Feb 082012
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Could there be an on-screen wedding in their future? Modern Family stars Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet, who play partners Mitchell and Cameron on the Emmy-winning ABC comedy, posted a photo of themselves on their WhoSay pages, asking, “How could you not want to see us tie the knot?” just as it appeared they may be closer to legally being able to do so. On Tuesday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Californias Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage in the state, was unconstitutional. Ferguson also Tweeted: “Historic! #Prop8 is unconstitutional. @AFER & I won’t stop until ALL Americans are #free2marry.” On the show, their characters also have a daughter together, Lily, but are not officially married. Other stars reacted to the ruling, as well. Ellen DeGeneres Tweeted, “Today we took another step towards equality. #Prop8 was found unconstitutional again. I couldnt be happier.” And Ugly Bettys Michael Urie Tweeted, “Take THAT, prop 8.”

via Prop 8 Ruled Unconstitutional; Modern Family Stars Weigh in on Proposition 8 : People.com.

Jan 272012
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The big news on the Blizzard front yesterday was that they’d decided not to have a BlizzCon in 2012; that is, the large fan convention at which the titan ha ha insidery Blizzard joke of the gaming community makes the biggest of its big announcements. The reasoning was that with three games/expansions expected to drop within the next year and a half, the company’s time would be better spent working on them and, moreover, they just didn’t have anything really exciting and new to show.

But there was a tidbit of smaller news that we feel is still important to highlight. Blizzard was successfully pressured to remove “homosexual” and “transsexual” from the list of words that the in-game profanity filter of World of Warcraft automatically blocks.

World of Warcraft‘s profanity filter defaults to the “off” position, and when turned on, automatically replaces certain words with cartoon-typical exotic punctuation. A recent bug, however, resulted in the filter being turned to the on position at every log in, consistently showing a lot of players who’d never tried out the feature exactly which words it did and didn’t permit. This is undoubtedly what caused a lot of people to realize that the profanity filter doesn’t let you say “homosexual” or “transsexual.”

Blizzard’s attempts to keep drama out of the game have not always been the best when it comes to the LGBTQ community. Allow me to quote myself in explanation:

The idea that banning the use of LGBT terms entirely is a good way to protect users from harassment is one that has a number deep flaws in it. Primarily, it doesn’t work because you can’t tell someone that they can’t do something on the internet.

Otherwise, banning a term that a minority uses to describe itself in many ways renders that minority invisible and incapable of fully representing itself. Blizzard ran afoul of this problem in 2006, when one of its moderators threatened to punish a player who was advertising her World of Warcraft guild as LGBT friendly, because of a context neutral ban on using LGBT terms in public chat channels [in order to prevent harassment]. After a considerable amount of controversy including a letter from Lambda Legal, Blizzard publicly stated that the player would not be penalized and that the warning was a result of “unfortunate interpretation” of their harassment policy

Secondarily, banning words that communities use to self-describe symbolically removes their ability to self-identify, which is also a pretty crap idea. LGBT friendly guilds have become numerous enough in WoW to put on a yearly in-game Pride Parade on the Proudmoore server what better server name, really? complete with plenty of pink shirts and tabards.

Blizzard reacted quickly as soon as the issue was pointed out, with a community manager responding: “We’ve reviewed our filter list and there are a few words there that should not be blocked as profanity; we’ll be removing them in a future patch.” This is not entirely inconsistent with Blizzard’s policy towards offensive content. For example, the company has made clear in community statements that it relies on players to know and report violations of its naming policy no offensive content, no names of actual celebrities or famous fictional characters or Blizzard NPCs, no sentences so that it can enforce the naming policy, rather than spending manpower on seeking out all the think-they’re-so-clever Anigavs and Sineps. Not to mention all the deathknights named Arthazz.

