Tag Archives: LGBT rights

‘Rainbow Riots’ Album Features LGBT Artists From Countries Where Being Gay Is Illegal

Queer music is on the rise across North America, Europe and even South America. But while we celebrate artists like Choco and Young M.A., we can’t forget that, in many countries, it’s not just dangerous to be LGBT – it’s punishable by death.

However, that does not stop brave artists from sharing their voices with the world.

The new Rainbow Riots charity album centers these voices. Each song is written and/or performed by LGBT artists from countries where being gay is illegal, and/or where anti-LGBT violence is a constant fear. All proceeds go to the Rainbow Riots charity, which fights for the LGBT rights of people across the world.

The artists’ countries include Uganda, Malawi and Jamaica, among others.

Swedish composer, writer and activist Peter Wallenburg began the project in order to amplify the voices of people who’d often been silenced.

Wallenburg says.

Imagine that your very existence is a crime and that the police, authorities, and lynch mobs chase you simply because you are who you are. I created Rainbow Riots as a movement to fight for freedom against tyranny.”

Wallenburg was spurred on by the 2016 Ugandan Pride parade which, unfortunately, the police shut down with a brutal and violent raid.

While the album isn’t set to release until mid-June, the first single, Mista Majah P’s “Equal Rights,” has already dropped, to much applause. The U.N. even used the song as the anthem for their Global Goals campaign.

While many artists remained anonymous of fear of death, some are boldly attaching their names to their music in order to take a public stand. These artists include Brayo Bryans of Uganda, Shivan of Uganda, Kowa Tigs of Uganda, Umlilo of South Africa, and Ivy B of Malawi.

Rainbow Riot’s previous projects include a 2016 Orlando fundraiser, where drag queen Lady Bunny and queer rapper Jwl B teamed up for a song for charity. The organization also teamed up with UN Global Goals in order to make being LGBT legal worldwide by 2030.

Check out the album teaser or pre-order your copy at the official website.

Support LGBT Rights By Drinking Equality Wine

What if you could drink and make the world a better place? What if you advanced gay rights by getting tipsy? What if every time you poured a glass of wine, Mike Pence got just a little bit weaker?

Finally, there’s a wine for that.

Wineseller Equality Wines blends delicious alcohol with the fight for LGBT rights. Twenty-five percent of all proceeds go toward nonprofits that fight for LGBT rights.

Try a Stonewall Cabernet, a fruity blend with a “splendid concentration of power, freshness and graceful complexity.” This wine “humbly honors the brave LGBTQ Freedom Fighters of Stonewall Rebellion,” according to the official website.

The selection also includes a Love Wins Cuvée, autographed by Jim Obergefell of the historic Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court Case that ruled gay marriage constitutional in the United States. This wine has a “creamy mouth-feel” that is 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay.

Equality Wine’s final offering is The Decision Pinot Noir. This wine comes from the Russian River Valley. “We chose producers and grapes from the Russian River Valley not only for the amazing grapes that are grown in the area, but also because Western Sonoma County is known for its inclusiveness and acceptance of all people,” Equality Wines co-founder Elissa Nauful said.

Oprah featured the wines as part of her Favorite Things – you can pick up Oprah’s favorite Big Bottom Biscuit Mix and Honey Gift Set, which comes with the Love Wins Cuvée. Or get a Four Bottle Gift Set of two 2014 The Decisions and two 2008 Love Wins Cuvées.

The downside? With only three available wines, the selection is currently small, so it would be nice for Equality Wines to expand; the Stonewall Cabernet won’t even be available for several more months.

The wines are also not cheap. The Four Bottle Gift Set is a $150 “bargain.” The Stonewall Cabernet is $80. So these are not casual wines that you will want to chug before a night out – but they might be perfect for special occasions, such as anniversaries or the holidays.

Bottoms up!

Is Your State Pro-LGBT?

2016 was both the best and the worst year for LGBT rights. On one hand, the country elected Donald Trump, who’s been installing an anti-LGBT cabinet. On the other hand, more than 500 pro-LGBT bills were introduced to Congress.

Let’s take a look at the good and the bad with help from Mother Jones.

The Good

Massachusetts strengthened their nondiscrimination laws in order to allow transgender people to use the bathrooms and locker rooms corresponding to their gender identity.

Governors in four states – Montana, Louisiana, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania – signed executive orders in order to protect LGBT state employees.

In the wake of the Pulse Nightclub Shooting, twice as many hate crime laws were proposed in 2016 as in 2015.

In Hawaii, Delaware, Maryland, Michigan and Pennsylvania, it is now illegal for healthcare insurers to refuse to insure transgender patients.

Six states passed bills to prevent suicide, especially in children and teenagers, and to prevent harassment in schools.

Vermont and New York joined the small but growing list of states that outlaw conversion therapy.

The Bad

North Carolina, North Carolina, North Carolina. The House Bill 2 (HB-2) struck down antidiscrimination protections for LGBT employees and, most infamously, demanded that transgender people use the bathrooms that correspond to their biological sex.

Despite the public opposition to the bill and the fact that the governor who pushed the bill through has been swiftly booted out of office, 14 other states have propped up their own bathroom bills. The list includes even blue states such as New York and Washington. Track the progress of those bills here.

252 anti-LGBT laws were proposed in 2016. Thankfully, only 8 of them passed.

What’s Left to Be Done?

In eight states, teachers aren’t allowed to mention anything related to LGBT issues.

In nineteen states, transgender people are ineligible for Medicaid.

In more than two dozen states, LGBT people are not protected by antidiscrimination legislation in housing, employment, education and public accommodation.

To learn more, read the Human Rights Campaign’s review of state LGBT legislation.

Activist Organization Aims to Ban Conversion Therapy in All 50 States

Disney villain and Vice President-Elect Mike Pence has voiced his support for conversion therapy, leading many LGBT people to fear for their mental wellbeing.

Conversion therapy, which has been likened to torture, employs painful and psychologically crippling techniques in order to “change” the sexual orientation of lesbian, gay and bisexual teenagers. “Therapists” induce vomiting and paralysis in patients while showing homoerotic images, force patients to snap themselves with elastic whenever they have a homosexual thought, electrically shock patients, teach patients how to act stereotypically masculine or feminine, employ “orgasmic reconditioning,” and even hypnotize patients.

Conversion therapy has been linked to higher rates of depression, anxiety, drug addiction, suicide and homelessness in youth.

The grassroots coalition 50 Bills 50 States aims to pass legislation banning conversion therapy in all 50 states. The therapy is already banned in five states: California, Illinois, Oregon, Vermont and New Jersey.

Samuel Brinton, a conversion therapy survivor and founder of the coalition, says,

We are going to work with legislators to introduce bills banning these brutal practices. We know every state won’t pass these bills in 2017 but the unanimity of submitting them will resonate from coast to coast.”

They’ve raised over $11,000 to build an educational website, shoot a video about conversion therapy and LGBT youth, print legislation materials, travel to forty-five states to submit bills in person, and provide mental health resources to conversion therapy survivors.

The group also hopes to partner with LGBT rights organizations in every state in order to learn about the work that has already been done on the ground and to meet with legislators who may be sympathetic to the cause.

Samuel Brinton is not new to activism. Since he was subjected to the poisonous “therapy,” he has been visiting colleges and universities across America in order to discuss traumatic homophobic practices and teach students how to pass legislation at a state level. His personal motto is, “You can’t change what I never chose.”

