Around the World – LGBT Weekly Wed, 07 Dec 2016 21:08:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 David Beckham’s tattoos come to life in new UNICEF film (VIDEO) Tue, 06 Dec 2016 18:51:10 +0000

Monday, David Beckham and UNICEF released a powerful new film to shine a light on the issue of violence against children, highlighting how physical and psychological abuse marks children forever.

In the film Beckham’s tattoos come to life representing the millions of children worldwide who bear marks of violence that they have not chosen.

David Beckham is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and has supported Unicef since 2005. In 2015, his tenth year with Unicef, he launched 7: The David Beckham UNICEF Fund to help protect children in danger.

Watch the film above, share and help #ENDviolence for good.

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Elton John: New HIV fund makes ‘horribly clear’ how LGBT human rights abuses are a barrier to ending AIDS Wed, 30 Nov 2016 18:15:21 +0000

Rapid ResponseBRIGHTON, England — A Rapid Response Fund to support HIV services at risk as a result of human rights violations has been launched by the International HIV AIDS Alliance.

In its first few weeks the $4 million LGBT Rapid Response Fund received more than 235 applications from organizations providing HIV services.

The fund supports organizations working with LGBT in 29 countries in response to situations where HIV services are threatened because of stigma, discrimination or violence.

Grants from $500 to $20,000 are available from the fund which is supported by the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF), the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and UNAIDS.

For World Aids Day the Alliance has issued a report Rapid Response: Breaking down the barriers preventing LGBT people and men who have sex with men from accessing HIV services detailing the fund’s work.

Sir Elton John said: “This work is badly needed. In a short space of time, the fund received more than 235 applications. Each request makes horribly clear just how much LGBT human rights abuses serve as a barrier to ending AIDS. Now more than ever it’s time for government leaders and philanthropists to join efforts to overcome the anti-LGBT stigma, discrimination and violence that is making the HIV epidemic worse.”

Shaun Mellors, Director Knowledge and Influence at the International HIV AIDS Alliance, said: “Stigma, discrimination and violence mean HIV services for LGBT people and men who have sex with men are regularly prevented from operating.

“Today’s report highlights what’s been achieved in the fund’s first few weeks alone. It has helped re-house people living with HIV targeted after police raids in Uganda; supported homeless people from the LGBT community left without HIV medication after a natural disaster in Jamaica; and supported LGBT groups that have come under threat as a result of state-sponsored crackdowns in East Africa.”

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Tanzania bans HIV/AIDS outreach programs that serve LGBT people Mon, 28 Nov 2016 22:11:54 +0000

Tanzania has banned HIV/AIDS outreach programs in the latest in the country’s discriminatory laws against the LGBT community.

Harrison Mwakyembe

Harrison Mwakyembe

Out reports that this ban comes just months after Justice Minister Harrison Mwakyembe announced a plan to end pro-LGBT charities. Health Minister Ummy Mwalimu also announced a ban on personal lubricants because it “encourages homosexuality.”

The Washington Post reported that  Tanzania’s actions appear to mark the first time that a country has suspended parts of the United States’ hugely successful foreign HIV/AIDS initiative in an attempt to crack down on the gay community.

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Justin Trudeau announces Special Advisor on LGBTQ2 issues Wed, 16 Nov 2016 17:22:28 +0000
Randy Boissonnault

Randy Boissonnault

OTTAWA – Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, announced Tuesday that Randy Boissonnault, Member of Parliament for Edmonton Centre, has been named Special Advisor on LGBTQ2 issues.

Boissonnault’s principal role will be to advise the Prime Minister on the development and co-ordination of the Government of Canada’s LGBTQ2 agenda. This will include working with LGBTQ2 organizations from across the country to promote equality for the LGBTQ2 community, protect the rights of its members, and address discrimination against them – both historical and current.

This kind of discrimination was documented in a report recently released by Egale Canada Human Rights Trust (Egale) on June 10, 2016, entitled “The Just Society Report”. The Government of Canada welcomed this report, supports the values, principles, and objectives it espouses, and will work with Egale and other partners to take action against the discrimination the report describes.

“We have made great strides in securing legal rights for the LGBTQ2 community in Canada – from enshrining equality rights in the Charter to the passage of the Civil Marriage Act,” said Prime Minister Trudeau. “But the fight to end discrimination is not over and a lot of hard work still needs to be done. Canadians know our country is made stronger because of our diversity, not in spite of it.”

In addition to being the Prime Minister’s Special Advisor on LGBTQ2 issues, Boissonnault retains his current duties as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage. “It is an honor and a privilege to be named to this role,” said Boissonnault. “I will work hard with the Prime Minister and the LGBTQ2 community to advance and protect their rights and address historical injustices they have endured.  I look forward to collaborating closely with Egale and other organizations in the coming months to advance the government’s agenda for equality.”

The actions being announced today are part of the Government of Canada’s overall efforts to ensure that all Canadian citizens are treated equally and with respect. Another important measure it took in May 2016 was tabling historic legislation (Bill C-16) to recognize and reduce the vulnerability of trans and other gender-diverse persons to discrimination, hate propaganda, and hate crimes, and to affirm their equal status in Canadian society. The Government also intends to repeal section 159 of the Criminal Code.

Canada is also actively promoting LGBTQ2 rights on the international stage. It is funding and implementing LGBTQ2-related projects abroad supporting violence-prevention programs, awareness-raising campaigns and advocacy efforts, including initiatives aimed to combat homophobia and transphobia in education systems.

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American duo honored for their pioneering efforts to build global recognition for LGBT+ businesses Mon, 07 Nov 2016 20:31:55 +0000
Chance Mitchell and Justin Nelson

Chance Mitchell and Justin Nelson

TORONTO – The Canadian Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (CGLCC) has awarded its first-ever Chairperson’s Award to Chance Mitchell and Justin Nelson, co-founders of the Washington-based National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC).

The Chairperson’s Award recognizes an organization or individual that has made a significant contribution to the LGBT+ business movement in Canada or abroad.

Chance Mitchell and Justin Nelson have worked tirelessly for 14 years to build what is now the largest LGBT+ economic advocacy and business development organization in the world. Their pioneering efforts, along with their mentorship and support of the CGLCC and other global organizations, deserve to be recognized,” said R. Bruce McDonald, co-founder and chair of the CGLCC.

“On behalf of my fellow co-founder Justin Nelson, the entire NGLCC family, and myself, I am tremendously honoured to accept the Chairperson’s Award, recognizing the NGLCC’s international leadership and ever-growing partnership with CGLCC over the past 13 years,” said NGLCC Co-Founder & CEO Chance Mitchell. “The CGLCC was our first global partner and has always stood by our side as we launched new affiliate chambers and global initiatives, creating opportunities that improve the lives and economic strength of LGBT citizens around the world. We look forward to celebrating our continued partnership as the CGLCC co-hosts the opening reception at our inaugural Global LGBTI Business Week later this month.”

The award will be presented to Mitchell and Nelson at the CGLCC’s Black & White Gala in Toronto Nov. 9. It is one of several Business Leadership Awards being presented by the CGLCC this year.


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Tanzania suspends some HIV programs for gay men Wed, 02 Nov 2016 19:45:23 +0000

Tanzania has suspended some HIV programs for men who have sex with men (MSM), but will continue to provide services to other groups. Earlier this year, the country threatened to ban any group that “promotes” LGBTQ people. Same-sex sexual activity is illegal in Tanzania and punishable by up to 30 years in prison.

Reuters reported that Ummy Mwalimu, Tanzania’s minister for health said the government had received reports that some local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) were promoting and normalizing same-sex relationships as part of their HIV programs.

“We have suspended MSM community-based interventions pending (a) review,” Mwalimu told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

John Kashika, of Community Health Education Services & Advocacy NGO, said suspending HIV/AIDS programs for some LGBT groups was a blow in the fight against the virus. “This is essentially denial of services to people who are at the highest risk of contracting HIV, there’s going to be a lot of implications,” he said.

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ILGA releases new results of the largest ever global research of attitudes toward LGBTI people Tue, 18 Oct 2016 20:36:46 +0000

ilga 2GENEVA–Today, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) shares the second round of results of the ILGA-RIWI Global Attitudes Survey on LGBTI People in partnership with Logo. This is a new annual survey to gather credible data on public attitudes to particular issues related to sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics on every continent, and this release comes just a few days ahead of World Statistics Day to be celebrated on October 20.

Developed in cooperation with the Canadian technology company RIWI Corp. and in partnership with the US entertainment brand Logo, the survey collected answers to 31 questions from 96,331 online individuals in 65 countries. Significantly, the survey reached environments highly hostile to LGBTI people, such as Saudi Arabia and Iraq, resulting in the largest investigation of attitudes towards LGBTI people around the world ever conducted.

While the first report, released in May 2016, looked at sexual orientation as its predominant subject, this second output, titled The Personal and the Political: Attitudes towards LGBTI People around the World, allows a deeper analysis into global attitudes also to gender identity, gender expression and to a lesser extent, intersex issues. It also shows relevant differences in how people respond at a personal level to encountering LGBTI people or issues, when compared to more ideological or political attitudes they may hold.

At a global average, for example, this survey shows that 67% of the world (strongly or somewhat) agrees that human rights should be applied to everyone regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. “All the countries surveyed returned results over 50% in favour of this proposition, even those considered among the most hostile to sexual and gender minorities,” comments Aengus Carroll, co-author of the research. “This clearly demonstrates that countries’ legal policy and international practice can be very contradictory when compared to attitudes declared by their citizens.”

When people know each other first-hand, a de-stigmatising effect is often produced, countering the stereotyping too often perpetuated by religious and political leaders, as well as in media. At the global level, 46% of respondents know someone lesbian, gay or bisexual, while only 28% of respondents directly know someone who does not identity with the gender they were assigned at birth, or identifies as transgender.

Data also seem to show that wide awareness of issues related to sex characteristics, or intersex, still needs to emerge in societies, as 38% of respondents have no opinion on whether children whose sex characteristics are unclear at birth should be surgically assigned a gender by medical professionals, and not by a person looking after the welfare of the child.

Other data seem to show a significant bridge between what people feel is permissible at the personal level and the laws that govern sexual behaviour and expression: 38% of respondents globally feel that adults should be allowed to have private, consensual same-sex relationships. Interestingly, when extending the question to a matter of law (‘Should being lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans or intersex be a crime?’), it is seen that only 26% feel that such behaviours or expressions should be criminalized.

“Public attitudes in both hostile and friendly nations are not as extremely negative as might have been feared,” commented Renato Sabbadini, Executive Director at ILGA. “However, this does not erase the fact that violence and discrimination inflicted on sexually and gender diverse people all around the world continues unabated, and indeed is increasing in places. Too often we still see sexual and gender minorities being convenient scapegoats for leaders who are looking for support from more conservative sectors of their society.”

Proponents of traditional values often attempt to denaturalize diversity by framing it as something chosen or adopted in a person, rather than being an innate attribute. At the global level, only one quarter (23%) of respondents seem to feel people are ‘born that way,’  and only 21% of the world either ‘strongly’ or ‘somewhat’ disagree that gender is assigned at birth and always fixed.

On the other hand, though, it is evident that attitudes are changing: 52% of respondents either strongly or somewhat agree that bullying of LGBT young people is a significant problem; 65% of respondents globally have ‘no concerns’ if their neighbour were gay or lesbian (with extremes ranging from a 43% found in Africa to the 83% recorded in Oceania). Virtually identically, at the global level 64% of respondents would have no concerns if they were unable to identify their neighbour’s gender at first sight.

