Τρίτη, 26 Μαρτίου 2013

Child used as human shield in Paris anti-gay marriage protest.

French riot police used batons and tear gas to stop anti-gay protestors from marching in a restricted area.
A father with a young child on his shoulders is seen going against French riot police who were using tear gas and batons.
An anti-gay marriage protestor used his young child to protect himself as he challenged police during a protest in Paris yesterday (24 March).
In an video posted by French group Humanophobie ou Condition Humaine and reported on byAmericaBlog.com, it shows a man with a toddler on his shoulders shouting ‘On met les enfants devant!’ which translates as ‘Put the kids in front!’
The police had just used tear gas and batons to push back protestors when they attempted to march into a restricted area.
Authorities had earlier banned anti-gay protestors from marching on the Champs-Elysees. They followed a nearby route, and made frequent attempts to make their way onto the famous street.
Police had turned down the request to march on the Champs-Elysees on the grounds it would be a threat to public order, as well as because it borders President Francois Hollande’s palace.
While organizers claimed their numbers were at 1.4 million, police gave a more modest initial estimate of 300,000.
Banners held up along the route read ‘We want work not gay marriage,’ and ‘no to gayxtremism’.
Speaking to the Agence France-Presse, a 30-year-old protestor named Marie said: ‘We will not give up anything. We came to defend the fact that a father and a mother is better for children.’
The ‘Marriage For All’ bill, which will legalize same-sex marriage and adoption in France, was adopted by the lower chamber of parliament and will go to the Senate for examination and approval in April.
A separate law on providing medically assisted conception to gay couples, already extended to heterosexual couples unable to conceive, will be debated later in the year.

Gay couple given $100k for their dream wedding.

A same-sex couple from Maine have won a $100k dream wedding courtesy of a wedding and lifestyle magazine.
Caroline and Jenna will marry in October after winning an $100k dream wedding.
An American gay couple have been given thousands of dollars for their dream wedding.
Jenna Eagleton, and partner Caroline Currie, took part in Real Maine Weddings magazine's third annual competition in the hope of winning the $100k (€77k)  prize.
Contestants were asked to make a video saying why they deserve to win the prize which will buy them a reception, wedding dress, tuxedos, rings, flowers and a limousine service.
The Portland couple had already planned a wedding for 2014 but Currie’s dad, who has leukaemia, asked the couple to move the wedding forward to make sure he would be there.
Their touching story helped them win the prize, which was awarded to them at the Maine Wedding Association Bridal Show on Sunday (24 March).
Their entry video received over 34,000 votes in 10 weeks.
Last November, a gay-marriage referendum was approved in Maine making it one of the first US states by popular vote to allow gay-marriage.
On their website, the magazine said: ‘Thanks to Maine voters taking to the polls to voice their support for the legalization of same-sex marriages in the state, we were able to open the contest to same-sex couples this year.’
After winning, Currie told WCSH6 Portland: ‘It really shows that [yes] this is OK – this is right and this is the way things are.’
Eagleton went on to say ‘love is love’.
The pair plan to marry in Kennebunkport, Maine in October.

Israel’s new health minister to remove ban on gay blood donations.