50 Bills 50 States is in need of website developers, press release writers, legal experts, and church and school liaisons. If you’d like to volunteer, check out their website.

How Will Donald Trump’s Victory Affect Our LGBT Rights?

Many of us have woken up this morning to the news that Donald Trump is the president-elect.

But what does a Trump presidency mean for same-sex marriage, and LGBT rights in America?

When Trump takes office in January, the GOP will be in full control of both the executive and the legislature for the first time since 2005.

Trump has flip-flopped on his views on LGBTQ rights since he first contemplated a run for the presidency in 2000.

Sixteen years ago, he declared “the institution of marriage should be between a man and a woman.”

Since then, Trump has continued to state that he does not believe in “non-traditional marriages,” implying that he doesn’t support LGBTQ rights in general.

He definitely doesn’t agree with the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision to make same-sex marriage available across the country, as he’s stated that he believes the question should be left up to the states.

Trup told Fox News in January, “I wish that it was done by the state. I don’t like the way they ruled“:

I disagree with the Supreme Court from the standpoint they should have given the state — it should be a states’ rights issue. … This is a very surprising ruling. And I — I can see changes coming down the line, frankly. But I would have much preferred that they ruled at a state level and allowed the states to make those rulings themselves. … If I’m elected I would be very strong in putting certain judges on the bench that maybe could change thing, but they have a long way to go.

During the Presidential debates, Trump confirmed that he would appoint justices in the mould of the late Antonin Scalia, who opposed the decriminalisation of sodomy and penned a blistering dissent against the equal marriage ruling.

A public shortlist of Supreme Court candidates released by Mr Trump featured only anti-LGBT conservatives.

Trump has also pledged to sign the ‘First Amendment Defence Act’ to permit religious homophobic discrimination.

His running mate Mike Pence has already confirmed a plan to dismantle Barack Obama’s protections for LGBT people, as part of an ‘immediate’ review of executive orders issued by President Obama.

Pence previously suggested that HIV prevention funding be drained in order to fund state-sponsored ‘gay cure’ therapy, and earlier this year appeared unable to answer when asked whether it should be legal to fire people because of their sexuality.

Trump and Pence could also look to repeal Barack Obama’s 2014 executive order that extended LGBT anti-discrimination protections to federal contractors.

Likewise, the Republican victory confirms that the Democrat-backed ‘Equality Act’ – a bill that would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to finally outlaw discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation on a federal level – is now effectively dead in the water.

Trump has affirmed his support for local state anti-transgender laws, though he does not have a declared national policy on the issue.

Yet despite all of this, Trump has promised to protect the LGTBQ community from terrorism – as he declared during a speech after the Orlando shooting… whatever that kind of promise means.

Given his inflammatory statements about depriving Muslim Americans and women of their rights, you’ve got to wonder whether he’d actually keep his word on any promise to protect queer individuals.

President-elect Trump will take office in January.

Here’s How The Outcome Of The Presidential Race Could Implicate Your LGBT Rights

It’s countdown time to the presidential election and although some LGBT rights are now the laws of the land, there are other battles going on related to civil rights and non-discrimination protections for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people.

There are two important questions in particular, on both sides of the argument.

What sort of access should transgender people have to public bathrooms? Are the advances for LGBT rights infringing on the religious freedom of some Americans?

Hillary Clinton is a firm supporter of LGBT rights and she has endorsed the Equality Act which is a proposed federal law that would provide comprehensive protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Donald Trump says he would be a better president for gays, yet major LGBT-rights groups strongly oppose him. There are many reasons for this. He has hesitated at endorsing same-sex marriage.

He has an evangelical advisory board that includes major opponents who disprove advances in LGBT rights.

Running mate Mike Pence, who is Indiana’s governor, signed a law last year that critics said would allow businesses to deny service to gay people for religious reasons.

No matter who wins the presidency there is only so much they can do to influence the LGBT rights policies. For example, if Clinton wins and there is a Republic controlled house it is unlikely that her Equality Act will get anywhere.

It’s highly unlikely that the same sex marriage law would be affected but some conservatives hope that a Supreme Court that has been reconfigured by trump might reverse the 2015 ruling that permitted same sex marriage in all 50 states.

There are some areas that could be majorly affected because it would depend on how active the new president would be in pushing LGBT rights forwards. For example, Clinton would probably push through the work of Obama to get transgender rights approved.

This might mean that schools and colleges would come under pressure to allow students to use a bathroom according to their gender identity and not according to the sex they were given on their birth certificate.

Many transgendered students have said they have faced issues such as discomfort and harassment when forced to use a bathroom they do not feel comfortable with.

Trump has told the conservatives that he will seek to protect Christians from having to violate their religious beliefs. This could mean for example that a professional working in the wedding industry could openly refuse to work on a same sex marriage and would not be punished for discrimination. They would even be able to publically announce they will not work with same sex couples.

Many states have democratic candidates that have declared they will oppose laws that restrict the rights of the LGBT community and they will push for LGBT civil rights if they are elected.

Some of the Republican candidates are on the other side of this and have vowed to endorse laws that Christians feel go against their religion such as transgender issues and same sex marriage.

It can only be hoped that our LGBT rights are looked after and pushed forwards but a lot of that will depend on the presidential win and the governors elected in each individual state.

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9 Battles We Still Need to Win

I can’t help but feel a tremendous sense of pride when I think about all the big strides for equality that I’ve seen in my lifetime. It’s inspiring, and honestly it gives me a sense of purpose in life. Ten years ago, the world was a much different place for the queer community, and we’re making obvious moves in the right direction.

Then I think about how much we still have left to do, and it makes me want to cry. I mean, the world has been changing so rapidly, but there are still parts of the world where lesbians stay in the closet for fear of being raped “until they’re straight”. There are still parts of the world where the gay community is fetishized while simultaneously being shoved back in the closet. And there are still people who don’t even have the option of coming out, because they’ll be thrown on the streets, fired from their jobs, or even worse.

I feel so fortunate that I haven’t ever been in one of these situations, and my heart goes out to those who are dealing with this type of environment. If we want true equality, we still have a long way to go. Here are 9 fights that we still have to fight. Will it happen in my lifetime? I hope so – but it can’t happen without everyone’s help and support!

1. Increased worldwide anti-violence measures for the LGBT community

While some places are becoming more and more gay and trans friendly, some places aren’t, and that’s a problem. Entire governments seek to hide the fact that people are still beaten and killed for something they can’t change. Until it’s done everywhere, we haven’t won yet.

2. Homeless youth initiatives for the LGBT community

Even in places where discrimination has been criminalized, there is a chance that teens will end up on the streets when their parents or guardians find out about their sexuality. If we can’t stop it from happening, there needs to be somewhere these teens can go to make sure they’re taken care of and protected. This is the future generation, and we haven’t won yet.

3. Better testing and sexual education for the LGBT community

Sexual education in general has made some progress over the last few years, but teens and young adults in the LGBT community are drastically underserved. There are a great deal of places around the world where sexual health classes are heteronormative or abstinence-only – neither of which is a realistic education for the vast majority of teenagers. By not giving teens the appropriate ways to protect themselves, society is practically guaranteeing that STDs will spread in these communities.

