Scott Lively, an American who has promoted anti-gay policies around the world, recently argued that, if elected, President Donald Trump should apologize to the world for “Obama’s attempt to force the fascist LGBT agenda on everyone” and should follow Russian President Vladimir Putin’s lead in allowing “the church to reclaim its rightful place in steering domestic policy norms back toward faith and family values.”
Speaking of U.S. policy, a New York Times commentary by Ernesto Lodoño on May 26 reviewed U.S. policy promoting the idea promulgated by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that “gay rights are human rights.”
When President Bill Clinton signed an executive order in 1995 barring the government from denying security clearances solely on the basis of a person’s sexual orientation, the Family Research Council warned that “in all healthy societies, homosexuality is recognized as a pathology with very serious implications for a person’s behavior.”
Lodoño writes that Randy Barry, U.S. special envoy for the rights of LGBTI people, recognizes that LGBT equality “still being debated and litigated in the United States,” remains a “hard sell” in many parts of the world.
It has fallen to Mr. Berry to persuade and nudge governments about a subject that remains taboo in many places. During his first year on the job, he traveled to 42 countries, including Uganda, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, where gay and transgender people are widely stigmatized.
Mr. Berry said he has been surprised by how respectfully he has been received in some conservative countries.
“I don’t think these conversations are impossible,” he said. “But they can be difficult.”
Some leaders have been staunchly resistant to the gay rights movement. Russia and Nigeria, for instance, have passed so-called anti-propaganda laws that make activism illegal. In Nigeria, a “public show of same-sex amorous relationships” can lead to 10 years in jail.
The government of Gambia, meanwhile, issued a statement last year in response to American criticism of its persecution of gays, saying that “decadent and ungodly societies” would not change the country’s values.
Barry is scheduled to visit Kiev, or Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, on June 7-8.
World Congress of Families: WCF elects NOM’s Brian Brown president; SPLC reports on summit
Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, has also been elected president of the World Congress of Families, which resists the advance of LGBT equality worldwide. This week the Southern Poverty Law Center released its report on the WCF’s gathering in Tbilisi, Georgia last month, which it said showcased anti-LGBT rhetoric and conspiracy theories.
Mexico: President promotes constitutional guarantee of LGBT equality; Mormon Church objects
As Mexico’s complicated march toward nationwide marriage equality continues, President Enrique Peña Nieto wrote in Huffington Post about initiatives he introduced in May to establish a constitutional right to marry, “independently of gender identity or sexual orientation,” as part of a broader effort to “achieve a Society of Rights in which all Mexicans are guaranteed equal rights under the law,” he wrote. He also announced that Mexico would become part of the UN’s LGBTI Core Group promoting equality internationally.
“I understand that these measures will be met with some resistance and that a number of taboos related to the topic still persist,” he wrote, “However, as President, it is my duty to ensure that the personal beliefs and customs of some do not limit the human rights of others.”
Part of the resistance to marriage equality in Mexico comes from the Catholic Church and other religious leaders. This week KUTV in Salt Lake City reported that Mormon Church officials “have issued a declaration to church members in Mexico instructing them to oppose a new initiative that would legalize same-sex marriage in the country.” More from the KUTV report:
Similar to the Church’s efforts in the United States, Mormon leaders said their opposition to same-sex marriage is rooted in ‘religious liberty’ and ‘free thought’.
“We encourage members of the Church to unite our voices with those of other citizens in exercising our rights, as they are listed in the Political Constitution of the United Mexican States, which establish and honor religious liberty, expression of beliefs and thoughts, both in public and private,” LDS Mexican area authority Elder Benjamin DeHoyos said.
DeHoyos was speaking before a church congregation in Puebla, Mexico, weeks after Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto announced an initiative to change federal law that would expand same-sex marriage, which is already legal in some states and Mexico City.
KUTV reports that the Church, which played a significant role at last year’s World Congress of Families summit in Salt Lake City, asked local bishops to have DeHoyos’ remarks read at the more than 2,000 LDS congregations in Mexico.
