straight males such as Shaun King and DeRay Mckesson. In the LGBT community, black people are often fetishisized or excluded. On a date, one girl proudly told me, “I’ve never slept with a black girl before,” as if I should be honored. I wasn’t.

Activism is more important than ever in a world where Trump is President-elect and, as a queer black woman, I am constantly forced to choose which identity to prioritize.  While I would love to dedicate myself to all three movements, I cannot perform the emotional labor necessary to give myself completely three times. And neither can you.

In a post-Trump world, you may feel pressured to throw yourself into activism as you never have before. Maybe you’re writing letters to your congressman about North Carolina’s HB-2 transgender bathroom bill. Maybe you’re passing out pamphlets about women’s rights and raising money for Flint, Michigan. Everywhere you turn, there’s another tragedy. You feel like you have to save the world this instant.

But you need to choose just one cause. If you do too much of everything, you’ll burn out. And burn-out leads to complacency. Millions of Americans who are protesting now will get tired soon, and they will stop fighting. They will tell themselves that things aren’t so bad. If you’re passionate about a cause, then the best thing you can do is to prioritze your spiritual wellbeing.

Of course, every cause needs intersectional leaders. We need disabled, chronically ill people at the forefront of the Black Lives Matter movement. We need undocumented immigrants also fighting for women’s rights. We need queer Muslim women protesting the Dakota pipeline. Recognize that your voice is vitally important, no matter what sphere you decide to operate in. But also recognize that you can’t lend your voice everywhere.

And don’t feel guilty about that.

Some people say that Trump’s presidency will finally unite all oppressed groups. Given that 54% of women and 30% of Latinos voted for Trump, this isn’t a given. Most of the change will happen at the local level, through individual organizations, after hours of hard work.

So pick your cause. For me, my blackness informs the way I am allowed to be a woman because my body is policed differently than a white women’s is. My blackness informs the way I am allowed to be queer because my masculine gender expression makes me a threat to heteronormative masculinity, and my black masculinity makes me a police target.

I have realized that I am most passionate about working within the Black Lives Matter movement to bring racial change, which will allow me the civic freedoms to express my womanhood and my queerness the way I want. The world needs more Patrisses to correct the DeRays.

Your cause will look different. That’s perfect. We need all types of people spearheading all types of movements.

So think deeply about what you are most passionate about, and throw yourself into that one thing. You – and the world – will be better off.

How To Deal With Homophobia

Homophobia has been around forever and it doesn’t look like it’s going to go away anytime soon, especially as Trump and Pence are the epitome of hatred, but we have a duty to ourselves and our fellow LGBTQ community to do something about it.

We obviously can’t put ourselves in danger at any time and if you are a bit feisty it can be hard not to challenge any homophobe head on, but there are safer and better ways of dealing with it. For example, if you are in a bar or a club and you experience homophobia simply walk away and report it. Demand that the management deal with it. Tell them that you are feeling uncomfortable and have been verbally abused by one of their patrons.

If they seem reluctant to do anything about it, then say you are quite happy to contact the police.  Most establishments don’t want that kind of reputation and you will probably find that they will deal with the situation.

So what if you overhear someone else suffering homophobic abuse? Firstly, if it’s safe to do so, walk up to the person and tell them to come with you and remove them from the situation. That has to be the first priority, lead them away from danger. Then take them to the management and complain as suggested above. As hard as it is and as tempting as it is don’t retaliate with the homophobe as this could lead to violence and escalate the problem.

And if you witness a violent homophobic attack? You must phone the police. Immediately. If there are people around you could try to find help and support, but if not, stay back and don’t put yourself in the firing line as well.

This won’t help anybody and the police are quite quick at responding to emergency calls. Give as many details to the police as possible and wait in the side-lines for them to arrive. If the attackers flee then go to help the victim. Even a few words of comfort will help.

To do nothing is wrong, even though speaking out and getting help can be scary. If it was you getting the abuse, you would want someone to help you. Remember, silence is violence, so look out for each other and make sure homophobes learn they can’t get away with this behaviour, no matter what they think.


360 Degree Video Challenges Homophobia In All Directions

A lesbian vlogger, Arielle Scarcella, has teamed up with a group of other well-known youtubers to put together an inspiring film clip utilizing a 360-degree camera. The camera technique allows them all to get their message across in a very unique way, and everyone who has taken part tell their stories about coming out and finding love.

Youtubers Bria and Chrissy, known as BriaAndChrissy on youtube, both took part in the video and Bria describes her experience when she came out to her mum.

I remember she said to me, ‘when am I going to look at you and not see gay?’ I knew exactly what she meant because I couldn’t look at myself and not see gay.”

Chrissy, the other half of the duo recalls:

When I first came out I was really afraid of being judged by my conservative small-town community, and I was. It was really difficult to have people look at me in the face and not see me as the person that I was.”

But during the video both girls give out a positive vibe as well as they explain once they became involved in the LGBT community they slowly learned to accept themselves.  The participants talk about the need for accepting who you are and explain that universal love is a positive and good thing. Many of them found their self-acceptance through the LGBT community, even though the process was slow for some.

Another youtuber in the video, Stephanie Frosch, sums up the experience of self- acceptance and coming out by saying:

I think the important thing to remember is, no matter what the struggle you’re going through, it’s almost like a thunderstorm. You may not see happiness at the end of it, but just like thunder clouds go away, the sun is always there the whole time.”

The video is a brilliant piece of film with a positive and strong message to all so let’s hope it gets as much recognition as possible.