4. STD-positive shaming needs to be abolished for everyone

There are so many stigmas associated with testing positive for an STD, and truly these stigmas do nothing for anyone. The people who have heard about the shameful associations will think that they don’t need to be tested because they don’t participate in “high-risk behaviors”, which ignores the fact that there are not “high-risk behaviors” that make infections more common. You don’t need to sleep around or use intravenous drugs to have an STD – get tested regularly! In addition, this shaming leads tested-positive people thinking that they need to hide their status… Which, of course, has a high risk to spread the infection further. Talking about STDs and demystifying them will help increase the likelihood of catching the infection early enough to treat it effectively.

5. “Religious freedoms” need to be treated as discrimination when appropriate

There’s a big difference between religious freedoms and bigoted discrimination – and the lines need to be made clearer for those who abuse the grey areas. No one should have the right to impose their beliefs on others, and that needs to go both ways. My god doesn’t say I’m going to hell – so my money should be worth just as much as anyone else’s. (Although, to be honest, I probably wouldn’t want to shop at any establishment that felt I was a second-class citizen because of who I loved, so… Maybe I’m the one confused here.)

6. A restroom is for going to the bathroom, and no one should think otherwise

All the trans discrimination laws being passed – where bathroom laws say that a trans woman should use the men’s room, and a trans man should use the women’s room – are trying to invalidate real, decent people. The vast majority of people – whether gay, straight, bi, trans, cis, or what have you – are not going into the bathrooms to peep on other people. Sure, there are rare exceptions, and you’ll never truly be able to weed them all out. They’ll come in every label you can think of, and their common trait isn’t that they’re gay or transgender – it’s that they’re creeps. (And, more than likely, they’re white cis men –  but that’s just statistics speaking.)

7. Better elder care in the LGBT community

Maybe the homeless youths from #2 can help step in and take care of the estimated 1.5 million LGBT seniors in the United States alone – or any of the aging queer community in any country. Studies show that this demographic is likely to suffer from increased mental illness rates, extreme poverty, physical disabilities, isolation from their biological families, and harsher discrimination than their heterosexual peers. This is the generation that raised us, and our parents (depending on how old you are) – shouldn’t we treat them with care and respect? We haven’t won until our seniors are taken care of, too.

8. Nondiscrimination protections need to be put in place, everywhere

It’s a scary thought: In almost every US state, it’s still entirely legal to be fired on the basis of your sexual orientation or identity, and in places where this type of discrimination is illegal, there are often “loopholes” – namely that the boss doesn’t need to say why you’re being let go. I’ve actually dealt with it at a few previous jobs, and it really is this hurtful thing that you don’t want to believe is real. What’s even worse is that society has conditioned us to think it’s all in our heads – even when it’s as clear as day.

9. Criminalize hate groups worldwide

Criminalizing hate groups isn’t something that helps just the queer community – most of our world has someone who’d hate them for something. The idea that you can rightfully hate an entire group of people without knowing the first thing about them is horrible, and it perpetuates a violent culture hell-bent on revenge. That’s not the type of world I want to live in, and we haven’t won until these groups are gone for good.

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North Carolina Governor Signs Bill Banning LGBT Protections

In a shocking move, North Carolina’s state Legislature has passed a law blocking local governments from passing anti-discrimination rules to grant protections to gay and transgender people.

The law comes a month after the city of Charlotte passed a measure protecting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people from being discriminated against by businesses.

Sarah Preston, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, said in a statement.

Legislators have gone out of their way to stigmatize and marginalize transgender North Carolinians by pushing ugly and fundamentally untrue stereotypes that are based on fear and ignorance and not supported by the experiences of more than 200 cities with these protections.”

The new law establishes a statewide nondiscrimination ordinance that explicitly supersedes any local nondiscrimination measures. The statewide protections cover race, religion, colour, national origin and biological sex — but not sexual orientation or gender identity.

Those who were against the bill mainly opposed the idea of transgender people being allowed to use their preferred bathroom.

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory vowed to overturn it, claiming it creates “major public safety issues.”

Others argued that the ordinance would put women at risk because male predators will be able to enter women’s bathrooms with ease.

The Human Rights Campaign’s national press secretary Stephen Peters criticized HB 2 in a statement.

Thousands of LGBT veterans have fought to secure our freedom, only to have the rug pulled out from under them by the North Carolina legislature’s willingness to wipe protections for local veterans off the books. Gov. McCrory must take a stand for fairness and equality for all and veto any bill that would increase the risk of discrimination.”

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper also criticized the bill.

North Carolina is better than this. Discrimination is wrong, period. That North Carolina is making discrimination part of the law is shameful.”

Ellen Page: “Being Closeted Hurt My Career More Than Coming Out”

Talking as the keynote speaker at South by South West (SXSW) in Austin, actor and producer Ellen Page, who came out in 2014 during a speech at a Las Vegas conference for counsellors of young LGBT people, discussed why publicly disclosing her sexuality has reinvigorated her career.

Being in the closet hurt my career way more than being out and being happy and feeling inspired again; being able to fuse my authentic self with my creative interests.”

Since publicly disclosing her sexuality, Page has made a concerted effort to reflect her fight for LGBTQ rights in her work: on top of producing in and starring in Gaycation, she performed the same role on last year’s drama Freeheld, which told the true story of a woman who fought to have her pension benefit left to her female domestic partner.


Asked whether coming out has affected the roles offered to her, Page said she’s chosen not to focus on it, and stressed instead how fulfilled she feels.

The differences I see are these little things like, ‘oh, you’re doing this thing that’s gay and this thing that’s gay, so now you’re doing these [gay roles].’ I’m like, you would never bring that up with a straight person; you would not say, ‘oh, you’re doing another movie where you’re playing a straight person, are you a little worried about it?’ No judgment, I’m just saying these are the double standards, and this is the conversation that needs to change.”

The Oscar-nominated actor was also on hand to discuss her new TV show Gaycation, alongside co-creator Ian Daniel. In the series, the pair travel the world to shed a light on the struggles of LGBT communities face abroad.


We can’t just be telling stories about one group of people. People need to have opportunity, and that’s what’s going to make the whole industry grow and blossom. It’s just something I’ve been reflecting on as to, ‘Oh, what if I hadn’t come out?’”


Page shared that Gaycation was born out of a desire to increase LGBT visibility in the media. She cited a pivotal moment in her life when she came across a lesbian comedy, But I’m a Cheerleader, on TV while growing up in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

When Natasha Lyonne’s like, ‘I don’t get it,’ about French kissing that guy, I was like, ‘Neither do I!’ And that meant something to me.

There can be such loneliness and isolation when you’re living in a society that has this view of you’re different, or something’s wrong, or you’re sinful.”

Page acknowledged that unlike many of the LGBT people featured in Gaycation, she leads a “privileged” life, being able to live as an openly gay person in Los Angeles.

I have done a job that has given me money, and I can walk down the street and kiss my girlfriend.”

She added that she thinks often of “those who are much more vulnerable than me all around the world and in the United States.

And here’s an opportunity to go make something that allows voices to be heard that you sometimes never hear, and hopefully reflect struggles that a lot of people go through and I think a lot of people simply don’t know about.”

Gaycation airs Wednesdays at 10pm ET on Viceland.

These 6 Countries Are Making Big Strides With LGBT Rights

Across the world, LGBT people face different challenges to their non-LGBT peers. This may be the risk of being fired from your job, being ostracised by your friends and family and even being faced with verbal or physical abuse.

Clearly there is a lot of work that still needs to be done, but with the changing attitudes of LGBT people, some countries are making huge strides.

A new report from The Guardian details some of these steps forward, and the publication also speaks to activists about the positive changes coming to their countries.

