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President Trump begins LGBTQ Pride Month with silence

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Trump has failed to issue a presidential proclamation honoring June as LGBTQ Pride Month. Instead, the Trump administration prioritized issuing proclamations June 1 around “Great Outdoors Month,” “National Ocean Month,” and “National Homeownership Month.” This silence halts an eight-year precedent set by President Barack Obama in honoring the achievements of LGBTQ Americans and showing support for the community via proclamations and other Pride Month events.

Ivanka Trump sent two tweets on the evening of June 1 wishing “everyone a joyful Pride” and saying she was “proud to support my LGBTQ friends and the LGBTQ Americans who have made immense contributions to our society and economy.” These tweets which were met with an outcry from LGBTQ writers, influencers and leaders.

Michelangelo Signorile, HuffPost’s Queer Voices editor-at-large wrote: “As many pointed out, the tweets are beyond hypocritical since Ivanka Trump champions, defends and never criticizes her father, the president.

“All the while, Donald Trump has stripped transgender students of protections in schools, installed grotesque and overtly homophobic individuals in his cabinet ― from Tom Price to Ben Carson ― and has the anti-LGBTQ Mike Pence leading the way on domestic policy, along with many of the bigots he’s installed in the government as head of Trump’s transition team.”

Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD president and CEO spoke out issuing the following statement, “Every June, leaders from all walks of life recognize Pride month and stand together in support of LGBTQ people, however President Trump chose to start this Pride month with deafening silence. Even if Ivanka Trump tries to save face with LGBTQ Americans, President Trump’s negligence at the start of Pride month provided another example that this administration is no friend to the community. While the Trump Administration tries to systematically erase LGBTQ people and families from the fabric of this nation, LGBTQ Americans and allies must do what we know best this Pride month – stay visible and march for acceptance.”

Since Day One of his presidency, Donald Trump has approved policy that systematically erases LGBTQ Americans from the fabric of this nation. From removing any mention of “LGBTQ” on government Web sites to rescinding guidance that protection the rights of transgender students at their schools, the Trump Administration has made a point to halt full acceptance for LGBTQ Americans.

This is in stark contrast to President Barack Obama and the previous administration. Aside from issuing a president proclamation for LGBTQ Pride Month each year in office, the Obama Administration advocated for and ushered in a new era of LGBTQ acceptance in this nation, including the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the passage of the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act, and the a nationwide victory for marriage equality.

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Landmark LGBTQ legislation advances in the California Senate

SACRAMENTO, Calif.— Two bills authored by Sen. Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) that enhance rights for transgender Californians passed Wednesday on the Senate floor.

SB 179, the Gender Recognition Act, would make California one of the first states in the country to create a third gender marker on state-issued identification documents for people who identify as nonbinary – neither male nor female. The bill would also streamline the process for transgender, intersex and nonbinary Californians to obtain identification documents that accurately reflect their gender. It passed by a vote of 26-12.

“I thank my colleagues in the Senate who took a brave stand today for Californians who have a hard enough time as it is,” Atkins said. “Most of us use our ID on a daily basis and take it for granted. SB 179 will make what should be a simple task much easier for our transgender and nonbinary neighbors.”

Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) is a joint author of SB 179.

“Today, California takes another bold step toward full equality for our LGBTQ community and a more inclusive society,” Wiener said. “We need to make it easier for transgender and gender non-conforming people to live their lives as who they are, not who society says they’re supposed to be. In particular, our LGBTQ youth need to know that we support them and want them to succeed as their authentic selves.”

Transgender Law Center is a sponsor of SB 179.

“Everyone needs access to an ID that accurately reflects who they are,” said Transgender Law Center Executive Director Kris Hayashi. “This simple measure will make daily life for many transgender and nonbinary people infinitely safer and easier.”

SB 310, the Name and Gender Act, establishes the right of people in state prisons and county jails to access the courts to obtain a name or gender change. It also requires corrections officials to use the new name of a prisoner who has successfully obtained a name change.

