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Watch: ‘Vice’ News Covers Jamaica’s LGBT ‘Gully Queens’

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If you are gay, British colonial anti-buggery laws punish your sodomy with a 10-year prison sentence and hard labor in Jamaica. So, it’s not an easy life for our brothers and sisters there. On top of antiquated laws, LGBTs are frequently harassed, assaulted and sometimes murdered.

‘Vice’ news confronts this hatred head on in an interesting report. Towleroad reports:

In his 25-minute video report with Vice News, reporter Christo Geoghegan says:

“With cultural and religious conservatism rife, being out and proud isn’t exactly an option. While some believe Jamaica’s attitudes to homosexuality are slowly evolving, last year actually saw an increase in homophobic and transphobic violence with attacks often taking place in broad daylight and shared across social media.“

So as a way to protect themselves, homeless LGBT youth near the country’s capital of Kingston have taken to living in a storm drain called “The Gully.” Vice News interviewed them and examined whether repealing the country’s buggery law will help reduce the anti-LGBT stigma these youth face on a daily basis.

A conservative evangelical group called the Jamaican Coalition for a Healthy Society states that LGBT people want to repeal the law because “deviant behaviors are now to be considered normal and positive aspects of human sexuality.” Uganda’s Martin “Eat Da Poo Poo” Ssempa used similar rhetoric as a way to de-humanize LGBT people and foment physical revulsion and disgust against their sexual identities.

Rich queens in Jamaica — LGBT people with economic standing — can insulate themselves against the worst forms of homophobia unlike the “poor queens and the scary queens” who must hustle, sell snacks or do sex work to make money.

Local politicians blame the Gully queens and their parents for their own situation, stating that the queens rob people, aren’t fit for employment and never file police reports of violence. But the queens and other LGBT Jamaicans inherently distrust the cops and inactive politicians as complicit players in the country’s anti-LGBT culture.

Earlier this year, Kingston-area police burned the Gully queens belongings and tried to run them out, stating that their presence “attracted criminals.” But a judge ruled that the queens had every right to live there and so they returned.

Since then, the Gully queens have done their best to form comfortable lives within self-made families while protesting for their right to exist safely amid an atmosphere of unending hatred and violence against them.

Watch the report below.

Sadly, 100 AIDS Researchers Perished on Malayasia MH17 #AIDS2014

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While we see more ramifications of the shooting down of Malaysia Flight MH17, one of the losses is noted researcher Dr Joep Lange. Dr. Lange was a clinical researcher who had been working on HIV since the early years of the virus, participating in clinical trials and training in developing countries. Via Australia’s ABC:

Dr. Joep Lange

Dr. Joep Lange

The president of the International AIDS Society says the shooting down of flight MH17 has cost the world a giant in the field of HIV/AIDS research.

About 100 of the 298 people killed on the downed Malaysia Airlines jet were heading to the AIDS 2014 conference in Melbourne, including researchers, health workers, activists and people living with HIV.

IAS president and Nobel laureate Francoise Barre-Sinousi has told the National Press Club in Canberra the loss of life is difficult to comprehend.

“We are all with our phones waiting for confirmation and hoping that it cannot be confirmed,” she said.

Next of kin are still being informed, but Dutch HIV researcher and former IAS president Dr Joep Lange and his wife and collaborator Jacqueline van Tongeren are among those killed.

“It will be a great loss for the HIV/AIDS community,” Professor Barré-Sinousi said.

“It will be a terrible loss for all of us. I have no words really to try to express my sadness. I feel totally devastated if it is confirmed.

“This is really someone special. It’s a giant for us.”

Professor Barré-Sinousi said she worked closely with her predecessor.

“He is the man with the spirit, I used to say the best spirit, which is really he has been trying forever for his life to give for the benefit of mankind.

“A great professional but more than that, a wonderful human being.”

This will likely strike a huge blow to the AIDS/HIV research community and it’s scary to think of the impact on advances in AIDS/HIV research.

And that is something to mourn.

 

Global LGBT Acceptance: Croatia Passes Civil Partnerships Law

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With some of the bad news we see out of Russia and Uganda, it is always encouraging to see LGBT marriage equality progress in other parts of the world where it would have been unheard of even five years ago:

Their unions will be called ”life partnerships” protected by the Constitution. However, adoption rights for same-sex couples was not included in the bill.

