Tag Archives: LGBT equality

Julianne Moore Takes The Fight For Same-Sex Marriage To Italy

Oscar-winning actress Julianne Moore – who is currently world tour promoting lesbian movie Freeheld – has spoken out in support of the LGBT community in Italy, after being asked by a reporter whether it was right for same-sex couples to raise a child together.

Having a family is a matter of human rights. Everyone should have the right to have a family. People taking care of each other, that’s what it means to be a family.”

Italy is the last Western European country, which has no legal recognition for cohabiting same-sex couples.

In recent months, the Italian Senate has begun debating a bill to legalise same-sex civil unions last month.

And despite facing fierce opposition in the Catholic country, it is expected to pass.

Amid a debate around same-sex civil unions, a group a senators proposed prison sentences for gay couples who use overseas surrogates.

Anti-gay rights demonstrations, including one named a “Family Day”, have taken place across the country as well.

‘Open Windows’ Documentary Interviews Older European Lesbians

While being a lesbian in modern day society isn’t easy by a long shot, it is substantially better than what it once was. These days, there’s lesbian representation that is diverse across continents, races, age groups and gender presentation. There are also Pride events and it is now accepted for politicians, companies and celebrities to support the LGBT community rather than shun them. In fact, if you aren’t on the side of LGBT equality, you’re usually a minority in that opinion.

But before the turn of the century, these things were all but a pipe dream. There was a time not so long ago when not only did lesbians have no rights protecting their identities, but they didn’t even have words to describe their sexuality either; how could you know you were a lesbian when a) people didn’t like to talk about it and b) there were no lesbians in TV shows or movies who you could relate to?

Many older lesbians have seen this new era of progressive opinion and LGBT acceptance develop within society, yet they have also felt the hardships of living in a society that even at the best of times, couldn’t accept them.

In a new documentary from Michèle Massé called ‘Open Windows’, we hear what it’s like to be an older lesbian from four older lesbians themselves.

All four of the women in the film are from Europe: there’s a couple named Micheline and Jocelyne who live together in Paris and then there are two women who live in Madrid, Empar who’s married and Boti who’s divorced.

While it perhaps would have been nice to see a more regionally diverse bunch of people (attitudes towards lesbians in Western Europe will be greatly different to those in the UK or in Eastern European countries) each of the four women in Open Windows brings a unique perspective on the fight so far and what needs to happen next.


For example, Boti, having gone through a divorce from a same-sex partner, feels that same-sex divorce should also be talked about as much as same-sex marriage and that discussing that will help the entire thing seem normal. Empar, on the other hand, says that as she grew up in Francoist Spain (a totalitarian state) there was no reading material available about homosexuality and information was limited, so when she finally realised that she was a lesbian, she was relieved.


Meanwhile, Micheline and Jocelyne face their own set of troubles, such as the fact that Micheline struggled to come out until her sixties and Jocelyne holds the very real fear that people will react badly to her on the street or in her apartment building and that she will end up in a nursing home where the carers do not respect her identity.

Open Windows is currently playing in film festivals across the globe. Visit the film’s website for more information.

President Obama Discusses LGBT Equality In Historic Visit to Jamaica

Last week, United States President Barack Obama made history when he visited Jamaica as he was the first sitting president to do so since 1982. But that wasn’t the only reason that Obama’s visit was monumental – he also used his time in the country to speak about LGBT rights.

This was a surprise for many not just because Obama spoke about LGBT rights on a big stage but because Jamaica is regarded by some as one of the most homophobic countries to visit. Although intercourse between two women is legal, sex between two men is not and Jamaica has no anti-discrimination laws that protect people against discrimination based on sexuality, gender identity or gender expression. It’s also not uncommon for people to be beaten or even stoned to death once other citizens find out that they are gay.

Angeline Jackson, who is the executive director of Quality of Citizenship Jamaica (an “organisation which focuses on women’s issues; especially those faced by lesbians, bisexuals and other women who have sex with women”) has faced this discrimination, something Obama mentioned in his speech:

Several years ago, when Angeline was 19, she and a friend were kidnapped, held at gunpoint and sexually assaulted. And as a woman, and as a lesbian, justice and society were not always on her side.

But instead of remaining silent, she chose to speak out and started her own organisation to advocate for women like her, and get them treatment and get them justice, and push back against stereotypes, and give them some sense of their own power. And she became a global activist.

But more than anything, she cares about her Jamaica, and making it a place where everybody, no matter their color, or their class, or their sexual orientation, can live in equality and opportunity.  That’s the power of one person, what they can do.”

Obama also gave a nod to the younger generations of Jamaican people, saying that “You’re more eager for progress that comes not by holding down any segment of society, but by holding up the rights of every human being, regardless of what we look like, or how we pray, or who we love” and that this gave him hope.