Taiwan has a reputation for being the most ‘gay-friendly place in Asia’ and though Victoria Hsu, chief executive officer of the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights calls this an “illusion”, there is big change on a government level.

The country’s newly elected president, Tsai Ing-Wen, supports same-sex marriage and same-sex couples can record their partnerships at household offices in Taipei, giving them access to more rights. Hsu and other activities are currently lobbying for social housing rights, equal opportunities for government employees and more.

Elsewhere in Asia, Nepal recently allowed people to add a third gender, O, to their passports, as opposed to M or F and in September, it added LGBT protections to its constitution.

Meanwhile, in Vietnam, same-sex marriage is “tolerated” by the state (though same-sex couples don’t have the same rights as opposite sex ones) and in December, a law was passed to allow people who have had reassignment surgery to register as a new gender.

In the Americas, The Guardian highlights big changes in Jamaica and Colombia. A historically, homophobic country (which stems from colonial times), Jamaica still has a law against sodomy but this year, activist Maurice Tomlinson will challenge that law in court.

The country’s justice minister, Mark Golding, and the mayor of Kingston, Angela Brown Burke, have both voiced their support for Pride events. On the other hand, Colombia may be an incredibly Catholic country but its government has voiced its support for marriage equality and late last year, it lifted restrictions on same-sex couples adopting children.

And finally, in 2015, Mozambique decriminalised homosexuality. There are still serious challenges posed LGBT people in the African nation though, as the country’s only gay rights organisation, Lambda, has been waiting for seven years for recognition fro the government (which will give them access to funding and allow them to be tax exempt).

Putin Claims Homophobia In Russia Has Been ‘Deliberately Exaggerated’

President Vladimir Putin has claimed that homophobia in Russia has been “deliberately exaggerated”, before attacking the United States and the anti-gay laws that he says still exist there.

Putin contended that some states in the US still have laws that criminalise homosexuality, before claiming that similar Soviet laws no longer existed.


Talking to CBS’s 60 minutes, he said.

The problem of sexual minorities in Russia had been deliberately exaggerated from the outside for political reasons, I believe, without any good basis. It’s well known that in four states in America, homosexual orientation is a crime,”

He added that he even thought the laws in question were scrapped by the Supreme Court in 2003.

It’s not completely removed from American legislation, but we don’t have. I definitely condemn that.”

Mr Putin then went on to say that he does not believe in the persecution of any minority – including the LGBT community.


He also claimed that Russia allows “people of non-traditional sexual orientation” to “live in peace.”

I don’t see here any infringement on the rights of gay people. In Russia, there are equal rights for everyone. Including for people of non-traditional sexual orientations as well.”

Although many have welcomed the leader’s move, others have argued that his blatant use homophobic words such as like “natural” and “normal” used to describe heterosexual relationships during the interview, reveals a different mind-set.

In addition, Putin recently awarded Milonov with the state’s highest civilian honour, raising further doubts that his comments are to be taken seriously.

Vladimir Putin Offers Elton John Meeting To Discuss LGBT Rights

The Kremlin has confirmed that Vladimir Putin has agreed to meet with Sir Elton John for real – after two Russian comedians tricked him into thinking he was on the phone with Russian President.

Last Tuesday, a spokesman for Putin, Dmitry Peskov, revealed to reporters that a call between the pair has actually occurred since the prank.

Putin phoned him. He said: ‘I know some guys played a trick on you on the phone, but don’t get offended. They are harmless people, though that of course does not justify what they did.'”

The spokesman added that Putin offered to speak with John and “discuss any subject which interested him.”

A representative for John confirmed the call to Rolling Stone.

Following the reveal that it was a prank, John responded earnestly about the situation.

Pranks are funny. Homophobia, however, is never funny. I love Russia and my offer to talk to President Putin about LGBT right still stands. I will always stand up for those that are being degraded and discriminated against. If this unfortunate incident has helped push this vital issue back into the spotlight, then I am happy to be pranked on this occasion.”




John has frequently tried to set up a meeting with Putin during his visits to Russia, which made him more susceptible to the prank. In November 2014, the performer spoke out against Russia’s homophobia during a concert in St. Petersburg after a statue of Steve Jobs was taken down because Apple’s current CEO Tim Cook came out as gay.

Founder of LGBT Teen Support Website Fined Thousands by Russian Courts

Lena Klimova, the founder of an online community for LGBT teenagers in Russia has been fined under the country’s law against gay propaganda.

She was fined 50,000 roubles ($840 / £540) by a court in Nizhny Tagil concluded that Deti-404, which has pages on Facebook and Russian social network VK, was guilty of distributing “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors”.

Lena Klimova 02

Klimova said she would appeal against the ruling. She has already successfully appealed against a fine levied by a court in the same town in January.

Klimova website encourages young people to share experiences on how it feels to grow up as an LGBTI person. It is a much-needed resource, with teens forced to live under the strict ‘gay propaganda’ law that bans the promotion or discussion of homosexuality to children.

Over the past 18 months, Klimova has come under pressure for her website. In a 2014 charge filed by Vitaly Milonov, the politician that spearheaded the gay propaganda law, he demanded the social worker and journalist be fined, and her website shut down.

In November, Russia’s media watchdog Roskomnadzor said it had received more than 150 complaints from ‘citizens and organizations’ calling for the closure of Children-404.

Klimova called the country’s anti-gay laws ‘harmful’ and ‘ridiculous’, accusing the authorities of failing to provide support for LGBTI teenagers.

Lena Klimova 01

This court ruling is just the latest to find the social worker ‘guilty’.

Reacting this week, Klimova said:

It helps to see how many good people around. It helps not to fall into the abyss.”

She also posted a drawing a young girl, who she called Unicorn, of her as a gay rights superhero.

Unicorn you made my day. All I need to do is get knee-high gold boots and a huge red cape and it will be exactly me. Thank you for the drawing! =)”


Obama Faces LGBT Rights Challenge in Kenya

As the United States has grown more tolerant during Obama’s presidency, African countries have imposed harsher laws on gays and lesbians.

However, in an interview with BBC’s John Sopel prior to his visit Africa, the President spoke openly of his support for the global LGBT community, before rebuking comments made by the Kenya’s deputy leader, William Ruto.

When asked about the difficulties he may face during his visit, Obama said he has been “very blunt” about his beliefs surrounding the subject of LGBT rights, and voiced his distaste for Mr Ruto’s comments, saying he is “not a fan” of discrimination on any level, including discrimination “on the basis of sexual orientation or gender.”

Responding to a question on Kenya – and how he will deal with Mr Ruto, who recently stated, “We have heard that in the US they have allowed gay relations and other dirty things”


President Obama said:

Yeah. Well, I disagree with him on that, don’t I? And I’ve had this experience before when we’ve visited Senegal in my last trip to Africa. I think that the president there President Sall, is doing a wonderful job in moving the country forward – a strong democrat. But in a press conference, I was very blunt about my belief that everybody deserves fair treatment, equal treatment in the eyes of the law and the state.

And that includes gays, lesbians, transgender persons. I am not a fan of discrimination and bullying of anybody on the basis of race, on the basis of religion, on the basis of sexual orientation or gender.”

He also said that he believes his personal connection to the country will aid him in his efforts to convince them to change their stance on homosexuality.

And as somebody who has family in Kenya and knows the history of how the country so often is held back because women and girls are not treated fairly, I think those same values apply when it comes to different sexual orientations.”