Majority Of LGBT+ People Still Feel The Need To ‘Hide Sexuality’

According to a new poll, the majority LGBT community feel the need to lie about their gender or sexual identity.

The poll – commissioned by Pride in London – asked more than 1,000 members of the LGBT community how they felt about discussing their private lives in public.

A massive 74% said they still felt the need to hide their sexual orientation or gender identity.

A further 59% of respondents said they felt threatened by other people’s attitudes and behaviours towards them.

Other findings showed that 41% of gay men also said they would think twice about holding a partner’s hand in public.

The charity – which organises London’s annual gay pride event – commissioned a second survey among the general population, which showed a “huge difference” compared with LGBT+ people.

In particular, a larger proportion of the LGBT+ community had “felt threatened by other people’s attitudes and behaviours towards them”, and were more likely to experience workplace bullying as a result of their gender.

It found 77% of LGBT+ respondents had revealed their sexuality to friends, while 50% had come out to all their colleagues.
Chair of Pride in London, Michael Salter-Church, said:

Great progress has been made in the name of LGBT+ equality in recent years, but these figures show the striking reason why Pride is still as important as ever”.

The latest figures show that homophobic attacks all also saw a rise between 2014 and 2015.

The results also showed that the number of homophobic incidents recorded was nearly double those of Islamophobic crimes, and three times the number of anti-Semitic crimes.

The Met data showed that 1,667 homophobic offences took place in the 12 months to July 2015 – up from 1,289 in the 12 months to July 2014.

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Someone Fixed That Disturbing Jehovah’s Witnesses Video That Teaches Kids Homophobia (And It’s A Lot Better)

A Jehovah’s Witness cartoon that preached against same-sex parenting has been re-edited to be more accepting.

The original video showed a young child ‘learning a lesson’ from her bigoted mother about same-sex marriage.

It shows a young girl coming to her mother saying she drew her family in school. Her friend Carrie, who has two moms, told the girl that her parents are married.

Her teacher even told her that it doesn’t matter as long as couples love each other and that they’re happy.

While in the original the mother goes on a creepy tirade about telling her daughter how she should preach against homosexuality, the new version keeps to a very clear lesson of love and tolerance.

Trixie Firecracker, the drag performer who edited the video, said she wanted to re-edit the video into a pro-LGBTI message.

So a few days ago, the cult I was brought up in (Jehovah’s Witnesses) released a video instructing children to tell their classmates with same sex parents that their lives were corrupt. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE share this and help to kill their original hateful message. Homophobia is still real, still ongoing, and their original video is instilling it into children’s minds.”



Student Who Described Lesbians As “Perverse” In Essay Continues Legal Action Against University

Student, Monico Pompeo – who described lesbians as “perverse” in an essay – continues to legal battle, claiming she has been ostracised by professors at her university.

Ms Pompeo filed an appeal to the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver claiming the University of New Mexico (at which she was a student), violated her First Amendment right to free speech and that she was kicked out of class in 2012.

Ms. Pompeo says the action was taken in 2012 after she described lesbianism as “perverse”, in an essay about a film about a lesbian romance.

According to the Albuquerque Journal, Pompeo alleges that her teacher’s actions violated the syllabus of the class which called for “open minds” to look at “representations of a plethora of genders and sexualities.”

Ms. Pompeo claims she was accused of employing “hate speech”, and in 2013 filed a lawsuit, which gained attention across the US.

After initially finding that Ms. Pompeo had a plausible case for her lawsuit last year, Chief US District Judge M Christina Armijo later found that the student had been given several opportunities to rewrite her essay.

The judge found after investigation that Ms. Pompeo had had explained to her that she had not backed up her opinion that lesbianism is “perverse” with critical analysis.

Judge Armijo also found that communication attempts were made by the professor in question and her boss to get Ms. Pompeo to re-write the essay, and that taking such action was within the realm of teaching.

A hearing is set for next month.

Up For Debate: Do Gay Men Get More Stressed Than Lesbians?

There is a new study in town that shows the odd connections between sexual orientation and stress responses.

According to McGill researcher Robert-Paul Juster, there is something funny is going on with lesbians, gay men and heterosexual people when it comes to stress.

The researcher was curious to see how gay men and women would react to stress. He already discovered that men produce more cortisol than women when stressed, and that gay people are more stressed when they are closeted. However, nobody had ever compared the stress responses of gay men and lesbian to straight people.

For the study, he brought in 87 gay, lesbian, straight and bisexual participants into his lab, made them do stress-inducing math problems and a mock job interview, and watched what happened to the cortisol levels in their saliva.

Since gay men are exposed to stressors such as discrimination and homophobia on a daily basis (what psychologists call minority stress), it was thought that gay men would get more stressed than straight men. Wrong.

It turned out while straight men’s cortisol spiked 20 minutes after the stressor; gay men remained almost entirely unperturbed.

That’s a good thing, right? Not necessarily.

It could mean that gay men have suffered so much stress they no longer react. For example, one previous study found gay men living in American states with more discrimination had blunted cortisol reactions.

It is also possible that gay men have simply developed better coping mechanisms for stress than straight men, and that their hormones have been pummelled into non-reactivity.

Which would mean lesbians should have lower stress reactivity too, right? Nope.

It turns out lesbians and bisexual women were more stressed than their straight peers.

In fact, gay women reacted much more like straight men, and straight women reacted like gay men.

