On Zero Discrimination Day this year (March 1), under the theme "Save lives: Decriminalize," UNAIDS showed how the decriminalization of key populations and people living with HIV saves lives and helps advance the end of the AIDS pandemic, a UNAIDS press release noted. Currently, 134 countries explicitly criminalize or otherwise prosecute HIV exposure, non-disclosure or transmission; 20 countries criminalize and/or prosecute transgender persons; 153 countries criminalize at least one aspect of sex work; and 67 countries now criminalize consensual same-sex sexual activity, according to UNAIDS.
Three East African countriesUganda, Kenya and Tanzaniaare further curtailing the so-called promotion of homosexuality through new laws and banning LGBTQ-specific content, according to The Washington Blade. For example, Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2022, would sentence anyone who identifies with "lesbianism, gay, transgender, queer or any other sexual or gender identity contrary to the binary categories of male and female" to 10 years in prison. The move resulted from the Church of England's decision earlier this year to allow its priests to bless same-sex couplesangering the Anglican Church of Uganda and Muslims, who called upon MPs to crack down on homosexuality through legislation.
Also, a Burundi court charged 24 people for "homosexual practices" as authorities in the conservative East African nation crack down on same-sex relationships, Barron's/AFP reported. Police detained 17 men and seven women on Feb. 23 at a seminar in the political capital of Gitega being hosted by MUCO Burundi, a non-profit group that focuses on HIV/AIDS. Burundi has criminalized homosexuality since 2009, with a prison sentence of up to two years for consensual same-sex acts.
In the UK, Birmingham LGBT Centre was recently attacked with homophobic abusethe third time it has been subjected to criminal damage in recent years, per The Guardian. Staffers arrived at the facility to find the words "dirty bastards" scratched on to the front door. This latest damage came weeks after West Midlands police set up a "Rainbow Street Watch" for the city's gay villagethe first scheme of its kind in the country.
The International LGBTQ+ Travel Association (IGLTA) has chosen Osaka, Japan as the site of its 2024 Global Convention, according to TravelOutNewsWire. This will be IGLTA's first-ever Global Convention in Asia. IGLTA is teaming with the Osaka Convention & Tourism Bureau (OCTB) to make this historic event possible. "After a very detailed evaluation process, we are proud to recognize Osaka's impressive bid and the leadership they have shown as an advocate for LGBTQ+ inclusion in Japan. Their commitment toward more discrimination-free spaces and travel experiences is remarkable," said IGLTA Board Chair Felipe Cardenas.
Journalists Lyric and Asher Fergusson, who run a travel site devoted to safety, recently published a report called "The 203 Worst (& Safest) Countries for LGBTQ+ Travel in 2023," which takes a close look at the state of travel around the world, Forbes noted. The list is based on 10 factors related to LGBTQ+ safety, such as legality and violence. Canada ranks at the top of the 2023 list as the most LGBTQ+-friendly country for the third year in a row/ coming in second on the list is Sweden, followed by the Netherlands. (The U.S. is 25th.) The full report is at www.asherfergusson.com/lgbtq-travel-safety/ .
CanBeDone Films and Orange Cat Films will debut Egghead & Twinkiewriter/director Sarah Kambe Holland's personal coming-of-age comedy about the joys and pains of coming out of the closeton March 16 at BFI Flare: London LGBTQIA+ Film Festival, per a press release. After coming out to her parents, 17-year-old Twinkie goes on a road trip to meet her online crush with the help of her nerdy best friend, Egghead. As they make their way across the country, Egghead wrestles with his unrequited feelings for Twinkie, while Twinkie learns to embrace her identity as a gay mixed-Asian woman.
In Ukraine, MP Inna Sovsun introduced a bill that would extend legal recognition to same-sex couples, The Washington Blade reported. "Ukrainians can no longer wait for equality," tweeted Sovsun. "We must do it immediately. LGBT Ukrainians deserve to have a family. Every day can be their last. Just like for any other Ukrainian. There is no time for hesitation. Let's legalize same-sex partnerships in Ukraine already this year." President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said he supports a civil partnerships law for same-sex couples.
A new study found that children of same-sex parents have home lives that are as good or better than those of opposite-sex couples, Ozarks First noted. The research, published in the BMJ Global Health journal, analyzed 34 studies across countries where same-sex marriage is legal. The researchers say, "The next step is to integrate multiple aspects of support and multilevel interventions to reduce the adverse effects on family outcomes with a long-term goal of influencing policy and law making for better services to individuals, families, communities and schools." The study is at https://gh.bmj.com/content/8/3/e010556.
Scottish National Party MP and Health Secretary Humza Yousaf has said he would embed LGBTQ+ rights in a written national constitution, Yahoo! News noted. Yousaf told PinkNews he would fight to secure the rights of minorities in a written constitution if Scotland gains independence. "That would help to cement them, so that when we do have the inevitable attacks on our rights, we have a concrete foundation by which to defend them," he said. "Far too often, we are held back by a UK Government that [wants] to roll back ... some of these rights."