“Transgender people who are incarcerated should have the same right as anyone else to legally change their name or gender and to be recognized for who they are,” Atkins said. “In addition to providing transgender prisoners with a sense of dignity while incarcerated, SB 310 will give them a better chance to reenter society successfully.”

Equality California is a strong supporter of both SB 179 and SB 310.

“By the time a transgender person applies for a name change or a document accurately reflecting their gender identity, they’ve already made an extremely difficult personal journey,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California. “The last thing they need is for the government to throw more obstacles in their path. These bills would make a difficult process easier and help protect the basic dignity of transgender and nonbinary people.”

Both bills now advance to the state Assembly for consideration.

Short URL: http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=80140

141 men arrested in gay sauna in Indonesia

Saturday, May 21 141 men were arrested by Indonesian authorities claiming they were engaging in a “gay sex party” at Atlantis Gym & Sauna in Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta. Those arrested were detained by the North Jakarta District Police. Indonesia does not have laws criminalizing homosexuality, except in the Aceh province, however the country does have severe anti-pornography laws which have been used to target LGBTIQ Web sites and activities.

Jessica Stern, executive director of OutRight Action International, commented on the arrests and the wider environment facing LGBTIQ people in Indonesia saying: “OutRight’s research, Creeping Criminalization, shows that regional regulations are departing from national laws and are heavily influenced by fundamentalist interpretations of Islam. These laws are targeting women’s dress codes, any women having relationships outside of marriage, and LGBTIQ people, criminalizing them on grounds of breaching public morality.

“What is happening in Indonesia is dangerous and scary. Officials are using their own personal biases on morality to oppress different groups and especially LGBTIQ people. In the past, the LGBTIQ community has experienced more tolerance in Indonesian society, but particularly over the past 18 months crackdowns have increased and the situation has become much worse for LGBTIQ people. LGBTIQ Indonesians are equal citizens and must not be singled out and oppressed simply for who they love or who they are.

The Telegraph reported that police have so far said that ten will be charged, including the sauna’s owner and several strippers. If found guilty they face a jail term of up to ten years.

Others arrested must be released by Tuesday morning if there is no evidence of criminality found against them. Otherwise they could be detained for 20 days.

Short URL: http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=79816

Russian LGBT Network evacuating ‘at risk’ people from Chechnya

1 April, Novaya Gazeta reported that more than 100 men have been arbitrarily detained and at least three have been murdered by Chechen authorities for their alleged “non traditional” sexual orientation. Independent sources have confirmed the mass detention, described acts of torture, and suggested that the number of men killed may be as many as 20. The scale and scope of the crisis means that LGBTIQ people in Chechnya are in extreme danger, and the international community must act urgently.

In response to the crisis, the Russian LGBT Network is currently evacuating people from Chechnya who may be at risk for kidnapping, arrest or otherwise in harm’s way. The Network is calling on international institutions and governments to pressure Russian authorities to intervene to immediately stop the abuse. It has also underscored that even those LGBTIQ people not at risk of direct state violence may now be at heightened risk of family violence.

Jessica Stern, executive director of OutRight Action International, commented, “The perpetrators of this malicious campaign must be held accountable for the systematic detention, torture, and killings of innocent men in Chechnya. No government should get away with such wanton human rights violations.”

OutRight has requested swift and urgent action from a dozen governments, including that they engage their Russian counterparts to: condemn these reports, urge that the perpetrators be held accountable, demand the men’s immediate release, and insist that all survivors and victims’ families be given reparations. OutRight is also calling for statements of condemnation from United Nations officials.

A spokesman for Chechnya’s leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, denied the allegations. He said, “You cannot arrest or repress people who just don’t exist in the republic.” The spokesman also indirectly highlighted the violence and homophobia faced by gay men, saying, “If such people existed in Chechnya, law enforcement would not have to worry about them, as their own relatives would have sent them to where they could never return.”