The only difference was that the queer women took twice as long to get stressed. Why? Juster thinks it might be because the gaywomen spent more time turning the stress over in their heads after the event, but for now that’s just a guess.

So what should we make of the mysterious difference between how gay men and women react to stress?

Juster says,

That’s a really good question, and to be honest with you I have no clue. I really don’t know how to explain it.”

What we have learned, Juster says, is that we shouldn’t lump gay men and lesbians together when it comes to stress.

Also, because Juster controlled for sex hormones such as testosterone and progesterone in his study, we now know stress reactivity is related to social factors and not just biology.

Fortunately, Juster still has his postdoctoral research to work it all out.

There’s a lot of follow up studies that I need to do to figure out what’s going on. This is something I hope will stretch out through my entire career.”

Stay tuned.

Lesbian Coming Out Story Illustrated By Stunning New Photo Series

The series – by photographer Arjun Kamath – captures the struggle that LGBTs go through when coming out, as well as the rejection and ridicule they may still face.

The images show the journey of Alpana and Maitreyi, who are shown climbing out of a closet, before finding peace and acceptance together.

The powerful imagery aims to show the fear and confusion many people feel when realising their sexuality, and the strength it takes to be honest with oneself, as well as society.

couple-1 couple-2

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Speaking about his inspiration for the photographs, Kamath said:

Being straight, I think I can look at the whole situation more objectively. I don’t think discrimination against gay people is any different from other types of discrimination, such as discrimination against overweight people or discrimination against dark skinned people. People should be allowed to lead their lives without judgement. It’s cowardly to make fun of people who are different from you. That said, I don’t consider myself to be a gay activist. I’m an artist and I work on subjects that move me.”

couple-4 couple-5 couple-6

Asked about the reaction to the series, the photographer said its reception had been nothing but positive.

The most heartening aspect has been receiving messages of support from strangers. Just today, a bisexual woman messaged me that saying how the photo shoot had moved her to tears. She says she’d been ostracised throughout her life for being bisexual and being dark skinned. She said she was really happy I’d brought this issue out into the open.”

LGBT-Friendly Church Is Vandalised, So The Congress Gives It An Awesome Rainbow Make Over

Wedgewood Church in North Carolina is a gay friendly church that welcomes everyone and anyone to pray in their building.

However, the local bigots didn’t take kindly to this fact, and decided to vandalise the church, by spray painting gay slurs such as ‘Fags Are Pedos’ on the doors and crossing out the church’s sign.

But instead of being intimidated, the church decided this was the excuse to do some awesome decorating.

In a show of defiance volunteers painted the church’s entrance with rainbow colours.

Wedgewood Church

Wedgewood Church 02

Wedgewood Church 01

If that wasn’t enough, they are also discussing changing the LGBT Equality sign that was defaced to one which reads: ‘We forgive you.’

Kimberlee Walker, a deacon at Wedgewood Church, told WCNC:

No amount of spray paint is going to stop us.”

Photographer Chronicles the Struggles of LGBT People Around the World

We are told the world is a safer and more welcoming place for those of us in the LGBTQ community, than it was ten years ago.

But there is still a growing number of national and regional governments have passed laws legalising gay marriage and unions between people of the same sex.

Other countries have tightened legislation that prohibits anti-gay discrimination and hate speech targeted at people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT).

Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch wrote earlier this year.

There’s been enormous progress globally and locally. It’s important to note that the fight for LGBT rights is not a Western phenomenon; many of the governments at the forefront of the defence of LGBT rights are from the developing world.”

But while LGBT rights may be generally improving around the world, many more people live in countries where homosexual acts or identifying as gay can lead to state-ordered physical punishment.

Human rights groups say that in some of these countries — including Russia, Nigeria and Uganda — governments have targeted LGBT people as a way to redirect peoples’ anger from the governments to a vulnerable minority. All three countries have introduced anti-gay legislation in the past three years and in all three countries human rights groups have reported simultaneous increases in attacks on LGBT people.

Photographer Robin Hammond, who is from New Zealand, first started documenting these issues when he was on assignment in Lagos, Nigeria, and read about five people who had been arrested for being gay. He then decided to expand his work to seven countries, photographing LGBT people of 15 different nationalities.

Hammond says he wants to improve peoples’ lives rather than simply chronicling their suffering and is today launching a non-governmental organization named Witness Change, which aims to kickstart social media campaigns and put on traveling exhibitions to help raise funds for grassroots organizations that are dealing with the highlighted human rights issues, including LGBT rights.

He described the process he has developed for taking his portraits — and for asking his subjects to write down their personal stories:

Turkish Police Fire a Water Cannon and Rubber Bullets at Istanbul LGBT Pride March (Video)

Thousands of men, women and children gathered in Istanbul’s historic Taksim Square on Sunday for the annual gay pride festival only to face water cannons, rubber bullets and tear gas.

“Where are you, my love?” sang one group of LGBT rights activists, waving rainbow flags and holding hands, swaying to the popular Turkish love song. “I am here, my love!”

Moments later, Turkish riot police aimed a water cannon into a crowd of people sending them running for safety as water pounded them from behind. Belongings flew off with the force of the water as people struggled to stay on their feet — a scene that caused several young police officers to laugh openly, mocking the drenched protesters.

It was just one of many assaults Sunday against peaceful gay pride participants, reportedly the first time in 13 years that the annual festival was forcefully dispersed.

Many people expressed confusion as to why the peaceful parade was blocked by police forces after more than a decade of successful gay pride marches. Just the week before, on June 21, a smaller transgender pride parade took place in roughly the same location without encountering police force.


