Burma’s Spirit Festival, and More in This Week’s Global LGBT Roundup

Burma's Spirit Festival

The Washington Blade spoke to bisexual activists in a dozen countries and reported on the global movement in a two-part series.

Earlier this month, the intensely anti-gay leader of the U.S.-based Mass Resistance, Brian Camenker, traveled to the U.K. to launch a new affiliate to counter what the group calls “anti-family oppression.” Camenker, like other U.S. based Religious Right groups, has been looking to globalize his influence by helping anti-equality activists from Mexico to Taiwan.

Burma: Annual religious festival turns rural town into country’s ‘unofficial gay village’

At the Independent, Gemma Taylor reports on the Taung Pyone Spirit Festival. “Homosexuality is illegal in Burma but every August LGBT groups rally for a religious event,” says the Independent, saying that every year “a small rural village outside of Mandalay transforms into Burma’s unofficial gay village.”

An estimated 250,000 visitors descend on Taung Pyone Nat Pwe (Spirit Festival), the largest of its kind in Burma’s calendar. Nats are spirits which have existed alongside Burmese Buddhist culture since the 11th century. Worshipped across the country, there are 37 in total and they have a little more cheek – and more vices – than the Buddhas.

Most nats, so tradition goes, have met a violent death, and when they revisit earth, they must be kept happy. The Taung Pyone Nat Pwe does that by celebrating two of them – brothers Min Gyi and Min Lay. It’s believed they were executed for failing to provide a brick each for the Taung Pyone pagoda, leaving gaps in the walls.

And apparently what keeps Min Gyi and Min Lay happy is chain smoking, dancing, and drinking their favourite tipple.

“My nat likes to drink beer, wine, Johnny Walker and champagne”, says Mg Mg Kyi, who has been a nat-kadaw, or spirit medium, for 40 years – since he was 13. His first husband fell in love with him when he saw him dance.

Most nat-kadaws are gay or transgender. Gay relationships are illegal in Burma, so the festival offers kadaws a few days each year during which they are not just accepted but adored, too. They each set up a shrine for the duration of the festival. …

But not everyone believes that nats should be worshipped, perhaps because the carefree partying is incongruous with traditional Buddhism. Chit Ko Ko received reports last year of “monks beating gay visitors and nat dancers” at the festival.

France and Germany: Why anti-LGBT voices are ‘louder in secular France than in pious Germany’

In a column by “Erasmus”—a regular feature described by the Economist as “notes on the interplay between religion and policy, in the spirit of the Dutch Renaissance humanist and scholar—the magazine observes, “Conservatives speak louder in secular France than in pious Germany.”

Some excerpts:

In France, gay marriage became law in May 2013. Street protests by social conservatives, including four huge rallies in Paris within six months, failed to stop the change. But they made history nonetheless, as unexpectedly large social and political phenomena.

True to the movement’s name—Manif pour Tous (Protest for All)—the French gatherings brought together a broad coalition. Some came from the political right and far-right: there were well-heeled Catholics from posh parts of Paris, poorer ones from the provinces and some Muslims. Some supporters even spoke the language of the anti-capitalist left, arguing that gay adoptions and surrogacy might lead to a heartless market in embryos. To some extent, the movement simply capitalised on the general unpopularity of François Hollande, then the Socialist president.

Germany, too, has seen street demonstrations in imitation of the French ones, under an identical banner, Demo für Alle. As in France, the rallies have received discreet encouragement from politicians and clerics. But the German assemblies (focused in particular on moves to liberalise education about sex and gender) have been smaller, and they have drawn counter-demonstrations. It is still possible that same-sex marriage will be contested in Germany, on grounds that it violates the constitution. But the argument will be conducted in the courts, not on the streets.

This Franco-German contrast seems paradoxical. Although each country comprises a wide spectrum of opinion, German social norms are in some ways more conservative than French ones. (Take the issue of abortion. Although both countries have quite liberal regimes for terminating a pregnancy up to 12 weeks, the German one lays down that women must have counselling—in which they are told that fetuses have rights—before undergoing the procedure. That would be hard to imagine in France.)