The President’s comments echo that of the US Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons, as well as the path other countries like the UK are going down to promote LGBT rights at home and abroad.

Obama said:

This job is an important new tool for us because it allows us to engage in a globally consistent manner at a reasonably senior level with governments overseas to explain our views and our policy projection here, which is actually not very controversial.”

A White House spokesperson had previously stated that the President had every intention of discussing gay rights on his trip to Kenya – despite the country’s warnings not to.

Anti gay protesters have made repeated attempts to discourage the President to from promoting gay rights during his visit to the country, taking to social media and the streets of Nairobi in an attempt to dissuade any discussion on the matter.

A Kenyan political group had also planned to protest the President’s upcoming visit by asking 5,000 people to march naked through the streets – however, the march was cancelled after the Kenyan security forces intervened.

Cynthia Nixon Urges Us to Continue the Fight for LGBT Rights

Two-time Emmy-winner Cynthia Nixon – famed for starring in Sex in the City – has written an op-ed in Variety urging LGBT activists and their allies to continue the fight for marriage equality.

Even though the Friday Supreme Court decision to legalise gay marriage across America may seem like the ultimate victory, Nixon argues that the work is not done yet.


The reason the LGBT movement has come so far is constant perseverance both in the face of adversity and after achieving community goals, she said.

Equality proponents knew they were going to win, but didn’t take it for granted for a moment; they worked, they organized, leaving no stone unturned. And to have the vote come from the general population was absolutely game-changing.

The important thing to remember going forward, though, is no outcome is ever 100% assured. We have to keep organizing like our lives depend on it.”

Nixon has been active in the fight for marriage equality and married a woman herself in 2012.

Cynthia Nixon

But she offers a note of caution, adding,

The important thing to remember going forward, though, is no outcome is ever 100% assured. We have to keep organizing like our lives depend on it.”

And the bisexual mother-of-two insists it’s now more important than ever to be true and honest about your sexuality if you’re gay, adding,

LGBT characters aren’t new; everybody has LGBT people in their family, and everybody needs to make the effort to come out in any and every way they can.

If people who are opposed to equality realized how many individuals they already like, admire or even love are LGBT, the battle would be over. It’s important to come out to our parents, children, co-workers, boss – you name it.”

Read the full article here

Portugal’s Parliament Formally Adopts National Anti-Discrimination Day

Portugal’s Parliament took a step forward for LGBT rights, by unanimously approving a measure to adopt May 17th as the National Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

In doing so, the Parliament committed to

… engage in fulfilling national and international commitments to combat homophobic and transphobic discrimination.”

The text of the resolution reads that the day

… [the day] is celebrated around the world and officially recognised in several states and within the European Union as the date that marks the long journey to combat homophobic and transphobic discrimination and struggle for recognition of rights under the law, recalling the moment when, in 1990, the World Health Organisation removed homosexuality from its International Classification of Diseases, knocking both a real and symbolic barrier of homophobic prejudice. “

While Portugal legalised same-sex marriage in 2010, the country still prohibits adoption by same-sex couples.

Father Charged in Hate Crime Murder of Houston Lesbian Couple

The father of one of the victims has finally been charged in the murder of a Houston lesbian couple committed last year.

On Tuesday, James Cosby was indicted on capital murder charges in the deaths of his daughter, Britney Cosby, and her girlfriend, who were both 24.


James Cosby has been in jail on a charge of tampering with evidence since shortly after the murders.

The bodies of Cosby and Jackson were found near a dumpster outside a convenience store in Galveston County in March 2014.

Autopsy results showed Cosby died from blunt force trauma to the head, and Jackson — who had a 5-year-old daughter — died from a gunshot wound.

From KHOU-TV‘s report on James Cosby’s indictment:

Investigators later found a lot of blood at Cosby’s Houston home.

According to court documents, they searched Cosby s bedroom and found large areas of blood on surfaces throughout.

A criminal complaint filed in court says detectives also noticed a missing window shutter on Cosby s home. They found a shutter matching the missing one covered in blood near where the victim s bodies were found. Detectives say Cosby’s thumbprint was on the shutter.

Following James Cosby’s arrest, Britney Cosby’s mother told KHOU

… [he] didn’t like the idea of her being gay.”

Cosby’s mother also told the The Houston Chronicle:

He would throw it in her face.”

Adding that her daughter quoted James Cosby as saying, “Don’t throw that gay (expletive) around in this house.”

In addition, Houston civil rights activist Quanell X, who was advising the family in the wake of the murder, told Fox 26 he “found writings about homosexuality on Cosby’s Koran indicating he may have had an issue with his daughter’s sexual orientation.”

James Cosby had been released from prison in October 2013, where he served time for failing to register as a sex offender after being convicted two decades before of sexually assaulting a 22-year-old woman.

New Report Underlines Fierce Inequalities American LGBTs Face

While marriage equality may become a nationwide phenomenon this summer, LGBT Americans will still suffer many inequities, a new report from the Movement Advancement Project points out.

Sixty-one percent of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) population in the U.S. will continue to live in states with medium or low legal protections — or that have outright hostile laws.”

Mapping LGBT Equality in America ranks U.S. states by their LGBT rights policies, rating them as high, low, medium, or negative in regard to equality.

The state rankings derive from their policies in a variety of areas, including anti-discrimination law, relationship recognition, health care, parenting rights, and much more.

California ranks highest of all states, Louisiana lowest.

LGBT Americans 01

Twelve states and the District of Columbia, collectively home to 39% of the LGBT population, rank in the high equality category; 10 states, with 9% of LGBT Americans, medium equality; 13 states, encompassing 23% of LGBT people, low equality; and 15 states, with 28%of LGBT Americans, negative equality.

The report notes that even if the Supreme Court makes marriage equality the law of the land when it rules on the cases it heard in April, 52% of LGBT people would be at risk of being fired from their jobs, kicked out of their homes, or denied access to doctor’s offices and restaurants; 86% would live in states where their child is not protected from discrimination in school for having LGBT parents; and 81% would live in states that allow harmful “conversion therapy” to be used on minors.

The proportion of LGBT people living in states with high and medium overall equality would remain unchanged, but 12 states would shift from negative equality states to become low equality states.

LGBT Americans 02

MAP executive director Ineke Mushovic said in a recent press release

Without question, a victory at the Supreme Court would be a transformative in helping advance equality for LGBT people. “However, many other laws are needed to fully protect LGBT people and their families. For example, while same-sex couples may soon be able to marry in their home state, that same state’s laws may fail to protect LGBT youth from being bullied in schools, lack non-discrimination laws covering LGBT workers, or lack laws and policies that help transgender people update the gender marker on their identity documents. One state may have high equality while a neighbouring state has hostile laws. Or a state may have high levels of equality for gay, lesbian, and bisexual people while offering almost no legal protections to transgender people.”

Read the full report at MAP’swebsite, which also offers continually updated information on individual states’ LGBT policies.

Canada’s First Lesbian Premier, Kathleen Wynne, Speaks Up About Discrimination

In politics, the topic of LGBT rights is a contentious issue as legislators decide whether to appease conservatives and deny those rights or to support LGBT rights in the name of creating a fairer, more equal society. Off the back of that, the topic of LGBT politicians is also a thorny subject as while LGBT people want to be represented in government, others accused LGBT politicians of having an agenda.

