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November 25, 2014

Unlock the ancient, enigmatic glamour of the Turkish metropolis with our guide

Pushed and pulled by the eastern and western worlds for centuries, absorbing influences and attitudes from both Europe and the Middle East, Turkey is astoundingly resilient.

And Istanbul, with 14 million people, has been the cosmopolitan centre of the region since it was founded as Constantinople in 330 AD. The Bosphorus Strait, a shipping lane that links the Black Sea and the Marmara Sea dividing Istanbul in two, is one of the boundaries between Europe and Asia.

February 28, 2015

Convened by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the meeting is the first of its kind to bring together LGBTI activists, government and private sector representatives from over 30 countries

Some 200 participants from over 30 countries gathered for the three-day Regional Dialogue on LGBTI Human Rights and Health in Asia-Pacific at the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok that concluded yesterday.

Speakers included Oyungerel Tsedevdamba, Member of Parliament of Mongolia; Louise Wall, Member of Parliament of New Zealand; Tarana Halim, Member of Parliament of Bangladesh; law and human rights experts; community organization workers; as well as private sector representatives.

February 25, 2015

The Scotland-born traveller on her adopted hometown and its treasures

I've lived here since… 2011. I stayed because I love the tropical climate, and for my job as General Manager of Asia tour operators Backyard Travel.

For culture, you can't miss… the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Then Wat Pho, a Buddhist temple and the Old City area. There are so many parts to Thai culture, that there’s not one single place where you can really comprehend all aspects of it, but this area is a good starting point.

February 25, 2015

The Scotland-born traveller on her adopted hometown and its treasures

I've lived here since… 2011. I stayed because I love the tropical climate, and for my job as General Manager of Asia tour operators Backyard Travel.

For culture, you can't miss… the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Then Wat Pho, a Buddhist temple and the Old City area. There are so many parts to Thai culture, that there’s not one single place where you can really comprehend all aspects of it, but this area is a good starting point.

February 24, 2015

Chhattisgarh will also pay for sex reassignment surgery

In a first for India, Chhattisgarh state has set aside a 2% housing quota for its estimated 3,000 transgender residents.

The move comes nearly a year after the Supreme Court recognized transgender citizens as third gender. In its ruling, the apex court directed governments to provide transgender people with quotas in jobs, education and basic amenities in line with other minorities.

AK Saxena, additional commissioner at the Chhattisgarh housing board, said from now on transgender residents would have the quota in all government housing schemes.

February 19, 2015

Yokohama mayor says the conservative country must accept same-sex relationships 'for the sake of the economy'

The mayor of Yokohama, Japan's second largest city, has said a Tokyo ward's draft ordinance to recognize gay couples had galvanized her to introduce similar measures.

Fumiko Hayashi yesterday hailed Shibuya's plan to issue certificates recognizing gay relationships as equivalent to marriages as a 'very good move.'

February 16, 2015

Ordinance is first of its kind outside Metro Manila

A comprehensive anti-gay discrimination ordinance Wednesday (11 February) passed it first reading in Mandaue City without opposition. 

The diversity code was introduced by councilor Nenita Layese and is the first of its kind in the Philippines outside Metro Manila.

The ordinance would create a diversity affairs commission to implement comprehensive anti-discrimination laws as well as sexual and transgender health, welfare and inclusivity programs.

February 16, 2015

Ordinance is first of its kind outside Metro Manila

A comprehensive anti-gay discrimination ordinance Wednesday (11 February) passed it first reading in Mandaue City without opposition. 

The diversity code was introduced by councilor Nenita Layese and is the first of its kind in the Philippines outside Metro Manila.

The ordinance would create a diversity affairs commission to implement comprehensive anti-discrimination laws as well as sexual and transgender health, welfare and inclusivity programs.

February 14, 2015

Was it censorship or vandalism? Activists in the Philippines allege that the Ad Standards Council had ordered the billboard to be defaced so as 'not to irk the wider public'

It has been hailed by many as 'the boldest LGBT ad in the country so far', the Southeast Asian country of the Philippines is home to the third-largest Catholic population in the world.

February 13, 2015

Sepideh Jodeyri translated famous graphic novel 'Blue Is The Warmest Color' into Persian

An Iranian poet could face 100 lashes or even death for 'supporting homosexuality.'

Sepideh Jodeyri translated Julie Maroh’s prize-winning graphic novel Blue Is The Warmest Color, about the romance between two French gay women, into Persian.

Now the poet claims she is being targeted by a smear campaign, led by hardline Iranian news websites trying to discredit her.

February 13, 2015

State media attacks the openly gay chair of a human rights report on the hermit kingdom

North Korea has gone on another homophobic rant against the openly gay chair of a 2013 report condemning Pyongyang’s human rights record.

The Korean Central News Agency last month published an editorial demanding the US retract and apologize for the UN Commission Of Inquiry.

It claimed that a North Korean defector gave false testimony and the report 'is now being ridiculed and censured by the international community.'

February 12, 2015

Co-founder of Nefes committed suicide last year over persecution

One of the only LGBTI rights group operating in Azerbaijan has announced it is being forced to close today (12 February).