Some reasons for the French-German difference are clear enough. Any popular street movement that shades into the far-right feels toxic in Germany, more so than in France, for the obvious historical reasons.

But perhaps a deeper, albeit unproveable, reason has to do with the formal status of religion in the two countries. In France, ever since the Revolution, and especially since the regime of laicité or strict secularism began in 1905, being a practising Catholic (or, you might argue, practising any religion seriously) has felt counter-cultural: an edgy act of protest against the existing order. The language of victimhood and grievance (even among wearers of blue blazers or silk scarves) does not feel strange.

In Germany, by comparison, the main Christian chuches (Lutheran and Catholic) have a privileged position. Although their membership is dwindling, as recently released figures confirm, they still haul in taxes from tens of millions of citizens under a system overseen by the state. Within most German federal states, the churches have an entrenched position as advisers on education and, sometimes, broadcasting.

As with formally established churches in some other European countries, such as England and Denmark, Germany’s clerics probably have an instinct which tells them not to exercise their privileges too stridently. Too much assertiveness would be expecially imprudent at a time when the Catholic church, in particular, is reeling from scandal.

The column concludes with a question:

In a way, the difference between France and Germany on this score epitomises the dilemma facing Christian leaders across Europe. Is it better to enjoy historically inherited privileges, and practise political self-restraint for fear of exasperating an already rather sceptical public? Or is it more advantageous to be stripped of almost every privilege, as has happened in France, and be freer to speak one’s mind?

LGBT Human Rights and Democratic Values

Exiled Russian journalist Masha Gessen published “Why Autocrats Fear LGBT Rights” in the New York Review of Books. She says viewing Trump’s sudden order banning transgender people form the military as a distraction is “not only a grievous insult to transgender people but a basic failure to understand the emotional logic of Trumpism.”

Trump got elected on the promise of a return to an imaginary past—a time we don’t remember because it never actually was, but one when America was a kind of great that Trump has promised to restore. Trumps shares this brand of nostalgia with Vladimir Putin, who has spent the last five years talking about Russian “traditional values,” with Hungarian president Viktor Orbán, who has warned LGBT people against becoming “provocative,” and with any number of European populists who promise a return to a mythical “traditional” past.

Gessen notes that a year ago she wrote that she believed Trump would target the LGBT community ”because its acceptance is the most clear and drastic social change in America of the last decade, so an antigay campaign would capture the desire to return to a time in which Trump’s constituency felt comfortable.”

“With few exceptions,” she writes in her new column, “countries that have grown less democratic in recent years have drawn a battle line on the issue of LGBT rights.” Some examples:

Moscow has banned Pride parades and the “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations,” while Chechnya—technically a region of Russia—has undertaken a campaign to purge itself of queers. In Budapest, the Pride march has become an annual opposition parade: many, if not most, participants are straight people who use the day to come out against the Orbán government. In Recep Erdoğan’s Turkey, water cannons were used to disperse an Istanbul Pride parade. Narendra Modi’s India has re-criminalized homosexuality (though transgender rights have been preserved). In Egypt, where gays experienced new freedoms in the brief interlude of democracy after the 2011 revolution, they are now, under Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s dictatorship, subjected to constant harassment and surveillance and hundreds have been arrested.

Poland: Climate for LGBT people deteriorates under Law and Justice Party

World Politics Review’s editors wrote on July 24 about the ways that the “climate for LGBT Poles has deteriorated under the Law and Justice Party, which came to power in 2015.” It says, “Attacks on LGBT individuals and organizations are on the rise; legal protections against discrimination remain limited; and curricula reforms privilege nationalist themes over messages of tolerance.” It cites an activist saying that the government has “increased funding for right-wing and Catholic organizations.”