So are Obama’s words likely to change anything for LGBT Jamaicans? In 2012 the Jamaican government said that it “is committed to the equal and fair treatment of its citizens, and affirms that any individual whose rights are alleged to have been infringed has a right to seek redress” while Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller has said that “no one should be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation”, but still, nothing has been done to address Jamaica’s widespread LGBT discrimination.

With Obama’s speech only shedding light on the hardships faced by Jamaica’s LGBT community, it’s far more probable that Jamaicans will begin to discuss discrimination even if no action is taken to deal with it right now. That’s not tremendously encouraging but hopefully, change will arrive in Jamaica soon.

How Many LGBT People Oppose Marriage Equality?

One of the loudest arguments in the fight for LGBT equality has been same sex marriage rights. Same sex marriage has been at the forefront of the movement, as grassroots campaigners and leading politicians alike champion same sex marriage, attempting to repeal laws that go against it and make it legal in places that only offered civil unions or partnerships.

And that campaigning has been incredibly successful. In the United States, same sex marriage campaigners have seen the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) repealed in order for same sex married couples to have their marriages recognised by the government and over 70% of the population now lives in a place where same sex marriage is legal.

Meanwhile, in the UK, David Cameron has said that helping bring same sex marriage into law is one of his proudest achievements.

But has it all been for nothing? Despite the growing support for same sex marriage amongst in and out of the LGBT community, a new study from Pew suggests that many LGBT people are actually opposed to it.

Pew deemed that overall, 7% of LGBT people in the United States are opposed to same sex marriage. The biggest demographics who are against same sex marriage are LGBT African-Americans, LGBT Republicans and bisexuals.

58% of black LGBT people are strongly in favour of same sex marriage, with 12% against it.

45% of LGBT Republicans are strongly in favour, with 19% against it. 8% of bisexuals are against same sex marriage and 22% don’t feel strongly in favour or against it.

The data suggests that religion and age could have been strong factors in LGBT people feeling this way as although 82% of those ages 18 to 29 were in support, 71% of LGBT people over 30 support same sex marriage, which is a big difference.

And in religious groups, 67% of religious LGBT people support same sex marriage in comparison to 82% of non-religiously affiliated LGBT people supporting it.

What’s also important to note is that Pew’s data was collected in 2013, which was before the many same sex marriage victories that took place in the United States in 2014. Perhaps respondents saw those victories take place and changed their opinions afterwards.

Other Pew data told us that 18% of LGBT people overall were in favour of same sex marriage but not strongly.

That’s likely down to the fact that a growing number of LGBT people feel as though same sex marriage gets too much of the limelight and that other LGBT rights issues – such as housing, employment and adoption rights – deserve more attention.

Clearly there is work to be done on all fronts, so we’ll keep you posted once we know more.

Argentina’s LGBT Activists Warm Up to Former Enemy

LGBT activists in Argentina have welcomed Pope Francis’s new moves towards reconciliation for the “grave crimes of sexual abuse” committed against children. The President of the Argentine Homosexual Community (CHA) praised Francis’s humble and fiercely-worded homily as “a much need and timely gesture” that he hopes will lead to change in lower levels of the Church. In a private mass for six victims of abuse this week, the Pope lamented the role of “Church leaders who did not respond adequately to reports of abuse made by family members, as well as by abuse victims themselves.” In late May, he compared abuse by clergymen as akin to performing ‘satanic mass’.

This strong language is approached with more skepticism in the Pope’s home-country where rights groups are used to a contentious relationship with the man once known as Cardinal Jorge Bergolglio. While LGBT groups are warming up to the Pope’s role in a global debate that is far more conservative than Argentine politics, they are still cautious about how much reform is still needed.

CHA President César Cigliutti encouraged Vatican cooperation with the United Nations but remained skeptical. “In 10 years there were 3,420 priests accused of sexual abuse and only 884 were it removed, representing less than 26 percent,” he said. “We hope that in Argentina the bishops follow the example of the Pope, that they also apologize and meet with victims of abuse.”

The cooperation of bishops has been a characterizing feature of LGBT groups relationship with the Church in Argentina. As the elected president of the Argentine Episcopal Commission, Cardinal Bergoglio was an active but confusing opponent of gay-marriage when Argentina became the first Latin country to federalize equal unions. Groups like the Argentina Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, and Trans (FALGBT) found themselves matched against the Cardinal in a passionate national debate pitting Vatican ideology against Peronist Catholic rivalry.

The Cardinal was one of the most outspoken opponents during the marriage debate but eventually he publically supported same-sex unions as an alternative to full marriage. However, when he took this pragmatic suggestion to the commission, it was democratically rejected. While remaining an opponent of marriage, he reached out to FALGBT and other LGBT activist groups on behalf of the church, sympathising with gay issues and even calling himself a supporter of ‘gay rights’.
Now, as Pope, Francis is continuing his sympathy for gay issues, even if he remains squarely in support of doctrine. He is opening a two-year debate on LGBT topics as well as other sensitive progressive subjects such as contraceptives and the role of women. While this is unlikely to be revolutionary, Francis still plays an important role as an ally of individual liberalism.