“Sexual and gender minorities are often the first casualty when traditional values are being appealed to,” comment Ruth Baldacchino and Helen Kennedy, Co-Secretaries General at ILGA. “This is why this global survey, with its evidence-based and non-anecdotal data, is a powerful tool for the advancement of human rights of LGBTI people around the world: it offers significant opportunity to inform the public about actual prevailing attitudes, and thereby assist not only LGBTI human rights defenders, but also agencies and governments, as well as regional and international organisations, in the efforts to reduce stigmatization of LGBTI people. Information and knowledge can indeed contribute to changing the world and the lived realities of many people worldwide who are still facing human rights violations.”

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Gay Syrian refugee reacts to Trump and Fox News (VIDEO) Mon, 10 Oct 2016 18:20:22 +0000

A new video from popular YouTube vlogger Davey Wavey features a gay Syrian refugee reacting to to commentary by Donald Trump and Fox News.

Davey Wavey has spent the last three and a half weeks traveling the world documenting the lives and stories of queer people filmed the the 20-year-old young man, Sarjon in The Netherlands.

Wath the video above.


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HRC Equidad MX: Global workplace equality program launches in Mexico Fri, 23 Sep 2016 17:20:02 +0000

WASHINGTON – Thursday, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation  joined with Francisco Robledo of Alianza por la Diversidad e Inclusión Laboral (ADIL) and Fernando Velazquez of FVConsulting – Consultores en Diversidad e Inclusion, S.C to officially launch HRC Equidad MX: Global Workplace Equality Program, a groundbreaking new program that will work to promote LGBTQ workplace inclusion throughout Mexico. The effort comes amidst historic progress for LGBTQ equality in Mexico by bringing together HRC and advocates on the ground to educate and mobilize the country’s business community in support of LGBTQ workers and consumers.

HRC Equidad MX: Global Workplace Equality Program will increase awareness about the importance of LGBTQ diversity and inclusion Mexico’s workplaces by developing consulting and education models for Mexican companies and organizations. It will also utilize HRC’s tools and relationships to engage interested companies in aligning their corporate policies on LGBTQ inclusion to international standards.

“HRC Equidad MX: Global Workplace Equality Program is the next phase in our work and fruitful partnerships in Mexico to promote LGBTQ inclusion,” said Deena Fidas, Director of HRC’s Workplace Equality Program. “As we have seen in the United States, engagement and education with the business community can deliver concrete results for LGBTQ workers. More and more Mexican and Latin American businesses are interested in working on LGBTQ diversity and inclusion and we look forward to working with advocates on the ground in our mutual work to build safe, respectful, and inclusive workplaces.”

Fidas will be kicking off the partnership with an address today about the return on investment for LGBTQ equality at the 3rd Forum of Best Practices at the Workplace at Consejo para Prevenir y Eliminar la Discriminación de la Ciudad de México (COPRED), Mexico City’s Council to Prevent and Eradicate Discrimination.

After numerous successes with U.S.-based multinational corporations operating in Mexico, HRC is partnering with two renowned experts to grow the number of LGBT-inclusive businesses and more broadly support a national dialogue on the business case for inclusion. FVConsulting – Consultores en Diversidad e Inclusion, S.C. – and firm founder Fernando Velazquez, who launched the first LGBT employee network group at American Express Mexico, provide sought-after expertise with corporate experience. ADIL – Alianza por la Diversidad e Inclusión Laboral – is an alliance of LGBT professional consultants and experienced social analysts who promote and offer business solutions toward inclusion and respect of LGBT people in the workplace.

“ADIL has sought for the visibility of LGBT inclusion and best practices of companies in Mexico for the last three years and this alliance with HRC will help us strengthen the relationship with decision makers and shorten the time to see tangible results,” said Francisco Robledo, founder of the Alliance for Diversity and Workplace Inclusion.

“HRC Equidad MX: Global Workplace Equality Program is the tool Mexican companies were needing to accelerate their LGBTQ inclusion efforts, I am honored and happy to have joined efforts with HRC to launch this program in México,” said Fernando Velazquez, founder of FVConsulting.

“The U.S. Embassy in Mexico has worked with HRC for over five years in support of equal labor practices in Mexico. We partnered with HRC to launch and support the Pride Connection network here and have since broadened our collaboration to work together on social inclusion efforts,” said U.S. Embassy Acting Spokesperson, Adam Lenert. “We congratulate HRC on their efforts to formalize their presence in Mexico and look forward to working with Mr. Velázquez and Mr. Robledo.”

Through its Corporate Equality Index, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation has laid the roadmap for the adoption of LGBTQ inclusive policies, benefits and practices across major corporations. HRC has collaborated for over five years with the U.S. Embassy, the American Chamber of Commerce, top-rated CEI partners such as Citigroup/Banamex, Dow, JPMorgan Chase & Co. among others, and civil society leaders to promote LGBTQ workplace inclusion and the broader business case for equality in Mexico. Last November, HRC launched its first international CEI in Mexico City along with partners, Dow, Pride Connection Mexico and the U.S. Embassy. This past spring, HRC was honored to again partner with these companies to deliver a keynote and panel moderation at the inaugural Pride Connection Mexico Summit of over 200 corporate and civil society leaders in Mexico .

To learn more about HRC Equidad MX: Global Workplace Equality Program, visit

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Indonesia moves to block gay apps Sun, 18 Sep 2016 00:30:55 +0000

Exhibiting a growing intolerance toward the LGBT community, Indonesia is moving toward banning gay networking apps.

Time reports that a government official has confirmed that authorities are already moving to block at least three apps — Grindr, Blued and BoyAhoy — after a request from police.

“We are starting to block LGBT applications,” the report cited communications ministry spokesperson Noor Iza as saying, adding that the move was intended to target services that promote “sexual deviancy.”

According to BuzzFeed the move comes several months after the Ministry of Communication announced it would craft a ban on LGBT “propaganda” in March, part of an unprecedented crackdown on LGBT rights in the country. The Constitutional Court is separately considering a petition that could make homosexuality a crime in Indonesia for the first time.

The meeting was initially convened to review a police request to block Grindr and 17 other gay apps they allege were used by a child prostitution ring. But the meeting reviewed a broader list, said Ericson Siregar, an officer with the National Police Criminal Investigations Department who participated in the meeting, because the Ministry of Communication had “previously investigated gay applications” and identified dozens for “promoting LGBT.”

“We would be pleased if the communication ministry blocked [gay apps] without hesitation because the smell of pornography is so strong on them, such as exhibiting nudity,” Siregar said.

Same-sex sexual activity is legal throughout most of Indonesia yet Indonesian law does not protect the LGBT community against discrimination and possible hate crimes. Currently, Indonesia does not recognize same-sex marriage.

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Marriage equality petition to be presented at the Northern Ireland Assembly Thu, 15 Sep 2016 21:03:06 +0000

A petition with over 20,000 signatures will be presented to the Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont this coming Tuesday Sept. 20.

The petition against the abuse of the veto over Marriage Equality legislation by the DUP that will be presented by Gerry Carroll MLA, West Belfast People Before Profit, was gathered by Belfast based LGBT news group The Gay Say.

Started 7 months ago the campaign has received huge support both locally and internationally, with high profile figures such as human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, Marriage Equality Referendum 2015 campaigner Panti Bliss and Frankie Goes To Hollywood lead singer Holly Johnston supporting the petition.

A demonstration in support of marriage equality will be held at 10:00AM on the steps of Stormont with the official presentation of the petition at 10:30 a.m.

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Anti-gay U.S. pastor Steven Anderson barred from entering South Africa Tue, 13 Sep 2016 18:50:32 +0000
Steven Anderson

Steven Anderson

LAGOS, Nigeria – The South African Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba, has announced today that U.S. pastor Steven Anderson will be denied entry into South Africa. The decision comes as a result of a campaign launched by global LGBT organization All Out, in partnership with Gay SA Radio. Steven Anderson gained notoriety after celebrating the massacre at a gay club in Orlando, saying ‘there’s now 50 less pedophiles in the world’. He planned to go to South Africa on what he described as a ‘soul winning’ trip.

“We’ve seen how U.S. religious extremists have fueled violence and hate against LGBT people in other parts of Africa. It’s inspiring to see that the South African Government has made a stand for human rights and for the protection of their hate speech laws and constitution”, said Matt Beard, All Out’s Executive Director.

All Out’s partner, Gay SA Radio’s Station Manager Hendrik Baird, also lauded Minister Malusi Gigaba “for taking this matter seriously and for coming to the right decision that is in the best interests of South Africa”.

In his announcement, Minister Gigaba said “we have a duty to prevent harm and hatred in all forms against LGBTI, as any other person in a democratic state,” adding that “I have considered carefully the merits of this matter. Steven Anderson and members/associates of his church are prohibited from entering the Republic of South Africa. I have identified Anderson and associates as undesirable persons. Undesirable persons are barred from travelling to South Africa.” He also acknowledged the importance of the more than 60,000 signatures he received last week in raising the issue.

The decision was based on section 29(1)(d) of South Africa’s Immigration Act, which allows the country to deny entry to any foreigner who is a “member of or adherent to an association or organization advocating the practice racial hatred or social violence.”

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Colombian political parties talk inclusion with LGBTI advocates Fri, 02 Sep 2016 19:32:52 +0000

WASHINGTON, D.C. Thursday Victory Institute and partner organizations convened Colombia’s major political parties to discuss implementation of LGBTI inclusion clauses in the historic peace agreement between the government and FARC guerilla movement. Advocates shared the continued challenges to LGBTI political participation in the country, and provided party representatives with detailed recommendations for ensuring the agreement’s inclusion goals are realized.

“The Colombian peace agreement presents a unique opportunity to bring LGBTI people into the political process, and for LGBTI appointees and advisors to contribute during this exciting new chapter for the nation,” said Victory Institute President & CEO Aisha C. Moodie-Mills. “LGBTI representation in government is critical to ensuring LGBTI interests are considered in the policymaking process. The political parties’ willingness to hold substantive conversations on inclusion is promising and can lead to meaningful progress.”

The peace agreement’s acknowledgement that LGBTI people were among those most affected by the 50-year conflict created an opening for the discussions. The recommendations presented by advocates include:

  • Developing strategies to increase LGBTI participation in government bodies;
  • Appointing department advisors dedicated to serving LGBTI people;
  • Including LGBTI citizen and political engagement strategies in party platforms; and
  • Launching educational and outreach campaigns to increase acceptance of LGBTI people.

The political parties were convened by members of the Observatorio de Participación Política de Personas LGBTI en Colombia (LGBTI Political Participation Watchdog in Colombia), an initiative of Victory Institute and Caribe Afirmativo. Colombia is one of ten countries Victory Institute works in to develop and support civic leaders and increase democratic participation to advance LGBTI equality.

Additional members of Observatorio include National Democratic Institute, Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung en Colombia. In the coming weeks, Observatorio members will lead follow-up meetings with the political parties to push forward adoption of the recommendations.

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Egyptian envoy boycotts UN’s new monitor on anti-gay violence Thu, 18 Aug 2016 16:40:54 +0000
Amr Ramadan

Amr Ramadan

GENEVA — A 5-member UN human rights committee announced that a Thai law professor is its choice to be the UN’s first monitor against anti-gay violence, yet an Egyptian diplomat on the panel is boycotting the mandate.

In a report circulated by the president of the UN human rights council (UNHRC), its Consultative Group—comprised of five diplomats who evaluate candidates for UNHRC expert positions—named Vitit Muntarbhorn, a Bangkok law professor who has held prior UN rights posts, as the world body’s first expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

However, the UN report reveals that Amr Ramadan, Egypt’s ambassador to the UNHRC, refused to participate in the selection process. He detailed his reasons to the council president, in a letter obtained by UN Watch.

According to the Egyptian representative, a mandate on protecting gays from violence and discrimination is “contrary to my convictions and the values I stand for,” “beyond universally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms,” and shows “utter disregard to the principle of universality of internationally agreed human rights.”