Even if it’s a feature that very few players actually use, you’d think that Blizzard’s own curated profanity filter would deserve a company review now and then, if only to keep up with the times and remain relevant to parents whose children play. When that future patch hits perhaps with the expected update next week, World of Warcraft will not imply that “homosexual” or “transsexual” are dirty words for the first time since its launch in 2004. Would this be a good time to mention that the seven letter F word and it’s oh so charming diminutive are not masked by the profanity filter? Apparently it can’t be used to harass players like “homosexual” can.

via World of Warcraft Profanity Filter | The Mary Sue.

Jan 132012

Canada’s justice minister says all same-sex marriages performed in Canada are legally recognized and the government is working to ensure foreign couples married here can divorce if they chose to.

“Marriages performed in Canada that aren’t recognized in couple’s home jurisdiction will be recognized in Canada,” Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said Friday in Toronto.

“I want to be very clear that our government has no intention of reopening the debate on the definition of marriage,” he added.

The statement comes one day after it was learned Justice Department lawyers were arguing a foreign lesbian couple that married in Canada could not apply for divorce here because their marriage wasn’t valid.

Nicholson said the Divorce Act will be updated so those couples can apply for divorce in Canada if they feel the need to.

“I want to make it clear that in our government’s view, these marriages are valid,” Nicholson said.

The justice minister blamed the former Liberal government that legalized gay marriage for the “legislative gap” that resulted in the confusion.

He also said the Civil Marriage Act will be changed so that all marriages performed in Canada that aren’t recognized by the couple’s own jurisdiction will still be recognized in Canada.

Political opponents of the Harper government jumped on the opportunity to suggest the Conservatives were reopening the gay marriage debate.

One Canadian legal expert on same-sex marriage said she’s quite concerned that the Conservatives have decided to tinker with the Civil Marriage Act.

“With a majority government in place, I think that’s a risk that Canadian society cannot afford to take,” Queen’s University law professor Kathleen Lahey said in a telephone interview from Kinsgton, Ont.

She argues that re-opening the act in Parliament is a back-door way to introduce other changes to the act.

“The real problem with fixing an alleged legislative gap in the Civil Marriage Act is that there is no legislative gap in that act, and therefore, there is nothing to fix in that act,” Lahey said. “If opening that act up is supposed to introduce a fix, then presumably someone might want to do something else with it while it is open and in front of Parliament.”

She said the government could just simply withdraw its legal case before the courts to resolve the issue.

Critics have questioned why a government lawyer was arguing a marriage was not legal in Canada because the couple’s home jurisdiction did not recognize gay marriage. It’s unclear where the lawyer’s direction was coming from.

Lahey said in her experience, it’s unlikely that this specific legal case didn’t draw the attention of senior officials.

“Lawyers who are willing to be aggressive in seeking out virtually any argument to defeat equality claims are allowed to do so,” she said. “I don’t know what level of scrutiny was put in this case, but the fact that both levels of government are in a simple divorce case is an indicator to me that somewhere higher up, someone was watching this.

“I’m not convinced that this is just a fluke or an accident that this argument was raised in this way.”

The Harper government went into damage control Thursday and has denied that they were looking into reopening any debate on same-sex marriage.

“We’re not going to reopen that particular issue,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper told reporters Thursday.

via All same-sex marriages legal: Canadian justice minister | CTV News.

Jan 092012

Turkey’s High Court of Appeals has ordered daily Yeni Akit to pay compensation for insulting gay people in a headline it printed in 2008, daily Radikal reported today.

Yeni Akit, which is now known as “Vakit,” printed a story titled “Üskül prefers perverts,” concerning Zafer Üskül, the head of Parliamentary Human Rights Commission at the time, after he attended an “International Anti-Homophobism Meeting” organized by KAOS GL, a leading support association for Turkey’s LGBT community.

A piece written by Yeni Akit columnist Serdar Arseven defined Üskül as “an AKP [Justice and Development Party] member who gave assurances to she-males” in reference to Üskül’s words during the meeting in which he said the government guaranteed that gay and lesbian people would not be segregated because of their sexual orientation.