This is where LGBT and other activists in Argentina can find some optimism in perspective. At home, Francis was a rallying force for conservative arguments relative to progressive local politics, but in a global conversation that is much more radical it’s hard to vilify a voice pushing towards center.

Puerto Rico Nominates Lesbian Lawyer to Supreme Court

Last week, Maite Oronoz Rodriguez was nominated by Governor Alejandro García Padilla for a seat in Puerto Rico’s Supreme Court, and in her thank you speech she thanked her partner.

‘Thank you for your unconditional support through the hardest of times, and through the best of times, like today… I wouldn’t be here without you,’

Gina Mendez Miro.

Maite Oronoz Rodriguez and her partner are especially successful and high-profile. Oronoz Rodriguez is the director of legal affairs for San Juan and Mendez Miro is chief of staff for Puerto Rico Senate President Eduardo Bhatia.

Oronoz Rodriguez went on to describe herself as an open book.

‘I am conscious of the enormous responsibility that has come to me. ‘I congratulate, thank and celebrate Maite and Gina for living openly their love, for loving their homeland so much and for loving themselves openly,’ he said. Today we take a historic step in the right direction that demonstrates that Puerto Rico is for all of us. The governor has made an excellent nomination.’

Maite Oronoz Rodriguez

Her partner agreed with these words.

‘The governor has exercised his constitutional knowledge, and named someone who he understands is the best candidate. And I agree with him,’

Mendez Miro.

The nomination is another step in LGBT equality Puerto Rico has seen since Alejandro Garcia Padilla assumed office in January 2013.

He has signed four pro-gay bills into law so far.

In May 2013, Garcia Padilla passed bills to protect gay people from discrimination and domestic violence.

Looking back, Yet Still Looking Forward – The Acceptance of Same Sex Love

Same Love is KitschMix’s tune of the day.

Back in 2012 Seattle-based hip hop duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis released this video to YouTube. 118, 137, 502 views later the music and words are still so powerful to listen to. Same Love, features vocals by the amazing Mary Lambert, and talks openly about the issue of LGBTQ rights. It was recorded during the campaign for Washington Referendum 74, which was campaign to legalise Same-sex marriage in Washington State – Now approved.

The song reached number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100, making it the first song to ever openly promote and celebrate same-sex marriage in the United States It also reached number 1 in both New Zealand and Australia, and was nominated at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards for Song of the Year.

The music video was launched on YouTube on October 2, 2012, and accumulated 350,000 views 24 hours after its debut. The video, spanning decades, depicts the life of the main character and the same-sex partner with whom he falls in love, including the social conflicts which befall them in relation to their sexual orientation, their eventual marriage, and their final parting in old age.

The wedding of the main couple was filmed at All Pilgrims Christian Church in Seattle. Macklemore and Mary Lambert cameo in non-speaking roles in the video. “Same Love” is now the unofficially adopted as an anthem by supporters of legalising same-sex marriage, particularly in reference.

Image source 

Janet Mock Puts Things into Prospective With TV Host Alicia Menendez

In February 2014,  Janet Mock was interviewed by Piers Morgan. It was an interview that sadly highlighted the ignorance many transgendered people go through day-to-day.

In the interview, Morgan referred to Mocks as a ‘former man’ and asked a series of personal questions about her gender.

This is not the first time a transgendered person has had to face such questions on national TV – in another interview Katie Couric felt the need to repeatedly ask Orange is the New Black actress Laverne Cox about her genitals.

On this week on Fusion TV’s AM Tonight Janet Mock has turned the tables on a TV host – Alicia Menendez, asking her some of the invasive questions about her body that trans people face regularly. Turning the interview on Menendez, she said: “You’re beautiful – what’s so amazing about you is that if I were to look at you, I would never have not known that you weren’t trans.

“So who was the first person you told you were cis to?

“Do you have a vagina? When was the moment you felt your breasts budding? Do you use tampons?

“When you were going through puberty, did you feel trapped by the changes your body was going through? Did you feel like a girl?”

After the reverse-interview, Menendez conceded that the questions felt invasive.

She said: “That was so awful!

“We wrote a lot of these questions and I didn’t realise how awful and invasive some of them would feel, and how I would feel now.

“When you have the questions turned on you, I understand how much more intimate those questions feel.”

Image source

The Seasons of Anna Wintour

While fashion trends can characterize a people as a collective; by economic class, era, nation, subculture, for day-to-day life or for special occasions; fashion is one of the most evident celebrations of individual expression.