Despite being squashed by police forces, Sunday’s pride festival was one of hope and acceptance for Turkey’s LGBT community and its growing group of allies. Even after police dispersed crowds from Taksim Square, people poured into side streets singing, dancing and chanting.

Documentary ‘Olya’s Love’ Looks At Lesbians Living in Russia

While it’s not ideal to be an LGBTQ person in any country in the world (homo and transphobia is still prevalent even in places where LGBTQ people have full human rights and protection within the law), in Russia it is particularly difficult. The country recently brought an ‘LGBT propaganda’ bill into law, which prohibits people from discussing pro-LGBT viewpoints in public for the fear of ‘corrupting’ children.

Not only does this law mean that Russia’s LGBT citizens aren’t allowed to put together things such as Pride events, or LGBT rights rallies, but it also leaves them vulnerable for other anti-LGBT persecution. For example, it’s a well documented fact that Russian law enforcement agencies will look the other way when LGBT people (or those perceived as LGBT) are being attacked, or they will even carry out these attacks themselves, asking for bribes to leave them alone.

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We hear about these stories in the news; general footage of protests and fights on streets, but it is very rare that we actually see the real effects of Russia’s intolerance. New documentary Olya’s Love wants to change that, as the movie follows dreadlocked Moscow activist Olya as she navigates the homophobic waters.

Some of the film follows Olya and her partner Galiya, with the two having gotten together after Olya had been engaged to a man, having wanted to stick to the norm. In some scenes together they are completely taken with each other and in love (in one particularly sweet moment, we see Galiya adjusting Olya’s dreads) but each is viewed with the realisation that they could be arrested for just being who they are. For example, the other side of Olya’s Love shows a private LGBT meeting being met with an anti-LGBT protest, in which the protestors chant that their identities are unnatural. In others we see violent scuffles erupt; horrifying scenes are activists peacefully walk with rainbow flags in their hands.

Olya’s Love is a short documentary, however, as it’s just over an hour. But in that hour you get a personal look at what it’s like to be LGBT in Russia – minus the politics and the news headlines. It’s just an honest, albeit upsetting depiction of how Russian LGBT life really is.

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Olya’s Love has been airing at film festivals but it is also available on Vimeo On Demand.



HBO’s VICE Links Uganda’s Lesbian Corrective Rapes Back to American Anti-Gay Christians

The plight of the LGBT community in Uganda has largely dropped out of the headlines, but in the latest episode of VICE on HBO, correspondent Isobel Yeung travels to Uganda and shows that they’re as persecuted as ever.

Not only does the documentary highlight how churches and schools are lying to children and adults about the “evils” of homosexuality, but that American missionaries and politicians are part of the problem too.

A Prayer for Uganda highlights the teachings of people like Pastor George Oduch, a Christian Fundamentalist who has taken his lead from anti-gay American Pastor Scott Lively.

They attempt to educate Ugandans about how there’s “no difference between a terrorist and a homosexual,” and that homosexuality is just like paedophilia.

The propaganda is so distorted that children are taught that there are ‘10 different cancers that attack only homosexuals’.

Girls are also told that sleeping with another women will lead to lesbian infertility.

If a woman gets homosexuality with another woman, she cannot give birth.”

The young Ugandans repeat what they are lectured in school and in church, but also in their communities, as the adults are even worse.

In one scene, Yeung interviews poor, working class men. The men tell her that the first thing she needs to know about their culture is “we hate is homosexuality.” That is the first thing of which they are proud. Not arts, science, their families, their heritage – not even their perverted interpretation of Christianity.

“We hate that one [homosexuality] completely. If we find a woman with a woman, we will pull out one and we will do it to her.” He’s of course talking about rape. “We cannot allow a woman to have sex with a fellow woman.”

Yeung asks, “Have you ever raped a lesbian?”

“Yeah,” the man replies. “Serious raping.”

Then Yeung asks, “So what would you do if you saw a gay man?”

“Kill! Kill! You kill that one! Kill! I just kill them. Woman and woman we rape, but man and man we kill.”

She wrote later, “I don’t ever recall feeling as heartbroken as the week we spent shooting this.”

Yeung is able to speak with a Ugandan gay woman on camera, although her face is blurred and voice distorted as to not reveal her identity. The woman had a secret girlfriend, but was found out by a group of men who raped her. When she found out she was pregnant soon after, her girlfriend left her. Now she says her child is “a blessing in disguise,” because now people won’t assume she’s a lesbian so quickly. In a heart breaking moment, she shares that she won’t even tell her son she’s gay because she’s worried he will reject her.

A Prayer for Uganda 02

Last year, the government of Uganda passed a bill making homosexuality–already a crime–punishable by life imprisonment or even the death penalty. The legislation was overturned, thanks largely to the international fury it provoked, but homosexuality remains illegal and massively stigmatised.

Now, less than a year after the “Anti-Homosexuality Act” (nicknamed the “Kill the Gays” bill in Western media) was struck down, Ugandan officials are working to revive it.

Young British Actress Receives Princess Diana Award for Campaign Against Homophobia

A budding UK actress has received a prestigious award for her campaigning video against homophobia.

Laura Finnigan, 17, from Bootle, Merseyside, made her short film Changes late last year to make people aware that sexuality is not a choice.

It quickly went viral and has now received more than 35,000 views on YouTube.

The film shows her changing her clothes, hair and life choices before concluding that she can’t change her sexuality.