On Tuesday, the Parliament passed the civil union law with 89 votes in favour and 16 against.

The bill was drafted along the lines of its German counterpart, with political support mostly from centre-left and liberal parties in the Coalition Government.

Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic proposed the legislation saying he was determined to establish legal rights for same-sex couples.

Read more: Croatia passes civil partnerships law · PinkNews.co.uk.

 

U.S. Imposes Sanctions Against Uganda For Anti-Gay Laws

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This surely took long enough. Via Pink News:

The US has announced sanctions against Uganda, following the implementation of a law which further criminalises homosexuality.

President Yoweri Museveni signed the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill in February.The law calls for repeat offenders to be sentenced to 14 years in prison and makes it a criminal offence not to report someone for being gay.
US Secretary of State John Kerry in February announced that the country was reviewing its relations with Uganda, following President Yoweri Museveni’s decision to sign anti-gay legislation.

The US will now prevent Uganda officials who are involved with serious human rights abuses against LGBT individuals, from entering America, and will either stop or redirect money for initiatives involving the Uganda Police Force, Ministry of Health and National Public Health Institute, and has cancelled plans to hold a US Military sponsored aviation exercise in the country.

 

This Weekend is Toronto World Pride

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In continuing celebrations of Gay Pride Month, Toronto will host this year’s 4th annual World Pride. Organizers expect millions of attendees, with over 10 days of parties, concerts, art exhibitions, marches and scantily-dressed boys to keep you entertained. If you are heading to Canada, or in case you are already bending over in anticipation, check out Queerty for a full list of events. And I hear the mayor can score you some decent party drugs :).

Toronto Gay Pride, 2012

Toronto Gay Pride, 2012

 

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Africa Human Rights Commission: Eliminate Anti-gay Laws

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Via Pink News:

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights has passed a resolution condemning the spread of violence and discriminatory laws targeting gay people on the continent.

The Commission passed the resolution last week, noting with “alarm” the rise of anti-gay sentiment across Africa.
In January, Nigerian president Jonathan Goodluck signed an anti-gay law, banning same-sex public displays of affection and disbanding ‘gay groups’.

In February, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed an anti-gay law which he claims will “punish exhibitionism, recruiters and homosexual prostitutes” by further criminalising homosexuality.

A statement from the human rights group read: “[The Commission] condemns the increasing incidence of violence and other human rights violations, including murder, rape, assault, arbitrary imprisonment and other forms of persecution of persons on the basis of their imputed or real sexual orientation or gender identity.

“[The Commission] specifically condemns the situation of systematic attacks by State and non-state actors against persons on the basis of their imputed or real sexual orientation or gender identity

“[The Commission] calls on State Parties to ensure that human rights defenders work in an enabling environment that is free of stigma, reprisals or criminal prosecution as a result of their human rights protection activities, including the rights of sexual minorities.

“[The Commission] strongly urges States to end all acts of violence and abuse, whether committed by State or non-state actors, including by enacting and effectively applying appropriate laws prohibiting and punishing all forms of violence including those targeting persons on the basis of their imputed or real sexual orientation or gender identities, ensuring proper investigation and diligent prosecution of perpetrators, and establishing judicial procedures responsive to the needs of victims.”

Great idea but I am not hopeful that the anti-gay leaders will heed this proclamation. (Play Debbie Downer music).

There Is Now An All-Lesbian Cemetery In Berlin

Activists attend the opening ceremony of a lesbian-only cemetery in Berlin, Germany, on April 6, 2014.

Activists attend the opening ceremony of a lesbian-only cemetery in Berlin, Germany, on April 6, 2014.

Because the right to choose how and with whom you live should also include picking a final resting place.

On a sunny April morning, dozens of elderly women gathered at a graveyard in Berlin. But it was not a sad occasion. In fact, they were celebrating a historic event: the opening of the world’s first lesbian-only cemetery.

A 4,300-square-foot area has been made available in one of the German capital’s oldest burial grounds, the Lutheran Georgen Parochial cemetery, and will serve as the final resting place for up to 80 gay women.

The women cheering and applauding among the tombstones that day were members of SAFIA, a German association of older lesbians who came up with the initiative as a way for their community to stay together in the afterlife.