Yael German, Israel’s new minister of health, has instructed a public committee to deliberate the removal of a ban on blood donations from gay men.
Yael German, Israel’s new minister of health has instructed a public committee to deliberate the removal of a ban on blood donations from gay men
In her first move as Israel's new health minister, Yael German instructed the ministry staff today (25 March) to reconsider the ban on accepting blood donations from gay men.
The form filled out by every blood donor in Israel states that men who have had sex with other men are prohibited from donating blood.
People who are HIV positive, used drugs or been exposed to mad-cow disease, among other constraints, are also prohibited from donating blood.
According to the daily Haaretz, German, of the Yesh Atid party ('There is a Future') instructed that after the Passover holiday, an advisory committee would convene to discuss the issue.
Israel’s ban, which is also present in many other countries, has been in effect since 1980. Israel’s emergency services, Magen David Adom (MDA), screens prospective donors through a questionnaire.
In many other countries, including the UK, Sweden, Japan, Australia, Brazil, Argentina and Chile, a one-year time frame is enforced for men who have had sex with men, effectively banning gay men, or demanding celibacy from a prospective donor (depending on your view).
In South Africa the time limit is six months, while several countries including Italy, Spain and Mexico have no limitation whatsoever.
The time limit ban, however, applies only to gay sex, whether protected or not, while straight sexual practices are considered by Israel’s health ministry and MDA as a lower risk.
In recent years, an average of four blood samples out of a total of 300,000 donations per year have been found to be infected with HIV. Last year, 13 blood samples were found to be HIV-positive.
Israel's LGBT community has been consistently campaigning for the ban to be listed, saying it amounts to discrimination and sending an offensive message as if gays are more prone to HIV infection, which is clearly not borne out by medical research.
Until now, Israel’s ministry of health has not heeded to the repeated calls and left the clause unchanged.
Shai Doitsh, the chair of the Aguda, one of Israel’s main LGBT advocacy groups, welcomed the decision telling Gay Star News: ‘The first decision of minister Yael German is commendable.
‘The Aguda, which has been invited to testify before the committee, will, of course, demand an end to the discrimination. It increasingly seems "There is a future" and it is certainly more pink. We hope other government colleagues will follow her lead’.
Readers of the Israeli LGBT community Facebook page also welcomed the move: ‘Yael German is an amazing woman! … This is a significant and historical day for the LGBT community in Israel, … where the minister is correcting a flaw and discrimination in Israeli society’, commented Ran Shem Tov.
Yoel Markus Desal also praised the initiative saying it was ‘welcomed. As every organization that collects blood is obliged to screen it, there is no reason for this discrimination against the community.
‘There is no “gay disease” just as much as there is no “straight disease”.
‘We are all human and our blood is equal, no matter what our sexual orientation is, race, ethnicity, religion or any other factor’. 

Global medical students forum backs marriage equality.

A global meeting of medical student associations has backed marriage equality at a conference in Baltimore in what may be the first time that a global body has voted to support the rights of same-sex couples to marry.
Photo: Andrew Horne
The International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA) has endorsed a policy statement in favor of marriage equality at its global conference in Baltimore, Maryland.
The conference voted to support a motion put forward by the Australian Medical Students Association (AMSA).
AMSA president Ben Veness presented the ‘Marriage Equality and Health’ policy statement to the IFMSA General Assembly in Baltimore.
‘I congratulate the IFMSA and all its National Member Organizations for passing this policy statement,’ Veness said following the vote, ‘The meeting was very exciting, with a series of impassioned speeches, for and against, made by medical students from every continent.’

‘Most of the crowd leaped to their feet in applause as the final vote was announced, noting the significance of this step towards equality by medical students from all across the world. As far as we know, this is the first time an international representative association has come out in support of marriage equality.

‘There are no health arguments in favor of defining marriage as a union solely between a man and a woman. Marriage equality will reduce the discrimination and thus minority stress that LGBTI persons suffer.

‘Since 2001, more than 10 countries have legalized marriage equality, with many more – including New Zealand and the UK - currently debating relevant legislation.
It’s time the Australian Government took note of the international trend and legalized marriage equality.’

Veness said that AMSA believes that all communities have the right to the best attainable health and thus advocates on issues that may impact health outcomes.
Australian Marriage Equality (AME) national convener Rodney Croome welcomed the move.
‘This is an important moment in the global marriage equality debate because representatives from around the world have agreed that denial of marriage equality has a profound impact on the health of same-sex attracted people and their families,’ Croome said.
‘The policy statement is also important because it highlights the growing gap between the passionate support many Australians have for this reform and the opposition to change we continue to see from our national leaders.’
The IFMSA represents medical students from more than 100 countries.

Τρίτη, 19 Μαρτίου 2013

The L Word director to make new LGBT documentary.

The writer-director of a hit 10-year long, lesbian TV series, Ilene Chaiken, has announced she will be making a new documentary on LGBT individuals in Middle America.
US series The L Word centered around the lives of a group of lesbian and bisexual women in Los Angeles. It was followed by aspin-off reality show, The Real L Word in 2010.
On almost the ten-year anniversary of The L Word’s first airing, Chaiken has said she wants to create a documentary that shows the diversity of the LGBT community.
“Being gay is not a monolithic proposition. We’ve lived so many different lives in so many different communities, with so many different experiences. I want to tell stories that are specific to being gay but reflect a lot of different realities of gay life.
“We were telling one story in “The Real L Word” in LA and Brooklyn with a group of women we were following. This is a very different story, and it didn’t really belong in that story.”
The show will be “grittier” than her previous shows she told the The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s going to be quite different in tone and ambition. I have been feeling this for a while and [producers] Magical Elves and Showtime felt compelled to look in this direction.”
She said the documentary will be: “Less glamorous and a story about different facets of gayness. We all know, especially those of us who are gay, that there are challenges and hardships and that there are a lot of places in the world in this country where it isn’t easy to be a lesbian or to be gay. That part of the story gets touched upon in The L Word and in three seasons of The Real L Word in Los Angeles and New York but we’re really going to look at what that is and explore it now in a more unvarnished way.”