“[Üskül] went on and attended a meeting by sexual perverts! A meeting of [gays],” Arseven wrote.

KAOS GL filed a lawsuit against Yeni Akit and Arseven, seeking compensation for the headline and the related piece. But the lawsuits were rejected by two Ankara courts on the grounds that the newspaper was “within the limits of criticism.”

But the High Court of Appeals overruled the decisions of the two courts, saying, “The freedom of the press does not encompass the freedom to insult the personal freedoms of individuals.”

The court’s decision said KAOS GL was an organization that sought to protect the rights of people with different sexual orientation and that Zafer Üskül was a member of Parliament who responded to requests by KAOS GL.

The court said Yeni Akit insulted people with different sexual orientations in a way which could not be considered criticism and thus sentenced the newspaper and Arseven to pay compensation.

The paper has been ordered to pay 4,000 Turkish Liras while Arseven has been sentenced to pay 2,000 liras in damages.

via RIGHTS – Calling gay people ‘perverts’ an insult, top court says.

Jan 092012

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was acquitted Monday in a surprise end to a politically-charged sodomy trial he has called a government bid to cripple his opposition ahead of upcoming polls.

The ruling by Judge Mohamad Zabidin Diah set off pandemonium in the Kuala Lumpur High Court, with Anwar mobbed by his wife, daughters and opposition politicians in joyous scenes.

Thousands of Anwar supporters who gathered outside under heavy security erupted into cheers and raised their fists in the air as news of the verdict filtered out.

In his brief verdict announcement, Zabidin said he could not rely on controversial DNA evidence submitted by the prosecution.

“The court is always reluctant to convict on sexual offences without corroborative evidence. Therefore, the accused is acquitted and discharged,” he said.

The verdict in the more than two-year trial defied the expectations of many political observers and even Anwar himself, who said the government of Prime Minister Najib Razak was intent on eliminating him as a political threat.

It was the second sodomy verdict in a dozen years for Anwar, a former deputy premier in the 1990s who was next in line to head the country’s long-ruling government until a spectacular downfall.

The charismatic Anwar had been groomed to succeed former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad until a bitter row between them saw Anwar ousted in 1998, beaten and jailed on sodomy and graft charges widely seen as politically motivated.

Once the sodomy charge was overturned in 2004 and he was released, the affair threw Anwar into the opposition, which he led to unprecedented gains against his former ruling party in 2008 general elections.

But the new sodomy charges emerged shortly after those polls – Anwar was accused of sodomising a former male aide – sparking accusations they were concocted by the ruling United Malays National Organisation to stall the opposition revival.

Sodomy is illegal in Muslim-majority Malaysia and punishable by 20 years in jail.

via Malaysia’s Anwar Ibrahim acquitted in sodomy trial | Inquirer News.

Jan 092012

Senegal has among the lowest rates of HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa, at less than one percent. The most vulnerable group in Senegal remain homosexual men, of whom nearly 22 percent are HIV-positive. This rate multiplies in the nation’s many prisons, where coupled with substandard food and medical care – along with the fact that men behind bars have sexual relations with each other – AIDS is a growing problem.

In Senegal, there is no mandatory testing in prison. For prisoners living with HIV — either knowingly or unknowingly — overcrowding, unsanitary conditions and poor nutrition, means that their health is even more compromised.

In addition, there is no mandatory testing in prison. For prisoners living with HIV — either knowingly or unknowingly — overcrowding, unsanitary conditions and poor nutrition, means that their health is even more compromised.

The Chief of Medical Staff at Camp Penal, Alassane Balde says all the inmates receive three meals a day, but many prefer to eat food brought in by family members. Foreigners who are here without family end up eating an unvaried diet of bread, butter, rice and fish, with few fruits and vegetables or dairy products.