The WPR conducted an email interview with A. Chaber, executive director of the Campaign Against Homophobia. An excerpt:

Poland is a member of the European Union, but it is something of an outlier on LGBT issues. According to ILGA-Europe, it scores second to last within the EU when it comes to recognizing the human rights of LGBT people. Even Ukraine, a country whose homophobia has become increasingly well known in recent years, scores better than Poland. The only protection from discrimination granted to lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people in Poland is contained in the Labor Code. This ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation was introduced as a requirement for EU accession. There is no similar measure covering gender identity.

There are still no legal avenues allowing same-sex couples to register their relationships with the state. Children born to LGB Polish parents abroad are denied Polish citizenship. Due to a presidential veto of the Legal Gender Recognition Act in 2015, transgender people are still forced to sue their parents in a civil court case to change their gender marker. This act, which was approved by lawmakers earlier in 2015, would have introduced administrative measures allowing for adult trans people to transition medically and legally on the basis of medical opinions, instead of having to resort to a civil court case.

LGBT people still have no protections against hate crimes in Poland. This last legal issue is the most worrying. Since 2015, attacks on LGBT individuals, clubs and organizations have become more frequent. Over this period, one in three LGBT people in Poland has faced physical violence, and half have experienced verbal assault, according to the Campaign Against Homophobia and the University of Warsaw Center for Research on Prejudice. The government of the right-wing Law and Justice Party, which came to power in 2015, is openly xenophobic, and is using divisive rhetoric that is radicalizing the far right. The government has also limited freedom of assembly, attacked the independence of the judiciary, changed school curricula and increased funding for right-wing and Catholic organizations. The Campaign Against Homophobia is working with media organizations as well as civil society groups to improve the situation, but many things are simply impossible without a human rights-based legal framework.

Ireland and Northern Ireland: Columnist urges DUP to stop blocking marriage equality

Irish Times columnist Una Mullally, a strong supporter of marriage equality in Ireland, called on DUP politicians to stop blocking marriage equality in Northern Ireland, where polls suggest there is overwhelming public support for marriage equality. Says Mullally, “Prejudice, discrimination, meanness, and a lack of charity and fairness are not Christian values.” More from the Belfast Telegraph:

Una Mullally said it was “absurd” that politicians continued to veto equal rights and disrespect the will of the people.

Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK and Ireland where same-sex marriage remains outlawed after the Republic voted to change the law in a 2015 referendum.

Ms Mullally said: “It is absurd that a lesbian or gay couple can get married in Dundalk but not Newry, Letterkenny but not Strabane, Clones but not Enniskillen.

“It is absurd too, that politicians continue to veto the equality and rights of people in Northern Ireland, disrespecting the will of the people, who overwhelmingly support marriage equality in the North.

“On what basis is this being done other than prejudice?”


Panama: Religious groups defend constitutionality of marriage ban

La Prensa reported on the final day of arguments at the Supreme Court of Justice for and against marriage equality. The Panamanian Alliance for Life and the Family and the Evangelical Alliance of Panama argued against the idea that restricting marriage to a man and a woman is unconstitutional.

La Prensa quotes a lawyer for the Panamanian Alliance for Life and the Family saying that marriage equality proponents are trying to “implant” a U.S. theory into Panama. The attorney for the Evangelical Alliance made a similar argument, saying that marriage equality is a “foreign custom.”

Ecuador: Activist says Catholic-fundamentalist coalition opposing LGBT equality

Gay Star News interviews LGBTI activist Pamela Troya about progress—civil unions in 2009 and a new gender identity law last year—and continued resistance to marriage equality. An excerpt:

 ‘Ecuadorian society is macho, homophobic and violent. Six out of 10 women suffer violence from their male partners, and 40% of children are exposed to corporal punishment in their homes,’ says Troya.

She adds: ‘More than that, we must not forget the religious component of our society, which provokes a rejection towards LGBTIs.’