Japan's main opposition party submitted a bill to parliament to approve same-sex marriage, the South China Morning Post reported. Japan, which will host the Group of 7 (G7) summit in May, is the only G7 nation that does not recognize same-sex marriage and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has come under increasing scrutiny over LGBTQ+ protections in recent weeks. Kishida has said same-sex marriage would "change society," so lawmakers must be "extremely careful in considering the matter."
Former gay adult actor Ruggero Freddi (who worked under the name Carlo Masi during his time in the porn industry) won his lawsuit against Rome's Sapienza University after alleging he was fired unfairly for his history as a sex worker, according to Out. After his time in the industry, Freddi eventually obtained two degrees (in mathematics and engineering) before he eventually became a professor at the Faculty of Engineering at Sapienza University in 2017. In 2019, the university dismissed Freddi with no explanationand, to make matters worse, the school refused to pay him for his work. The university was ordered to pay about $4,300 U.S., Gay Ireland News noted.
Menaka Guruswamy and Arundhati Katjuwho have played major roles in advancing LGBTQ+ rights as lawyers in Indiahave been named this year's recipients of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Law, according to a school press release. While they are in Charlottesville to receive their medals, Guruswamy and Katju will participate in a conversation with University of Virginia School of Law Dean Lisa Goluboff on April 12 in the law school's Caplin Pavilion. Guruswamy and Katju represented plaintiffs in a landmark 2018 ruling in which the Supreme Court of India unanimously decriminalized homosexuality by striking down a colonial-era anti-sodomy law. The petition was the first time LGBTQ+ Indians had challenged the law as a violation of their basic rights.
A two-part documentary airing on the UK's Channel 4 aims to reconsider the role of the British press in outing George Michael, according to LGBTQ Nation. In George Michael: Outed, director Michael Ogden examines how the "Kissing a Fool" singer was relentlessly questioned about his sexuality, even before his 1998 arrest for performing "a lewd act" with another man in a Los Angeles public restroom. The documentary looks at Michael's ultimate defiance and the trail he blazed for out pop stars like Will Young and Olly Alexander. However, it's also an indictment of the press' recklessness in outing people during the '80s and '90s, when stigma around HIV/AIDS was at its peak.
Legendary British comedian/actor Suzy Eddie Izzard revealed her new name, saying that she is open to fans using it or still sticking with her old name, according to Out. "That's how I'm going to roll, so people can choose what they want," Izzard said on the Political Party podcast. "They can't make a mistake; they can't go wrong." In 2020, Izzard said that she was entering "a little transition period," and was using she/her pronouns and being "based in girl mode from now on."
Netflix announced the casting of global Brazilian pop superstar Anitta in the seventh season of the LGBTQ+-inclusive, school-set series Elite that's currently in production, per a press release. The main cast currently includes Andre Lamoglia, Valentina Zenere, Alvaro de Juana, Carmen Arrufat, Alex Pastrana, Ana Bokesa, Ander Puig, Nadia Al Saidi and Omar Ayuso.
British broadcaster BBC is preparing to renew Strike for a sixth season after apologizing twice to author JK Rowling last month because guests on news shows accused her of being transphobic, according to Deadline. Strike is based on novels by Rowling's pseudonym, Robert Galbraith, and chronicles cases investigated by Cormoran Strike (Tom Burke), a war veteran-turned-private detective, and business partner Robin Ellacott (Holliday Grainger).
Also regarding Rowling, Harry Potter actress Evanna Lynch defended the author recently, telling the Telegraph she was shocked by the backlash Rowling has faced, according to The Hollywood Reporter. "I just felt that [Rowling's] character has always been to advocate for the most vulnerable members of society," Lynch said. "The problem is that there's a disagreement over who's the most vulnerable. I do wish people would just give her more grace and listen to her." Harry Potter stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint have, in the past, come forward and defended trans women and trans men.
UN delegates reached a historic agreement on protecting marine biodiversity in international waters, according to a media release. The agreement reached by delegates of the Intergovernmental Conference on Marine Biodiversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) is the culmination of UN-facilitated talks that began in 2004. Already being referred to as the "High Seas Treaty," the legal framework would place 30% of the world's oceans into protected areas, put more money into marine conservation, and covers access to and use of marine genetic resources.
Comments by Russia's foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, that the Ukraine war had been "launched against" his home country were met with laughter at an international conference in Delhi, India, The Guardian reported. Speaking at the Raisina Dialoguea politics and economics eventLavrov also claimed that Russia was trying to stop the war. Contrary to Lavrov's claim, Russia President,Vladimir Putin launched an invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, in what he called a "special military operation."