When asked about implementing either a needle exchange program or condom distribution, Balde is steadfastly opposed. He says they do not have problems with hard drugs and a condom distribution program would simply not be tolerated.

“Our religion doesn’t permit this,” Balde says. “We are Muslims, and as Muslims we don’t like seeing that. There is no tolerance for this type of behavior. It’s a taboo subject, and we don’t even talk about it.”

Brendan Hanlon, chief executive at AVERT, an aids charity says there is little doubt that HIV rates among prisoners are higher than among the general population.

“There is a lack of HIV prevention programs, because authorities fear condom or needle distribution will encourage drug use or sexual activity. But the truth is, people will do these things regardless,” Hanlon says.

A study involving 500 inmates in an Ivory Coast prison found an HIV rate of 28 percent, double the rate of the general population. In South Africa, the country with the highest number of people living with HIV in the world, at 5.6 million, between 40 and 45 percent of prisoners are HIV-positive.

A large-scale voluntary testing program at some Senegal prisons are expected to start in the coming months.

Amadou, a gay activist living with HIV, is spreading the word about the spread of AIDS in prison populations. Addressing prisoners, he relates how he was detained for homosexual acts. “I know your realities . I’ve slept on the same mattresses as you, eaten the same food, and showered in the same bathrooms. Today I’m here to talk to you about AIDS. What it is, how we catch it and how to prevent it.”

via AIDS in Senegalese prisons seen as ‘double sentence’ – International – Catholic Online.

Jan 062012
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Those skeptical of whether Rick Santorum has what it takes to win a general-election contest this fall have focused on, among other things, his drumbeating on social issues in a year when Republican strategists believe hitting President Obama on the economy is the way to win the White House.

Santorum’s potential vulnerability on that score was on display Thursday night in New Hampshire, where he was challenged on his views on gay marriage.

Santorum is an ardent, outspoken opponent of gay marriage, favoring an amendment to the Constitution that would define marriage as solely between a man and a woman. He received a rough welcome from a group of college Republicans in Concord — and it likely didn’t help matters when he compared a same-sex union to polygamy.

“Are we saying everyone should have the right to marry? So anyone can marry anyone else?” Santorum asked, according to a video by NBC News. “So anybody can marry several people?”

The former Pennsylvania senator was clearly on the defensive throughout the exchange, as he attempted to prevent the back-and-forth from becoming a free-for-all.

“We’re going to have a civil discussion or were going to move on to another question,” he said at one point. Confronted by one critic, he fired back, “What about three men?”

Clearly antagonized, Santorum continued, “If it makes three people happy to get married, based on what you just said, what makes that wrong and what you said right?”

Santorum’s conservative views played well among Iowa’s Republican electorate, but New Hampshire’s GOP base is more moderate. (Both states have legalized same-sex marriage.) But even in Iowa, he was asked about the issue and he’ll likely face further questions as long as he remains in the race. The antipathy between Santorum and the gay community is well known, having been manifested, for one thing, in his “Google problem” (which we’re not going to get into).

Santorum told the group that although he disagreed with New Hampshire’s legalization of same-sex marriage, the state did it the right way by having the Legislature pass a law rather than following a ruling dictated by a court. On the campaign trail, he has argued that same-sex-marriage advocates should make their case in the “public square” and leave the matter to voters.

“I believe we are made the way God made man and woman, and man and woman come together to have a union to produce children, which keeps civilization going and provide the best environment for children to be raised,” Santorum said.

After Santorum stated his views on marriage, he was cheered by some and, as he left the event, roundly booed by others.

via Rick Santorum jeered after comparing gay marriage to polygamy – latimes.com.

Jan 052012

A controversial research paper that argued “there is as yet no proof that HIV causes AIDS” and met with a storm of protest when it was published in 2009, leading to its withdrawal, has been republished in a revised form, this time in the peer-reviewed literature.