The U.S. Consulate in Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas, will fly the rainbow flag for the month of June.
Italy: Gay historian says Catholic Church is Italy’s anti-gay NRA
In a commentary published on June 1, the New York Times’ Frank Bruni explored what he called a disconnect between Italy’s tradition of embracing “openly gay artists, designers, and even political leaders” and its continuing to lag behind the rest of western Europe when it comes to legal recognition and protection for LGBT people. He quotes Nichi Vendola, who served as the openly gay governor of Puglia for 10 years, saying one factor, in addition to cultural and political traditions, is Italy’s “particular relationship” with the Catholic Church:
Only a minority of Italians are regular churchgoers, and many defy church teaching on divorce and on abortion, which is legal (though difficult to procure) here. But Vatican City’s situation in the heart of this country gives it a special incentive and invitation to meddle in Italian affairs. It uses Italy to assess and advertise its sway.
Vendola said that in regard to gay rights and “the primary idea of the traditional family, the church played all of its cards to influence Italian politics, even through today.” Civil unions passed, but gay adoption — adamantly opposed by church leaders — was stripped from the legislation.
Giovanni Dall’Orto, a gay historian in Milan, analyzed this dynamic more bluntly. “Consider the Catholic Church our N.R.A.,” he told me.
Nigeria: Anglican church cuts ties with UK diocese; broadcasters get trans reality show taken off air across Africa
The Anglican diocese of Akure cut ties with the diocese of Liverpool in the United Kingdom because an Episcopal Bishop from the U.S. was named an honorary bishop in Liverpool. The appointment drew criticism from Archbishop of Nigeria Nicholas Okoh, who chairs the conservative Anglican group Gafcon, who said “a line has been crossed” because the American bishop, Susan Goff, supports the blessing of same-sex unions.
More from Christianity Today’s Ruth Gledhill:
In his pastoral letter, Archbishop Okoh says: “In the beginning, the focus of our concern was North America and we thank God that he has raised up the Anglican Church North America as a new wineskin in that continent.
“Now our concern is increasingly with the British Isles. A line has been crossed in the Church of England itself with the appointment of Bishop Susan Goff, of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, as an Assisting Bishop of Liverpool.
“The false teaching of the American Episcopal Church has been normalised in England and this divisive act has meant that the Church of Nigeria’s Akure Diocese has had no alternative but to end its partnership link with Liverpool Diocese.”
Archbishop Okoh writes that he is convinced Gafcon is a movement called into being and sustained by the Lord of the Church himself. “In every age, the devil is at work to destroy the Church, but we stand firm in the confidence that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it,” he says.
“We therefore preach the gospel, make disciples and commit ourselves to prevailing prayer, knowing that the most dangerous attack on the Church today is not persecution from the outside, terrible though that can be, but a globalised secular ideology which has established itself inside the Church.”
Nigerian gay-rights activist Unoma Azuah and Nick Patricca, president of Chicago Network, published a column in Windy City Times on the impact of the anti-gay law that went into effect in Nigeria in early 2014. They note that the law not only criminalizes same-sex sexual activity, but also the “public show of same sex amorous relationship directly or indirectly.”
In this context when a man gives a lingering hug to his brother or a woman walks with her arms around the shoulders of her sister, they could end up in jail.
Furthermore, this law, though it has been billed as an anti-gay marriage law, prohibits ‘civil unions’ as well as forms of homosexual dress and activities. In other words, same-sex relationships that do not involve or include marriage, such as domestic or caring partnerships, are also proscribed and punished. This fact clearly shows the intention of the government to promote a witch hunt against homosexuals rather than its stated objective of protecting traditional ‘natural’ marriage between a man and a woman.
The Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act is fundamentally an attack on the civil and human rights of all Nigerians. This law goes against all provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights of which Nigeria is a signatory. It also contradicts Section 37 of the Constitution of Nigeria which states: “The privacy of citizens … is hereby guaranteed and protected.” It is impossible to protect the privacy of Nigerian citizens when their neighbors can condemn them to the police as ‘being homosexual,’ ‘looking homosexual,’ ‘acting homosexual,’ ‘supporting homosexuals,’ or ‘encouraging homosexuals.’
The authors also note the importance of religion in Nigeria generally and its impact on LGBT people:
Religion is of great importance to Nigerians. According to the Pew Research Center, Nigeria is almost evenly split between Christians and Muslims. Many Nigerians continue to practice local, indigenous religions alongside their professed adherence to Islam or Christianity. Generally speaking, the forms of Islam and of Christianity that are practiced in Nigeria today tend to be fundamentalist and most intolerant of homosexuality. In the Northeast Boko Haram mutilates homosexuals before stoning or crucifying them.
The Nigerian Anglican Church broke with Canterbury and other Anglican churches over the question of ordaining women priests and of accepting homosexuals as ordained ministers. The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria voted to support legislation criminalizing same-sex marriage and endorsed the Same Sex Marriage ( Prohibition ) Act
This unholy alliance of fundamentalist religions with state power is the primary cause of the suppression of the rights of LGBTQ peoples in Nigeria and of the violence against them.
In other news, the BBC reports that, in response to a request from Nigerian authorities, the reality show about Caitlyn Jenner will no longer be shown anywhere in Africa.
Republic of Georgia: Vegan café attacked by far-right, perhaps over LGBT clientele
Tbilisi, which recently played host to the vehemently anti-LGBT and anti-West summit of the World Congress of Families, was the site of a strange attack by “far-right extremists” on a vegan café. More from the Guardian:
According to the statement, the attackers “pulled out grilled meat, sausages, and fish and started eating them and throwing them at us… they were just trying to provoke our friends and disrespect us.”
The statement also alleged that members of group had come to the neighbourhood a month earlier and asked a nearby shopkeeper whether foreigners or members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community frequented the cafe.
Launched a year ago, the cafe has become a popular meeting place for foreigners and had been showing English-language episodes of the animated sci-fi sitcom Rick And Morty when the violence broke out.
Ron Synovitz, reporting for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, says the attack came three days after “Georgian nationalist extremists marched in the streets of Tbilisi” during May 26 independence celebrations.
It remains unclear whether the meat assault was merely a prank that turned violent, or an organised political actions by Georgian nationalists spurred on by the events of the independence day celebrations.
The Kiwi Cafe has pledged to stay open and said it remained “ready to accept all customers regardless of their nationality, race, appearance, age, gender, sexual orientation, or religious views.”
Canada: Conservative Party drops opposition to marriage equality; Hindu couple starts PFLAG for South Asian community
Last weekend delegates to the Conservative Party convention voted to remove language defining marriage as only between a man and a woman from the party’s policy book. CBC’s Janyce McGregor reported that, during debate on an initial vote on Friday, May 27, an MP from Saskatchewan warned that “social conservatives would abandon the party” and that without them, “Liberals and the NDP get ‘a walk to power.’” Marriage was among a number of controversial issues voted on, including provisions on marijuana and assisted dying:
In a release Thursday, Charles McVety, the head of the 148,000-member Institute for Canadian Values lobby group, warned Conservatives who had previously sought the support of his organization were about to renege on commitments to uphold key principles.
Meanwhile, a group of prominent Conservatives, including former Canadian Alliance leader Stockwell Day and Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown, are set to discuss developing new policy positions on climate change later Friday.
“The folly of becoming a ‘Liberal light’ party is it leads to complete and utter failure at the ballot box,” the release from McVety’s group said. “If conservative grassroots don’t like the party platform, they don’t vote.”