Ramadan reaffirmed that the OIC—the powerful Islamic bloc comprised of 56 UN member states and the Palestinian Authority—”shall boycott this mandate and shall not recognize its creation nor cooperate or interact with it in any form.”

Human rights activists decried the OIC’s boycott.

“The Islamic states’ boycott of a mandate to protect gays from being attacked or killed is morally indefensible,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a Geneva-based human rights group.

“Moreover, for those states which are members of the Human Rights Council—like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and UAE—their refusal to cooperate with the mandate is an express breach of their obligations.”

“If Egypt is officially boycotting a UN human rights expert, it should fully resign from the committee that selects them,” said Neuer.

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Indonesians face unprecedented government-led anti-LGBT attacks (VIDEO) Thu, 11 Aug 2016 19:19:59 +0000

The Indonesian government stoked an unprecedented attack on the security and rights of sexual and gender minorities in early 2016. The government campaign included hateful rhetoric, discriminatory edicts, and the use of force to repress peaceful assembly.

Human Rights Watch reports that beginning in January 2016 a series of anti-LGBT public comments by government officials grew into a cascade of threats and vitriol against LGBT Indonesians by state commissions, militant Islamists and mainstream religious organizations. That outpouring of intolerance has resulted in proposals of laws which pose a serious long-term threat to the rights and safety of LGBT Indonesians.

Officials’ biased and untrue statements about LGBT people provided social sanction for harassment and violence against LGBT Indonesians, and even death threats by militant Islamists. State institutions, including the National Broadcasting Commission and the National Child Protection Commission, issued censorship directives banning information and broadcasts that portrayed the lives of LGBT people as “normal” as well as so-called “propaganda” about LGBT lives. That combination of discriminatory rhetoric and policy decisions harmed the physical security and right to free expression of LGBT people across the country.

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Belize’s highest court decriminalizes same-sex activity Wed, 10 Aug 2016 20:47:02 +0000

Today, the highest court in Belize, a country in Central America issued a verdict that found the law criminalizing male same-sex sexual activity to be unconstitutional and ordered the law to be amended, a much-anticipated move hailed by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the educational arm of the United States’ largest civil rights organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people.

The decision, striking down Section 53 of the Belize criminal code, came as a result of the case Caleb Orozco v. The Attorney General of Belize.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Embassy in Belmopan raised a rainbow flag to commemorate LGBTQ Pride Month. 7 News Belize reported that it was the first time the symbol of LGBTQ equality was flown in the country. U.S. Ambassador to Belize Carlos Moreno said of the event, “LGBT rights are human rights, human rights are LGBT rights, there is no distinction, and there is no difference.”

“This is a momentous victory for Belize, and I congratulate the LGBTQ advocates of Belize, as well as the countless legal experts and supporters who fought for this win,” said Ty Cobb, Director of HRC Global. “While Belize is the third country to decriminalize same-sex intimate relationships this year, advocates and attorneys from India to Kenya are diligently working on decriminalization efforts in the 72 countries where such laws remain.”

With this ruling, the number of countries that criminalize LGBTQ people drops to 72.

Belize is the third country to decriminalize same-sex sexual activity this year, joining Nauru, a small island state in the Pacific Ocean, and Seychelles, an island state in the Indian Ocean.

While gradual progress continues to be made, there have also been setbacks. India’s Supreme Court re-criminalized same-sex sexual acts in 2013, overturning a lower court’s 2009 ruling to decriminalize by “reading down” the notorious Section 377, which had been declared unconstitutional.

Belize’s decriminalization verdict follows the May release of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) and Logo Entertainment’s historic report on global attitudes towards LGBTI people. The report found that 53 percent of respondents say that being LGBTI should not be a crime. This is the first survey showing that a majority of the world’s population supports the decriminalization of same-sex sexual activity.

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Uganda Pride cancelled after threats, violent police raid Mon, 08 Aug 2016 17:08:26 +0000

Uganda Pride 2Aug. 4 Ugandan police forces raided the 2016 Uganda Pride, forcefully arrested prominent human rights activist Dr. Frank Mugisha and Pepe Julian Onziema, leaders of Sexual Minorities Uganda, among countless others. Activists and individuals took to social media to report incidents of police brutality and misconduct. Kasha Jacqueline tweeted, “Our Pride event has been raided by police, arrests made. People beaten up, 1 in critical condition who jumped off building to avoid arrest. SOB’.

Aug. 5, Kuchu Times reported,

“The Police who were in the company of plain clothed  officers started pin pointing at whichever two men they saw together and also picked out the transgender individuals. It was a heartbreaking sight as they searched and sexually assaulted transgender persons by touching their genitals and breasts to “determine” whether they were male or female. Many transwomen threw their wigs away and plucked out their braids to avoid being identified and harassed.”

In addition to unlawful and arbitrary arrests, and harassment of the crowd, police called in the media to take photos of everyone at the event without individual consent, violating their privacy and putting individuals in danger should those photos be leaked to the public. This would not be the first time that the media had free reign to “out” LGBTIQ individuals and expose them to harm.

The police cited the raid and arrests to a breach of the Public Order Management Act, which requires organizations to obtain permission to hold a meeting of more than 3 people in public. However organizers of the event assert that they had indeed attained permission prior to the celebrations. While this Act grants authorities to regulate and stop public meetings which go against the law, they are meant to do so with “regard to the rights and freedoms of the persons in respect of whom the order has been issued and the rights and freedoms of other persons.” Officers acted with no regard for the rights and freedoms of any individual they were in contact with and instead treated participants with disrespect and aggression.

Yesterday’s events directly contradict Uganda’s Constitution Articles 21, 23 and 29, which enshrine principles of equality and freedom from discrimination, the protection of personal liberty, including the direction that “a person arrested, restricted or detained shall be informed immediately, in a language that the person understands, of the reasons for the arrest, restriction or detention of his or her right to a lawyer of his or her choice,” and the protection of freedom of conscience, expression, movement, religion and assembly and association. Rights also enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Uganda is a signatory.

Maria Sjodin, Deputy Executive Director, OutRight Action International said, “Again and again, Ugandan authorities show that they have no regard for basic human rights of LGBTIQ people and that they will even violate the Ugandan constitution in order to stop LGBTIQ people from exercising those basic rights. The assault on the community, and especially the physical violence against trans people is appalling. The US government and others with embassies in Kampala must continue to monitor the situation, their presence can make pride events safer and is a concrete way of supporting the targeted minority.”

Uganda Pride cancelled remaining events, after the Minister of Ethics had threatened to stop any events from happening, even going as far as saying he would call for the public to use violence in order to stop events from continuing.

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Ugandan police raid Pride event; arrests made Sat, 06 Aug 2016 14:00:16 +0000

Ugandan police Thursday raided a peaceful LGBTQ pride event in Kampala, the country’s capital. While events continue to unfold, police arrested several participants, including activists Frank Mugisha and Pepe Onziema of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG).

The raid was carried out shortly after a Ugandan tribute to the 49 victims of the deadly shooting in Orlando. The event marked the second evening of Uganda Pride 2016. HRC and other partners sponsored Uganda Pride’s opening reception the previous night. HRC is monitoring the situation closely and working with partners in Uganda to help in any way that we can.

“The violent raid and arrest of LGBTQ leaders attending a Uganda Pride event is an affront to the universal freedom to peaceably assemble and to the basic dignity of LGBTQ Ugandans,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Ugandan authorities must stop targeting and persecuting LGBTQ people. The victims of the raid deserve an apology from their government and police force. The world is watching.”

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, in office since 1986, signed the country’s infamous Anti-Homosexuality Bill in February 2014. Though the Constitutional Court subsequently invalidated it in August the same year, the law created a violent backlash against the LGBTQ Ugandan community that persists today. President Museveni won re-election in February with 62 percent of the vote, however international electoral observers asserted that the election “fell short of key democratic benchmarks,” noting the arrest of opposition party members and the government’s shutdown of social media sites.

“The reaction to the raid highlighted the ever-growing global movement for LGBTQ equality,” said Ty Cobb, Director, HRC Global. “Within minutes after the raid began, activists from around the world joined forces to condemn the incident and call for the release of those who were in custody. We are stronger together.”

The police who were in the company of plain clothed  officers started pin pointing at whichever two men they saw together and also picked out the transgender individuals, reported the Kuchu Times.  It was a heartbreaking sight as they searched and sexually assaulted transgender persons by touching their genitals and breasts all in an attempt to determine whether they were male or female. Many transwomen threw their wigs away and plucked out their braids to avoid being identified and harassed.

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Pride in Uganda made possible through global crowdfunding Fri, 05 Aug 2016 17:44:40 +0000

Uganda 2LAGOS, Nigeria –Pride celebrations start this week in Uganda, fully funded by more than 2,500 members of All Out, a global movement for the rights of LGBT people. The event, themed “Standing together!”, will culminate with a Pride march in Kampala Saturday, Aug. 6.

“As a gay man living in a country where my love is illegal, it’s so crucial to me that we don’t let hate keep us down”, says Isaac Mugisha, one of the activists organizing the event. “We will continue to fight for the right to love. We will continue to stand together. We will show our Pride louder than ever before.”

“Against the backdrop of so much homophobia, hate and violence directed against LGBT people in Uganda, this Pride celebration is a rare and precious moment of community, solidarity and visibility for the local LGBT community”, says Matt Beard, All Out’s Executive Director, who’s in Kampala for the event.

In June, All Out launched a crowdfunding campaign to help fund Uganda Pride. More than 2,500 individual donors from around the world contributed and secured the $20,000 USD needed for the event. The campaign website with an up-to-date donor count is available at

Uganda has one of the world’s worst anti-gay laws. It’s one of the 73 countries around the world where being LGBT can cost you your freedom or your life. Pride Uganda is one of the rare chances for LGBT Ugandans to express their identities publicly and safely. A Pew study from 2013 showed that 96% of Ugandans do not think their society should accept homosexuality. Same-sex activity has been illegal in Uganda between men since 1894, and between women since 2000.

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House LGBT Caucus calls on Ukrainian government to protect Odessa Pride Thu, 04 Aug 2016 17:16:54 +0000

The Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus urged the Ukrainian government today to take measures to safeguard the celebration of LGBT Pride in Odessa this month.

“On behalf of the LGBT Equality Caucus, I commend the leadership of Ukraine for actions taken to ensure that Kiev’s Pride celebrations were able to take place in an atmosphere of safety and respect, and urge the Ukrainian government to take similar measures to ensure the safety of Odessa Pride participants,” said LGBT Equality Caucus Co-Chair Rep. David N. Cicilline (RI-01).  “Celebration of LGBT Pride honors our identities and community and serves as a connection point for LGBT people everywhere.  The June 12th murder of 49 LGBT community members at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando drove home the importance of being able to celebrate Pride in a safe place.  Therefore, the success of Odessa Pride this August, as well as the safety of its participants, is of the utmost importance to us.”

UKRINFORM reported that Cyril Bodelan, press-secretary of the Odessa Pride organizing committee said, “On Thursday we have applied to the Odessa City Council to hold a street protest in the framework of the Festival of Queer Culture Aug. 13” OdesaPrayd2016 “, which will take place August 10-14. Preparing to conduct our human rights march on a street in the city, which had been agreed with the mayor’s office. We hope to bring a new level of dialogue on human rights and countering discrimination against vulnerable groups in society.”

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Hundreds crowdfunding Pride in Uganda Mon, 20 Jun 2016 17:07:04 +0000

Uganda Pride--Despite increased security concerns following the tragic attack and murder of 49 people at Orlando’s gay club Pulse earlier this month, activists in Uganda have decided to stand in solidarity and move forward with Pride Uganda this August. The event will only go on if they are able to secure $20,000 in funding. Hundreds of people from around the world are helping make that happen, contributing more than half the amount needed so far.