The reworked version of the paper, led by Peter Duesberg of the University of California, Berkeley, who is well known for denying the link between HIV and AIDS, was published in the Italian Journal of Anatomy and Embryology (IJAE) last month1.

The manuscript was examined by two peer reviewers, one of them the journal’s editor-in-chief, Paolo Romagnoli, an expert in cell anatomy at the University of Florence, Italy. But leading AIDS researchers and campaigners question how the paper could have passed peer review, and say that publishing it in a minor journal known to few does not give it scientific credibility or legitimacy.

“In my view this paper is scientific nonsense and should not have passed peer review. The thesis that HIV does not cause AIDS has no scientific credibility,” says Nathan Geffen of the South Africa-based Treatment Action Campaign, who previously raised concerns about the article.

Romagnoli says he decided to review the revised paper because the original was withdrawn by Medical Hypotheses not for “flawed or falsified data” but for “highly controversial opinions” — which the IJAE’s readers can make up their own minds about.

“Speculative conclusions are not a reason for rejection, provided they are correlated with the data presented,” he says.

Potentially damaging
The paper’s initial publication in Medical Hypotheses caused a furore, with attention being drawn to the fact that the journal was not peer reviewed despite being listed in the MEDLINE citation database.

Retrospective peer review later led to the paper’s permanent withdrawal from Medical Hypotheses. The grounds stipulated in the withdrawal notice were concerns over the paper’s quality and that it contained opinions about the causes of AIDS “that could potentially be damaging to global public health”2.

The journal’s publisher, Elsevier, revamped Medical Hypotheses to introduce peer review and fired editor Bruce Charlton, who resisted the changes. The University of California also bought charges of misconduct against Duesberg over the article’s publication, but he was later cleared.

Duesberg says that the revised publication is a “new victory in our long quest for a scientific theory of AIDS”, adding that the new version of the paper was better documented and more up to date.

Although the revised version has been toned down, the article still makes many of the same points as the original — refuting the effectiveness of anti-retroviral drugs, as well as death-toll estimates from HIV and AIDS in South Africa put forward in a study led by AIDS epidemiologist Max Essex of Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts3. “We deduce … that HIV is not a new killer virus,” Duesberg et al. write, proposing a “reevaluation of the HIV–AIDS hypothesis”.

But Geffen says the paper “contains no new arguments or evidence about the South African data, and these arguments have been rebutted before”.

Duesberg admits submitting the revised paper to more than four other journals before it was accepted by the IJAE, and only alerted his co-authors to the publication after he was sure it wouldn’t be aborted at the last minute.

Dangerous distraction
“It is just so far out that it is hard to respond in an intelligent way,” says Essex, adding that it is “unfortunate” to see Duesberg continuing on a “dangerous track of distraction that has persuaded some people to avoid treatment or prevention of HIV infection”.

Yet whether the publication will be officially challenged remains to be seen. John Moore, an HIV researcher at Cornell University in New York, who lodged a complaint with Elsevier when the original paper was published, believes that the movement to deny the link between HIV and AIDS is on its “last legs”. Geffen, meanwhile, thinks the likelihood the paper will have significant impact — and therefore warrant challenge — is small.

“Duesberg’s views no longer have significant political support, like they did in South Africa in the 2000s,” Geffen says. ”No one of consequence in government is likely to take any notice.”

via Paper refuting HIV–AIDS link secures publication : Nature News & Comment.

Jan 052012

The National Agency for research on AIDS and hepatitis (ANRS) launches the first prevention trial in pre-exposure of HIV among gays and men HIV-negative who have sex with men (MSM) in France. The recruitment campaign begins today.