It was a pleasant surprise back in 2013 when Kathleen Wynne was sworn in as the Premier of Ontario, Canada. Not only is the she the first female premier of Ontario but she is also the first openly gay head of government in the English-speaking world. At the time, Wynne came under for saying that she’s “not a gay activist” as that’s not how she got into politics, but she explained that it would be a “wonderful, wonderful thing” if she could help gay people “be less frightened”.

Two years on and Wynne has again spoken about her duties as a premier but also as a lesbian. She gave a speech to students at the Agincourt Collegiate Institute, in commemoration of the ‘Day of Pink’, which came about when two teenage boys from Nova Scotia brought pink shirts to wear to school after they saw a classmate being bullied for doing the same.

Wynne told the Agincourt students that:

People come up to me all the time and they say ‘I am so glad you are there because my daughter can see that she can be anything, she can do anything’ (and) there are people who come up to me often and say ‘you have made a difference in my son’s life or my daughter’s life — they’re gay — and they see your presence there as an important signal that our society is changing,’ and that we are a safer and more inclusive place”

She also explained that she feels that it’s her responsibility to “make our society safer and more inclusive” and that the Day of Pink “is a day to stand up against homophobia, it’s a day to stand up against transphobia and all those forms of discrimination”. Wynne also defended the government’s controversial new education curriculum, which plans to teach children about same-sex relationships, gender expression, the dangers of sexting and online bullying, saying that it “is about giving kids the information that they need in order to be able to be safe.”

We Went To Gay Conversion Therapy Camp

Powerful documentary from Vice that needs to be watched.

Conversion therapy is the practice of “curing” gay people by trying to turn them straight through counselling and lifestyle restrictions. The practice dates back to the early Freudian period, when homosexuality was considered pathological and attempts to treat it were deemed appropriate. Today, however, homosexuality has been removed from the American Psychiatric Association’s list of mental disorders, and conversion therapy is considered ineffective, harmful, and potentially deadly.

Regardless of a nationwide battle toward the acceptance of same­-sex marriage and equal rights for gay people, conversion therapy is still a problem, and it’s being practiced every single day in the United States and throughout the world.

Also: Did Gay Conversion Therapy Work For This Couple? Meet The McCardles

In this special report, VICE gets exclusive access to one of the hundreds of gay-conversion-therapy organisations, groups, and sessions in the United States. At the Journey into Manhood program, men pay more than $600 to attend a weekend retreat where they participate in exercises and activities the staff members claim will help them battle their same-sex ­orientation. The only qualification to become a staff member is to have successfully completed the program.

The report meets with the founder of reparative therapy, Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, who is illegally practicing on minors in the State of California, and investigates the controversial legal battle to fight conversion therapy for individuals under 18 years of age. We also travel to the annual Gay Christian Network Conference, speak with former “ex-gay” leaders including John Smid of Love in Action, who is now married to his gay partner, and hear the grueling stories of the individuals who have survived this brutal practice.

Watch the full documentary here.

San Francisco Gay Film Fest to Highlight the ‘Pinkwashing’ of Israel’s Crimes

The world over, LGBT rights are a contentious issue. Countries with poor form are called out by the global community (see: the response to the anti-LGBT laws of Russia and many African nations) and those who are doing right by its LGBT citizens are heralded, praised and patted on the back for offering human rights that really should have been offered from the get-go.

But what happens when the prominence of these LGBT rights out shadows the rest of a country’s dealings? When people are so busy shouting about LGBT rights that they forget about the not-so admirable activities that a country is conducting? That’s called pinkwashing.

Pinkwashing is not an unfamiliar practice; it’s something we’ve seen with the UK’s current government as Prime Minister Cameron shares his positive views on same-sex marriage (and notes that his party helped bring it into law) seemingly in an effort to gloss over their economic and institutional failings.

However, just because it’s common it doesn’t mean that it’s right and as we’re seeing mass pinkwashing with Israel, in an attempt to gloss over the killings of Palestinians, one LGBT group is finally speaking up against it.

One way in which Israel is establishing itself as a progressive LGBT rights thinker is by sponsoring LGBT film festivals and movies, with San Francisco’s Frameline and the Vancouver Queer Film Festival both receiving funding from the Israeli government and/or screening movies funded by Israel. And so in order to challenge this, Queers for Palestine will be hosting Outside the Frame at the San Francisco Brava Theatre in June.

Despite the political leanings of the group behind the film fest, not all of the films shown at Outside the Frame have to be about Palestine.

Having such a broad submission guideline will help Outside the Frame to promote the idea that what’s going on in Palestine is an issue for all LGBT people and not just those who are already concerned with the events in the country.

Given that Israel’s actions are destroying the lives of LGBT Palestinians too, there’s all the more reason for LGBT people who have perhaps not thought about Palestine, to speak out against Israel and its pinkwashing campaign.

In addition, submissions will also have to sign up to the following mission statement:

“As queer activists for social justice, including Palestinian liberation, we recognize that Israel is attempting to co-opt the queer struggle for liberation while the Israeli government continues to kill, exclude and deny rights to Palestinians, including queer Palestinians. This is pinkwashing and Frameline must stop participating in it.”

Find out more about Outside the Frame on the official website.


‘League of Legends’ Tournament Organisers Attempt To Limit Lesbian & Trans* Participants In The Philippines

An eSports gaming league based in the Philippines has withdrawn a ruling that sought to limit the number of gay and transgender female participants in its all-female gaming tournaments.

Garena eSports runs competitive events throughout Southeast Asia, and one very popular game is the multiplayer battle game League of Legends. This game is one of the most popular titles in professional gaming, with around 30m active players a day. Last year, 27m fans watched the game’s world championship tournament via online streams.


In a post that opened with “Greetings, ladies of the league,” an unnamed site moderator at Garena explained that the company planned to “experiment” with participation rules for its February 22 League of Legends tournament. The new rule would limit each five-person LoL team to having “a maximum of one (1) gay/transgendered woman for the entirety of the tournament day,” and the rules clarified that a team cannot go so far as to swap a gay or transgender player for another between matches.

As an explanation, the post described Garena’s aims “to have an inclusive environment where no one feels left out,” but then went on to claim that gay and transgender players “may probably have some unfair advantage.”

“… there are arguments and concerns from other participants who disputes that Lesbian, Gay, Transgendered Women members may probably have some unfair advantage.”

Garena eSports

The blogpost was quickly shared across social media and specialist gaming sites, with dozens of furious gamers questioning the decision.

“In what universe would somebody’s sexual preferences, gender identity, or current genital load-out have any impact on their ability to compete in a digital medium?”


On Tuesday evening, League of Legends developer Riot Games provided a short response to the escalating controversy via Twitter, stating,

“LGBT players are welcome at official LoL tourneys. We’re working with partners to ensure consistency with our values across all regions.”

Riot Games

By Wednesday morning, Garena eSports had posted an update to its ruling, and a statement:

“Our initial ruling on LGBT player restrictions within the Iron Solari League has created a lot of good discussion and debate over the past 24 hours. After discussing the ruling with our partners and re-examining our approach, we have decided to remove these restrictions completely. This means that any player who self-identifies as female will be allowed to participate. We sincerely apologise for any offence we caused to the LGBT and gaming communities.”

Garena eSports

This is not the first controversy to affect gender-segregated events in the eSports scene. Last year, a Finnish tournament based around the card-trading game Hearthstone was criticised for inviting only male competitors. The organisers claimed that they were acting in compliance with International e-Sports Federation rules, and in response to an internet outcry, the South Korea-based body changed its position on gender segregated tournaments, offering both “open for all” and women only events.