International reaction to these reports has been shock and horror. However, people have also used the crisis to engage in islamophobic, racist, and anti-Russia rhetoric.

Stern said, “Using a violent attack on men accused of being gay to legitimize islamophobia is dangerous and misleading. It negates the experiences of queer muslims and essentializes all muslims as homophobic. We cannot permit this tragedy to be co-opted by ethno-nationalists to perpetuate anti-Muslim or anti-Russian sentiment. The people and their government are never the same.”

Stern concluded, “We remember the victims of this heinous crime. They are in our hearts as we call on the international community to urgently support the safety of all LGBTIQ Chechens.”

Those who may be in distress or in need of help within Chechnya are encouraged to reach out to the Russian LGBT Network at 8 800 555 73 74 (the call is free within Russia). Additionally, anyone with information on the current situation in Chechnya can confidentially contact ILGA-Europe at +32 2 609 54 10 or info@ilga-europe.org.

Short URL: http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=78800

European Court ends forced sterilizations of trans people

STRASBOURG, France — Thursday, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that requiring sterilization of individuals seeking a change in their legal gender recognition violates human rights. Twenty two countries in Europe currently still require sterilization to access gender identity recognition, however this decision mandates that these countries amend their laws to reflect this positive ruling.

While forced sterilization has been deemed a human rights violation, the EU Court upheld that medical examinations and a mental health diagnosis were in line with the European Convention of Human Rights.

Jessica Stern, executive director of OutRight Action International, commenting on the decision said, “Today the world moved in the right direction for for trans rights everywhere. Forcing unnecessary medical interventions to access basic human rights like legal recognition of a person’s gender is barbaric. As more countries review laws for gender identity recognition it is essential that they forgo outdated policies and follow legislation from places like Malta or Argentina which prioritize self-determination. The decision from the European Court raises the bar globally.”

In a press release issued today Julia Ehrt, executive director of Transgender Europe, a human rights organization that has been at the forefront of of fighting these laws, also gave insight to the ruling, saying, “Today is a victory for trans people and human rights in Europe. This decision ends the dark chapter of state-induced sterilisation in Europe. The 22 states in which a sterilisation is still mandatory will have to swiftly end this practice. We are looking forward to supporting those and other countries in reforming their national legislation.”

This ruling results from three cases against France submitted in 2012 and 2013 which leveraged Article 8 of the European Convention of Human rights, the “Right to respect for private and family rights,” Article 3 of the Convention the “Prohibition of torture,” as well as Article 14, “Prohibition of discrimination.”

In 2015 the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) International, considered an anti-LGBT hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, submitted a written intervention to the court on this case, positing that states should have the right to address issues as they pertain to transgender individuals based on national contexts, and that the court should not consider the Yogyakarta Principles, a set of international principles relating to sexual orientation and gender identity, when considering the three cases.

Stern commented on the intervention of ADF International, and said, “Alliance Defending Freedom makes a mockery of the word freedom when they put religious dogma over the rights of individuals to be legally recognized. These cases are about every trans person’s right to self-determination and the freedom of every trans person to not be forcibly sterilized. This is without a doubt a fundamental right that must be upheld in every context.”

European countries are moving in the direction of more progressive legislation on this issue. Since October 2016, France no longer force sterilization on trans citizens to access gender identity recognition. Sweden abandoned the requirement of sterilization in 2013. The Swedish Government has recently announced that anyone who was forced to undergo sterilization to access legal gender recognition between 1972-2013 is eligible for compensation from the state in the amount of 225,000 SEK ($25,000).

Maria Sjödin, Deputy Executive Director of OutRight and former Execuive Director of Swedens largest LGBTQ organizations RFSL, comments, “Money can never fully compensate the suffering of those that were forced to undergo sterilization, but it is an admittance from the state that the requirement was a violation of people’s rights.”

