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December 19, 2014

Trailblazing activists reach out to queer community in Southeastern Europe

It has been called the most anti-gay country in Europe – after last year's European Social Survey (ESS) indicated that over 53% of people there opposed homosexuality.

However, a gay rights group in Albania has broken boundaries by opening the first LGBTI shelter in the country.

The project, founded by queer gay rights groups Alenaca LGBT and ProLGBT, will help queer victims of violence, domestic abuse and homelessness.

December 18, 2014

Winter warmers in Stockholm, Bath, Lille and Hamburg

Wooden chalets, green furs, the scent of steaming, spiced red wine, the sound of a brass band and a thousand fairy lights in your eyes – is there anything lovelier (or more camp?) than a Christmas market?

Here, we count down seven of Europe's best, from Vienna and Hamburg to Munich and Lille…

Stockholm [right]

December 17, 2014

LGBTI military veterans group OUTVETS will be the first ever gay or lesbian group to be allowed to march openly in South Boston’s St Patrick’s Day Parade celebrating the Irish American experience

The organizers of South Boston’s St Patrick’s Day parade have voted to allow the first ever LGBTI group to participate openly in the event despite having a Supreme Court validated right to exclude LGBTI groups if they choose.

The United States Supreme Court found in favor of the march's organizers in a 1995 case brought by the Irish-American Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Group of Boston, ruling the parade could exclude groups they felt ran contrary to its message.

December 9, 2014

Berlin's handsome little brother town is a Christmas gift all its own

The most cosmopolitan city in Germany is waiting for you between the Elbe and Alster Rivers, where hospitality and liberality make for a gay and lesbian paradise.

And in the weeks leading up to December 25, it's a festive paradise too. Hamburg's Christmas markets are sprawling and diverse, from the elegant market on Jungfernstieg to the traditional Gänsemarkt in the Old Town. The market in HafenCity, meanwhile, is ethereal and smart, while the St. Pauli market has a frivolous flair.

December 7, 2014

Throughout much of his childhood, Matthew McVarish was repeatedly sexually abused by an uncle. He's now on a mission to walk through 32 European capital cities to help end the silence that persists around child sexual abuse

When Matthew McVarish was first taken to see the film Forrest Gump, at the age of 11, little did he know that – years later – it would prove to be the inspiration for his current endeavor.

The Scotsman is nearing the end of his ‘Road to Change’: an 20-month mission to walk 10,000 miles across Europe, visiting the capital cities of 29 countries in an effort to raise awareness around child sex abuse and to break down the stigma victims feel in talking about their experiences.

December 7, 2014

The Russian government owned Rossia 1 television network screened a ‘documentary’ in November about the supposed moral degradation of America and Europe caused by LGBTI equality

Russian state owned media has aired a 90 minute ‘documentary’ in which it is claimed that it is normal in America for parents to decorate their children's bedrooms with sexually explicit images and for young kids to be asked to choose which gender they want to be.

The episode of Special Correspondent screened on the Rossia 1 television network in November and warned of what it called ‘gender fascism’ in the West - which it claimed was seeing children taken away from parents who still had traditional values.

December 4, 2014

'Was good for demographics'

A senior member of Latvia's ruling party has been forced to resign after she praised the Nazis for exterminating LGBTI people.

Inga Priede made the comments on Monday (1 December) night during a Twitter exchange with her Unity colleagues about gay marriage, which she said left the country 'in shock.'

'Thank God! The Germans shot them in their time. Was good for demographics,' she tweeted.

The backlash was immediate and she stepped down from Unity's board the next day.

December 2, 2014

Sex videos and humiliating 'tests' infringe on human dignity

Europe's top court has ruled gay refugees should not have to undergo 'tests' or to sacrifice their dignity to prove it.

This ruling from the European Court of Justice will apply to all EU member states, saying they all must respect human dignity.

It comes after three men, including a Ugandan, was refused asylum in the Netherlands after a Dutch court said they had not proved their sexuality.

Some countries have been condemned for asking refugees inappropriate questions, or accepting indecent pictures or film as 'evidence' for their case.

December 1, 2014

Archbishop 'rejoiced' when parliament approved gender-neutral marriage

Nearly 8,000 Finns have left the official state church after the country legalized gay marriage on Friday (28 November).

The Archbishop of Finland Kari Mäkinen said he 'rejoiced' when the law was approved, which seems to have caused a spike in resignations from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland.

November 28, 2014

Former Project Runway contestant and HIV activist, Jack Mackenroth, wants you to take shower selfies to demonstrate that – HIV positive or negative – we’re all ‘clean’

Despite advances in medication and treatment, there remains a huge amount of stigma around HIV.

Combatting this stigma has proved a consistent challenge, but a new social media campaign launched by HIV activist, Jack Mackenroth is attempting to tackle preconceptions head on and raise money for a good cause in the process.