Similarly, professional eSports is overwhelmingly dominated by male players and organisers are actively looking at ways to encourage more women and LGBTQ competitors. Riot Games is supporting university and school leagues, hoping to bring in a more diverse user-base at an earlier stage, while the Electronic Sports League has pointed toward the need for more women in leadership roles.

Madhu Kinnar Becomes India’s First Transgender Mayor

When it comes to LGB rights, India has a notably poor track record. Not only is being gay illegal (and can result in a lifetime imprisonment) but homosexual intercourse has also been a criminal offense in the Indian Penal Code since 1860. The Delhi High Court once deemed these laws to be a direct violation of the rights provided by the Indian Constitution but this ruling was overturned in 2013.

Where the Asian country does a lot deal better is with trans folk. In the state of Tamil Nadu, there is a transgender welfare policy whereby those looking to undergo Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS) can do so for free in a Government Hospital (though sadly, this applies to MTF only). This policy also allows for free housing program; various citizenship documents; admission in government colleges with full scholarship for higher studies.

In India, trans people were also granted voting rights (albeit as a ‘third’ sex) in 1994. Consider it a reflection of their (somewhat) progressive attitude then that trans politician Madhu Kinnar has been elected as India’s first transgender mayor.

Kinnar’s win took place in Chhattisgarh, a state in Central India. The area is home to 25.5 million people making it the 10th largest state in the country – it also makes her win all the more significant.

An independent candidate, she beat her opponent (Bharatiya Janata Party’s Mahaveer Guruji) by 4,537 votes, which is a relatively slim margin. However, her win is monumental and Kinnar took it in her stride,

“People have shown faith in me. I consider this win as love and blessings of people for me. I’ll put in my best efforts to accomplish their dreams. I only spent Rs. 60,000-70,000 from my earnings during my campaign. It was the public support that encouraged me to enter the poll fray for the first time and because of their support only, I emerged as the winner.”

Not that there haven’t been naysayers, though. The Congress Party have dismissed Kinnar’s win as the result of a protest vote, with Raigarh district Congress President Narendra Negi saying that “There was no Modi wave in Raigarh this time. People of Raigarh were fed up with the corruption of BJP, hence they voted for Madhu. It is not Madhu Kinnar’s victory, but it’s a loss of BJP.”

Doubters aside, Kinnar has made history and we look forward to hearing about her policies in the coming months.

Gay Ski Legend Anja Paerson Says IOC Needs to Do More for LGBT Athletes

Although athletes are taught to respect one another, the world of sport has not always been the most welcoming for LGBT people. While women’s sports appear to be more tolerant than men’s (there’s a significant amount of out female athletes and less than a dozen openly gay male ones) across the board there are issues.

And this is obviously a massive problem. Not only can a hostile community inhibit athletes from being at the top of their game (the mental stress of staying closeted is surely enormous on the world’s sporting stages) but it fosters the viewpoint that being L, G, B or T is anything but ok.

The IOC (International Olympic Committee) has recently made strides to eradicate LGBT intolerance, having recently amended the Olympic Charter to be more inclusive. However, out gay ski legend Anja Paerson (who had amassed an Olympic gold and seven world championship titles before she retired in 2012) says that the IOC isn’t doing enough.

Speaking to CNN’s Alpine Edge, Paerson explained that one example of the IOC’s failing is with the Sochi Winter Olympics that took place in Russia earlier in the year. Back in 2013, Russia passed a series of anti-LGBT laws that not only made coming out illegal but it made supporting LGBT rights a criminal offense too.

Paerson says:

“The Olympic Committee had a huge responsibility in Sochi and they didn’t stand up for human rights. They were hiding from the difficult questions. I think at that point they made a lot of wrong choices.

I think a lot of athletes were very uncomfortable [about going to the games]. I even figured if I should go or not. But I made a choice to go. And I stood for being a gay person and I had my family there, I had my son and my wife. I didn’t feel like Russia should choose the way I live.”

Many have argued that the games should have never taken place due to the country’s intolerance and were not satisfied by the IOC’s assurances that LGBT athletes or attendees wouldn’t be affect by these laws.

Paerson also added that “Hopefully [the IOC] have learned from Sochi Olympics and will get better in the future” before also calling on her own sport to freshen up their views and create an accepting culture for LGBT athletes too.

Kansas, Montana and South Carolina are Refusing to Allow Same-sex Couples to Obtain Marriage Licenses

These three States are continuing their legal fight against same-sex marriage, despite rulings from the Ffederal Appeals Courts. Kansas, Montana and South Carolina are refusing to allow same-sex couples to obtain marriage licenses without a court order directing them to do so, even as officials in other states have abandoned defense of gay marriage bans.

In a political campaign debate, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback vowed to defend his state’s constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

There seems little doubt that U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree ultimately will set aside the state’s gay marriage ban. That’s because the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, encompassing Kansas and five other states, has said a state may not deny a marriage license to two people of the same sex.

“He is absolutely bound and has to make that decision,”

Sarah Warbelow, Legal Director of the Human Rights Campaign

The same requirement holds true for federal judges who are hearing same-sex marriage lawsuits in Montana and South Carolina.

John Eastman, chairman of the anti-gay marriage National Organization for Marriage, agreed with Warbelow that federal judges almost certainly will rule to allow same-sex marriages. But Eastman urged state officials to continue to put up a legal fight until the Supreme Court decides the issue one way or the other.

State officials in Colorado, North Carolina and West Virginia chose a different path. They helped speed the process for legalizing gay marriage in their states when they announced they would no longer defend their state laws in the aftermath of the appeals court rulings.

The latest wave of court rulings that has made same-sex marriage legal in 32 states and the District of Columbia began with the unexpected decision by the Supreme Court on Oct. 6 to reject appeals by five states hoping to keep their bans in place.

The high court’s refusal to step in affected appeals courts in Chicago, Denver and Richmond, Virginia, which in turn oversee 11 states that did not previously allow same-sex couples to marry. Since the justices’ terse order, same-sex couples have been able to marry in nine of those 11 states, with Wyoming on Tuesday becoming the latest to permit it. Only Kansas and South Carolina have not followed suit.

A day after the Supreme Court action, the federal appeals court in San Francisco struck down gay marriage bans in Idaho and Nevada in a ruling that also appeared to apply to Alaska, Arizona and Montana. Since then, federal judges in Alaska and Arizona quickly ruled on pending marriage lawsuits. But in Montana, a federal judge has set a hearing in a marriage challenge for Nov. 20.

No court date has been set for South Carolina, where Attorney General Alan Wilson has said he will continue to defend state marriage law and predicted a final ruling could be months away.

The timing of court action varies from judge to judge, depending on what other matters are before the court and how much say the judge wants each side to have, Warbelow said.

In North Carolina, U.S. District Judge Max O. Cogburn Jr. acted on his own to strike down the state ban after the Richmond-based appeals court ruling became final.

Human Rights Council Pass Landmark LGBT Rights Resolution

The United Nations Human Rights Council has passed a landmark resolution condemning violence and discrimination against LGBT people.

“The Human Rights Council has taken a fundamental step forward by reaffirming one of the United Nations’ key principles – that everyone is equal in dignity and rights. This resolution puts the UN on a trajectory to address the discrimination and violence LGBT persons suffer daily across the world.”

Jessica Stern, International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission

The resolution expresses grave concern ‘at acts of violence and discrimination, in all regions of the world, committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity’. It also welcomes ‘positive developments at the international, regional and national levels in the fight against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity’.

