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January 19, 2015

It was announced last week that England’s first ‘gay school', aimed primarily at LGBT pupils, is due to be launched in Manchester. Elly Barnes, CEO and Founder of Educate & Celebrate, explains why she would instead prefer to see all schools adopt LGBT-friendly practices

How do children learn about difference? They learn from their experiences and by who surrounds them.

Through our teacher training and resource program we recognize that those students in multi-cultural areas have a much greater understanding of difference as they are surrounded by people of different cultures, faiths, disabilities, genders, sexual orientations and gender identities.

Creating visibility around these differences increases understanding, acceptance and ‘usualizes’ diversity as a whole in our communities.

January 2, 2015

'Your absence has broken our hearts. The love for you was in the world all along. It sat quiet, waiting'

I will never forget the stunning image of Matthew Shepard’s hate crime. A young beautiful human was beaten, tortured and left for dead in an unthinkable violation. It shocked me when I saw the images, and I was not alone. Matthew’s fate left and indelible impression that has become part of our collective culture to this day.

December 31, 2014

For too long LGBTIs have had their identities hidden and their loved ones excluded from their funerals

It is heartbreaking enough that Leelah Alcorn appears to have taken her life on Sunday (28 December) because she felt rejected by the family and community in which she grew up.

And it is sad, yet not entirely surprising, that in announcing her death, her family compounded that rejection. They identified her by a name and a gender that she clearly discarded.

December 29, 2014

Money will win over morality

The moral case for supporting LGBTI rights isn’t persuading global policymakers.

We have proved discrimination and abuse against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people is a violation of human rights. But around 80 countries still criminalize homosexuality and most others don’t give LGBTI people equality or protection.

The moral argument alone won’t win. It’s time we spoke to world leaders in a language they understand.

December 24, 2014

And why they have to hide

Years ago when my partner and I were deciding whether or not to have kids, we made two lists. The first was a ‘cons’ list. On that list were all the pragmatic reasons why it would be difficult. I was in my forties – too old? There were college savings, education concerns. We would have four mouths to feed.

Then we decided to make the ‘pros’ list. My partner started out: ‘The looks on our children’s faces on Christmas morning.’ I ripped up the ‘cons’ list.

December 24, 2014

‘Being queer makes me no less black or Christian’

The Christmas season is a difficult time of year for me.

I am always bothered by our culture’s egregious forms of commercialism – and its either lack of or its anemic recognition of other forms for religious holidays like Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, and the celebration of the winter solstice during this season.

December 22, 2014

Governing party vehemently opposes marriage equality and controls both the presidency and the legislature

The judiciary committee of Taiwan’s legislature today (22 December) held a hearing on two same-sex marriage legislations proposed by members of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

This marked the first time a legislative debate on same-sex marriage was conducted in Taiwan, as the governing party, the Chinese Nationalist Party or Kuomintang (KMT) vehemently opposes marriage equality and blocked all efforts in the past.

December 19, 2014

She used to be a homophobe. Now she’s a hero

My first interaction with Kathy Baldock, the founder and director of Canyon Walker Connections, was in 2012.

December 17, 2014

If so, it’s never been who you think

One would think that an all-inclusive seasonal greeting emblematic of our nation’s religious diversity would be embraced by us all with two simple words — Happy Holidays!

For the past decade now, when this season rolls around we can always count on a yearly kerfuffle concerning this holiday.

Last year ‘The Kelly File’, Fox News Channel host Megyn Kelly ignited a conflagration when she stated that both Jesus and Santa Claus are white.

December 15, 2014

Transgender people in Taiwan still must undergo psychiatric evaluations and surgery before legally changing gender

In December of last year, the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) in Taiwan recommended that transgender individuals wishing to change their genders should not have to go through psychiatric evaluations nor be subjected to surgery removing their sex organs.

December 12, 2014

Nigerian pastor explains why Jesus loves gays but African Christians do not

To win the struggle to change men and women’s hearts and minds, one must consider what the Bible calls strongholds – ideologies, views or thinking that have been held on to for a long time.

When that thinking is wrong, the challenge is great.

Many African strongholds include the view that homosexuality is paganistic and paganism is bad. The second is that gay white men want to pollute black children (see the justifications for Uganda's anti-gay laws).

December 11, 2014

Edwin Sesange, gay rights activist, is pleading with the world to help send messages of hope to persecuted LGBTIs

Gay Ugandans are being promised a gift this Christmas, and it is definitely worse than coal.

Rebecca Kadaga, the Speaker of Ugandan parliament, has promised once again to wrap up a legislation so horrific that it'll give the population of what is essentially a license to persecute, discriminate, torture, engage in mob violence and worse of all kill LGBTIs with impunity.

With the Anti-Homosexuality Act dead, lawmakers are hoping to pass the Prohibition of Promotion of Unnatural Sexual Practices Bill before the end of this year.

December 9, 2014

‘It was about being more confident in my own skin’

It is a story that often starts with a few stray hairs found on a pillow one morning, but frequently ends in a noticeably less covered scalp.