Uganda’s president describes gay people as ‘deviants’.

Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni says gay people can be viewed as “deviants” and has accused European countries of trying to promote homosexuality and sexual liberalisation.
“In our society, there were a few homosexuals. There was no persecution, no killings and no marginalisation of these people but they were regarded as deviants. Sex among Africans including heterosexuals is confidential,” AllAfrica.com reports the president as saying.
Mr Museveni made the remarks on Monday during a discussion with human rights activists from the Robert F Kennedy Centre for Justice and Human Rights.
The centre’s president, Kerry Kennedy, niece to former US president John F Kennedy and daughter to the latter’s younger brother Robert F Kennedy, met with Mr Museveni.
Uganda’s proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill was also raised during the meeting.
It specifies long jail sentences for those convicted of homosexual acts and in certain cases has suggested the death penalty.
The Ugandan Parliament for a second time has gone on recess without debating the bill.
Despite widespread documentation by international human rights groups, Mr Museveni was keen to downplay Uganda’s reputation for violent homophobic persecution and accused European countries of trying to promote homosexuality and sexual liberalisation.
“If am to kiss my wife in public, I would lose an election in Uganda. Western people exhibit sexual acts in public which we don’t do here,” he said. “There is no discrimination, no killings, no marginalisation, no luring of young people using money into homosexual acts”.

Gays get organized in Brussels.

GSN meets the team at Rainbow House in the capital of Belgium.
The Rainbow House bar - a popular meeting space for the LGBT organizations of Brussels
Photo by Dimitri Devuyst.
The offices of Rainbow House in the center of Brussels had been burgled about a month ago. A window had been broken, the door had been forced, and all of the laptops and computers had been stolen. As a temporary measure the staff were all working on their personal laptops to keep everything operating.
I met Francois Massoz at the bar operated by Rainbow House on the rue du Marche au Charbon – just around the corner from their main administrative office. Massoz is in charge of communications for Rainbow House. Young, passionate, handsome, and with an appealing French accent, Massoz talked articulately about the purpose of Rainbow House and its role within the vibrant LGBT community of Brussels.
What is Rainbow House?
We are the umbrella organization for the LGBT organizations of Brussels. We were established nearly 11 years ago.
We currently represent 30 organizations – this will increase to 40 as a number of organizations have lodged applications to join. Applications from new members will be considered at our annual general meeting in March.
Member organizations pay a small membership fee of €75 ($97) per year.
What are some of the key activities of Rainbow House?
A lot of our member organizations don’t have their own office space, so our offices give our members somewhere to work or hold meetings and events, and this also encourages collaboration between organizations.
We produce a number of key publications: ‘Out In Brussels’ is a small pocket-sized guide to the bars, events, and LGBT associations of Brussels. And ‘Rainbow Times’ is a magazine that we produce three times each year.
We also actively promote collaboration between our member organizations. Plus we organize Pride Week.
What are the plans for Pride Week in 2013?
Pride Week is a festival that is held the week leading up to Belgium Pride.
This year our focus is on ‘family’, but we are also exploring the concept of ‘gender’. Highlights of the Pride Week festival will include:
  • A forum to discuss the legal aspects of LGBT parenting;
  • An exhibition and presentation by New York photographer whose work explores gender;
  • A number of theater productions;
  • A Pride village;
  • A run around the city;
  • A film festival exploring the history of gay movies;
  • Plus there will be a lot of workshops and conferences in collaboration with our Pride House organization members.
Another interesting thing that we’ll be doing during Pride Week links to a new app that helps to identify and document incidents of ‘gay bashing’. If you’ve been a victim of some form of aggression, physical or verbal, then the app enables you to enter the details of the incident and then creates a map of all the incidents across the city. During Pride Week we’ll be placing flowers at each of the locations where there have been attacks in the last year.
Does Rainbow House undertake any health education or HIV prevention work?
While a number of our members organizations are focused on health and prevention, Rainbow House is not itself focused on HIV prevention.
However we do currently have two big projects underway.
Firstly the ‘HIV Cafe’ which is an event that is held once a month, creating a safe space for HIV positive people. This isn’t just for LGBT people, but for anyone that is HIV positive. This has received a lot of media coverage and one of our main aims is to challenge ‘sero-phobia’ [stigmatization of people living with HIV].
Our second big project is Knitting Against AIDS. This involves people from the fashion industry but we’re also working with schools and retirement homes, getting people involved in knitting scarves while at the same time discussing and educating people about HIV and AIDS. We then hold a fashion show where the scarves are modeled by people who are HIV positive, the scarves are sold and the money raised is donated to HIV prevention associations.
We are also participating in the Sialon project. This is a European-wide project that is conducting saliva-based HIV testing in clubs, bars and saunas to collect data about the number of men with HIV. Participants have the option to learn their results but this is not essential as the main priority is to collect the data.
In addition we work with our member organizations to coordinate activities around World AIDS Day in December each year.
How is Rainbow House funded?
We are subsidized by the government, but it is quite a complicated system. There are a lot of different government departments we have to apply to for funding, so it takes a lot of time and effort.
One of the challenges is everything is designed as short-term project funding, so you are often waiting for a long time to know if an application has been successful, and we need to apply for a lot of different projects in order to maintain the funding that we need to pay our staff. We have a core staff of five people.
There is only limited private funding available, so continuing to access government funding is essential.
This ongoing challenge regarding funding is one reason a new organization ‘Regenboogvrienden’ (friends of Rainbow House) has been established as a fundraising vehicle.
What does the future hold for Rainbow House?
If we continue to find money there will be a good future. If we don’t, we will still try to survive.
While everything we’re doing doesn’t require a lot of money, we still ultimately depend on the willing of the governement. If anything changes then we could disappear very quickly.
The good thing is that we have existed for nearly 11 years now so I am hopeful for the future. 