The resolution, passed with support from 25 countries (Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Montenegro, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, Romania, South Africa, FYR Macedonia, the UK, the US, Venezuela and Vietnam). 14 countries voted against the motion (Algeria, Botswana, Cote D’ivoire, Ethiopia, Gabon, Indonesia, Kenya, Kuwait, Maldives, Morocco, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia and UAE), while 7 countries including China and India abstained.

Only some UN members have a seat on the Human Rights Council.

The resolution was proposed in early September by Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, and Colombia, and has backing from Israel, the US, New Zealand, and Australia. Based on the UN High Commissioner for Human RIghts’ 2011 report on anti-LGBT discrimination and violence, the proposed resolution calls for the Human Rights Council to update the 2011 report with “good practices and ways to overcome violence and discrimination.”

“We have to acknowledge a fundamental truth that LGBT violence anywhere is a threat to peace and stability and prosperity anywhere.”

John Kerry, US Secretary of State

In 2013, The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights launched Free and Equal, a public education campaign, to increase support for LGBT rights around the world.

The UN announced it would recognise the same-sex marriages of their some 44,000 employees and extend benefits to same-sex spouses in July of this year.

Rise of LGBT rights in Cuba

In the early 1970s and 1980s Cuba, like any communist country, looked at the other countries for guidance in the hope that they all would be moving in the right direction. Some people think that Cuba grew more tolerant due to the rise of the feminist movement. Many believe this was the key to a more liberal-minded attitude and greater social tolerance towards Cuba’s LGBT community.

This is usually backed up by the Cuban National Centre for Sex Eduction, which was funded by the Cuban Women’s Federation in 1977. The centre’s goal was to enlighten the outlook on homosexuality and slowly start to undermine traditional sexual prejudices and taboos. Also around this time the law of sexual division of labor was broken within the traditional family unit. By 1979 it was no longer a crime for two queer people to have sex.

But even with all these laws in power and feminism on the rise, the government still encouraged people to discriminate against open homosexuals. Some LGBT people were forced to leave as “unnecessary” parts of society, who in the eyes of the government were hampering Cuba’s development. It is believed that this strong aggression was due to Cuba’s devotion to Stalin’s ideology towards LGBT people.

Thankfully in 1986 there was a huge positive shift in Cuban law, which was the full annulment of any other laws restricting homosexulaity. Authorities were told to release anyone who had been previously jailed due to the absurd laws which had put them behind bars for simply being who they were. During this period the government became rather sex positive and were encouraging everyone to practice safe sex,. This was seen as a move to gain the support of the LGBT community. As odd as it sounds now, homosexuality was no longer seen as perversion by the medical society. This was an enormous step!

One of the biggest achievements came in June 2008, when the Cuban government permitted doctors to perform sex change operations. These are still being successfully performed. Also, state television continues to portray gay characters. Even if it’s still highly controversial, it is an essential step for society to let go of the tainted past. The Castro family have all been apologizing for their mistakes and stating that they are sorry for what they have done. It is believed that the rest of the government will not go against their words, but the fact that many LGBT people’s lives were destroyed by their hands still remains.

Daring New US TV Ad Takes On Homophobia

Two pro-LGBT rights organisations have produced a 30-second TV ad that will seek to change public attitudes to same-sex marriage in the US state of Oklahoma. Freedom Oklahoma and Freedom to Marry intend the ad to be part of their new public initiative to take on intolerance across the United States.

The broadcast focuses on the Oklahoma-based Cuyler family, whose patriarch is retired soldier Colonel Ed Cuyler who served 22 years in the US Army, during which time he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Purple Heart medals for bravery. He has been married to his wife for almost 40 years.

In the ad, Colonel Cuyler discusses the meaning and value of his marriage and why it is important to stay loyal and respectful to his wife. He is addressing his daughter Deedra, who is a lesbian, and her partner Amber. The couple are bringing up three infant children.

‘Here in Oklahoma, we value family. When Deedra told me she was gay, as her dad, I was worried because I wanted to protect her. When Deedra met Amber, I realized she could have a family. Only marriage means the ability to take care of your family.’

Colonel Cuyler

While the TV spot is expected to give a spiritual boost to gay and lesbian people in Oklahoma, it will surely be controversial amongst more reactionary Oklahomans. At the same time, its broadcast is extremely timely, given that only six months ago a federal judge overturned the ban on gay marriage that had existed in Oklahoma for decades. LGBTs in Oklahoma and all over the world are waiting in hot anticipation for the final ruling in this case.

Landmark Marriage Equality Ruling in Mexico

In a historic step, a judge in the state of Oaxaca in Mexico ruled on Tuesday that the prohibition of same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. The LGBT community in Mexico is overjoyed with the decision as it means that LGBTs will likely be allowed to get married all across the country.

Mexico’s Supreme Court found that marriage inequality not only contravened Article 1 of the Mexican Constitution, which explicitly condemns discrimination against sexual minorities, but that it breached Article 143 of the National Civil Code. These landmark rulings come as a response to a civil rights suit brought by 39 LGBT Mexicans.

‘It is time to modernise our laws and our institutions have to adapt … because we are being overtaken by new circumstances,’ said Clarivel Rivera, Director of Oaxaca’s Vital Records Department. In the light of this good news for Mexican LGBTs, the government is now expected to change the country’s laws to accommodate all forms of same-sex marriage.

Same-sex ceremonies already take place in states such as Quintana and the federal district of Mexico City, while elsewhere LGBTs can join equivalent “civil union schemes”. Mexican LGBTs now feel that the next step must be to ensure that all states recognise all kinds of same-sex relationships.

Image source


Mexico Court Rules Law Banning Gay Marriage… by IBTimesTV

Fashionistas to Boycott Dorchester Hotels Over Homophobia Row

Influential figures in the US fashion industry have called for a boycott of all hotels owned by the Dorchester Collection because the company is owned by the government of Brunei which recently changed its nation’s laws to allow the stoning to death of convicted homosexuals.

Fashion designers Peter Som and Brian Atwood, along with the co-owner of the Decades Boutique, Cameron Silver, have demanded that people stop attending designer dinners and charity fashion shows at such plush venues as the Beverley Hills Hotel.

Silver said on Tuesday, ‘The fashion industry and its supporters are unified in boycotting these properties.’ Asked about how the campaign got going, he replied, ‘Someone mentioned it to me while I was in New York on Sunday, I looked up an article [about the new law] and then posted something. [Valentino PR Director] Carlos Souza reposted it and then it was reposted by [Valentino’s longtime business partner] Giancarlo [Giammetti] and it just sort of grew from there.’

Shoe designer Atwood waded into the row with these comments on Instagram: ‘Don’t stay at the Principe di Savoia, Le Meurice, or the Dorchester during Milan, Paris or London fashion week’s [sic] this June to October. Send a clear signal to their owner, The Sultan of Brunei, that stoning people to death for being gay in Brunei is not acceptable. His new law comes into effect tomorrow April 22. Why not cancel your bookings tomorrow?’

In response, the PR manager for the Beverley Hills Hotel, Leslie Lefkowitz, issued the following statement: ‘We do not tolerate any form of discrimination of any kind. The laws that exist in other countries outside of where Dorchester Collection operates do not affect the policies that govern how we run our hotels. Dorchester Collection’s Code emphasizes equality, respect and integrity in all areas of our operation, and strongly values people and cultural diversity amongst our guests and employees.’

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