Also in the news are Vijay and Sushma Agarwal, immigrants from India who decided to launch a chapter of PFLAG, a group for parents, family, and friends of LGBT people, “especially targeted at the South Asian community in Brampton and Mississauga, where LGBT kids sometimes face close minds.” They say that when their son came out to them in 2004, spent three days learning everything they could about LGBT people after he came out to them, which helped them overcome what his mother called their “ignorance” and “baggage” that they “bring from India.” They also began attending meetings of PFLAG in Toronto. May Warren wrote about the couple in The Star in April:
Growing up in India, the Agarwals said, had no exposure to LGBTQ people and didn’t think that they knew any in their Canadian community.
But once Rishi came out, they realized five of their friends’ sons were also gay.
“Nobody would talk about it. They just keep hush, hush, hush,” Sushma remembers. “Our community is very hidden in these issues.”
In 2011, the couple threw a traditional Hindu wedding for their gay son Rishi and his partner. Alison Lynch reports for Metro that Rishi’s father Vijay “says he was turned down by seven Hindu priests” before he found one who agreed to perform the ceremony at a golf course.
Undeterred, he ensured his son was married with all the traditional Bollywood trimmings. The grooms performed the standard rituals, including circling a sacred fire four times and exchanging flower garlands, as well getting matching henna tattoos of each other’s initials.
Back to May Warren’s report in The Star:
“In order to run a lot of those ceremonies, you really need everyone, the community’s involvement, otherwise it doesn’t really work,” said Rishi.
“Unfortunately, others have not had that support in their lives and they’ve just not been able to have the full” wedding.
Rishi, who said Hinduism helped him get through tough moments when he was bullied and still in the closet, said there was a moment at the wedding, after the speeches, when it all hit him.
“All of a sudden I just started bawling. I just completely broke down,” he said.
“I never thought in my wildest dreams that I could have the wedding that I wanted with the person I loved and with all my family and my friends.”
Syria: UN Foundation interview with Syrian refugee and LGBT activist
United Nations Foundation published an interview with Subhi Nahas, a Syrian refugee who testified before the UN Security Council on issues facing LGBT refugees. Nahas says he was forced to flee the country when, after the uprising began, radical Islamic groups began gaining power and targeting LGBT people.
Nahas has also launched the Spectra Protection Project to address the needs of LGBT refugees in the Middle East and North Africa.
Malaysia: AFP profiles trans activists overcoming Sharia court, prison brutality
This week AFP profiled Nisha Ayub, who “has endured virtually everything thrown at Muslim-majority Malaysia’s repressed transgender community: contempt, violence, arrest and sexual assault in a prison where she was sent to become a ‘real man’.”
She has attempted suicide, beaten down by strict Islamic laws that activists say subject transgender people to increasing legal constraints, discrimination and marginalisation.
“The way they treat you is like you don’t have any rights, you don’t have any dignity,” said Nisha, 37, dressed in the flowing skirt and long-sleeve shirt favoured by Malaysian Muslim women.
But she channelled the fury over her mistreatment into advocacy, and has become the country’s most prominent LGBT activist, despite the personal risk that entails.
In March she became the first transgender woman named one of the US State Department’s International Women of Courage, which recognises those fighting for rights and equality.
When Ayub was 21 years old, “she was arrested by the feared state religious enforcers who swoop on Muslims suspected of “un-Islamic” behaviour.” A sharia court sent her to jail for three months in a men’s prison, where she was brutalized and attempted suicide. But she found a lifeline in advocacy.
Ghana: Muslim leader says gay sex causes earthquakes
The Mirror reported this week that a Muslim religious leader who is “part of Ghana’s conservative Zongo community” said that gay sex is responsible for earthquakes. “Should we allow such a shame to continue in our communities against holy teachings?” he asked. “Certainly no, and we are very happy to chase away such idiots from our Zongo communities.”
Ghanaweb published an article about “life in the shadows” for gay people in Ghana, where society is hostile and a law against “unnatural carnal knowledge” can “result in prison terms for homosexual couples.” It said that churches and some chiefs “actively campaign” against gay people, viewing homosexuality as a sin and “alien to Ghanaian culture.”