Anna Wintour is exceptional in that she is not characterized by fashion. She is like a patron goddess of fashion who deigns to walk among the rest of us mere mortals. Wintour first began working in the fashion industry at the age of fifteen. She had attended fashion school and then declined to continue, saying that, “You either know fashion, or you don’t.”

Anna Wintour 03

Wintour followed her pure instincts into influential and immensely respected positions in a number of fashion magazines, most notably as chief editor of Vogue magazine. The high standards she demanded earned her the moniker “Nuclear Wintour”, and eventual worldwide recognition and acclaim. At the same time, she continually broke industry conventions and took risks promoting young upstart designers. Did she single-handedly create a culture of fashion to suit her convictions? Or was she simply attuned on a deeper level to the pulse of today? Perhaps it doesn’t matter anymore. She is an icon: her bob-cut hair, her fine bone structure, her personal preference for furs, and the commanding elegance with which she carries herself—all remain unmistakable and timeless. Fashions change, but for almost three decades in the industry Anna Wintour has continued to stand strong.

This strong standing has also applied to Wintour’s vocal support of LGBT equality. “As far as I’m concerned, having the right to say ‘I do’ is as fundamental as the right to vote,” she said in a video for the Human Rights Campaign website, on the occasion of the “New Yorkers for Marriage Equality” initiative. She has continued to be a vocal supporter of marriage equality progress over her Twitter account, and on talk shows.

Anna Wintour 01

Also see – http://www.vogue.co.uk/news/2012/01/10/anna-wintour-lgbt-award—honoured-for-gay-rights

Image source

Bollywood embraces gay couples in new video

Yesterday, India movie and music scene made a stand by embracing gay couples in a new Bollywood video. In support of LGBTI equality around the world, the UN’s Free & Equal campaign releases a new music video to encourage change in India.

Free & Equal is an initiative by the United Nations Human Rights Office’s to push for LGBT rights around the world. The video stars actress and former Miss India Celina Jaitly, who last year was nominated as a UN equality champion for her support of LGBT equality.

‘It is an honor to partner with the United Nations on the incredibly timely and important Free & Equal campaign. I have been working for LGBT rights for many years, and I am honored to contribute my musical debut to such a good cause. Music is a universal language. It can engage people’s passion, and that’s when good things happen.’

Celina Jaitly

Sadly, the video comes after India’s Supreme Court’s decision to re-criminalise homosexuality in December 2013. The Supreme Court caused a global outcry by re-installing Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, originally enacted in 1860 by the British colonial regime, to criminalise gay or lesbian sex, punishable with life imprisonment.

Numerous human rights groups and activists have protested the decision, with the Supreme Court agreeing to hear a contest in court this month.

‘LGBT people have historically been marginalized and subjected to discrimination and violence in India, as elsewhere. But change is coming. In the past few months we have seen an unprecedented level of public debate relating to the rights of LGBT people. As awareness grows, attitudes will change. We need to do all we can to hasten change by challenging the myths and misinformation that get in the way of understanding. That is what this campaign is all about.’

Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Watch The Welcome – United Nations Free & Equal

UN Launches Campaign on Equality and Rights of LGBTs in Brazil

Brazil Pride 01On Monday the 28th April, 2014, the United Nations launched a campaign on equality and rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transsexuals and transvestites (LGBT) in Brazil. In partnership with São Paulo City Hall, the campaign “Livres & Iguais” (Free & Equal), was initiated to shine a light on the alarming rates of violence against lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transvestites and transsexuals. It is the UN’s aim to promote equality and respect for human rights of the LGBT groups.

At the launch was São Paulo City Mayer, Fernando Haddad, Daniela Mercury, UN Champion of Equality, the Assistant Director of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Humberto Henderson, and the Director of the United Nations Information Centre in Brazil (UNIC Rio), Giancarlo Summa

LGBT Community was represented by Keila Simpson, President of the Transvestites of Bahia Association (ATRAS) and winner of the Human Rights Award 2013 in the LGBT category;

Alessandro Melchior, Municipal Coordinator of  LGBT Policies; Fernando Quaresma de Azevedo, President of the São Paulo LGBT Parade Association (APOGLBT); Gustavo Bernardes, President of the LGBT National Council; Thaís Faria, Officer at ILO; and Leandro Ramos, Representative of  AllOut, the international organization that develops mobilization campaigns in defence of LGBT rights. Leandro Ramos will also act as moderation of the event.

The event is part of a list of activities in the run up to LGBT Pride Month in São Paulo. São Paulo LGBT Pride Parade (Parada do Orgulho LGBT de São Paulo) takes place in Avenida Paulista, and has been running since 1997. It is one of the biggest pride parades and the city’s government not only invests millions to support the parade, but many politicians show up to open the main event and ride on floats.

São Paulo LGBT Pride Parade Pride receives about 400,000 tourists and makes between R$ 180 million and R$ 190 million.

Brazil Pride 04