She made the film with Fixers, a charity that works to allow young people to get their message across in any medium they choose.

Laura Finnigan 01

I wanted to do homophobia because it’s an issue I feel really strongly about. People seem to think that it’s a choice and I just wanted to state a fact that it’s not. You can’t just turn gay. It’s very frustrating. I want people to know as much as possible and to show them that there is no choice.”

She said she was stunned by the reaction to her video.

I think it’s amazing- I didn’t expect it. People all over the world were commenting on the video and saying that it made a really good point.”

Laura now plans to take it into Merseyside schools to educate local teenagers about homophobia.

The Diana Award was set up in memory of Princess Diana and rewards young people who have made a significant impact on society.

Tessy Ojo, chief executive of the Diana Award said:

We are incredibly proud to honour Laura for her qualities of selflessness, altruism and compassion. In the long term we aim not only to award these socially active young people for their achievements, but also to engage, motivate, and empower them to do even more through our training and network programmes.”

Homophobia Amongst Teen Boys Is on the Rise, Says Mental Health Charity

Although a majority of people in countries like the US and the UK now support LGBTQ rights, there’s still a (vocal) minority who still oppose them and the existence of LGBTQ people themselves. While they are clearly on the wrong side of change, homophobia can have a serious impact on a person’s mental health and, as we have unfortunately seen in the past, can lead people to taking their own lives.

Recently, LGBTQ charity Stonewall spoke up about the risk of ‘complacency’, saying that we need to make sure we tackle anti-LGBTQ opinions and now mental health charity Beyondblue has backed that up with a survey; and the data is damning.

Beyondblue interviewed 304 teenage boys in Australia, each of them aged between 14 and 17. They quizzed them on their opinions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people and found that 21% of them agreed that it was hard to treat them the same as their cis, heterosexual peers and 27% of the boys said agreed with the statement “The way I treat lesbian, gay or bisexual people doesn’t really matter as I don’t meet many.” Worse still, one in five of those who responded said that LGBTI people should hide their identity and 38% weren’t sure (or disagreed) when they were asked if they’d be happy to include an LGBTI person in their friendship group. 40% said that they were uncomfortable around LGBTI people.

Beyondblue CEO Georgie Harman says that:

We know levels of psychological distress among LGBTI people are much, much higher than the rest of the population, and suicide rates among this [part of the] population is also incredibly high. Having people tease you and making you feel worthless at school can be incredibly damaging, and the research is consistently telling us we need to educate young men in particular that discriminating against LGBTI people is not only harmful, it’s ridiculous and not cool.”

As a result, her organisation has put together a new advertising campaign to tackle these anti-LGBTQ opinions. There is a short film accompanied by the hashtag #StopThinkRespect and this will be rolled out across social media as well as being displayed on gambling websites, at cinemas and other places frequented by young men.

Harman has also said that she doesn’t know why Australia’s young men hold these views but hopefully their campaign will change their minds for the better.

Is Kristen Stewart’s Relationship With Alicia Cargile A Publicity Stunt?

Once upon a time, many years ago, a comedian by the name of Ellen DeGeneres came out as gay using the iconic ‘Puppy Episode’ of her Ellen TV show. Despite the success of Ellen, the comedian’s show went quickly down the pan and was cancelled not long after. Her truth had been her downfall and now the world was punishing for coming out.

coming out

Nowadays though, coming out can have the opposite effect. Many famous faces have come out of the closet including Wanda Sykes, Ellen Page, Wentworth Miller, Brittney Griner, Anna Paquin and so on and so forth and it hasn’t harmed their careers one bit; instead it has given them a new legion of fans who support their honesty.

However, while we hope that celebrities are coming out for the right reasons, it’s often criticised as a publicity stunt. Jessie J and Lady Gaga both came out as bisexual several years ago before changing their minds and saying they were straight after all – while it’s not unheard for people to change their minds about their sexuality and how they want to label it, the fact that they had both been so outspoken about LGBT topics made some question as to whether they’d only come out to pander and appeal to queer audiences.


Now, as people look at what’s happening with Kristen Stewart and her close ‘gal pal’ Alicia Cargile (who she is often pictured with), many are asking if they are truly in a relationship, or whether whatever’s going on between them is instead being milked by Kristen and her team for publicity.

More: Kristen Stewart Receives Homophobic Slurs As She Walks Hand-in-hand With Alicia Cargile

On the one hand, a very good case can be made for Kristen doing this for publicity. Following the release of Snow White and The Huntsman (the fairy tale epic that featured Charlize Theron and Chris Hemsworth), it came to light that Kristen and the director of the movie, Rupert Sanders, had been having an affair. He was a married man and Kristen was still dating Robert Pattinson (her Twilight co-star) at the time and so fans and the media alike were up in arms about what a ‘dirty cheating homewrecker’ she was.


Following the scandal, Kristen’s professional career has picked up somewhat (she was recently in Still Alice with Julianne Moore) but for the most part her public persona is still in tatters and given that she was considered as ‘the moody girl who never smiles’ before the news broke, she didn’t have a lot to go off in the first place. That’s why it makes good sense for the friendship/relationship/gals being pals thing that Kristen and Alicia have going on to be for publicity.

While the media asks ‘are they or aren’t they’ and assigns various sexuality labels to the two of them, it keeps Kristen in the public eye and all she has to do is go to brunch with someone she’s close with. It’s a win win situation.