It is understood that like many South Americans, most Ecuadorians in the country profess to the Catholic faith. While that does not in itself constitute as a problem, however according to Troya, this is a big issue for the LGBTI population.

‘In 2013, evangelical pastor Nelson Zavala was presented as presidential candidate of that year’s election, and his prejudice towards the LGBTI population was so high that we were forced to bring a trial against him, which we fortunately won. He had to withdraw his political rights for a year and pay a fine,’ says Troya.

‘Some of his [Zavala’s] statements argued that homosexual persons are the divine punishment of the anal intercourse of our fathers, and as a result of that, we cannot, for example, be in charge of jobs like running a hospital,’ she says. She believes fundamentalist groups in Ecuador today, who work closely with Roman Catholic group Opus Dei, shelter their real agendas with a religious veil.

Faced with these obstacles, Troya however still feels all is not lost.

‘We don’t care if a politician is religious or not, what matters here is that this politician can differentiate his particular beliefs from his obligations, to govern for all people,’ says Troya.

St. Thomas & The Virgin Islands: Column explores losses in former LGBT ‘mecca’

At St. Thomas Source, Edward Benfield sees losses for LGBT communities in the Virgin Islands but also some reason for hope:

For many Virgin Islanders, it may come as a surprise to learn that St. Thomas was a mecca of Caribbean gay life from the mid 1960s to the early 1990s. Today, the experience of being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning or queer – known by the initials LGBTQ – in the Virgin Islands is far from the decadence of the old days. Island society has thrown itself back in the closet during the time mainstream America has been clawing its way out.

Activists say that two devastating hurricanes in 1989 and 1995, as well as the HIV/AIDS epidemic, contributed to “the end of this queer cultural renaissance in the Virgin Islands,” along with “the religiosity of the islands.”

“They still have these preachers out there that preach fire and brimstone,” said one business owner.

Anglican Communion: More disconnect between Canterbury and Africa

The Archbishop of Centerbury and Archbishop of York released a joint statement celebrating the 50th anniversary of the U.K. parliament decriminalizing homosexual acts. It noted,:

In January 2016 the majority of the leading Archbishops of the whole global Anglican Communion – almost 80 million people in 165 countries – confirmed the longstanding view of the Communion that diminishing and criminalising homosexual people is wrong.

But, reported The Christian Post a month ago, “At least two conservative African archbishops have expressed intention to boycott a summit of Anglican leaders in October due to Archbishop Justin Welby’s liberal approach regarding gay marriage.”

Sources say that four or five traditionalist archbishops from Africa and Asia are expected not to attend the Canterbury summit among leaders of the 70 million-strong Anglican Communion to be chaired by Welby. The snub is seen as a blow to his efforts to prevent a schism in global Anglicanism.

Welby was forced to apologize to gay rights activists last year after imposing a sanction on the U.S. Episcopal Church following its ordination and marriage of LGBT people. The Episcopal Church was banned from representation on key bodies and barred from voting on issues relating to doctrine or strategy for three years.

But the sanction drew dismay among Liberal Anglicans. Michael Curry, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, lamented that the ban brought pain to those who have felt rejection by the Church due to their sexual orientation. “Our church opening itself in love was a sign of hope,” he said. “And this will add pain on top of pain,” Curry added. …

Last Friday, traditional Anglicans consecrated a “missionary” bishop to minister to conservatives in the U.K. Liberal archbishops from the U.S. and Scotland who are already performing gay marriages are expected to attend the October summit while some conservatives are still making up their minds on the matter.

Indonesia: Country likely to reject UN recommendations on LGBT, death penalty, blasphemy

The Jakarta Post reported that a foreign ministry official announced that the country was likely to reject recommendations about its blasphemy law, LGBT human rights, the death penalty, which made by other countries in May as part of the UN’s Universal Periodic Review process.