India clarifies position for gay couples with babies on the way.

India banned surrogacy for gay couples and single people earlier this year, leaving those who have babies in the womb in a difficult situation.
Gay couple with babies born via surrogacy
Ginette Snow
The home ministry in India has clarified the position for gay couples who have already taken steps to have babies via Indian surrogate mothers before the rules were changed earlier this year.
Complications have arisen for people who have already made surrogacy arrangements in India but whose babies have not been born yet.
Australian couple Paul Taylor Burn and Josh (no surname given) are one pair of prospective parents who have been left in the lurch by the change in visa rules.
The couple are quoted in the Hindustan Times expressing their concern that their twin babies will be left stateless and will not be issued exit visas to allow them to be taken to Australia.
But a home ministry official gives some reassurance, telling Hindustan Times that exit visas would be given to babies born in this situation on a case-by-case basis after checking the foreigners or surrogacy clinics were not trying to get around the ban.
'But this is a special case,' said a senior home ministry official. 'Else, we will be left with hundreds of parentless, stateless children. We can't open an orphanage for them.'
The official said that those who try to ignore the ban in the future will be dealt with seriously.  

Older LGBT people get LOVE in New South Wales.

New project will target health and discrimination against older LGBT people in and around Sydney, Australia.
Older Australian lesbian couple
Older LGBT people in New South Wales in Australia are being cared for through a new project called Living Older Visibly and Engaged (LOVE) from health advocates ACON. 
The project is starting next month with consultations with to gather opinions, ideas and concerns.  
'Approximately 70,000 people in NSW over the age of 55 identify as GLBT but we know very little about their health needs due to a lack of research,' said ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill.
'What we do know is that they are at high risk of social isolation and that many have concerns, based on previous experiences of discrimination, about how they will be treated in the aged care system because of their sexuality or gender identity.'
After the initial consultations, ACON will launch a website so that older LGBT people can connect and give more feedback about their health needs. Service providers in New South Wales will learn about how to improve their care of the state's growing older LGBT population.
ACON is also offering an event called Afternoon Delight this month where older LGBT people can watch relevant films and socialize in various locations across the state.
report released last December from the Australian government set six goals for ensuring LGBTI people are well-cared for as they get older.  

Pope Francis greets anti-gay president Robert Mugabe.