Faced with the emergence of the AIDS epidemic, gays and MSM were the first to mobilize in the early 1980s and have adopted very quickly prevention measures. However, all national and international data attest to the transformation of preventive behaviours for more than 15 years in this population. In France, the press Gay InVS/ANRS surveys show an increase in the average number of partners, unprotected sex with stable or casual partners. These changes were accompanied by an increase in the incidence of HIV and new cases of infection in the population of gays and MSM. In 2010, according to the InVS (InVS Institute) among 6 300 new HIV cases diagnosed in the year 40% are of HSH. "It is by combining preventive measures that could be sent to contain the epidemic of HIV infection, using means which is shown to be effective (such as condoms) and in assessing the benefit of the association of new tools like the Prep," says the Pr Jean-François de Souza, named officially for a new mandate at the head of the ANRS ("J. O." December 30, 2011).

Recruitment from today.

The choice of test ANRS IPERGAY GAY and MSM population responds to a public health imperative. For Pr Jean-Michel Molina (University of Paris 7 Diderot and hospital Saint-Louis), Scientific Manager of this test, "everything must be done to reduce the number of contamination by HIV in the most vulnerable populations. Test ANRS IPERGAY (Intervention Preventive of exposure to risks with and Gays) will determine if intermittent antiretroviral treatment, associated with an overall strategy and enhanced prevention, can reduce the risk of HIV infection. The test will start in the month of January. Two phases are planned. A first phase one year pilot will allow to judge its feasibility and then a second phase, broader, will attempt to recruit 2,000 subjects. Some 300 volunteers will be included in the phase pilot which will take place in Paris (hospital-Saint-Louis, Pr Jean-Michel Molina and Hôpital Tenon, Pr Gilles Pialloux) and Lyon (Croix Rousse, Dr. Laurent Cotte hospital). 300 volunteers will be men HIV-negative who have sex with at least two different sexual partners in the previous 6 months their participation in the test without systematic use of a condom.

In this randomized double-blind trial, participants will receive either a placebo or treatment with Truvada ® taken 'on-demand' during the period of sexual activity in a comprehensive and reinforced prevention framework (distribution of condoms, testing and treatment of STIs, vaccination against hepatitis, one-on-one prevention...). Consultations at the hospital are planned approximately every two months for interviews and examinations including screening.

The recruitment campaign which starts today should take place until June 2012. Interested persons are invited to consult the website www.ipergay.fr or call Sida Info Service or visit www.sida-info-service.org.

via First test of prevention pre-exposure HIV launched in France. The Quotidien du Médecin.

Jan 052012

Despite a civil partnership with a Frenchman, Tunisian Ashraf could face deportation from France after the country rejected a gay marriage bill in July. The 24-year-old Tunisian and his French partner Oliver have been in a civil partnership since last summer, but because Ashraf’s student visa expired he became undocumented and now appears to be a reason why his residency request has been denied.

If France had passed the marriage law and granted the gay community marriage rights, Ashraf would not be in danger of deportation, but civil partnerships do not have the benefit of allowing a foreign national to remain in the country.

“I wanted to escape Tunisia, land of my childhood,” said Ashraf, in comments published by Care2.com. “The country where my family, once my homosexuality was revealed, chose to cut all relations with me. To abandon me. The same country where intimidation and violence made my life unbearable. The same country where four bearded men tried one night to make me give up my sexual orientation, holding a knife to my throat.”

For a young gay North African, France is a “homo Eldorado” he said, as seen on television and on the Internet: “I just came for a normal life in France …”

His lawyer has said publicly that his client has no automatic right to remain in the country and that if France were to send him back to Tunisia, he would face persecution and violence toward him due to his sexual orientation.

In Tunisia homosexuality is punishable with three years imprisonment.

The victory of an Islamist party in Tunisia’s elections has left Ashraf “every day, scared,” afraid that he will be stopped for an identity check, then forcibly returned to Tunisia.

Writing of the rise of the Islamists, Tarek, Tunisian Editor of the Gay Middle East website, said that although Islamists are telling the international media one thing — we won’t touch the gays — the reality on the ground is very different.