Human Rights Watch comments:

The Indonesian government says it will likely reject 75 recommendations by United Nations member countries to improve human rights abuses in Indonesia. Those recommendations targeted issues such as threats to the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, the abusive blasphemy law, and the death penalty. An Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs official described the recommendations as “hard to accept” for reasons including the vague and undefined notion of “Indonesian conditions.” …

The Indonesian government’s unwillingness to address these abusive laws and policies shows a lack of commitment to improving the country’s human rights record. It’s also an ominous signal of the government’s disregard for the rights of the LGBT community and religious minorities. Government-fueled animus has stoked a surge in anti-LGBT incidents across Indonesia since January 2016—in synch with broader rising intoleranceof religious minorities. The blasphemy law has increasingly been used to prosecute and imprison members of religious minorities. While the government has paused its use of the death penalty since July 2016, the execution of convicted drug traffickers remains a signature policy of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.

The government’s feeble claim of “Indonesian conditions” for rejecting solid recommendations from UN member countries to improve human rights will come as no comfort for LGBT people and religious minorities whose rights are already in peril.

Jamaica: Column calls for separating religious views from LGBT legal rights

Michael Abrahams, described by the Jamaica Gleaner as a gynecologist, obstetrician, comedian and poet, authored an op ed calling for the repeal of the colonial era “buggery law.” From his column:

Many religious folk believe that anal sex is wrong, as is homosexuality which, in the case of men, is associated with anal sex. I do understand their beliefs and their concerns. But just because one considers something to be wrong, does not mean that others who do not subscribe to that view, and are not interfering with the lives of others, should be punished. The argument regarding “immorality” reeks of hypocrisy. The Bible speaks repeatedly against adultery and fornication. Adultery is mentioned in the Ten Commandments, and Jesus spoke about it as well. Interestingly, neither anal sex nor homosexuality is mentioned in the commandments or by Christ. But adultery is not illegal, even though there are many instances of it contributing to STI transmission and family disruption. On the other hand, two men can be in a monogamous relationship, and be arrested for engaging in an act of intimacy. It really is unfair.

And the argument that if these acts are performed in private, the law will not be enforced, and people will not be arrested anyway, is false. Several years ago, in the parish of Manchester, police were attempting to apprehend a suspect and ventured onto a private property. They looked through the window of the house, saw two men having a sexual encounter, and arrested them. …

The buggery law is archaic and inequitable, has no justifiable reason to exist, and ought to be repealed. In the meantime, there should be organized efforts to educate the populace on human sexuality and safe sexual practices, free of religious bias.

Russia: LGBT network releases report and video on anti-gay violence in Chechnya

The Russian LGBT network released a video and  report based on interviews with 33 people who were detained and tortured during the recent wave of anti-gay violence in Chechnya:

The report confirms the fact that violations of LGBT rights in the region occurred before the mass persecution, but a radical change occurred in December 2016, when the authorities initiated mass arrests of homosexual men. The report also confirms numerous facts of torture, including beatings and electric shocks, as well as other torture:

I suffered as much as I could, but I broke down after I was shown a video of torture, which they want to do with me. They brought an iron pipe and barbed wire. They shot this video themselves. They caught one guy, he allegedly was connected with terrorists. They put the pipe in it, into its anus, and the wire into that pipe. After the pipe was pulled out, they began to slowly pull out the barbed wire. After I saw the video and brought the pipe, and the wire, I broke down and agreed to cooperate.”

Realizing that the attention of the media was mostly focused on homosexual men, the Russian LGBT Network included in the report a section on the situation of women in Chechnya and revealing the difficulties faced by homosexual and bisexual women.

Of course, I had to hide the fact that I’m a lesbian, so I married in order to preserve the reputation of my family. So I was able to leave the region. My mother refused me, and the whole family at some point became aware of the fact that the marriage was fictitious. After that, I was attacked by threats from the male part of the clan. They are still looking for me to punish for lies and the way I lead a lifestyle.”