Australia: Christian lobby leader compares marriage equality movement to rise of Nazis
Lyle Shelton, head of the Australian Christian Lobby, generated harsh criticism for comments comparing the marriage equality movement to the rise of the Nazis in Germany in the 1930s:
Shelton warned: “Changing the definition of marriage to entrench motherless and fatherlessness in public policy and teaching our kids their gender is fluid should be opposed.
“The cowardice and weakness of Australia’s ‘gatekeepers’ is causing unthinkable things to happen, just as unthinkable things happened in Germany in the 1930s.
“Perhaps we have moved beyond cowardice to complicity.”
Shelton’s comments were condemned by Jewish and LGBT rights organizations. The chairman of the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Committee called the comments “repugnant” and said they have “no place in Australia’s civil discourse.” While Shelton refused to apologize, he has said people misinterpreted his comments. From Pink News:
Speaking to the Star Observer, he said: “If people are thinking that I think same-sex marriage is going to cause a Holocaust, that’s ridiculous.
“What I’m saying is that when you’ve got harmful ideologies there are consequences, and future generations will think how did this happen, why are children being taught that gender is fluid in schools?
“When people don’t speak out and oppose harmful ideologies there are bad consequences.”
He added: “I was making the point about people being silent when bad ideologies are given airplay in society – of course gay marriage isn’t like the Holocaust, but what is similar is the silence in 1930s Germany and the inability of good people to confront bad ideologies.
“How did good people go along with something as extreme as Nazism when it resulted in such a catastrophe?
Ukraine: Right-wing nationalists threaten “bloodbath” at upcoming LGBT march
According to a report in Pravda, the Organization of Ukranian Nationalists is threatening to “brutally disperse” a planned LGBT equality march in Kiev on June 12. It quotes a spokesperson for the Right Sector nationalist movement promising a “bloodbath.”
“Today, we are forced to accept LGBT marches and festivals, and thus join the ranks of sinners and those who cover them. Who is going to be equated on this Sabbath? Immoral freaks, clowns and degenerates will be equated with those who have honor and dignity, respect and love for their neighbor, soldiers who gave their lives and health protecting peace in the country?” a statement from the OUN said.
Tunisia: Profile of LGBT activists
In May, ThinkProgress published a profile of LGBT activists in Tunisia, where homosexuality is illegal under a law that dates to the French colonial period. In 2015, the government allowed an LGBT advocacy group to register, but as long as homosexuality remains a criminal act, says one activists, “there’s no legal framework for the rights we defend.”
According to the article by Erin Kilbride of Dublin-based Front Line Defenders, human rights defenders say both police and religious leaders contribute to a climate in which “normal Tunisians think homophobic violence is acceptable and even deserved.” One activist said he has been targeted by name by Imams calling on followers to attack people who “act gay.”
Yet, despite the strong social prejudices that put Bouhdid and other LGBT defenders at risk, he remains adamant that a legal change — repealing Article 230 — is the critical first step towards protection.
“We have proof in Tunisia that if you change a law, society changes with it — even if it contradicts Islamic tradition,” he said. “When polygamy, which is permissible in Islam, was criminalized, people said it was haram [forbidden] to contradict the Prophet. When [former President Habib] Bourguiba made adoption legal, which is haram in Islam, of course people fought it. But the law affects how people think about social issues. Today, adoption is socially acceptable, and polygamy is barely talked about.”
Uganda: Anti-Homosexuality Act could be back soon
At Vice News, Justice Ling reports that Uganda’s notorious Anti-Homosexuality Act – thrown out by the constitutional court over a procedural issue – could be back at any time, citing comments by parliamentary Speak Rebecca Kadaga who told a radio station in April the legislation could return “in short order.” Ling reports that Kadaga may see making a push for the popular measure after the Parliament returns from its summer break as a way to build support for her re-election as speaker.