“LGBT people’s suffering in Tunisia started a long time before the election but I fear its results may make things worse,” he wrote.

Tarek and others have reported that Tunisian gays have gone even further underground as increasingly confident Islamists strong arm others into their way of life.

via Gay Tunisian man fears being deported from France – Bikya Masr.

Jan 052012

Organized by the season's coming of age ceremony in Fukuoka Prefecture self-help group Rainbow Chamber Steering Committee would be a step in the new stage of life. Idea is to create opportunities in the party who tend to deny the understanding around the self harder to get from talking about frame of mind, going to love myself more.

That also is: when love's is seeking a relationship not bisexual, sexuality and mind disagree with gay a lesbian and gay, transgender and sexual minorities and those who are taking the first letter of each, called "LGBT".

Rainbow hidamari Steering Committee was inaugurated in 2/2010. About 10 to 20 people gathered once a month, confiding troubles around to discuss about their daily lives.

This time, according to the second anniversary of inauguration, planned as part of the Exchange. DAAD also screening speech video linked to the event by opening the ceremony, another organization that homosexuals who targeted at the same time in the Kanto region, shedding his expression. Sparked more like or about life in the future [1] [2] my life, faced with the hate--such as looking to discuss the subject.

The society was "young people even though I am interested in same-sex worried about excessive reaction around falsely at a school friend, to live. Want to feel anything can talk "and speak. Family and friends are also called.

Exchanges are scheduled to 2/19. Both days is from 2:00 PM in join free.

via Sexual minorities, adult expression: social: YOMIURI ONLINE (Yomiuri Shimbun).

Jan 052012

Gay rights advocates have asked yesterday the Aquino government to heed the warning by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that US aid will be tied on how countries respect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights.

Clinton delivered her policy statement recently before the United Nations Human Rights Council, which has been urging nations to respect such rights. The Philippine LGBT Hate Crime Watch (PLHCW), an alliance of organizations monitoring violence and discrimination against LGBTs, has formally called on government to address such violation of LGBT rights. “LGBTs in the Philippines are still on the receiving end of stigma, hatred, violence, exclusion, homophobia, transphobia and discrimination.

via Aid linked to gay rights | Tempo – News in a Flash.

Jan 052012

A 19-year-old openly gay candidate has emerged as one of the ALP’s picks for the upcoming Queensland state poll.

Ryan Moore will seek election in the seat of Glass House, which covers the Sunshine Coast hinterland.

A volunteer at Brisbane community broadcaster 4ZZZ who was inspired to join the Labor Party after a chance encounter with former prime minister Kevin Rudd, Moore has been a fierce gay rights advocate since becoming politically active two years ago.

“My work with 4ZZZ sparked my interest in politics and the difference it can make in people’s lives,” Moore told the Star Observer.

“In terms of the Labor Party, I saw how Kevin Rudd interacted with an organisation I worked for called the Oaktree Foundation, which funds educational projects in the third world, and was amazed at his support.”

Moore now sees himself thrown onto a much larger stage than community radio, where he intends to run on local issues while retaining his strong passion for LGBTI community advocacy.

No stranger to successful young candidates (see: 21-year-old Wyatt Roy’s successful federal election bid last year), Moore says its no big secret as to why Queensland has become a breeding ground for enthusiastic young players in politics.

“I think the political scene is rejuvinating and the ALP is refreshing itself,” he said.

“I’m not the only young candidate, we have another 19-year-old in Southern Downs and some people in their early 20s running in Brisbane’s northern suburbs.

“Parties recognise the need to rejuvinate and engage with a demographic that often aren’t represented in Parliament.”

Labor lost Glass House in the 2009 election to the Liberal National Party’s Andrew Powell, but Moore believes he’s well placed to challenge.

“I’ve lived in Maleny for a very long time and looking at the LNP’s plan for Queensland – which is to rip away years of reform with very little structure to doing so – once I have an opportunity to get into that with the community, I’m in with a good chance,” he said.