“As a gay man living in a country where my love is illegal, it’s so crucial to me that we don’t let hate keep us down. My friends and I will continue to fight for the right to love. We will continue to stand together. We will show our Pride louder than ever before,” said Isaac Mugisha, an organizer of Pride Uganda.

LGBT Ugandans face some of the world’s worst hate crimes and discrimination. Pride Uganda is one of the rare chances for LGBT Ugandans to express their identities publicly and safely. A Pew study from 2013 showed that 96 percent of Ugandans do not think their society should accept homosexuality. Same-sex activity has been illegal in Uganda between men since 1894, and between women since 2000, and it is technically punishable by execution.

The campaign is made possible through All Out, a global movement for the rights of lesbian, gay, bi and trans people.

Donation form with up-to-date donor count is here:

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Love Is GREAT Britain: A welcoming country for all Sun, 12 Jun 2016 14:30:32 +0000

Love is Great BritainNEW YORK — As part of the Love is GREAT campaign, the UK government will participate in local Pride events in 10 cities across the US to highlight the UK as a champion of LGBT equality and a global leader in human rights across policy, business, arts and culture, and tourism.

The UK is proud to be recognized as one of the most progressive countries in the world for LGBT rights and a welcoming destination for all. To celebrate this, between June and October 2016, the British Embassy Washington, the UK Mission to the UN, and each of the eight British Consulates will participate in marches and events in their consular regions – Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Salt Lake City, and San Francisco.

The UK is the first foreign government to participate in Pride on such a significant scale. This will be the British Embassy’s fourth year participating in DC’s Capital Pride; in 2015 the British Ambassador was the first-ever Ambassador to walk in the parade.

Britain & LGBTI Rights
In 2015, the UK received the highest score in Europe for LGBTI rights, with 86% progress toward “respect of human rights and full equality,” according to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association.

The country has had civil partnerships for over a decade, and equal marriage passed in 2014, under the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013. In 2002, same-sex couples were granted equal rights to adopt. Since 2005, transgender people can change their legal gender in the UK, granting them a new birth certificate and affording them full legal recognition of their acquired sex. Today, there are 35 LGB MPs in the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which in 2016, was the most in any parliament around the world.

The work of the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) supports this commitment to LGBT equality in British diplomatic posts worldwide, including the British Embassy Washington and British Consulates in eight cities across the US. The FCO is proud to have a number of LGBT Heads of Mission posted around the world, including in countries such as Greece, Israel, Mauritius, and Ukraine. 2016 marks the 25th anniversary of FLAGG (Foreign Office Lesbian & Gay Group), which actively works to ensure that being LGBT is no barrier to a successful career in the FCO. This year the US network has launched FLAGG USA.

Love is GREAT
The Love is GREAT campaign was launched by VisitBritain, the national tourism agency responsible for inspiring the world to explore Britain, in 2014 to welcome the new same-sex marriage law in England, Wales and Scotland and reinforces the fact that Britain is an all-embracing choice for LGBT visitors, with unique experiences – from city breaks to countryside escapes – which are easily accessible and open to all regardless of sexuality. lists an array of choices for the LGBT traveller, including Pride parades, LGBT arts and cultural festivals, LGBT sports and activities clubs, Britain’s best gay and lesbian nightlife, plus a vast spectrum of gay-owned and gay-welcoming accommodation throughout England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. It also contains mini gay guides to cities including London, Brighton, Birmingham, Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Manchester.

2016 is a milestone year for LGBT experiences in Britain, including LGBT film festivals BFI Flare and Iris Prize Festival, the London Gay Men’s Chorus, the 20th anniversary of Birmingham Pride, GMFA Gay Sports Day and Britain’s top-ranking gay football team Stonewall FC – all of whom celebrate special anniversaries in 2016.

Love is GREAT Giveaway
To coincide with US Pride events, VisitBritain today launches a nationwide competition for a chance to win a trip to Britain to experience the array of choices the destination provides for LGBT travellers. Contestants can enter on the Love is GREAT page for a chance to win a trip for two to London and Dorset.

The prize includes round-trip economy flights to London; two nights’ accommodation in The Montague on the Gardens, London and two nights’ accommodation at the Summer Lodge Country House Hotel, Restaurant and Spa in beautiful Dorset, courtesy of Red Carnation Hotels; round-trip train tickets to Dorset and London Travel Cards for four days.

The competition opens June 9 and closes October 16, 2016, with the trip to be taken between November 2016 and March 2017. Blackout dates apply. Full terms and conditions are available here. Open to US residents only. All may enter regardless of sexual orientation.

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LGBTQ rights in the Middle East — ‘Out of Iraq’ airs on Logo June 13 (VIDEO) Fri, 10 Jun 2016 19:36:09 +0000

In Iraq, LGBTQ ​people face discrimination in the form of abuse, “honor killings” and murder, and many have found it near impossible to escape the country that hates them and emigrate to America. In LOGO Documentary Films documentary “Out of Iraq,” airing Monday, June 13 at 9 p.m. ET/PT, Iraqi solider Btoo and Iraqi translator for the American army Nayyef, find love in the very country where their love is banned.

The couple’s love story begins in war-torn Ramadi in 2004 and continues through Nayyef’s escape to Seattle; Btoo and Nayyef’s five year+ long distance relationship; Btoo’s desertion from the Iraqi military and hiding in Lebanon; Btoo’s numerous interviews with the UNHCR, who miscommunicated his story on several occasions; Btoo and Nayyef’s eventual reunion years later; and their aspiration to sponsor other LGBT Iraqi refugees in need. They’ve helped eight so far!

Watch the trailer above.

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LGBT Confex showcases ‘inclusive innovation’ in Mexico City Wed, 08 Jun 2016 19:49:46 +0000
LGBT Confex--NEW YORK, N.Y.  — For the sixth year in a row, the LGBT Confex International Business & Tourism Forum will provide a meeting place for professionals and suppliers who see the LGBT community as an important market segment, as well as for businesses that offer an inclusive workplace.

The World Trade Center in Mexico City will be the venue for the event, which will take place October 26-27 with 60 exhibitors in attendance. They wil09l be joined by 30 featured speakers, who will explain the realities and trends affecting the principal theme for this year’s LGBT Confex: “Inclusive Innovation: We create, we innovate and we revolutionize.”

“This year, we wanted to go further than ever before, to address the situations that LGBT topics present in the world today,” said Rubén Sandoval, CEO of LGBT Confex. “Questions like ‘what is diversity?’ and ‘what is inclusion?’ These topics are creating a scenario that’s generating great changes.”

Following past editions in Puerto Vallarta, Cancun, Guadalajara, Vallarta-Nayarit and Mérida, the 2016 LGBT Confex arrives in Mexico City, where it will be presented by Scotiabank and AT&T, with support from Mexico’s federal Secretary of Tourism.

LGBT opinion leaders, both national and international, are scheduled to participate in the Forum’s 10 platforms: Tourism, Corporate, Film, Academics, Fashion, Entrepreneurs, Technology, ONG and Media, as well as the most recent addition, Talent.

“The goal of LGBT Confex is to collectivize, disseminate and promote inclusive strategies in various sectors of society, from social, entrepreneurial and labor to commercial aspects, always through innovation, because it’s not enough to simply be an agent of change,” said Sandoval. “You have to be the change.”

The Forum features a program that includes exhibitions, business appointments, conferences, discussion panels, workshops, networking events and business meetings. The extensive list of attendees includes Thomas Roth, CEO of Community Marketing; Matt Skallerud, CEO of Pink Banana; Selisse Berry, CEO of Out & Equal Advocates; Araceli Ramos of Tequila José Cuervo; Mark Chesnut of; Aritha Wickramasinhe of K&L Gates; Apoorva Gandhi of Marriott International; and Saul Hernandez, CEO of Drink Plus.

Additional strategic partners to be present at the World Trade Center for the event include Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, ENroute Communications, Price Connection México, MasterCard, Águila y Sol Agencia de Medios, Orbitodo and Papp Corn.

For more information visit:
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Austrian Pink Lake International LGBT Festival ticket sales set a new record! Fri, 03 Jun 2016 17:45:52 +0000

Pink Lake ----Ticket sales for the 9th annual Pink Lake International LGBT Festival, which will again be held on Lake Wörthersee in Austria, have set a new record. After only three weeks, half of the available combo tickets for the festival have been sold. The festival runs from Aug. 25-28.

“We are very proud that the festival enjoys such a strong reputation with the LGBT Community, and that each year more and more guests come to visit us at beautiful Lake Woerthersee,” exclaims Roland Sint, managing director of Woerthersee Tourismus GmbH.

Guests can once again look forward to awesome Alpine outfits and Austrian pop music party at the Almdudler Costume Party, the traditional opening event of the four-day festival in Southern Austria, on August 25th. After a break last year, the multi-talent Franky Leitner will once again provide a rowdy atmosphere. Of course, the hilarious drag queens Melli and Mataina are also back to conduct the program, and the Schuhplattler group Sattendorf is already studying new choreography to entertain guests.

Under the slogan “Just Dance!”, clubbing will take place for the first time this year on Friday, August 26th in the Fabrik – an abandoned factory building in the nearby town of Techelsberg that’s been run as a discotheque for several years, and owes its unique and incomparable flair to the former machine parts, blast furnaces, and gear wheels integrated into its interior. With two DJs and hot go-go dancers, guests can party the night away on two floors in this extravagant location. A free shuttle from Velden to Techelsberg will be available for all Pink Lake guests.

For the first time, three ships from Lake Woerthersee’s fleet will set sail for the Boat Cruise Party this year on Saturday, August 27th. “For safety reasons, space on the ships has always had heavily regulated attendance levels. This year, we finally managed a cooperation with the Lake Woerthersee Shipping Company to meet the technical requirements necessary to fulfill our guests’ desires for a third ship,” says Sint.

The daily Pink Lake Beach Club will take place for the third time in the SOL Beachclub at Hotel Park’s, which can be reached from the center of Velden via a free boat shuttle. Relaxed DJ sounds, fun beach games, delicious food and cool drinks in the hot summer sun also guarantee a great festival experience each day!

More information and  tickets at:

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Canada’s first emergency and transitional housing facility exclusively dedicated to homeless LGBTIQ2S youth unveiled Wed, 01 Jun 2016 17:44:09 +0000
Rendering of Egale Centre (CNW Group/Egale Canada Human Rights Trust)

Rendering of Egale Centre (CNW Group/Egale Canada Human Rights Trust)

TORONTO – Egale Canada Human Rights Trust (Egale) has officially unveiled Egale Centre, Canada’s first and Toronto’s only facility that will combine the proven counseling services of Egale Youth Outreach with emergency and transitional housing exclusively dedicated to serving homeless LGBTIQ2S (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex, queer, questioning and Two Spirit) youth. When its doors open, Egale Centre promises to fundamentally transform the support services offered to Toronto’s LGBTIQ2S population.

To help mark this historic occasion, Helen Kennedy, Executive Director of Egale, was joined by Premier Kathleen Wynne, Ontario’s Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Glen Murray, Toronto City Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam and an exciting group of project partners, including:

  • Ed Clark, former President and CEO of TD Bank and Egale Centre’s Campaign Co-Chair;
  • Glen Pushelberg, partner at the internationally-celebrated design firm Yabu Pushelberg;
  • Mitchell Cohen, President of The Daniels Corporation, Canada’s preeminent builder and developer of residential and commercial communities across the GTA;
  • Paul Dowsett, principal architect at SUSTAINABLE.TO, a leading Canadian full-service sustainable architectural practice; and
  • Greg Spearn, President and CEO of Toronto Community Housing.