Zimbabwe's president Mugabe, who says gays are worse than dogs and pigs, has attended Pope's inauguration despite EU travel ban.
Pope Francis greets anti-gay president Robert Mugabe
Zimbabwe’s outspokenly anti-gay president Robert Mugabe has slipped into Italy  for the inauguration of Pope Francis despite a European Union (EU) travel ban due to his abuse of human rights.
Mugabe, banned since 2002 due to allegations of vote rigging and human rights abuses, was whisked today (19 March) directly from his plane at Rome international airport to the Vatican.
A priest greeted the 89-year-old president, his wife and son at the airport saying: ‘On behalf of Pope Francis, welcome to the Vatican, welcome to the Holy See’.
President Mugabe along with his wife Grace were seated as guests of honor at the VIP front row during the Pope’s inauguration ceremony and mass, reported the portal New Zimbabwe.
After the mass, Mugabe and his wife were seen shaking hands and exchanging pleasantries with Pope Francis, who is on record saying gay adoption constitutes child abuse.
Vatican officials tried to down play the EU travel ban breach.
‘The Holy See informs everyone that this event is taking place. There are no invitations. There are no privileges and no one is refused. While one country may have problems with someone else, we invite no one. This must be made clear’, a Vatican spokesman said.
During Zimbabwe's annual independence celebrations in 1995 Mugabe proclaimed that homosexuality ‘degrades human dignity’, ‘unnatural’ and ‘worse than dogs and pigs.
‘What we are being persuaded to accept is sub-animal behavior and we will never allow it here. If you see people parading themselves as lesbians and gays, arrest them and hand them over to the police!’
Since then, President Mugabe has increased the political repression of Zimbabwe’s LGBT community.
The country’s LGBT rights organization Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) has beenrepeatedly subjected to harassment, beatings and arrests.
Chesterfield Samba, chair of GALZ told Gay Star News that he hope this could be a chance for an open dialogue: ‘We hope that the Pope could commend president Mugabe for adopting a new constitution and remind the president that despite the inclusion of the prohibition of same-sex marriages, the constitution provides that the rights of LGBT persons should be protected, same as everyone else’.
Samba also added: ‘The Pope should encourage president Mugabe to uphold the central values which underlie the new constitution – justice, human dignity, equality, freedom and the universality of human rights’.
Veteran human rights advocate, Peter Tatchell criticized the Pope for meeting Mugabe saying: ‘The idea that the Vatican did not invite Mugabe is absurd. He was given a ticket to the VIP enclosure and was seen on TV meeting and chatting with Pope Francis.
‘No one gets a one-on-one meeting with the Pope without official Vatican approval.
‘The Pope has made a huge error of judgment by inviting and greeting the Zimbabwean President.
'He should have shunned Mugabe as a public rebuke for his crimes and as a signal of solidarity with his victims.
‘President Mugabe belongs in the dock at the International Criminal Court, not in the Vatican being feted by the Pope.
‘It is outrageous that the Italian government which is a signatory to UN human rights conventions, is not enforcing the EU travel ban on Mugabe.
Peter Tatchell has twice attempted a citizen’s arrest of the Zimbabwean dictator on charges of torture: in London in 1999 and again in Brussels in 2001.
In Brussels he was beaten unconscious by President Mugabe’s bodyguards, resulting in brain and eye injuries. 

Κυριακή, 10 Μαρτίου 2013

Trans woman dies in Istanbul amidst police altercations.

‘We are very shocked and sad’ says an LGBT activist in Turkey over the woman’s death.
Police activity toward trans communities in Istanbul has increased in recent days.
A trans woman attacked four days ago in Turkey has died.
The victim was reportedly a resident of the Meis district, where complaints of police violence and pressure from local residents have been reported since October 2012.
According to Rozerin Seap Kip, lawyer for Social Policies, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Studies Association in Turkey (SPoD), the victim was heavily beaten up four days ago. She died yesterday at a hospital in Bakirköy, Istanbul.
Onur Fidangül, a LGBT activist in Turkey, told Gay Star News: ‘We are very shocked and sad’ over the victim’s death.
Fidangül told GSN that the SPoD has organized visits and meetings with the police department in the Meis district, which resulted in the police returning and forcing some people from their homes.
Fidangül added that for the past three weeks, additional reports of trans women being attacked and receiving death threats have been coming in.
Police activity in the area has escalated in recent days. On 8 March, police broke into the homes of 20 trans women and arrested them on the basis of ‘providing space’ for sex work.
While sex work is not illegal in Turkey, transgendered women are not allowed to work in regulated brothels, and Turkey has the second highest level of hate crime against trans people in the world.