“We are the first real generation of emancipated, feminist, open lesbians, and we need somewhere to be buried,” explains Astrid Osterland, a 69-year-old SAFIA member. “Lots of us don’t have families to be buried with. Instead, we want to lie with those we’ve fought alongside, loved and lived with.”
The plots are open to those who reserve on a first-come, first-serve basis and are available regardless of religious affiliation. The majority of the 80 spaces have already been spoken for, and most of the women are currently in their 60s, so it could be a while before the first burial takes place.

This appears to be a growing concern among aging gay couples. The U.S. approved the first burial of a same-sex spouse of a veteran last year at a national cemetery, and there’s been a gay graveyard in Copenhagen since 2008.

For Berlin’s lesbians, the cemetery is more than just a final resting place. It holds political significance for them as the generation of women who fought for the right to love openly and who now want their cause to be visible for posterity.

The Lesbian and Gay Association of Berlin welcomed the idea of a lesbian-only cemetery, but several German tabloid newspapers labeled the initiative “pointless” or “exclusive.”

Yet SAFIA insists the aim is not to exclude anyone. “It is not a fight against men,” according to a statement by the group. “All those who want to come and honor the dead women with respect are welcome.”

Surprisingly, the most supportive institution has been the Lutheran Church. “We know that the way in which people live takes many forms, but connections to our loved ones stay the same,” said vicar Peter Stock at the inauguration. His church has given the group use of the grounds for 30 years in exchange for them maintaining the space.

The area is now being landscaped with winding sand paths, and there will be no barrier separating it from the rest of the cemetery, other than the oak and yew trees that are already there.

While the idea might strike some as odd or even morbid to plan so early for one’s death, it’s a symbol of acceptance for the elderly lesbians of Berlin.
“Death is a part of life; it’s about learning to live with it and accepting this,” says Osterland. “Families want to be together after death, and we want it too.”

Winding paths and a bench in a part of the Lutheran Georgen Parochial cemetery in the Prenzlauer Berg district of Berlin, Germany

Winding paths and a bench in a part of the Lutheran Georgen Parochial cemetery in the Prenzlauer Berg district of Berlin, Germany

Read more: World’s First Lesbian Cemetery | Good Sh*t | OZY

Putin Blames ‘Gay Nazis’ for Unrest in the Ukraine

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Seriously? Talk about something fueling even more anti-LGBT hate crimes, rhetoric like this will do it:

Matthew Schmidt, an assistant professor of national security and political science at the University of Connecticut who holds an MA in Russian studies, told Raycom News Network that [Vladamir] Putin has positioned himself as a defender of “traditional values” in his propaganda war with the West,” going so far as to claim that “gay Nazis” were responsible for the initial uprising in Kiev, when pro-Ukrainian demonstrators took to the street to oppose the since-deposed pro-Russian regime.

“The gay Nazis label was simultaneously an attempt to tie the new pro-Europe camp in Kiev to the hated German Third Reich while also taking advantage of the growing acceptance of gay marriage in the West, particularly in the United States,” reports Raycom.

Read the full story at The Advocate.

First Ugandan LGBTs Face Trial for Sex Against Nature

Two Ugandans face a possible lifetime in prison for commiting “crimes against the order of nature” which, believe it or not, is not the anti-gay law passed in the country earlier this year.

Kim Musika, a 24-year-old businessman, and Jackson Musaka, a 19-year-old transgender woman, are facing charges under Uganda’s amended penal code, Section 145, which prohibits consensual sexual relationships between members of the same sex, reports blogger and activist Colin Stewart. According to numerous reports, the trial will be the first time that anyone has been brought to trial for allegedly violating Section 145, which was drafted during colonial rule and enacted in 1950.

Notably, the pair are not being charged under Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act, which President Yoweri Museveni signed into law February 24 and which prescribes lifetime prison terms for “aggravated homosexuality” as well as lengthy jail sentences for any individual or organization found guilty of “aiding or abetting homosexuality.”

Since the February law was passed, countless LGBT people have been beaten, kidnapped, harrassed and otherwise ostracized. Ugandan LGBT activist Adrian Jjuuko confirmed that Musika and Musaka are facing charges of “‘carnal knowledge against the order of nature’ and ‘permitting a male person to have carnal knowledge of oneself against the order of nature,’” and explained that Musika was being beaten by a mob in late January when Human Rights Awareness officials intervened.

Sounds familiar to what we are seeing in Russia, isn’t it? And not that far off from what the anti-gay crowd here in the U.S. would like to see in our own country.

Read the full story at The Advocate.