Only four countries in Europe, Norway, Ireland, Malta, and Denmark currently have gender identity recognition policies that are based on the principle of self-determination without any medical requirements.

Short URL: http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=78774

Parents of LGBT children form a support group in Mumbai, India

MUMBAI, India — For the first time ever 10 parents of LGBTQ persons came together in Mumbai, India for a closed door parents’ support group workshop that aimed to share experiences and also chart out a future course of action.

Organized by Solaris Pictures, as part of its ongoing engagement with LGBT community and parents, for its upcoming feature film Evening Shadows directed by Sridhar Rangayan, the workshop was structured and moderated by social development consultants Alpana Dange and Pallav Patankar.

The main objective of the workshop was to develop strategies for a cohesive parents’ support group that would help each other, help other parents who may need information or peer-to-peer counseling, and also to be a visible group in the media and society.

“There have been parents support meets and acceptance meets in the past, organized by Gay Bombay and Yaariyan, but the parents have mostly been sharing their experiences in public. This was the first time ever they got to spend an entire day with each other, sharing and discussing in a structured formal manner. It was not only a great learning experience, but also a very definitive move towards forming an Indian PFLAG kind of group, first in Mumbai and maybe later in other cities”, said Sridhar Rangayan who has been wanting to make this happen for many years now, “Part of the funds we raised for the film Evening Shadows was kept aside to facilitate this meet”, he added.

Attended by 10 parents – mothers Chitra Palekar, Padma Iyer, Sarojini Dash, Nargis Wadia, Aruna Desai, Mangala Aher, Bharati Divgikar, Vidya Phadnis, and fathers Pradeep Divgikar and Ramesh Kathale – the day-long workshop was an eye-opener about the challenges faced by parents in coming to terms with their children’s gay, lesbian and transgender identities.

“This formal consultation is a start to many beginnings. My desire is to form an easily accessible group of parents who could assist other parents and children in the closet. Hopefully, one day, we will be able to build a shelter home for children who are forced to escape from their homes of birth. This would give all of us all a unique chance to become their foster parents”, said Padma Iyer, mother of activist Harrish Iyer.

“I think it’s an absolutely amazing initiative. We are simply hoping to create a network of families of LGBT individuals, so that we can work together and offer support to other such families and their children”, said Aruna Desai, a HR professional and mother of a gay son.

Dr. Sarojini Dash, the oldest parent in the group and someone who has been a great support to both LGBTQ children and parents for many years now, felt the parent’s meet was very useful for some parents whose children had recently come out and were anxious about their future. “They heard about those children who had done well in life, overcoming the stigmas and prejudices. Parent’s group made them realize that their fears were mere shadows without much substance”, said Dr.Dash who is also a psychiatrist.

Ramesh Kathale, father of Prachi Kathale, has been able to accept his lesbian daughter wholeheartedly, but finds it difficult to deal with relatives and neighbours who can sometimes be obtrusive and nasty. He said, “The workshop made me aware of experiences faced by other parents and has given me new courage”.

Mangala Aher, mother of transgender activist Abheena Aher felt that there should be more support forthcoming for transgender children, especially in terms of healthcare and livelihood opportunities. She has been a founder of the transgender dance troupe Dancing Queens and regularly performs with her transgender daughter and other transgender dancers.

The consultation focused on the why and how of forming a structured and functional parents’ support group. Speaking about her experience at the consultation, Chitra Palekar, one of the most vocal voices among the parents said, “We have shared our experiences informally at several events, but there was no real progress. This workshop, under the guidance of experienced facilitators, helped us gain clarity regarding the issues involved in this work.  The meet created a vision and took the first step towards forming an organization, which we all hope will cause a break-through in supporting LGBTQ children and their parents.”

“The formation of an organized Parents Group is the need of the hour. A vibrant and supportive parent group can provide the required cutting edge to galvanize more parents to join in the battle for the cherished rights of their marginalized and discriminated children. More power to this unique initiative!” said Pradeep Divgikar, father of singer Sushant Divgikar, who was also Mr.Gay India in 2015.