“It is tremendously exciting to see so many distinguished voices and organizations coming together in support of Egale Centre,” said Kennedy. “This is a one-of-a-kind project that will fundamentally transform and improve the support services available to LGBTQI2S youth in Toronto. On behalf of Egale, I would like to extend my sincerest gratitude and appreciation to all who have contributed toward this important project.”

There is a clear and urgent need for a facility exclusively dedicated to homeless LGBTIQ2S youth. Nearly one in four homeless youth in Toronto identify as LGBTIQ2S and, facing homophobia at home, they lack the traditional social supports necessary for the transition from childhood to adulthood. Once on the street, these same youth report being afraid to access mainstream shelters and housing for fear of physical, psychological and sexual violence. In response to these challenges, Egale Centre will be exclusively dedicated to homeless LGBTIQ2S youth.

Egale Centre will further distinguish itself from other shelters by incorporating the proven counselling services of Egale Youth Outreach, which has now been operating for over two years. In April 2014, Egale opened this crisis intervention and housing stabilization program to immediately begin addressing the needs of Toronto’s homeless LGBTIQ2S youth. The lessons learned from Egale Youth Outreach have helped shape the core of Egale Centre’s approach, design and operating plan.

At the unveiling, Mr. Clark revealed that Egale Centre has raised $8.7 million of its $10 million campaign goal. Funds have been contributed by a diverse number of people and organizations who shared the belief that Toronto’s homeless LGBTIQ2S youth require the safety, security and community that will be afforded by Egale Centre.

“This is an issue that I’ve been passionate about for a long time,” said Clark. “Everyone thinks that large urban centers are safe and inclusive environments for LGBTIQ2S youth, when in fact we know that this is not the case. Our hope it to take this initiative to other cities. It’s not just a Toronto problem.”

Egale Centre is expected to open its doors in fall 2017.

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‘Being LGBTI in China’ survey report launched Tue, 17 May 2016 16:55:29 +0000

China --BEIJING A report based on a survey of nearly 30,000 respondents from all provinces in China reflecting the life experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people was launched today at the United Nations Compound in Beijing to mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT).

Entitled “Being LGBTI in China — A National Survey on Social Attitudes towards Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Gender Expression (SOGIE)“, the report explores the legal environment, education, employment, family, faith and access to health services, mental health, media, social services and other areas, in regards to LGBTI people in China. It also examines social attitudes towards LGBTI people, including discrimination and unfair treatment.

The report finds that many LGBTI people in China still live in the shadows, with only 5% of them willing to live their diversity openly. It shows that the majority of LGBTI people continue to face discrimination in many aspects of their lives, most importantly within the family, where the deepest forms of rejection and abuse reside, followed by schools and the workplace.

The survey showed that access to health and social services remains difficult when one’s sexual orientation or gender diversity is known to, or even just suspected by, service providers. This stigma is doubly reinforced for those sexual and gender minority people who are living with HIV, who continue to face hurdles in accessing prevention and treatment services as well as stigma-free psychosocial support and counseling.

Most importantly, however, the survey paints a country in transition, where the majority of people do not hold negative nor stereotypical views of LGBTI people, with young people being more open towards and accepting of sexual and gender diversity. The report suggests that this, in many ways, represents an important opportunity for LGBTI people and depicts a society that could achieve rapid and profound change, especially if guided in the right direction by civil society, policymakers, academia, the media as well as LGBTI people themselves. The report recommends that this is why education and evidence-based information, including more realistic portrayals of sexual diversity in the media, have a pivotal role to play going forward.

Jointly implemented by UNDP, Peking University Sociology Department and the Beijing LGBT Center, with great support from dozens of national and local community, business and media organizations, the survey aims to provide baseline information for both community and institutional organizations, and to promote the adoption of anti-discrimination and protective laws and policies for China’s sexual and gender minorities.

“LGBTI people represent some of the most marginalized and vulnerable populations in Asia and the Pacific, including China,” said Agi Veres, Country Director of UNDP China. “Attention to their needs is therefore essential if we are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, a key feature of which is the underlying principle and commitment to ‘leave no one behind’.”

The report launch was attended by representatives from government, United Nations agencies, foreign missions in China, academic experts and scholars, community organizations, media organizations and other development partners.

The report was supported by ‘Being LGBTI in Asia‘ – a regional programme aimed at addressing inequality, violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status, and promotes universal access to health and social services.

To view the report click here.

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Anti-LGBT World Congress of Families gears up for its 10th International Congress Sat, 14 May 2016 14:00:05 +0000

Last October, the anti-LGBT hate group World Congress of Families (WCF) held its ninth international congress in Salt Lake City, a gathering that attracts thousands of anti-LGBT and anti-abortion speakers and activists from around the globe, reports the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The gathering traditionally functions as a key site of right-wing strategy development to curtail or roll back LGBT equality gains and restrict or deny women access to abortion and related healthcare, attracting religious and political leaders. Six months later, WCF will hold its tenth congress in Tbilisi, Georgia, beginning Sunday, a date close to the anniversary of a violent 2013 mob attack on an anti-homophobia rally in the city, which occurred on May 17 which is often commemorated as the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia. Thousands of anti-LGBT protestors led by Orthodox priests broke through a police cordon and pursued gay rights supporters, injuring at least twenty-eight people.

This year’s theme for the congress is “Civilization at the Crossroads: The Natural Family as The Bulwark of Freedom and Human Values.”  The conference, the Web site claims, “will help the international pro-family movement to establish a beachhead in the region,” because one reason “sexual radicals” have targeted these countries, the site continues, “is to demonstrate their ability to overcome traditional cultures and compel people who cling to normative values to bend to their will.”

“The World Congress of Families focuses on bringing in the most notorious anti-LGBT activists from around the world, leaving terrible harm and discrimination in their wake,” said Ty Cobb, director of HRC Global. “Try as they might to hide behind so-called ‘pro-family’ rhetoric, the World Congress of Families is a hate group that convenes thousands of extremists from around the globe to strategize about how to make the world a more dangerous place for LGBT people.”

WCF works closely with extremists spreading anti-LGBT rhetoric and promoting laws and policies that criminalize not only LGBT people, but also those who speak out to support them. HRC’s report on the group, Exposed: The World Congress of Families, underscores the reality that WCF and many of its affiliates are laser-focused on promoting policies and rhetoric that put LGBT people and their families at incredible risk.

The conference speakers include Theresa Okafor, a notorious exporter of hate who has compared LGBT people to the terrorist group Boko Haram, and Brian Brown, president and co-founder of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), a once-prominent anti-LGBT group. In 2011, Brown said, “When you knock over a core pillar of society like marriage, and then try to redefine Biblical views of marriage as bigotry, there will be consequences. Will one of the consequences be a serious push to normalize pedophilia?”

“WCF has honored a Nigerian activist who claims LGBT advocates conspire with terrorists with a “Woman of the Year” award, and lauded Vladimir Putin’s ‘morality,’”Cobb said. “The work of WCF supports positions and policies that harm LGBT people around the world. Their advocacy abroad incites hatred against LGBT people from Russia to Nigeria and beyond.”

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International human rights groups launch campaign to support the LGBTI community in Indonesia Tue, 03 May 2016 21:54:25 +0000

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – International human rights groups launched a global campaign today to support the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex community in Indonesia. Increasing homophobic and transphobic rhetoric by political and religious leaders has caused growing hostility toward members of the LGBTI community in Indonesia, the world’s fourth largest country by population.

The campaign will benefit the Indonesian human rights network Arus Pelangi, a national federation supporting LGBTI human rights in Indonesia. The organization has responded to the current backlash by launching an emergency assistance program to help the most vulnerable members of the community.  The program includes a temporary safe house for human rights defenders under threat, relocation assistance, a national hotline and other emergency support services.  But current funds for emergency services run out at the end of May.  Funds raised through this campaign will help ensure that the work continues.

The global campaign is led by Alturi, a new non-profit organization based in Los Angeles dedicated to raising attention and support for global LGBTI advocates, and is joined by Human Rights Watch and OutRIght Action International.

“Arus Pelangi has provided a critically important voice for the LGBTI community in Indonesia for more than 10 years,” said Steve Roth, co-founder and director of Alturi.  “And when this current backlash against LGBTI people began they quickly sprang into action.  But this emergency support puts a strain on their resources, so we’re asking Americans and other members of the international community to make a small contribution to help them continue this important work.”

Alturi, Human Rights Watch and OutRight Action International invite members of the international community to contribute to help ensure that Arus Pelangi can provide emergency services to LGBTI Indonesians most in need as result of the hostile, anti-LGBTI rhetoric from government officials.  Funds raised will also support Arus Pelangi’s broader work to ensure the well being of LGBTI Indonesians, including their “You Are Not Alone” awareness campaign and other critical advocacy work.

The campaign can be found at:

Yuli“When urgent needs like these arise, we have to act quickly to help and protect the most vulnerable members our community,” said Yuli Rusinawati, founder and chairperson of Arus Pelangi.  “At the same time, we have to keep advocating strongly for equality and respect for the broader LGBTI community in Indonesia.  We greatly appreciate the support from the international community, which will enable us to keep pushing forward with our work on multiple fronts.”

Established in 2006, Arus Pelangi is a non-profit, member-based federation that works to advance the human rights of LGBTI people in Indonesia through education, public awareness, advocacy and community organizing.

“OutRight partners with Arus Pelangi to change hearts and minds in Indonesia to support long-term change — but right now they need emergency support to keep their community safe and stand tall in the face of mounting opposition,” said Jessica Stern, executive director of OutRight Action International.

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After the murder of LGBT journalist and friend in Bangladesh, National Press Club urges justice Wed, 27 Apr 2016 21:33:41 +0000

WASHINGTON — National Press Club leaders expressed outrage Tuesday about the murder of two people, including a journalist, in Bangladesh.

Xulhaz Mannan, editor of Roopbaan, an LGBT magazine, and Tanay Mojumdar, a friend of Mannan’s, were hacked to death in Mannan’s apartment in the capital, Dhaka, on April 25, according to news reports. Ansar al-Islam, an Al Queda affiliated Islamist organization has taken responsibility for the attack, according to CNN.

Mannan was also a USAID worker and a prominent leader of the LGBT community of Bangladesh, where homosexuality is illegal. His murder is only the latest in a slew of brazen attacks on journalists, academics and human rights activists in the country.

“The brutal murders of journalists, academics and human rights activists in Bangladesh over the past year are deeply distressing,” said NPC President Thomas Burr. “The Bangladeshi government has a duty to protect journalists, to bring their murderers to justice and to ensure the right to free speech.”

“Mannan’s murder is not just an attack on another human being but an attack on free speech in one of the largest democracies in the world,” said Burr.

The National Press Club is the world’s leading professional organization for journalists. Through its Press Freedom Committee, the club promotes freedom of expression and transparency.

The National Press Club Journalism Institute is the club’s non-profit affiliate. It is committed to advancing journalistic practice by equipping professionals with the skills and competence to innovate, leveraging emerging trends, recognizing leaders and innovators, and mentoring the next generation of journalism and communications professionals.

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Trans woman settles human rights case with City of Hamilton Tue, 26 Apr 2016 20:02:42 +0000

HAMILTON, Ont. – The City of Hamilton reached an agreement to settle a human rights application involving a trans woman who was denied access to the women’s washroom at the MacNab Bus Terminal in Hamilton by a City employee. The trans woman was provided access to the family washroom.

The City of Hamilton recognizes the right of trans people set out in Ontario’s Human Rights Code which includes the right to access facilities in accordance with their self-identified gender identity. The City is committed to communicating that a trans person will not be required to use a separate facility because of the preferences or negative attitudes of others.  The City is committed to providing accommodation options for washrooms and change rooms on an individualized basis.