However, a strong case against it is the fact that Kristen and Alicia were already incredibly close. Before the media caught on (or took such a strong interest, as we are seeing now), Kristen and Alicia were seen hanging out around Hollywood already. How can it be a publicity stunt if she’s doing what she’s always done?

Much less, when does Kristen, a woman who has famously flipped off the paparazzi, talked about how awful it feels to be photographed and has told the media to ‘f–k off’ ever court the media’s interests? Although there is minimum work involved here, it doesn’t make a lick of sense for her to suddenly make an effort to get the press talking about her.

Perhaps it’s the plausibility of these two answers that explains why so many people are asking Kristen to come out – or just to address the situation. While celebrity culture (and our insistence on knowing everything about a star’s life) is utterly bizarre as it is, people do want answers.

Sadly though, whether Kristen and Alicia come out or just deny that anything romantic is going on between them, the media will herald her decision and talk about her some more or they’ll call her a liar with something to hide.

She can’t really win here, which is a shame, but no matter what she decides to do (or even if she decides to do nothing) there will still be plenty of fans lining up to support her.

This is awkward – Now Robert Pattinson Harassed With Questions About Kristen Stewart Sexuality

This week, Robert Pattinson arrived at LAX for a flight to London, and the actor was bombarded with questions from photographers about his ex-girlfriend Kristen Stewart being a lesbian – awkward

He was even asked if her sexuality “explained” why their relationship didn’t workout – low blow.

More: Kristen Stewart Receives Homophobic Slurs As She Walks Hand-in-hand With Alicia Cargile

For several weeks Stewart has been dogged with reports she in a relationship with with her close pal/girlfriend Alicia Cargile. They even been seen holding hands on numerous occasions (shock horror). However, she has yet to address the rumors they’re in a romantic relationship.

Pattinson kept quiet on the subject as he made his way through the terminal, but he couldn’t help crack a smile at the craziness.




Kristen Stewart Receives Homophobic Slurs As She Walks Hand-in-hand With Alicia Cargile

At the end of last week, Kristen Stewart was captured holding hands with her friend, Alicia Cargile as she walked through LAX.

However, what was even more startling about the scene was the amount of abuse the actress got from the LAX paparazzi – who screamed ‘are you a lesbian’ along side some other obscene words.


Shock-horror – Kristen and Alicia holding hands (SplashNews)

Kristen and Alicia were returning from the wedding of Riley Keough in Napa Valley, and as this event was a social event one, and not work based outing (Alicia is Kristen’s make-up artist), speculation mounted that Alicia was there as Kristen’s plus one.

The press have been going crazy over this story for months, which Kristen has already said is a huge ‘embellishment’ on her private life. However, could this be the biggest sign yet that she is in a relationship with Alicia?

Whether or not she is, what is important, is that this whole thing be respected and not debased by an all-male-show that use as an opportunity misogynies their relationship, dis-respect, discriminate and be homophobic.

Kristen doesn’t deserve to have people screaming offensive terms at her as she walks through the airport.

We salute the way she handled things though. Taking Alicia’s hand and showing the world she doesn’t give a f*ck. Maybe its a sign that they’re in a relationship or just the actress trying to protect her friend from being pulled into the media circus that surrounds her love life.

A few years ago Kristen was a marriage wreck, now she’s cut her hair and isn’t visibly dating anyone, she’s a lesbian.

“Things blew up for me at a pretty young age, at 17 and … yeah, I love talking about the work. It’s bizarre, things become sort of like you’re selling something, and I’ve never been into that notion — I like sharing things.”

Kristen Stewart

If she is in a same-sex relationship – woo hoo. It would be an inspiring coming-out story due to the sheer fact at how many people idolised her, but lets all handle this with a little bit of sensibility.


LGB Seniors Face High Levels of Homophobia, Study Shows

One of the biggest challenges faced by our aging population is how they will be cared for as they get older. One top of physical and mental health stability, some elderly people may find themselves having to go to care institutions or relying on the help of friends and family to get by.

Consider the problems of an aging queer population then who don’t just have to face care issues but must also consider homophobia and discrimination when making their future care decisions.

Given that many of the UKs senior were alive before homosexuality was decriminalised in 1967, many may have faced persecution for their sexuality in the past. They may have even been kicked out of homes, fired from jobs or just generally been mistreated because of it. So it’s understandable that in later life, as the UK becomes more accepting of LGBT people, that LGB seniors would want to finally be treated with respect.


Sadly though, according to a Stonewall survey about the matter, not only are LGB seniors facing high levels of homophobia, but they are also deeply concerned that the care available to them cannot accommodate or understand their needs as LGB people.

According to their findings (which were taken from LGB people over the age of 55), LGB seniors are more likely to have histories of poor mental health, are more likely to suffer from anxiety (one in three people) and depression (two in five people), are more likely to take drugs (1 in 11 LGB seniors as opposed to 1 in 50 heterosexual seniors) and drink alcohol more often too (45% drink regularly in comparison to 31% of heterosexuals). Their report also stated that half of all LGB seniors feel as though their sexuality will have a negative impact on their life as they get older.

John, from London told Stonewall that “There is a severe lack of understanding about the particular needs of older lesbian and gay people, especially from some faith-based organisations that provide care services”, meanwhile Rita from the South East added that “Although things are improving, there is still a lot of ignorance at least, homophobia at worst, among health and social care people.”