November 28, 2014

Read the reactions and voting numbers

The Finnish Parliament has just narrowly passed a bill to legalize gay marriage by 105 votes to 92.

Finland is the last of the Nordic countries to legalize same-sex marriage, although gay couples have been able to enter registered partnerships since 2002.

Ahead of the vote, thousands of protestors both for and against the proposed gender-neutral marriage law gathered outside the Parliament building in Helsinki to make their feelings known. Demonstrators in favor of the bill greatly outnumbered those against it. A carnival atmosphere prevailed.

November 28, 2014

Same-sex marriage was legalized in the Nordic region earlier today – we celebrate by gazing at 11 pictures of Finnish storybook beauty

As you've probably heard, gay marriage was legalized in the Nordic country of Finland earlier today by a narrow margin of 105 votes to 92. And what better way than to celebrate than by reminding ourselves of the region's outstanding natural beauty?

From frozen lakes and dense forests to igloo villages and the Northern Lights, here are ten reasons to visit (and even get married in!) fabulous Finland…

1. [Above] The breathtaking Northern Lights over a lake in Oulu

November 28, 2014

Finnish MPs are expected to vote on whether to allow same-sex couples to marry later today and a majority of their party leaders support the reform

Finland may become the last of the Nordic countries to legalize same-sex marriage when MPs sit in parliament today.

Parliament debated the issue yesterday despite the parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee recommending that the bill be rejected.

A majority on the committee were concerned that allowing Finns to enter into same-sex marriages might make it harder for Finnish parents to adopt children from abroad, particularly from neighboring Russia.

November 28, 2014

‘Prevention and control of HIV among men who have sex with men has to be a cornerstone of national HIV programs,’ says head of European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control

Europe will miss its 2015 targets for curbing the spread of HIV, says the World Health Organisation (WHO), with an 80 per cent increase in HIV transmission in 2013 compared with a decade earlier.

November 28, 2014

Activists say the country's anti-gay laws are scaring tourists away

Uganda's president accused tourism authorities of not marketing the country properly and said the east African nation was a better holiday destination than Spain.

President Yoweri Museveni said the Tourism Promotion Board should be renamed the 'tourism suppression board' as it touted 'only some chimpanzees and so on,' in an opinion piece published in the New Vision newspaper on Wednesday (26 November).

'The biggest problem with tourism is poor promotion,' he said.

November 27, 2014

Lord Christopher Monckton, the former deputy leader of UK political party UKIP, has launched a no-holds barred attack on LGBTI people

In a piece entitled ‘Calling the non-heterosexual’s bluff’ on WorldNewDaily, the former political adviser mocked the LGBTI acronym and ‘deathstyle’ led by gay people.

November 27, 2014

French and Mediterranean styles collide in picturesque beachside town

It's one of the oldest cities in Europe – and one of the most vibrant on the Mediterranean coast. Welcome to Marseille, south of France, a city with 26 centuries of history, and still transforming.

A mix of cultures indeed, next to the harbour you'll find African markets, Italian communities (the border is not far), crowds of tourists and students from all over the world, Corsican, Spanish: all of them trying to preserve their traditions but also trying, at the same time, to hone Marseille's reputation as a truly multicultural tourist destination.

November 26, 2014

' ... The soul of America is in real trouble'

On a speaking tour in Europe, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee attacked gay marriage saying it threatens 'the foundation of our society and culture.'

November 26, 2014

German capital looks to entice LGBT travellers in 2015

The city of Munich has reached out to the world's queer community by launching a survey to help it better understand the needs of LGBTI tourists.

The German capital is conducting the online study with a view to analyzing the international draw of queer and queer-friendly events.

These include the famous Christopher Street Day parade (the biggest annual gay event in the city), plus the city's annual funfair, Oktoberfest.

The results will then help experts devise marketing strategies to better cater for queer tourists over the next year.

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.

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.

November 24, 2014

Pink Iceland founder and local DJ reveals she'd take a Reykjavik virgin to a geothermal pool!

This week Eva Maria Thorarinsdottir Lange, founder of LGBTI travel specialists and wedding planners Pink Iceland, takes us on a tour of her one-of-a-kind hometown – from outdoor art galleries to humbling natural beauty...

I moved here in…
…1996, when I moved from Naples, Italy. So I went from one volcano to a more active one!

November 21, 2014

Partying with Mickey and Minnie, Elsa and Anna; we'd call it camp as Christmas but that would be too obvious

Once upon a time, in a faraway land, there was a little boy who loved Ariel from Disney's The Little Mermaid a little too much…but he wasn't allowed a doll of her for Christmas.

November 21, 2014

Mulled wine and mince pies at the ready!

Vienna has announced the first 'Rainbow Christmas Market' for LGBTI shoppers this December.

The market will launch in Europe's most Christmassy city on the 1 December to coincide with World AIDS Day.