Hair loss affects roughly eight million men in the UK but, despite this large figure, there is an obvious theme in most of their stories – the effect it has on their confidence. While very few bar the sufferer themselves notice the gradual change it’s not how our patients look that tends to bother them, it’s how they feel.

December 5, 2014

LGBTI activist responds to President Yoweri Museveni's assertion that the country is a better holiday destination than Spain

Ever imagined being branded a criminal for being gay in your own motherland? Well, if you think this sounds like a joke, then think no further.

December 3, 2014

Politicians realize today's voters take seriously how gay-friendly they are

Queer politics was never really visible in Taiwan until September last year when the Marriage Equality Bill was incorporated into parliament’s agenda. This year, the political atmosphere has been even more intensified and heightened by the LGBTI rights movement.

People of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities are eagerly calling for an LGBTI-friendly government, although not everyone, including LGBTI rights advocates and activists, regards this as a queering of politics.

December 2, 2014

It should be saved for LGBTIs

Sexual minorities have fought long and hard to win the positive use of words about them, including ‘coming out’.

But now ‘coming out’ is under a surprising attack.

Last week, British TV broadcaster Channel 4 aired an investigative documentary, The Paedophile Next Door.

Narrated by historian and filmmaker, Steve Humphries it claimed the UK must radically change the way we treat pedophiles and potential sex offenders.

December 1, 2014

Edwin Sesange, Uganda gay rights activist, reveals how gay people with HIV are treated in Africa

Take a moment to pay respect on World AIDS Day.

Many people all over the world have been affected by this virus in many ways either by losing a relative, friend or family member. There are so many children all over the world who have lost parents and left to face the world on their own.

We have lost many talented straight, bi and gay people to this virus, people who could have shaped and help develop the world in ways we couldn't possibly imagine if their lives hadn't been cut short.

November 28, 2014

Brenda was raped to ‘cure’ her of being lesbian, leaving her with HIV which she passed on to her female partner

In Kenya, where same sex relationships are illegal, sexual minorities, especially lesbians, are marginalized and often lack access to HIV prevention.

‘It’s as if we don't exist!’ laments Brenda, 23, who is a lesbian living with HIV. ‘There’s no data or specialized HIV programs that address lesbians which has led to our receiving poor HIV health care services.’

On World AIDS Day (1 December), take a moment to consider this fact: currently there are five million young people (15 to 24) living with HIV, the majority of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa.

November 27, 2014

Senior sexual health nurse tells it like it is

There are many reasons why people put off having an HIV test, from fear of stigma and rejection, denial, misconceptions about life with HIV to a lack of awareness of how it can be transmitted.

This World AIDS Day (1 December) take the opportunity to test and take control of your health and your future.

Here are my five reasons you shouldn’t be afraid to have an HIV test:

1 Knowing your status can save your life

As many as one in 4 people living with HIV do not know they are infected.

November 24, 2014

One of the most fascinating historic LGBTI cultures in the world

As I prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday, I am reminded of the autumnal harvest time’s spiritual significance. As a time of connectedness, I pause to acknowledge what I have to be thankful for. But I also reflect on the holiday as a time of remembrance – historical and familial.

November 21, 2014

Reubs Walsh, the NUS LGBT Campaign’s Trans rep, speaks on what we all have to remember about the injustices trans people face

On 20 November every year the international transgender community gather together to remember our lost. The International Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR) is a day when a people who are under attack from all sides in all nations, remember those who were lost to murder or suicide. We remember by name only those known to have been murdered in the year since the last TDoR.

November 20, 2014

Trans visibility and overcoming stereotypes

My children and I were involved in a discussion on Tuesday evening. My son was asked about what it was like growing up without a male role model.

‘Well,’ he replied, ‘it’s not as if there aren’t other men in the family, like uncles and grandfather and cousins.’

‘And there are hundreds of ways to be male,’ I chipped in, attempting to puncture the stereotype that was slowly emerging – not that I considered myself remotely capable of being a male role model, whatever that’s supposed to be.

November 20, 2014

Lola Olson, non-binary activist, shares who they will be thinking of when they look into the candleflame

In the reflection of candles, names are read out loud. This will be my third time.

My first time, I attended and didn't say or do much because I was overwhelmed with sadness. It's almost impossible not to be.

The second time, I tried to distract myself better by helping run an event and brushing off my rusty Spanish skills to read a few names.

This time, I'm attending again, but since last year, every 20 November, I remember the names that aren't read as much as the names that are.

November 18, 2014

For many in the Middle East, Turkey is a safe haven for LGBTI people. But the gay and trans population still faces great hatred and real danger

Turkey is a country conflicted when it comes to its LGBTI population.

On one hand, Turkey is the first country in the Muslim world to hold a Pride march. Now, 11 years on, 2014 Istanbul Pride is widely lauded. It surpassed last year’s LGBTQI pride attendance that drew nearly 100,000 revelers and onlookers.

It is the ‘go-to’ country for LGBTI Muslims fleeing other Islamic countries for their safety.

The country’s Supreme Court acknowledged in July that calling LGBTI citizens ‘perverts’ is hate speech.