In light of the recent threat by Independent MP Rob Messenger to repeal the state’s Civil Partnerships Act, Moore said he’ll be ready to defend the legislation if elected.

“I don’t think it matters whether it’s Rob Messenger or the LNP, there’s going to be a push to repeal [civil unions] in the next term,” he said.

“The funny thing is the LNP have have spoken about how they think it’s a waste of time in Parliament in the first place and how it’s a distraction, so why do they want to repeal it?

“Parliament is not here to take away people’s rights, and rights they’ve fought very hard for at that. If there is a push for a repeal I’ll be standing steadfastly against it.”

via Gay teen’s election bid | Star Online.

Jan 052012

They beg at traffic signals or take to sex work in the absence of education or job opportunities. Ostracised by society and ignored by the government, transgenders in Mumbai have now found unlikely supporters in college students.

A campaign ‘De Taali’, organised by mass media students of Wilson College, seeks to create awareness about transgenders and their causes. “Our end goal is to include them in the education and employment process. But unless the social stigma surrounding eunuchs is not minimised, there is little hope for improving their life,” says Bhavya Pandit, one of the six students who have come up with the initiative to sensitise Mumbaikars to the cause of the third gender.

The campaign is part of the students’ curriculum.

The group has tied up with activists and NGOs working with transgenders.

And in the coming days, look out for a rock show, De Taali Gig, at the Carter Road amphitheatre in Bandra, where bands like Agnee and Mumbai Stamp will perform. Also on the agenda are seminars and workshops across city colleges, where documentaries will be screened and discussions will be held on the subject.

The organisers point out that the transgender community has to fight a daily battle for livelihood and sustenance. “They are subject to humiliation, violence and injustice. We are hoping that our efforts will promote sensitivity towards their issues and help in bringing about a change in their lives,” Pandit adds.

Another group of students has kick-started a similar initiative for people of alternate sexuality. ‘Living Outside the Closet’ is aimed at sensitising society to the issues of the homosexual community while providing a support network for their families. “Most gays we know already have a strong support system in place, thanks to their friends and other like-minded people. But, it is their parents and families who are unable to cope with the social stigma,” says Alisha Sequeira, one of the organiser.

The group has roped in gay rights activist Harrish Iyer and filmmakers Onir, Sridhar Rangayan and Chitra Palekar for the campaign. There will also be street plays near railway stations across the city. “We believe that it is high time heterosexuals took up the cause of the homosexuals. This way, people will listen,” adds Sequeira.

Activists working with the group say they are overwhelmed by the students’ enthusiasm. “The youth are taking us towards a more proactive and pluralistic society,” feels Iyer.

via College students show the way to LGBT inclusion – Mumbai – DNA.

Jan 052012

The ‘transgender’ or ‘third gender’, known as Khwaja sra in Urdu and Khusra in Punjabi, are the people who are neither categorised as men nor women. They live in a pitiable situation in Pakistan. In the patriarchal society of Pakistan where the males dominate the whole system and where females are deprived of many rights, the condition of transgenders is far worse. Even though the Supreme Court of Pakistan has taken notice of this issue and now the application forms for NICs contain a third option of Khawaja sra along with male and female, these people are not given equal rights of citizenship.

Our society is desensitised towards the issue of the third gender. They are branded as disgraceful and deemed as toys for just dancing and seeking sexual pleasure. There exists an enormous intolerance towards these people and are discriminated against in issues like inheritance etc.

As these people are despised by society and do not get opportunities to come up with a healthy lifestyle, these people are compelled to earn their living through humiliating acts like dancing at parties and weddings, and often become victims of sexual abuse.

Therefore, the government should take positive steps for the betterment of the third gender and develop public awareness campaigns in order to deal with this issue. Training institutes should also be opened so that the abilities of these people can be properly utilised.

via Discrimination against the third gender | Pakistan Today