As part of the resolution of the human rights application, the City of Hamilton has agreed to codify these principles into written policy, train its employees on the policy and post signage confirming its commitment to providing safe and accessible washroom/changeroom spaces for all. The City of Hamilton and its employees are committed to providing services and facilities to its citizens in a manner consistent with all legislative requirements, including the Human Rights Code of Ontario, as it applies to all grounds, including gender identity and gender expression.

“Taking legal action doesn’t make the pain go away, but I hope employees will be more aware and respectful in the future,” said the applicant, who was not named to protect her privacy.

Clara Matheson, the applicant’s lawyer from the Human Rights Legal Support Centre commented, “We were pleased to facilitate this agreement with the municipality.  Policies and procedures that serve to protect the rights of trans persons in accessing facilities lead the way to a more inclusive environment in which people can thrive.”

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President Obama: NC and Mississippi laws ‘are wrong and should be overturned’ Sat, 23 Apr 2016 14:00:06 +0000

President Barrack Obama spoke at a press conference in London Friday calling the recent laws passed in North Carolina and Mississippi “wrong” and that they “should be overturned.”

Speaking alongside British Prime Minister David Cameron on his fifth visit to the U.K., President Obama was responding to a journalist who asked him to comment on the recent Foreign Office travel advisory warning U.K. citizens about the new laws in those states.

In its warning to travelers, the foreign office wrote, “The US is an extremely diverse society and attitudes towards LGBT people differ hugely across the country.” The two anti-LGBT laws that the U.K. foreign office was referring to are North Carolina’s House Bill 2 and Mississippi’s House Bill 1523.

The president responded, “I want everybody here in the United Kingdom to know that the people of North Carolina and Mississippi are wonderful people.  They are hospitable people.  They are beautiful states, and you are welcome and you should come and enjoy yourselves.  And I think you’ll be treated with extraordinary hospitality.

“I also think that the laws that have been passed there are wrong and should be overturned.  And they’re in response to politics, in part; in part, some strong emotions that are  generated by people — some of whom are good people but I just disagree with when it comes to respecting the equal rights of all people, regardless of sexual orientation, whether they’re transgender or gay or lesbian.  And although I respect their different viewpoints, I think it’s very important for us not to send signals that anybody is treated differently.

“And I think it’s fair to say that we’re not unique among countries where — particularly under a federal system in which power is dispersed, that there are going to be some localities or local officials that put forward laws that aren’t necessarily reflective of a national consensus.  But if you guys come to North Carolina or Mississippi, everybody will be treated well.”

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The U.K. warns tourists about anti-LGBT laws in North Carolina and Mississippi Thu, 21 Apr 2016 16:00:11 +0000

Foreign OfficeThe United Kingdom’s Foreign Office warned its LGBT citizens of the risks of traveling to North Carolina and Mississippi, which have enacted anti-LGBT laws. The updated travel warning comes just ahead of President Obama’s planned visit to England.

The new Foreign Office advice states: “The US is an extremely diverse society and attitudes towards LGBT people differ hugely across the country. Laws vary from state to state. When you are physically present in a state, even temporarily, you are subject to that state’s laws. You must carry a passport showing that you have leave to enter or remain with you at all times. LGBT travellers may be affected by legislations passed recently in the states of North Carolina and Mississippi.Before travelling please read our general travel advice for the LGBT community. You can find more detail on LGBT issues in the US on the Website of the Human Rights Campaign.”

Reacting to the new advisory Director of HRC Global.Ty Cobb said, “It is both frightening and embarrassing that one of our nation’s staunchest allies has warned its citizens to of the risks of traveling to North Carolina and Mississippi because of anti-LGBT laws passed by their elected officials. It is now more clear than ever that these terrible measures are not only harming individuals and taking an economic toll on the states, but are also causing serious damage to our nation’s reputation, and the perceived safety of LGBT people who travel here.”

The Independent reported that Dr Felicity Dahttp, director of the LGBT Kaleidoscope Trust said, “It is heartening the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is becoming more LGBT responsive in their work, it’s a good sign as it is an important issue in the UK, but most people who identify as LGBT in the UK will already be aware of the nature of certain states.”

Matt Horwood of Stonewall charity said: “What’s happened in Mississippi and North Carolina proves that equality is never secure. It’s positive to see the UK government recognise this need and update its travel advice pages accordingly.”

North Carolina’s  H.B. 2 has eliminated existing municipal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people and prevents such protections from being passed by cities in the future. In addition, the legislation prevents transgender students in public schools from using restrooms and other facilities consistent with their gender identity. It also compels the same type of discrimination against transgender people to take place in publicly-owned buildings, including in public universities, major airports, and convention centers. Further, HB 2 revokes the ability to sue under state employment non-discrimination law on the basis of any protected characteristic, including race, religion, national origin, and sex.

North Carolina lawmakers passed the legislation in a hurried, single-day session, and Governor Pat McCrory quickly signed it into law in the dead of night. The discriminatory law is already facing a legal challenge, and North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said he will refuse to defend it in court.

North Carolina has the unfortunate distinction of  becoming the first state in the country to enact a law attacking transgender students, even after similar proposals were being rejected across the country — including a high-profile veto by the Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota. Earlier this week, the sponsor of a similar bill in Tennessee announced plans to pull the discriminatory legislation from consideration this year, after outcry from tens of thousands of fair-minded Tennesseans; major national child welfare, medical, and education groups; country music stars; and major business leaders. Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and Attorney General Slatery had also expressed concerns about the state losing millions of dollars in federal funds.

In Mississippi, the the so-called “Religious Liberty Accommodations Act,” H.B. 1523 would allow almost any individual or organization to use religion to justify discrimination against LGBT Mississippians in some of the most important aspects of their lives, including at work, at school and in their communities. Tax-payer funded faith-based organizations could: refuse to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples for provision of critical services including emergency shelter; deny children in need of loving homes placement with LGBT families including the child’s own family member; and refuse to sell or rent a for-profit home to an LGBT person — even if the organization receives government funding. It would also give foster families the freedom to subject an LGBTQ child or a pregnant unwed girl to abuse, without fear of government intervention or license suspension.

Furthermore, under H.B. 1523 schools, employers, and service providers could refuse transgender people access to appropriate sex-segregated facilities consistent with their gender identity — all in direct conflict with the U.S. Department of Justice’s enforcement of federal law. HB 1523 even legalizes Kim Davis-style discrimination by allowing government employees to abdicate their duties and refuse to license or solemnize marriages for LGBT people.


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70,000 sign petition in support of men arrested under Morocco’s anti-gay law Mon, 11 Apr 2016 00:30:15 +0000

LONDON – More than 70,000 have signed a petition in support of two Moroccan men arrested under the country’s anti-gay law after being brutally attacked in their own home. The petition was delivered Friday to Morocco’s Minister of Justice, urging him to release both men immediately, to properly investigate the attack and bring the perpetrators to justice.

The petition is part of a campaign launched by All Out, an international movement for LGBT rights, in partnership with Moroccan organizations Aswat Collectif and Akaliyat.

“We believe that love is a human right. Being gay should not be a crime in Morocco or anywhere. All Out and our members will continue to fight until no one, anywhere, has to to sacrifice their family or freedom, safety or dignity, because of who they are or who they love”, said Matt Beard, executive director of All Out. “This case is a tragic reminder that discriminatory laws have real consequences. These innocent men were violently attacked in their own home without provocation and thrown naked onto the street. It is those responsible for the attack who should be the only focus of the Moroccan authorities.We will continue to work with our partners in Morocco to increase pressure until both innocent men are free.”

The campaign also urged Moroccan authorities to free all other prisoners convicted because of their sexual orientation, to abolish article 489 of the Moroccan penal code, and to guarantee and protect civil liberties and the right to privacy of all of their citizens.

The two men were arrested March 25, after being attacked and stabbed in their own home. The attackers recorded the assault and published the video on social media channels. Instead of investigating the attack properly, authorities accused the victims of being gay, which is illegal in Morocco. March 15, one of the two victims was sentenced to four months in prison and a fine. The second victim will go to court Monday, April 11.

To see the live signature totals from All Out’s petition visit:

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Marriage equality coming to Colombia Fri, 08 Apr 2016 17:28:51 +0000

Colombia--Colombia’s Constitutional Court ruled Thursday in favor of marriage equality for the nation’s same-sex couples. Colombia is now the 20th country worldwide to embrace full marriage equality for all of its citizens.

Colombia Diversa, a Colombian LGBT advocacy group, said in a press release, “The Constitutional Court of Colombia ruled that marriage is the only legal institution that addresses the lack of protection of same-sex couples and that there is no basis to deny it.  We are waiting for the text of the judgment.”

“Today’s ruling by Colombia’s Constitutional Court marks an important moment for LGBT Colombians, and we congratulate the country’s many LGBT advocates who helped make this day possible,” said Jean Freedberg, Deputy Director of HRC Global. “Following victories for LGBT advocates in Ireland in May and in the United States in June, today’s ruling makes clear that global momentum for marriage equality has continued to grow, and we’re hopeful that other nations will  provide same-sex couples the right to marry the person they love in the year ahead.”

The Colombian Constitutional Court ruled in 2011 that same-sex couples should be entitled to the same protections as other couples, however they also ruled that the Colombian Congress needed to pass legislation addressing the issue of marriage equality within two years. When the Colombian Congress failed to do that, same-sex couples started applying for marriage licenses across the country. Some of these couples were granted licenses, while others were denied. Ultimately, the couples who were refused licenses brought the matter to the court to decide.  Today, the court ruled in favor of equality.

The situation for LGBT people around the world varies widely. As some countries embrace equality, in others, LGBT people continue to suffer from discrimination, persecution, and violence.

  • 20 countries now have full marriage equality and in an additional two countries same-sex marriage is legal in certain jurisdictions.
  • But in up to 10 countries worldwide, same-sex activity is punishable by death, and 75 countries criminalize same-sex relationships. Hundreds of transgender individuals have been brutally murdered in the last year.
  • In a growing number of countries, governments have sought to silence equality advocates and organizations with so-called “anti-propaganda” laws and legislation.


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Fondation Émergence launches a campaign with the theme ‘Homophobia and Transphobia Affect All Ages’ Fri, 01 Apr 2016 16:00:04 +0000

MONTREAL –  Fondation Émergence has announced the theme and visuals for the 2016 campaign against homophobia and transphobia, which highlights the realities of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) seniors.


2016 – Homophobia and transphobia affect all ages campaign posters

The unveiling of the visuals marks the launch of the 2016 campaign and is linked with the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, which will be observed  May 17. The campaign’s theme Homophobia and Transphobia Affect All Ages, is depicted in the visuals through the faces of LGBT seniors, conveying serenity despite the homophobia and transphobia that they encounter in their living environments.

“LGBT seniors have experienced the criminalization, medical pathologization and religious condemnation of homosexuality and transgender identity, which are the roots of prejudice and stigma that still exist today, particularly among seniors,” commented Claude Leblond, President of Fondation Émergence.

“However, thanks to their struggles, today’s young people enjoy greater freedom. It’s the perfect time to tell young people about the history of LGBT rights and to remind them that nothing should be taken for granted,” he added.

The National Bank, official partner of the May 17th observation
David Pinsonneault, Senior Vice President, Commercial Banking and International at the National Bank, pointed out that “It’s only through the awareness-raising efforts of an entire generation of LGBT individuals that we have made so much progress. Recognizing the contribution of these people through the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, with which the National Bank has partnered for three years, is an excellent way of thanking them and giving them all the respect and recognition they deserve.”

Supporting the campaign
Fondation Émergence is counting on the participation of the public to make the 2016 International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia a success. The organization encourages everyone to distribute the communication tools on social media as well as in seniors’ residences, workplaces, and schools. These tools include posters, a brochure and stickers, all in French and English and in paper and digital formats. The digital posters will be available in 20 languages.

An activity guide available on the Web site offers a range of ideas to encourage organizations, businesses and individuals to take part in the fight against homophobia and transphobia.