While there’s hope that a lack of understanding could be improved with proper training and so on, the UK’s population needs this assistance now and cannot wait years down the line when a care worker suddenly realises that LGB discrimination has no right being in the workplace. Furthermore, the life expectancy of UK citizens is now a massive 81 years and is expected to rise with improvements to medical treatment – this means that more of us will need care than ever and that more of us stand a likelihood of being discriminated against because of our identities.

It’s unclear just what’s being done to combat this but with Stonewall being such a prominent group, there’s hope that their new study will change the homophobic tides.

Source: Stonewall

The Imitation Game Promotes Call for UK Pardon of Gay Men, But African LGBTs Still Suffer Because English Colonialism

2014 saw the release of The Imitation Game, a film led by Sherlock actor Benedict Cumberbatch as he played the role of Alan Turing.

An incredibly smart and brilliant computer scientist and mathematician, Turing’s work helped the Allied Forces to victory in World War 2, by cracking Germany’s enigma code.

Winston Churchill even called Turing “the single biggest contribution” to their victory over Germany. But there was just one problem: Alan Turing was gay.


At the time, being gay was a criminal offense and so Turing was convicted of “gross indecency” in 1952. Forced to undergo chemical castration, the stress was so much that he took his own life two years later.

It wasn’t until 1967 that the ban against homosexuality was finally overturned and in 2013 Turing was pardoned by Queen Elizabeth the Second. There are still 50,000 men who were also convicted who never received such an honour though which is why Cumberbatch and out gay entertainer Stephen Fry have signed a letter to have those men pardoned too.

But what of the gay people who are still suffering from anti-gay laws thanks to viewpoints and Penal Codes that the British Colony left behind?

Within countries on the African continent, India and Jamaica (all of which were formerly under British rule), anti-LGBT sentiment runs high with murders, abuse and suicide often occurring because of it.

Unfortunately, while the petition signed by Cumberbatch and Fry notes that “The UK’s homophobic laws made the lives of generations of gay and bisexual men intolerable” the fact of the matter is is that these men are allowed to live happy lives within the UK while millions of men (and indeed women) in former British Colony countries do not.

The UK government shouldn’t just be seeking to pardon those 50,000 persecuted UK men (including 19,000 who are still alive today) but it should also be seeking to improve the lives and human rights of the LGBT people living in its previously ruled territories.

Melanie Nathan, Executive Director of African HRC explains:

“Arrests and persecution abound in several African countries, where these Penal Codes remain the law of the land.

The United Kingdom must set this imperative example by pardoning every single gay person convicted under its persecutory laws, not only to right the awful wrong, but also to set the stage for those still subject to criminalization directly impacted by English Colonialism.”

Melanie Nathan

An online petition has also been set up to support this and has already garnered over 100,000 signatures. You can find the petition here.

The Funeral of Vanessa Collier Cancelled, Because Pastor Objected To Memorial Video Of Her Kissing Her Wife

The funeral of Vanessa Collier was due to be held at New Hope Ministries in Lakewood, Colorado and was attended by hundreds of her family and friends. However, 15 minutes before the funeral was due to start, the pastor informed the family that the funeral could not go ahead due to the inappropriate content in the video to be shown during the service.

Pastor Ray Chavez objected to the photo of Vanessa kissing her wife, Christina Higley, as well as photo of her proposing. They were told it could only go ahead if the photos were edited out. What’s more, the family said the ministry had the videos that day before, but did not review them until the morning of the service.




Instead, her family decided to move to the funeral home across the street, which only had a capacity of 60 people. Her casket was closed and driven across in the hearse.

Vanessa was 33 when she died, and left behind her wife and two children. Her family had informed the New Hope Ministeries of her sexuality, and had the video approved by them two days before the service.

Her cousin, Jessica Maestras who helped organise the funeral, said of it being moved:

“It was disgusting. 180 people had to squeeze into a room that held about 60 people. The only other thing they asked me was to have these videos ready two days prior so they could review them. I provided the video, and got the okay from the funeral home that we would be able to show it.”

Jessica Maestras

On Tuesday, friends and family of Collier were back at new Hope Ministries protesting the events that happened over the weekend.

Vanessa-Collier-02 Vanessa-Collier-03

“I am against bigotry and stand with my friend Vanessa Collier’s family in seeking an apology and refund from Pastor Ray Chavez and New Hope Ministries. The acts that took place at her funeral were wrong and no family should ever have to go through that.”

Jose Silva

Pastor Ray Chavez, the man who cancelled the services, has refused to comment, but has however refund the family’s money.

New Jersey Could Finally Ban ‘Gay Panic’ Defence

Although the majority of its citizens are in favour of same-sex marriage, homophobia is very much still alive and well in the United States of America. Typical reasons for being anti-gay are a lack of understanding, a homophobic upbringing or even on religious grounds.

And while that homophobia might manifest in epithets and social media posts, at its extremes it can be used as a reason for murder. In some states in the US, ‘gay panic’ can be used as a defence for murderers on trial for having killed a gay person (or someone believed to be gay) upon learning their sexuality or if the killer has been the subject of unwanted advances from the victim.

Many states agree that gay panic is not a valid reason – especially as it usually results in manslaughter charges being brought to the defendant rather than murder – and have since repealed it. In New Jersey however, although it is rarely used in law, the gay panic defence is still legal but now one New Jersey lawmaker is looking to ban it.

New Jersey, Assemblyman Tim Eustace (D-Bergen), who is also the Legislature’s second ever openly gay member, has introduced a bill to do away with the gay panic defence. His bill states that a murder cannot be classed as ‘reasonable’ if it has been committed upon “the discovery of, knowledge about, or potential disclosure of the homicide victim’s actual or perceived gender identity or expression,” which includes “circumstances in which the victim made an unwanted, non-forcible romantic or sexual advance toward the actor, or if the victim and actor dated or had a romantic or sexual relationship.”