The meeting brought our various needs faced by parents of LGBTQ children and what are the resources needed to address them. Speaking about the process, facilitator Alpana Dange said, ‘’It was an enlightening experience to facilitate this workshop comprising moms and dads of LGBTQ children who have braved the world and have unconditionally supported their children. In this workshop, what I found most striking was their resolve to support not just their own children, but also help and support other LGBTQ children’s parents in coming to terms with their children’s sexuality and be their confidante and pillar of strength. They considered the meeting as a stepping-stone to help other parents in the city of Mumbai.’’

Echoing Dange’s sentiments, facilitator Pallav Patankar said, “Parents of LGBT people occupy an important space within the LGBT movement. The discrimination faced by LGBT people extends to the parents. Parents are allies, stakeholders and the strongest supporters in this fight for equality. In India, LGBT sons and daughters often continue living with their parents and involving parents’ participation in the movement becomes essential.”

Harrish Iyer concurred, “As a child, I have grappled with my struggle in letting my parents know about my truth and understand that a network of parents helping parents and LGBT children is a need of the hour. Bombay has been privy to other parents of LGBT events since the past two decades, and this  fantastic consultation, seeded by funds created by The Evening Shadows crowd funding campaign, will propel this initiative further towards being a strong group that helps other parents and their LGBTIQ children”

Speaking at the event, Karim Ladak, from Toronto, one of the executive producers of Evening Shadows, having contributed a substantial financial stake in the film said, “So much has changed for the LGBTQ community in India in the past two decades and this initiative is absolutely fantastic. The film and this support group will be the flagbearers for the future, inspiring greater acceptance of LGBTQ persons in society.

Short URL: http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=78119

Northern Ireland Marriage Equality launches large scale social media campaign

NORTHERN IRELAND — The YesEquality Northern Ireland Marriage Equality campaign launched a large scale social media campaign action today.
The campaign is primarily supported by Northern Ireland based The Gay Say, LGBT Rights NI and the international anti-homophobia and suicide prevention group Stop-Homophobia.com.
The campaign has amassed huge amounts of support from individuals, celebrities, activist groups, charities, campaigners and businesses located across NI and throughout the world.
The social media project is operating through the popular “crowdspeaking” service Thunderclap, which was first used by The White House under the Obama administration to campaign against gun violence in the US.
Thunderclap enables the organizers to coordinate a massive social media campaign that will simultaneously post over 2,300 messages and reach over 7.4 million people.
The message going out is as follows:
“Northern Ireland; it’s time for equality! #MarriageEqualityNI”.
By bringing attention to the MarriageEqualityNI campaign hashtag, organizers hope to highlight the issue of marriage equality to voters across Northern Ireland and to an international audience in order to further strengthen campaign efforts.
Danny Toner speaking on behalf of the The Gay Say said: “The #MarriageEqualityNI Thunderclap Project is currently set to reach over 7.4 million people and support has increased beyond our expectations, with hundreds of supporters joining every day. Social reach for the campaign is now higher than the population of Ireland, North and South.
“We are calling on as many people as possible to join this campaign and use social media for the common good. Together we can show voters how important this issue is by reaching out to the vast numbers of people online.
“There are many people in Northern Ireland from all sections of our community who support Marriage Equality and we feel that the upcoming Assembly elections offer an unmissable opportunity to stand up for LGBT rights.
“We have been asking people to use their vote wisely, vote for candidates who support equality for everyone and make a stand against homophobia.”

Short URL: http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=77855

UK health care organizations unite against conversion therapy

Major U.K. organizations have been working against Conversion Therapy for a number of years, publishing a Memorandum of Understanding against the practice (2015) and updating the document to warn against conversion therapy in relation to gender identity and sexual orientation (including asexuality).