Jamaica: Author talks about undergoing ‘gay cure’ therapy and exorcism
Author Marlon James, who won the Man Booker prize last year for his novel “A Brief History of Seven Killings,” said at the Hay Festival that “when he was in his mid-thirties and struggling with his sexuality, he had been pushed into having the exorcism” as part of a “gay cure” therapy, reported David Sanderson in The Sunday Times. The therapy involved vomiting and prayer as well as the exorcism. James ended up fleeing Jamaica at the age of 37.
Honduras: LGBT political leader killed in “murder capital of the world”
The Washington Blade’s Michael Lavers reports on the murder of “brilliant LGBT political leader” Rene Rene Martínez, who was also “a ‘well-known’ member of the country’s governing National Party.” Who had participated in last year’s conference on LGBT activism in Latin America and the Caribbean that was co-sponsored by USAID and the Gay and Lesbian Victory Institute. Martínez lived in the city of San Pedro Sula, which has been called “the murder capital of the world.” Lavers cites another Honduran activist saying that more than 150 LGBT people have been killed in the country in recent years “in a systematic violation of human rights.”
Nauru: Homosexuality decriminalized
The small Pacific Island nation which has been in the news for its use by Australia as a grim detention center for asylum seekers, decriminalized homosexuality by overturning an 1899 law.
Switzerland: Same-sex partner adoption law approved
Legislation allowing a member of a same-sex couple to adopt a partner’s children was approved by the House of Representatives on Monday; it had already cleared the Senate and was supported by the government. It will apply to cohabiting couples regardless of marital status or sexual orientation. According to Swissinfo:
Opposition came mainly from the Swiss People’s Party and the Christian Democrats.
Extending adoption rights to couples living outside of marriage or a registered partnership passed more narrowly, 95 to 92, with two abstentions. Those against argued that if the children are to be bound to a parent, then the parents should be bound to each other.
Those in favour noted that the revision of the law reflects the fact that more and more children are being raised by unmarried couples.
The change will not permit same-sex couples to adopt other people’s children. However, current law allows individuals to take in children given up for adoption.
Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga said that liberal family law should reflect how people live – otherwise, the weakest will suffer, namely, the children.
“If you don’t like the fact that adults are living together without a marriage certificate, don’t punish the children for it,” Sommaruga said.
Greece: Gay Syrian migrant to be sent to Turkey after asylum claim rejected
“A gay Syrian migrant whose asylum claim was rejected by Greece will be sent back to Turkey,” reports AFP:
The 46-year-old man arrived on the Greek island of Lesbos after the EU struck a deal to send some failed asylum seekers back to Turkey in a bid to stem the bloc’s worst ever migrant crisis.
His application was rejected by Greek asylum services and a board of appeal ruled that it was safe to return him to Turkey, said Fotini Barka from NGO the Greek Council for Refugees.
Norway: Parliament prepares law to simplify legal gender change
The Parliament is close to giving its final approval to a law “that will allow individuals to change their gender simply by filing a declaration with a registrar, with no need for surgery or a doctor’s certification,” reports BuzzFeed’s Lester Feder.
Armenia: Folk dancing group kicks out gay American
Kyle Khandikyan, a 23-year old American living in Armenia was kicked out of a folk dancing group after the instructor learned that he was gay.
Khandikyan, who currently lives in Yerevan and first came to Armenia through Birthright Armenia as a volunteer with PINK Armenian, was told by the instructor that he did not belong to this “nation,” that he was “not Armenian,” and had no right to dance Armenian dances since he was gay.
“One of the reasons why I came to Armenia was to reconcile these identities that seemed to be at odds – gay and Armenian – and fall in love again with this little homeland of mine,” Khandikyan wrote on his Facebook page Thursday, adding that the instructor was making sure that every dance instructor in his circle knew the young man’s name and did not let him dance…
”This comes as a real heartbreak to me, and also a reminder of the type of rejection, shame, and violence I feared from Armenians growing up, which ultimately led me to reject my Armenian identity and the community I come from…I came to Armenia to understand better and struggle against the poisonous ethno-nationalism that’s at the root of the homophobia and transphobia Armenians around the world experience…
“I would like to know who exactly these people are that decide who is and isn’t Armenian? Who gave them the authority and legitimacy to control and recognize who we are, what our values are, what we believe in, what our ‘nation’ is? Where did they get this power from to subject us to this violence? I’m not just talking about my dance instructor. I’m talking about all the people in our lives who attempt to define us, our bodies, our sexualities, our genders, our identities, who try to define what ‘Armenia’ is–the parents, the teachers, the schools, the priests, the churches, the boards, the committees, the political parties, the ‘revolutionaries.’ Who are they? What gives them the right?