Click on the links for more details about the campaign and to order material.

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New study shows that Uganda has as many gay people as countries where homosexuality is legal Sun, 20 Mar 2016 15:00:46 +0000

Despite criminalizing homosexuality, Uganda has as many gay people as countries where homosexuality is legal, a new study has found.

Pink News reports that the survey of 3,000 Ugandan students found that one in three of the respondents had been in love with a person of the same gender.

In addition, the study found that 6-8 percent of men, and 10-16 percent had been sexually active with someone of the same gender.

Anette Agardh, the Associate Professor in Global Health at Lund University, said: “We were not surprised by the results, as the numbers are consistent with the situation in most other countries in the world.

“The real figures could actually be even higher. Although the survey was anonymous, the intense propaganda against homosexuality in Uganda may have intimidated some from providing honest answers.”

Homophobic Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni remains in office for a fifth term, as he won a general election last month, amid accusations of corruption. The president signed the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill in February 2014. The law called for repeat offenders to be sentenced to 14 years in prison and to make it a criminal offense not to report someone for being gay.

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Australian government sends gay refugee couple to a country where homosexuality is a crime Tue, 08 Mar 2016 19:38:41 +0000

The global gay and lesbian community has been asked to help a gay refugee couple currently living in fear after the Australian Government’s punitive refugee policies have left them languishing on the tiny island country of Nauru in Micronesia, northeast of Australia, where homosexuality is a crime.

Ashkan and Nima* fled Iran – where they risked public execution for being gay – in search of safety in a country that accepts gay people.

“I was told in Australia you could be free to be who you were, you could be openly gay and it would be safe,” said Nima.

But when he arrived in August 2013 to seek asylum and told Australian authorities about his homosexuality, he was sent to Australia’s detention centre on Nauru despite Australian authorities being aware of the risks.

“People from Immigration and Connect Settlement Services all tell us that we mustn’t hold hands or be affectionate in public,” said Nima.

Both Ashkan and Nima’s asylum claims were processed on Nauru and they were found to be refugees and released to live on Nauru – an island which is only 21 square kilometres. However, after a number of physical attacks the couple are afraid to leave their unit, and only go out once a week to buy groceries with an escort provided by Australia’s contractor Connect Settlement Services.

“Whilst we were still going outside, we got beaten up and were attacked. Spat at, verbally abused, had stones thrown at us and hit with sticks. It’s been a horrible experience,” said Nima.

Having already made requests to the Australian Government to move the men, the Human Rights Law Centre is now partnering with international LGBT rights group All Out to launch a petition appealing to Australia’s Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, to let the refugee couple settle in Australia.

HRLC’s Director of Advocacy and Litigation, Anna Brown, said under Nauruan law Ashkan and Nima risk being punished with 14 years of hard labour if they are found to have “carnal knowledge” of another man which the law states is “against the order of nature.”

“This situation and similar ones on Manus are just so wrong on so many levels. The Australian Government knowingly and deliberately allows gay men to be warehoused on tiny islands where they face assaults, prejudice and extremely harsh criminal penalties.

“This couple just want a home where they can be safe together and rebuild their lives. They don’t deserve to be living in limbo in a country where their love for one another is a crime, and their safety is threatened,” said Ms Brown.

Matt Beard, the Executive Director of All Out – a two million-member global movement fighting for LGBT rights – said Australia needs to bring is refugee policies into line with international standards.

“No one should have to suffer just for being in love. Nima and Ashkan’s story is another example of how cruel and inhumane Australia’s detention system is to those fleeing persecution. Prime Minister Turnbull has a responsibility to bring them to Australia where they’ll be safe, and to reform his government’s refugee policy to bring it into line with international standards,” said Mr Beard.

Ms Brown said the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, and the Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton, have the ability to bring the two men to Australia immediately.

“This has become unbearable and we are going mad. We can’t see any future for ourselves here. We ask gay rights activists, human rights activists around the world and the Australian people to support us to get out of here. Please help, please help us,” said Nima.

*Not their real names.

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Colombia: International adoption now legal for LGBT couples Tue, 08 Mar 2016 19:15:26 +0000

In November of 2015, the Constitutional Court of Colombia ruled to lift the country’s existing restriction on gay and lesbian couples’ right to adopt. This landmark ruling will not only allow same-sex adoption within Colombia, but will extend internationally, thus granting same-sex individuals and couples in other countries the ability to adopt Colombian children—a huge victory in the continuing battle for equality.

KidsaveKidsave, an advocacy agency that seeks to find adoptive families for older children living in foster care and orphanages worldwide, is especially excited to see this legislation go into effect. Every year, the organization’s Summer Miracles program brings Colombian children growing up without families to the United States, where they spend four weeks living with encouraging, supportive advocates.

These advocates (called “hosts” within the Kidsave Community) help children to create connections with supportive adults, experience the joys of family life, and cultivate a sense of self-worth and excitement for their future. Throughout the summer, hosts work with Kidsave to find every child a permanent adoptive family.

The Colombian Court’s decision expands gay and lesbian individuals and couples’ advocacy and adoption networks on a global scale, providing more opportunities for the LGBT community to act on a genuine love for children, a heart for community-building, and a desire to help those in need.

The ruling is anticipated to be officially published and instituted within coming months. The Instituto Colombiano Bienestar Familiar (ICBF) has advised Kidsave and Kidsave’s Colombian partner, La Casa de la Madre y el Nino, that gay and lesbian individuals and couples will be able to host Colombian children with Summer Miracles 2016! This will give LGBT couples the ability to get to know and advocate for Colombian children currently living in foster care and orphanages.

For more information visit

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Israel hosts its first-ever trans beauty pageant Fri, 04 Mar 2016 19:17:29 +0000

Around 30 trans women have taken part in a trans beauty pageant held in Tel Aviv this week, reports Pink News.

The ‘Miss Trans Israel’ pageant, the first-ever trans beauty pageant to take place in Israel was organized by Israela Stephanie Lev. Lev said living as a trans woman in Israel had been “terrible” in the past, but that now things were improving.

“Definitely we are achieving, enlightening the people to accept and empower transsexuals,” she told the Associated Press.

Contestants such as Abu Hanna, a 21-year-old whose family is Catholic Arab took part in the pageant, the report stated. “I have something to give the people”, Hanna said, going on to say “We are normal people. This is normal.

A pageant final will take place in May, and the winner is to represent Israel at the Miss Trans Star international pageant.

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2016 Hong Kong LGBT Inclusion Awards receive corporate support Wed, 24 Feb 2016 17:58:56 +0000

Hong KongHONG KONG Community Business, a not-for-profit organization promoting responsible and inclusive business and a thought leader on diversity and inclusion in Asia, have announced that its 2016 Hong Kong LGBT Inclusion Awards (the LGBT Awards) have received encouraging support from the corporate sector. Seven award categories have been sponsored by Allen & Overy, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, BNY Mellon, Goldman Sachs, Herbert Smith Freehills, HSBC and J.P. Morgan. These sponsorships will sustain Community Business’ on-going work to promote LGBT inclusion in Hong Kong and Asia. The awards are now open for nominations until Friday 26 February 2016.

The Hong Kong LGBT Inclusion Awards are the only awards honoring and celebrating LGBT Inclusion in Hong Kong. Recognizing the role of these awards in promoting LGBT equality and inclusion in the Hong Kong workplace and community, award nominations will be assessed based on the extent to which they are strategic, proactive, impactful and sustainable. To ensure impartiality, companies are not able to submit for any award that they are sponsoring and the winners of the 2015 awards are not eligible to submit for the same award in 2016.

“We commend these enlightened companies for demonstrating their leadership and commitment to promoting LGBT inclusion in Hong Kong,” said Mrs Fern Ngai, CEO of Community Business. “They recognize that the corporate sector has an influential role to play in changing mindsets of key stakeholders – including employees, customers, and the wider community. We are proud to be working in partnership with these sponsors to bring about change.”

Following a strong response in the first year of the launch of the Hong Kong LGBT Workplace Inclusion Index and Awards in 2015, Community Business has introduced a number of important new awards for 2016.


1.  LGBT Network Award

  • To recognize an employee network that has played a proactive role in promoting strong engagement with and commitment to local Hong Kong LGBT employees

2. LGBT Workplace Inclusion Initiative — Corporate — sponsored by BNY Mellon

  • To recognize an initiative introduced by a company that has had a significant and positive impact in promoting LGBT workplace inclusion in their workplace in Hong Kong.

Steve Lackey, BNY Mellon’s Chairman of Asia Pacific said, “BNY Mellon is pleased to join Community Business to champion the increasingly important role businesses play in cultivating safe and inclusive environments for talent. We believe diverse and inclusive environments that foster an open workplace and encourage creative thinking provide a competitive edge for global talent. Through this award we celebrate LGBT-inclusive workplace leaders in Hong Kong.”

3. LGBT Workplace Inclusion Initiative — SME sponsored by Herbert Smith Freehills

  • To recognize an initiative introduced by a small and medium-sized enterprise (SME)* that has had a significant and positive impact in promoting LGBT workplace inclusion in their workplace in Hong Kong.

Will Hallatt, Senior Registered Foreign Lawyer (England and Wales) at Herbert Smith Freehills said, “Small business is the traditional lifeblood of Hong Kong commerce. In sponsoring this award we hope to find strong nominations which demonstrate that LGBT initiatives are not only possible for small businesses in Hong Kong, but can also be as effective and innovative as those undertaken by larger corporations.”


1. LGBT Ally Award — sponsored by Allen & Overy

  • To recognise an ally who does not identify as LGBT based in Hong Kong who has taken proactive and effective steps to promote an LGBT inclusive culture in the organisation

2. LGBT Executive Sponsor Award — sponsored by J.P. Morgan

  • To recognise a senior executive sponsor based in Hong Kong who has used his/her influence to promote LGBT inclusion internally and/or externally

Hannes Hofmann, Managing Director and Head of the Asia Global Investment Opportunities Group at J.P. Morgan Private Bank, said, “Leadership that understands differences, embraces diversity and fosters inclusion can create an environment of trust and respect in which people speak their mind. That in turn will empower people to realize their full potential in a workplace.”

3. LGBT Inclusion Champion Award

  • To recognize an employee based in Hong Kong who has taken proactive and effective steps to create an LGBT inclusive culture in their organization

4. LGBT Youth Champion Award —  sponsored by Bank of America Merrill Lynch

  • To recognize a young person who has taken proactive and effective steps to promote LGBT inclusion amongst young people at their place of study, in their community or in their organization (not private sector) in Hong Kong

“Providing an inclusive workplace for all employees is essential. We support a business environment that enables everyone to be themselves at work and gives them the freedom to achieve their goals for successful, impactful careers,” said Steven Victorin, executive sponsor of the LGBT Pride and Ally network and head of Asia Pacific Corporate Banking and Global Corporate Banking Subsidiaries at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “Our sponsorship of the LGBT Youth Champion Award reflects our commitment to diversity as a responsible company.”

5. Transgender Inclusion Champion Award  sponsored by HSBC

  • To recognize an individual/organization who has taken a proactive role in raising awareness and championing transgender issues in Hong Kong

Kevin Martin, HSBC Group General Manager, Regional Head of Retail Banking and Wealth Management, said, “Our fundamental belief that inclusion for everyone is at the heart of all good businesses and societies underlies how we, at HSBC, conduct our business. We are proud to support the Community Business Transgender Inclusion Champion Award and look forward to recognising those who push for greater inclusion in Hong Kong and beyond.”