In the final section, the Russian LGBT Network summarizes the preliminary results and notes that the report’s data allow us to conclude that since December 2016 in the territory of the Chechen Republic, public authorities have been massively prosecuted for men suspected of homosexual intercourse. The Russian authorities are unwilling or unable to conduct a criminal investigation into this crime properly, and this situation can change only if there is political will of the country’s top government and effective international pressure.

Serbia: Prime Minister does not want to be branded as the ‘gay P.M.’

The Guardian interviews Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić, who says she does “not want to be branded ‘Serbia’s gay PM,” but to be known for “competence, professionalism and trustworthiness.

She is determined not to make a point of her gender or sexuality, at least for now. Although as a gay Serbian citizen she cannot marry, Brnabić said she did not plan to push LGBT legal reforms at this stage.

“The reason why I am not focused on that now is because I deeply, truly believe Serbia will be a more tolerant society once people have jobs, better paid jobs, don’t have to care about their own livelihood, or the future of their own children, and do not have to worry about two or three generations living in the same flat,” she said.

“I don’t think Serbia is that homophobic. I know that is one of the perceptions, and I understand attitudes are different in parts of Serbia. But some journalists were in a village in central Serbia where part of my family come from. They saw a couple of people just drinking beer in front of the local store and they asked them about me, and they replied: ‘Well, listen, in this part of Serbia we grow raspberries, fruit and vegetables, and we do not grow discrimination.’

Netherlands: Anti-LGBT U.S. Ambassador called ‘a Dutchman from the Netherlands of the 50s’

The Guardian reports on reaction in the Netherlands to U.S. President Donald Trump’s appointment of an anti-gay politician, Pet Hoekstra, as ambassador to the country that was the first in the world to allow same-sex couples to marry:

The Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant observed that Trump had “put a Dutchman in the Netherlands – but it is a Dutchman from the Netherlands of the 50s”. …

Hoekstra also once claimed there was chaos in the Netherlands due to a “secret jihad” in Europe. “Cars are being set on fire. Politicians are being set on fire,” he said. “Yes, there are no-go zones in the Netherlands.”

He has spoken in recent years at congresses of the anti-Islam American Freedom Alliance, where the far-right Geert Wilders was once a guest.

The Dutch liberal MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld said: “We are looking forward with interest to cooperating with Mr Hoekstra. We will certainly remind him his roots lie in a country that values tolerance, equality and inclusion.

Taiwan: LGBT opponents not quitting after court ruling

Having lost the battle against marriage equality in the nation’s highest court, opponents of LGBT equality are turning to other strategies, including an effort to put the issue to a referendum and a campaign to removed LGBT issues from school curricula.

In May, Taiwan’s high court gave legislators two years  to implement legislation in response to its decision that the ban on same-sex couples getting married is unconstitutional. Forbes looks at continuing resistance:

Church groups and some civil society NGOs in Taiwan oppose same-sex marriage. Some say it goes against traditional family values and could hamper the development of children. Others worry it would strain social welfare when one partner in a childless couple dies. Taiwanese adult children often care for their parents. A bill covering reproduction, education and more could take longer to pass than a civil code change. It might seek to reduce the rights of same-sex married couples, LGBT activists fear. The Nationalist Party might even use violence to block the podium as it did earlier in the month over an infrastructure budget item.

Eventually the ruling Democratic Progressive Party can out-vote opponents but would risk losing support among naysayers in the public without an effort to seek a compromise, the aide says. About 46% of the public favors same-sex marriage and 45% oppose it, the Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation said in November – though other surveys put the opposition percentage lower.

India and United Kingdom: 50 years after decriminalization in UK, India hangs onto colonial era law

At The Times of India, Vikram Doctor notes that the United Kingdom’s parliament voted to decriminalize homosexuality in 1967, asking why India “still hangs on to this colonial legacy” fifty years later. His piece includes history about the anti-sodomy law in the U.K. and the “morass of misuse, malice and misery” that it engendered, including blackmail.