Nefes (which means 'Breath') has said the increased arrests and persecution has forced them to make a decision:

They cannot risk the personal safety of its members any longer, and will close.

At the beginning of 2014, former Nefes leader Isa Shakhmarli hanged himself with a rainbow flag in his apartment.

February 12, 2015

Officials are concerned about the high HIV rate among gay men

Bangkok officials have urged youths to forgo sex on Valentine's Day and burn incense at a temple instead.

The appeal was made out of concern for the high HIV rate among gay men and the country's teenage pregnancy rate, which is the highest in southeast Asia.

In the capital, HIV prevalence in men who have sex with men stood at 30% in 2013, which is comparable to AIDS hotspots in Africa.

February 10, 2015

India's fourth largest city sees 40 anti-trans attacks in the last six months

Up to 500 people marched against anti-trans violence over the weekend at the third Hyderabad Pride.

The Hyderabad Queer Swabhimana Pride on Sunday (8 February) was the first large-scale public LGBTI event to be organized in India's fourth largest city after the formation of the new state of Telangana.

The revelers created a festive atmosphere with their singing and dancing but they also conveyed a serious message.

February 10, 2015

Judge says allegations of conspiracy are 'unsubstantiated by any facts'

Malaysia's top court today (10 February) upheld opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim's conviction for sodomy, which is illegal in the Muslim-majority.

Federal Court judge Arifin Zakat said there was 'overwhelming evidence' that the former deputy prime minister had sodomized a male aide, and defense allegations that the case was a political conspiracy were 'unsubstantiated by any facts whatsoever.'

February 10, 2015

'Nepal will have the marriage equality law, it's just a matter of time'

Nepal should legalize gay marriage, says a committee charged with implementing a 2007 Supreme Court ruling to improve LGBTI rights in the south Asian country.

The same-sex marriage study committee, led by former secretary of the ministry of health and population Laxmi Raj Pathak, finally submitted its report yesterday (9 February), more than four years after its formation.

February 10, 2015

'Some hotels put up signs prohibiting dogs, durians and transgenders'

A well-known transgender model filed a complaint with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of Thailand yesterday (9 February) after she was denied entry to a club in Bangkok because of her gender identity.

Sarina Thai went to Onyx club on Royal City Avenue with four foreign friends on New Year's Eve. The security guard admitted her friends but turned her away after he checked her ID and found out she was transgender.

Thai said she felt humiliated and decided to file the petition to try and bring about social change.

February 6, 2015

'This community should be treated as any other human being'

Nepal's minister for information and communication has said the government is ready to amend discriminatory legal provisions against sexual minorities.

Speaking on Wednesday (4 Febuary) at the first day of a three-day South Asian transgender and hijra consultation in Kathmandu, Minendra Rijal said the government had started the process by issuing passports with a third gender.

February 6, 2015

'This community should be treated as any other human being'

Nepal's minister for information and communication has said the government is ready to amend discriminatory legal provisions against sexual minorities.

Speaking on Wednesday (4 Febuary) at the first day of a three-day South Asian transgender and hijra consultation in Kathmandu, Minendra Rijal said the government had started the process by issuing passports with a third gender.

February 5, 2015

We caught up with Rohan Heath from Urban Cookie Collective to share some travel stories.

Even if you weren't born in the 90s you will still be familiar with the track 'The Key The Secret' from UK Eurodance specialists Urban Cookie Collective.

Released in 1993, 'The Key The Secret' has been a staple dance-floor filler around the world for decades, and the Urban Cookie Collective continue to tour and perform around the world.

We recently caught up with Rohan Heath, the man behind the music of Urban Cookie Collective, and unlocked his travel stories.

February 4, 2015

Gay Star News

Darren Wee is the Asia and Australasia correspondent at Gay Star News based in Hong Kong.

Before joining in GSN September 2014, he was a reporter at the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong and the China Post in Taipei.

He has also written for Vice, the Financial Times and the Guardian.

Darren manages GSN's Chinese Weibo account

February 4, 2015

Organizers say LGBTI gamers 'probably have some unfair advantage'

The organizer of an women's e-sports tournament in the Philippines has restricted the number of LGBTI players in each team in order to 'ensure a level playing field.'

Garena eSports yesterday (3 February) announced a monthly 'all-feminine' League of Legends tournament called the Iron Solaris.

League of Legends is an online game played by more the 64 million people a month and is operated by Garena in much of southeast Asia and Taiwan.

February 3, 2015

Mayor says the lane shows the city's support for its LGBTI residents

Mandaue City in the Philippines has paid tribute to its LGBTI residents with a rainbow crossing – the first of its kind in Asia.

Mayor Jonas Cortes led the painting of the pedestrian lane on the morning of 23 January in the city's largest barangay, or ward.

'This is a way of showing support for gender-sensitivity programs,' he said.

February 2, 2015

Official says the ban will 'ensure fair competition'

The Vietnam Football Federation said Thursday (29 January) transgender woman are banned from the national women's tournament when it kicks off in March.

'The national championship is exclusively for women, so transsexuals will not be allowed,' said Duong Nghiep Khoi, vice secretary of the federation.

'This regulation is to ensure fair competition and for the development of Vietnam women’s football.'

He did not say how many, if any, players were affected by the ban.