1. LGBT Advocacy Award

  • To recognize an individual/organization that has advocated for legal and/or social change and progress around LGBT inclusion in Hong Kong

2. LGBT Community Impact Award — sponsored by Goldman Sachs

  • To recognize a community-based LGBT initiative that has had a significant positive impact in promoting LGBT inclusion in Hong Kong in 2015

“We are honored to sponsor the LGBT Community Impact of the Year Award for a second year.  Participation from all sectors of society is needed to drive change, and we are pleased to work with Community Business to recognize the work done by local organizations, NGOs and community groups,” said James Houghton, Head of Asia Pacific ex-Japan Fixed Income, Currency and Commodities Distribution and Sponsor of the Hong Kong LGBT Network at Goldman Sachs 

3. LGBT Marketing Campaign Award

  • To recognize a marketing campaign in mainstream or social media which has incorporated and/or promoted LGBT inclusion in Hong Kong

The shortlisted finalists will be disclosed in April 2016 and the winners of the awards will be announced at the 2016 Hong Kong LGBT Inclusion Awards Gala Dinner on Tuesday 17 May 2016 in commemoration of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT).  The Gala Dinner will also be a fundraising event to ensure the ongoing sustainability of Community Business’ work to promote LGBT inclusion in Hong Kong and across the Asia region.

For details about the 2016 Hong Kong LGBT Inclusion Awards, including sponsorship and the nomination process, please visit:

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Historic Zion Square to honor gay pride victim but not without controversy Fri, 19 Feb 2016 20:09:45 +0000

Zion Square, Jerusalem

Zion Square, the iconic center in the heart of downtown Jerusalem, is also at the center of a huge controversy over plans by the Jerusalem Municipality to redesign the public space in honor of then 16-year-old Shira Banki who was fatally stabbed in 2015 during the city’s Gay Pride Parade by a religious extremist.

Reporting in the Jerusalem Post, the paper notes, “A NIS (New Israeli Shekel) 60,000 prize will be awarded to the architectural redesign of Jerusalem’s iconic Zion Square that best engenders tolerance to honor the memory of Shira Banki, who was stabbed to death by a religious extremist last July during the capital’s annual Gay Pride Parade. The competition, announced by the Jerusalem Municipality Monday night, is intended to engender greater empathy and compassion among the capital’s numerous warring religious and political factions.”

The top prize, approximately $15,000, is one of three; the second place winner will win NIS 20000 (roughly $5,000) and the third place winner will win NIS 10,000 (about $2,500).

Shira’s mom, Biki, according to the paper, will join the judging panel. Shira was stabbed by Yishai Schlissel, who had just been released after a 10-year stint in prison for stabbing three victims at another Gay Pride Parade in 2005, made his intentions known in a missive stating, ““It is the obligation of every Jew to keep his soul from punishment and stop this giant desecration of God’s name next Thursday.”

And apparently he is not alone in his views. Many readers expressed anger that a public space of such historical import would be co-opted by the LGBTQ community. “Have we finally lost our minds? Have a memorial, no problem, but changing the name of the most well-known square in Jerusalem is beyond ridiculous. I thought I left all this PC crap in America when I came here. Just insanity. WT..F?” seemed to encapsulate the prevailing views.

Others were far less circumspect, “They can call it Abomination Square, but to me and everyone I know, it will ALWAYS be Zion Square.”

There are no further details at this time about contest rules or deadlines.

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Indonesia to ban gay emojis Tue, 16 Feb 2016 21:11:07 +0000

Gay emojiIn an effort to prevent a disruption to moral order, the Indonesian government has started cracking down on the use of same-sex emojis, reports Foreign Policy. Emojis, cartoon-like characters that are designed to express the range of human emotions, among other things, that indicate two genders of the same sex with a child or heart between them are of particular concern. LINE, a popular messaging service, has already complied with the request prompting Ismail Cawidu, a spokesman for Indonesia’s Ministry of Information, to officially praise the move in a public statement. “The ministry is appreciative of LINE Indonesia for their understanding and discretion in dealing with matters that could potentially cause public unrest, especially the concerns of mothers for their children in terms of the negative influence the circulation of these LGBT stickers could cause.”

Meanwhile, human rights groups are becoming increasingly alarmed by what they see as incremental steps by President Joko Widodo – known also as Jokowi – to tamp down any expansion of gay civil rights. On Thursday, Human Rights Watch called on the president to stand up for gay rights and condemn anti-LGBT rhetoric. Two recent examples noted by the rights group were suggested bans on LGBT groups on university campuses, and the Indonesian police’s decision to interrupt an outreach event intended to educate gay men on HIV. Graeme Reid, director of LGBT research at Human Rights Watch, said Jokowi should clarify his stance “before such rhetoric opens the door to more abuses.”

Homosexuality is still widely considered to be a taboo subject. In some areas of the country ruled by Sharia law, gay sex can merit 100 lashes by a cane.

This is not the first time, however, that government officials have attempted to ban content deemed un-Islamic. During the previous administration, Communications Minister Tifatul Sembiring made it his mission to stamp out anything that whiffed of pornography, including the video-sharing site Vimeo which does not allow pornography. When questioned on the move Tifatul noted that the site had titles with such scandalous-sounding names as “Nudie Cutie” and “Art of Nakedness.”

When asked why he was following a recognized porn site on his official Twitter account, he explained he accidentally hit “follow” in his search for purity.

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Same-sex adoption comes to Portugal Fri, 12 Feb 2016 16:35:50 +0000

Portugal’s parliament has passed a motion overturning the presidential veto on a bill legalizing adoption by same-sex couples, reports Reuters. President Anibal Cavaco Silva will now have to sign the bill into law before his term ends in March.

The motion was passed by 137 votes in the 230-seat parliament, bringing together the ruling Socialists, their far-left allies – the Communists and Left Bloc, and some opposition deputies from the Social Democratic Party. The rightist CDS voted against.


Same-sex marriage has been legal in Portugal since June 2010

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New poll shows most Germans ready to support marriage equality Fri, 29 Jan 2016 18:41:30 +0000

According to a new poll, the majority of Germans are ready for same-sex marriage to be the law of the land. The survey by YouGov published on Thursday shows over two-thirds of Germans want gay marriage to be legalized, reports The Local de.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Union said they were for legalization and with support for marriage equality at over 60 percent  it suggests that the chancellor’s opposition to gay marriage is now out of step with her own voter base.

Slightly less than a quarter (24 percent) of respondents remained opposed to same-sex couples being given legal equality. Germany is currently one of the few countries in Western Europe without marriage rights for same-sex couples.


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Incitement to anti-gay killings in Malawi draws concern of UN human rights office Mon, 25 Jan 2016 20:06:33 +0000

NEW YORK — The United Nations human rights office has expressed concern over recent developments in Malawi, after the spokesperson of one of the country’s main political parties recently called for gay and lesbian people to be killed, describing them as “worse than dogs.”

The spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Rupert Colville, told the regular bi-weekly press briefing in Geneva that “the statements were made earlier this month by People’s Party spokesperson Kenneth Msonda on his personal Facebook page and repeated in media interviews.”

A criminal case was subsequently lodged against Mr. Msonda by two civil society organizations and he was due today to appear before the Blantyre Magistrate Court on charges of inciting others to break the law.

However, the OHCHR spokesperson said that yesterday the director of public prosecutions decided to discontinue the case – underlining that the State would not prosecute Mr. Msonda.

Mr. Colville said: “We are concerned that the failure to prosecute this case sends a dangerous message that inciting others to kill gay people is legitimate and will be tolerated by the authorities – in effect encouraging violent threats and attacks on the gay and lesbian community in Malawi.”

In May 2015, Malawi accepted a recommendation under the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review in Geneva to “take effective measures to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons from violence, and prosecute the perpetrators of violent attacks.”

“The Government of Malawi has a responsibility, enshrined in international human rights law, to protect all individuals from hatred and violence based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, and to hold to account anyone who either engages in such violence or incites others to do so,” said Mr. Colville, concluding: “We urge the Government to meet its responsibilities in this regard.”

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Russia rejects bill that would have criminalized coming out Mon, 18 Jan 2016 19:14:26 +0000

According to the RBC News Agency, the Russian Duma’s Committee on Constitutional Legislation and State Building has rejected a bill which would have made coming out to young people and same-sex couples kissing in public punishable with jail sentences.

The bill, introduced by Ivan Nikitchuk, a Communist party MP, would have punished people with a 5,000 ruble fine or up to two weeks in prison.

Pink News reported that the agency said the committee rejected the legislation “primarily due to the fact that from a formal legal perspective, the bill was illiterate.”


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Russia wants to ban public displays of affection among gay men Wed, 13 Jan 2016 21:16:37 +0000

Next week, Russia’s State Duma will decide on whether to ban people from coming out as gay.

GayStarNews reports that two senior Russian Communist MPs Ivan Nikitchuk and Nikolai Arefyev have presented a bill calling for people who come out as LGBTI to serve up to 15 days behind bars.

Any public displays of affection among gay men will result in jail time and a fine of 5,000 rubles ($80).

The proposed bill will not apply to women as, according to the lawmakers, they are more ‘reasonable’ and can ‘manage their emotions’.

The legislation is intended at strengthening ‘traditional Orthodox values’.

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‘The Danish Girl’ banned in Qatar Mon, 11 Jan 2016 21:54:14 +0000

The Danish Girl CoverThe movie The Danish Girl, which has received international acclaim, with multiple BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations has been banned in Qatar.

Situated on the northeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula bordering  Saudi Arabia, the Islamic nation of Qatar has not taken well to the Tom Hooper film. Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar and trans people aren’t recognized by the state.

Pink News reports that the film had been screened in some cinemas in the capital Doha – but the government this week stepped in to prevent it from being shown.

After a citizen complained about the film’s “moral depravity”, a reply from the Qatari culture ministry said: “We would like to inform you that we have contacted the concerned administration and the screening of the Danish film is now banned from cinemas. We thank you for your unwavering vigilance.”

The Danish Girl follows the lives of Danish painters Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener. The film stars Eddie Redmayne as Lili Elbe, one of the first known recipients of sex reassignment surgery, Alicia Vikander as Gerda Wegener, Matthias Schoenaerts as Hans Axgil, and Ben Whishaw as Henrik.

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In first, Chinese court to hear same-sex marriage case Thu, 07 Jan 2016 21:50:31 +0000

Voice of America (VOA) announced Wednesday that a 20-something gay man has filed a lawsuit against a civil affairs bureau in Hunan province. “Sun Wenlin, 26, filed a lawsuit December 16 against the Furong district civil affairs bureau in Changsha, the capital of Hunan province in central China. His lawsuit challenged the bureau’s refusal to allow the couple — his partner is 36 years old — to register their marriage.”

The move comes at a time when many in the Chinese LGBTQ community are taking their first tentative steps out of the closet. While homosexuality was decriminalized in 2001, many still fear they may be ostracized from family, friends and society.  It is estimated that there are approximately 13 million gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or questioning Chinese.

Chinese law, while specifically stating that a marriage is between a husband and a spouse, does not specify gender. Sun appears optimistic that this loophole may create a wider opening for the legal rights of gay people. “I think from a legal point of view, we should be successful,” Sun said. “Our marriage law says there is the freedom to marry and gender equality. These words can be applied to same-sex marriage.”

“In China, courts often reject politically sensitive cases, so the fact that the lawsuit is accepted signals some official willingness to address discrimination against LGBT people, which is encouraging,” Maya Wang, a China researcher at the New York-based rights group Human Rights Watch, told Reuters.

While there is no precedent for same-sex marriage, many argue that it is quite conceivable that the court will issue a favorable ruling. The Communist party, which rules over every aspect of modern Chinese society, has traditionally held progressive views on the role of women and equal rights, provided they conform to the dominant political, economic and social tenets of Communism.

The ruling is expected within six months and many believe that should the court legalize same-sex marriage, the resulting tourism would provide many economic benefits to the country and, specifically, to a region widely considered the most beautiful of the Chinese provinces.

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