That such a law could exist, and that it could take so long to change it, seems absurd today when the House of Commons has 45 openly lesbian, gay or bisexual MPs, and when Prime Minister Theresa May marked the 50th anniversary by apologising for the fact that her Tory party has often lagged in accepting LGBT rights.

What no one in the UK seems to have thought of doing is apologizing for how the British exported their hatred of homosexuality and willingness to penalise it to countries around the world, including India — where far from being repealed, the law is still very much in force.

Doctor says that some people wrongly argue that Section 377—the sodomy law—“is not an issue because it just deals with a sexual act, not actually being a homosexual, and anyway it is hardly ever used.” Says Doctor, “This is completely false.”

Section 377 is used all the time, either in actual imposition or, even more, the threat of it. Because most of those charged or threatened with it are poor and unable or unwilling to fight, the extent of its use gets underreported.

It is unequal law, as Wedgwood noted, and one that actually facilitates another crime, with all the cases of blackmail — which sharply increased after a Supreme Court bench perversely reimposed it in 2013.

This government has repeatedly spoken of the need to throw away colonial legacies in everything from the English language to convocation gowns. Why can’t it discard this most perverse of legacies, 157 years after it was imposed and 50 years after even those who imposed it decided it needed to go?

Namibia: Capital city sees first pride celebration

The first-ever LGBT pride celebration was held in the capital of Windhoek, drawing about 150 people, According to AFP, “sodomy is ciminalized and punishable by a jail term, though this law is rarely enforced.”

Same sex couples complain of discrimination and lack of legal protection in the event of domestic violence.

“The request is not for marriage. The request is for some legal protection to couples that live together,” said Friedel Dausab, director of Out-Right Namibia an LGBTI organisation.

While the march was the first such to be held in the capital, protests over discrimination against gays and lesbians have taken place previously in other Namibian towns.

Australia: Gay MPs urging marriage equality vote in parliament

Three gay MPs with the ruling Liberal party are urging its leaders—who have blocked a marriage equality vote in parliament—to hold a free vote, warning that continuing to block action on a popular issue would be a political gift to the opposition Labor party:

“It’s in our best interests to move on from this issue so we can focus on the sorts of things I think people voted for me and for my party to deal with – tax reform, fixing the budget, national security,” he told Sky News.

“I also have a personal conflict which torments, frankly, and challenges me on a daily basis and I’d like to see this issue resolved.”

Liberal senator Dean Smith says the issue is putting lead in the party’s saddle bags.

The government should not feel obligated to commit political suicide by handing its opponents a massive political cudgel by allowing the question of marriage equality to remain unresolved and fester over the next two years,” he wrote in the Australian Financial Review.

A poll commissioned by The Sunday Times found that 59 percent of Western Australians support marriage equality. A separate poll conducted by the Equality campaign, said nearly 70 percent of Western Australians viewed the government’s proposed non-binding plebiscite as a waste of money.

Colombia: Profile of affirming psychologist

Sentiido profiles Miguel Antonio Rueda Sáenz, a psychologist who works to affirm LGBT people.

Nigeria: Mass arrest of 40 men for ‘homosexual acts’

The BBC reported on Monday that more than 40 men were arrested over the weekend and charged with performing homosexual acts, which are punishable by up to 14 years in jail.

South Korea: Court rules in favor of LGBT advocacy group’s right to register

The Supreme Court ruled that the Ministry of Justice was wrong to reject the establishment of the Beyond the Rainbow Foundation.


Japan: Political leaders step out

The China Post reports on efforts by Kunhiro Maeda, “one of Japan’s few openly gay politicians,” along with several colleagues, to bring change to the country. Japan, reports the paper, “is the only G7 nation that does not allow same-sex marriage or civil unions.”

China: Court rules against anti-trans discrimination

LMT Online reports a “small but significant” victory for LGBT people with a court in the city of Guiyang ruling in favor of a transgender man who had been fired from a job and declaring that workers whould not be discriminated against “based on their ethnicity, race, gender or religious beliefs.”