Aware of concerns regarding the future of Conversion Therapy in the USA, and pleased that Malta has banned the practice and that Taiwan has drafted legislation to ban the practice, the organizations are publicizing the following statement in solidarity with like- minded health care organizations in the USA.

“We the undersigned UK organizations wish to state that the practice of conversion therapy has no place in the modern world. It is unethical and harmful and not supported by evidence.

Conversion Therapy is the term for therapy that assumes certain sexual orientations or gender identities are inferior to others, and seeks to change or suppress them on that basis.

Sexual orientations and gender identities are not mental health disorders, although exclusion, stigma and prejudice may precipitate mental health issues for any person subjected to these abuses. Anyone accessing therapeutic help should be able to do so without fear of judgement or the threat of being pressured to change a fundamental aspect of who they are.”

The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy

The British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies

The British Psychoanalytic Council

The British Psychological Society

The College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists

GLADD – The Association of LGBT Doctors and Dentists

The National Counselling Society

National Health Service Scotland

Pink Therapy

The Royal College of General Practitioners

The Scottish Government

Stonewall

The UK Council for Psychotherapy

Janet Weisz, Chair of the Memorandum of Understanding group, and chief executive of the UK Council for Psychotherapy, said: “We have always been clear that sexual orientation and gender identities are not mental health disorders. Any therapy that claims to change these is not only unethical but it’s also potentially harmful.

“Therefore, this practice has no place in the modern psychotherapy profession. The public must know that they can access therapeutic help without fear of judgment.

“It is great to see so many parts of the psychological and medical profession both in the UK and abroad uniting on this key issue.”

Helen Morgan, chair of the British Psychoanalytic Council, said: “Forcing a particular view or prejudice upon a patient has no place in therapy and all competent therapists will implicitly understand and appreciate this.

“Psychotherapy aims to liberate people so they can live fuller, more meaningful and more satisfying lives – and patients meeting a psychotherapist should be able to assume that this is always the case in therapy.

“I am pleased to support moves against conversion therapy and I would urge professional colleagues – wherever they may be – to do the same.”

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “The Royal College of General Practitioners is proud to support this statement. As medical professionals, we are highly trained to treat our patients regardless of their sexual orientation – not because of it.

“Being gay or trans is not a disease, it is not a mental illness and it doesn’t need a cure. Any proclamations to the contrary risk causing harm to our gay and trans patients’ physical and mental health and wellbeing, as well as perpetuating discrimination in society.”

Peter Kinderman, president of the British Psychological Society, said: “The British Psychological Society is very proud to endorse, support, and stand by this statement. I am proud to live in a country that is able to celebrate the full range of loving human relationships and to offer each one of us equality under the law. Many of us have experienced a great deal of persecution and discrimination as a result of our sexual orientation, and our role must be to combat such prejudice, not to add to it. When people are distressed, for whatever reason, we have a duty to reach out and help. But that must not entail regarding our sexual orientation as any form of pathology. I am very happy to be a party to this statement, and I hope it goes some way to contribution to a more caring and equitable society.”

Dr. Andrew Reeves, chair of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, said: “BACP strongly believes that anyone seeking therapeutic help, regardless of their gender and sexual diversity, should have access to unbiased and informed therapists who provide ethically skilled therapy. We agree that there is no place in our society for conversion therapy, which is unethical, harmful and not supported by evidence.”

Short URL: http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=76893

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender in Pakistan

Pakistan is one of the world’s least tolerant countries when it comes to homosexuality. Being gay is illegal in the Islamic republic and carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison. Gay men are often accused of bringing shame to their families and commonly face violence – sometimes even murder.

Gay-focused apps like Grindr, Scruff, and ManJam.

VICE News went to Pakistan to unravel the country’s underground gay scene and examine the ways that technology is being used to achieve sexual freedom.

Date: 2017-08-07 16:30:00
Duration: 00:16:21

Tanzania bans HIV/AIDS outreach programs that serve LGBT people

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

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.

Short URL: http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=75730