Fairly comprehensive, the bill looks to close off all loopholes of the gay panic defence, including the fact that it is also used to dismiss murders against trans* people who do not always identify as gay.

Of the fact that the gay panic defence is rarely used (Equality California says that it has been used in at least 45 cases nationwide) Eustace says that “I want to make sure that we’re paying attention to things before they happen”. Better safe than sorry, effectively.

New Jersey gay rights activist Steven Goldstein has said that the bill “has merit” while it has also been supported by the National LGBT Bar Association and will hopefully have good chance at becoming a law. We’ll keep you posted once we know more.

South African Judge Makes a Stand, as Man Gets 30 Years For Murdering Lesbian in Hate Crime

A man accused of killing a lesbian in South Africa, has been sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Lekgoa Motleleng pleaded guilty to the murder and rape of out lesbian, Duduzile Zozo, from in Ekurhuleni, which has a history of violence against lesbians.

Violence against openly gay lesbians is literally a matter of life and death in South Africa and something has to done about it if the country wants to continue to move forward.

Motleleng was sentenced in the South Gauteng High Court sitting in Palm Ridge. Judge Tshifiwa Maumela stated that he wanted to make a difference to all vulnerable groups of society.

“No one has been given the right to correct alcoholics. No one has been given the right to correct those who take too much salt or sugar. No one has been given the right to correct others when it comes to the right to love their own gender… You can’t interfere with how someone chooses to live.” 

Judge Tshifiwa Maumela

The paper quoted the judge saying a harsh sentence for Motleleng would serve as a warning to those who threatened the vulnerable. He told the 23-year-old to change his attitude towards homosexual people.

“Lead your life and let gays and lesbians be.”

Judge Tshifiwa Maumela

Same-sex marriage is legal in South Africa, making it one of the most progressive countries on the matter, especially on the continent of Africa.

Unfortunately cultural attitudes have been slow to change. Some 30+ brutal acts against lesbians have been documented in South Africa, mostly in townships, and some suggest the number is higher because some women refuse to come forward.

Men who attack lesbian women, often in the form of rape – referred to as ‘corrective rape,’ falsely believe that male penetration will change them.


Did You Know You Can Still Be Fired for BeingGay in 29 States in the USA?


“Love is love”. It’s a common tagline used when it comes to the LGBTQ rights movement that aims to suggest that no matter who you are or who you love, that is ok and you should not be held back because of it. Excusing the fact that “love is love” is not trans* inclusive (trans* men and women can be heterosexual after all), it also fails to acknowledge other, deep-rooted problems that LGBTQ people face today.

Love is love is generally used as an argument for marriage equality, which, whilst being an important part of the LGBTQ movement, is not the be all and end all of it. Many people would argue that issues such as homeless LGBTQ youth or the health, safety and general wellbeing of LGBTQ people is a much more pressing concern.

But the people arguing that marriage equality should play second fiddle to other problems that LGBTQ people face will have a massive struggle on their hands moving forward. Looking at the United States’ politics; while some states bring marriage equality bills into law, a good many do not have any protections for LGBTQ employees in the workplace.

And, by a good many I mean ‘most of them’. There are 50 states in the United States of America and a whopping 29 of them have lacking anti-discrimination laws that allow LGBTQ to be fired solely based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Including Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and all the other usual suspects, even New York is listed as a state that fails in protecting its workers as it doesn’t protect against gender identity discrimination. And, somewhat ironically, Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia and Indiana are all places that have made marriage equality legal this year but being gay in these states can get you fired.

As if this didn’t add fuel to the argument that marriage equality should not be billed as the most important part of the LGBTQ rights movement, a recent poll by The Huffington Post and YouGov suggested that a massive 69% of Americans think that firing someone for being gay is illegal, despite that clearly not being the case.

So who is doing something about it? It has actually been a talking point for over a decade. Since 1994, Congress has been pushing a bill called ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act) that aims to make discrimination in the workplace illegal across the country, but although it has been put on the table many times, it has never succeeded. This is due in part to opposition to LGBTQ rights and because the bill has been amended to add in protections based on gender identity and not just for sexual orientation.

There continues to be hope for the bill but as of yesterday, ENDA seems even more unlikely to get through than before. Many Democratic politicians have spoken in favour of ENDA while many Republicans have spoken against it. Republicans now control the House and the Senate making ENDA’s passing before the next presidential election (in 2016) some sort of miracle.

Nonetheless we’ll cross our fingers and keep you posted.


Elton John Calls Pope Francis “My Hero” for His Push towards Acceptance of LGBTs in the Catholic Church 

Elton John has called Pope Francis “my hero” for his compassion and push to accept gays in the Catholic church, at his annual AIDS benefit.

John hosted the event, “An Enduring Vision: A Benefit for the Elton John AIDS Foundation,” Tuesday night in New York City. He says Francis is pushing boundaries in the church and told the crowd:

“Make this man a saint now, OK?”

Catholic bishops scrapped their landmark welcome to gays earlier this month, showing deep divisions at the end of a two-week meeting sought by Francis to chart a more merciful approach to ministering to Catholic families. An earlier draft of the document offered a welcoming tone of acceptance, but that was stripped away.

John called Francis “courageous” and “fearless.”