Africa: Report appraises HIV interventions for MSM in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe
The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine issued a report in May mapping and appraising HIV prevention and care interventions for men who have sex with men in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe, countries in which homosexual conduct is illegal. The appraisal was commissioned by the Sexual Health and Rights Program, which is coordinated by the International HIV/AIDS alliance.
Among the community and structural level interventions considered are those involving training or education designed to sensitize “religious, traditional, or other community leaders about public health, human rights and the place of MSM in communities.”
Nepal: Report on LGBT use of anonymous social media to safely create community
Writing in Australia’s Star Observer, Christopher Kelly reports that LGBT people in Nepal are using social media to create community in an atmosphere of “fear of being banished by family and friends.”
Iraq: New film on soldier and translator who find love in Iraq, marry in Canada, settle in Seattle
Out of Iraq, a documentary about the love between Iraqi solider Nayyef Hrebid and Btoo Allami, who served as a translator for the American military, will premiere on Logo on June 13; OUT has a trailer. The two met in 2004 during the siege of Ramadi and kept their love a secret for five years.Earlier this year, KUOW in Seattle told their story: When Hrebid was targeted by militants for his work as a translator, a U.S. Marine captain helped him get asylum in the U.S., but he had to leave Allami behind in Syria, where his life became dangerous after a relative discovered that he was gay. Eventually Allami was able to get to Canada, where the couple was married in 2014. In 2015, Allami was granted a visa to live in the U.S.; the couple now live in Seattle.
Israel: Poll shows growing support for civil partnership and marriage equality
A new poll found that 76% of Israelis support civil marriage or civil partnerships for same-sex couples. More from Meka Beresford at Pink News:
When broken down into religious beliefs ,the survey showed that 90% of secular Israelis support marriage equality for same-sex couples. 77% of traditional Jewish, 46% of national religious Jewish and 16% of Haredi ultra-orthodox supported the movement towards equal rights for same-sex couples…
While overseas same-sex marriages are recognised by the Israeli state, there is no way to actually enter them inside Israel, as marriage is entirely overseen by religious courts with no civil alternative.
Only Jewish, Christian, Muslim or Druze religious authorities can perform marriages, and none offer gay couples the chance to marry.
Like mixed faith straight couples, gay couples must marry in another country such as France or Canada, but once they do, they are recognised as a married couple in the Jewish state.
Denmark: Health Ministry plans to drop classification of transgender as mental disorder
Associated Press reported this week that Denmark is planning to change Health Ministry guidelines so that “being transgender will no longer be considered a mental disorder.” All nine political parties represented in parliament have agreed to change the law before January 1, according to AP.
China: Profile of trans man challenging employment discrimination
Associated Press’s Didi Tang profiles “Mr. C,” the transgender man who has been fighting a legal battle against the company that fired him. The article reports that a UN Develop Program survey found that “only about five percent of sexual and gender minorities in China choose to come out in public, and that the workplace can become especially awkward and unpleasant after they do so.”
Although never specifically outlawed, alternative expressions of sexuality were frowned upon following the 1949 establishment of the communist People’s Republic, which associated them with the corruption and decadence of the former imperial regime. Those caught up in police raids could be jailed on charges of hooliganism or even executed during particularly severe crackdowns.
In 2001, however, the Chinese Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. Police raids on LGBT gatherings largely came to a halt, as long as they remained low-profile. Empowered by the internet and social media, LGBT groups in different cities began networking, leading to calls for strong legal protections.