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April 24, 2015

Gender-fluid deities, gay sex in temples and much more

Think all religion is anti-LGBTI? Think again.

While many know the arguments for and against equality from Christians, Muslims and Jews, have you considered the world’s other major religions?

In my last article for Gay Star News I was struck by the number of readers who commented that religion was our enemy.

If you think that, much of what follows will surprise you.

Hinduism

Hindu views of LGBTI issues are diverse and different Hindu groups have distinct views.

April 23, 2015

Girlfriend also tries to kill herself

An Indian actress has commited suicide due to social pressure caused by her lesbian relationship with another actress.

Disha Ganguly, 23, was found hanging from a ceiling fan at her home in Kolkata, Bengal state on 9 April.

No suicide note was found but police recovered her phone and diary.

April 22, 2015

'This song covers the journey of any individual's struggle to understand his or her sexuality conditioned by society's norms'

India's Censor Board of Film Certification has approved an LGBTI music video for the first time — and without seeking any edits.

The video, posted online on 13 March, can now be aired on Indian TV, though it was given a parental guidance rating for children under the age of 12.

The song Head Held High is performed by Friends of Linger, 'a band of professional musicians with amateur singers, all friends freed by the equations of gender, sexuality and the emotions of music.'

April 16, 2015

Some 16,000 have signed the pledge so far

Thousands of transgender women in India have pledged to donate their eyes in celebration of the first anniversary of a landmark ruling recognizing them as third sex.

Members of the community gathered in New Delhi on Wednesday (15 April), exactly one year after the Supreme Court ordered the government to provide transgender citizens with quotas in employment, education and basic amenities.

The country's apex court also instructed states to build special toilets and set up departments to look into their peculiar medical needs.

April 16, 2015

Some 16,000 have signed the pledge so far

Thousands of transgender women in India have pledged to donate their eyes in celebration of the first anniversary of a landmark ruling recognizing them as third sex.

Members of the community gathered in New Delhi on Wednesday (15 April), exactly one year after the Supreme Court ordered the government to provide transgender citizens with quotas in employment, education and basic amenities.

The country's apex court also instructed states to build special toilets and set up departments to look into their peculiar medical needs.

April 13, 2015

Looking to travel abroad for surrogacy? Mark Heppinstall, of family law solicitors, Irwin Mitchell, explains the options for UK parents

Surrogacy arrangements are becoming ever more popular.

Although official statistics remain hard to come by, recent research suggests that people from the UK are statistically the most likely of our European counterparts to enter into commercial surrogacy arrangements abroad.

The legal position varies widely from country to country and there is little consistency across different legal jurisdictions.

April 10, 2015

Pop stars, entrepreneurs, film makers, TV celebrities and a current prisoner

From India to Japan and everywhere in between, the LGBTI movement in Asia is gathering pace.

So meet 21 of its greatest heroes.

They’ve written books, made films, founded organizations, fought in the courts and taken on the most challenging work.

Most of all they’ve stood up for their fellow LGBTIs – and often been rewarded only with harassment, persecution and even imprisonment.

But now they are being recognized. They are all nominated for the second Asia LGBT Milestone Awards (ALMAs).

April 2, 2015

Indiana's beleaugured governor finds himself the butt of jokes

Indian Governor Mike Pence is dealing with more than threats of boycotts and the damage to his state's reputation after signing the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law.

Now he's squarely in the cross-hairs of TV's late night hosts.

'You hear nothing about the guy and boom! He's in the headlines every day,' said The Late Show host David Letterman.

March 31, 2015

South Asian country says vote against partner benefits for gay staff was based on 'sovereignty issues'

The US ambassador to India has expressed disappointment in the south Asian country for voting against LGBTI rights at the UN.

Richard Verma made the comment last week in New Delhi.

'We were disappointed... by India's support this week for the attempt to strip benefits from UN staff in same-sex relationships,' he said.

'We will continue to support the rights of LGBT individuals in India, in international institutions, and around the world.'

March 20, 2015

'Transgenders have been deprived of education, employment opportunities, begging on the streets and going through gross neglect'

West Bengal state cabinet Wednesday (18 March) approved the formation of  a Transgender Development Board, the first of its kind in India.

Sashi Panja, minister-in-charge for women and child development, said Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra states had transgender boards, but they were focused on welfare, not development.

'Quite often we have seen that they (transgenders) have been deprived of education, employment opportunities, begging on the streets and going through gross neglect,' she said.

March 18, 2015

First openly gay congressman in US history shares his thoughts on his fallen former colleague

When former US Congressman Barney Frank got word that his former colleague, Aaron Schock, was resigning from office, this was his first question: 'He was outed or what?'

Frank, the first openly gay man to serve in the House of Representatives, assumed Schock's quitting had to do with his not disclosing he had taken a male videographer-photographer with him on a trip to India over the summer.

March 17, 2015

'Constant questions over the last six weeks have proven a great distraction that has made it too difficult for me to serve'

Aaron Schock, a Republican congressman from Illinois, announced today that he is resigning from the US House of Representatives.

Schock has been embroiled in a string of controversies involving his spending on such things as private jets, mileage reimbursements and interior decorating. He also reportedly did not properly disclose that he was accompanied to India on an official trip by a male photographer and videographer.

March 14, 2015

Lawmaker may have violated rules by not disclosing photographer and videographer Jonathon Link was on trip

It used to be that Aaron Schock, a Republican congressman from Illinois, was in the news far more his impressive physique than any legislation he championed.

But in recent weeks, the former Men's Health cover man has been embroiled in a string of controversy involving his spending on such things as private jets and interior decorating.

The latest headache involves an official trip to India last summer accompanied by a photographer and videographer named Jonathon Link (pictured below) whose travel expenses were covered by The Global Poverty Project.

March 6, 2015

National Award-winner says he 'will go to any extent' to get his film about a gay professor past censors

An acclaimed Indian actor, who is playing a university professor who was suspended for being gay in an upcoming film, has said he 'accepts homosexuals the way they are.'

The first photo of Manoj Bajpayee as the professor was released earlier this week amid speculation over whether the film will pass censors.

Aligarh, directed by Hansal Mehta, is based on the true story of a 64-year-old professor who was suspended after a TV crew secretly filmed him having sex with a rickshaw puller.

March 4, 2015

A trawl of Indian social media shows a darker side to our demands for equality

As gay men living in the Indian subcontinent, we often complain about the discrimination we face at the hands of society.

Our complaints are obviously justified. There is no doubt that the conditions gay men face are bad. We are physically attacked, emotionally abused and treated in every way as second-class citizens.

February 27, 2015

Other more sensitive videos by the country's top gay filmmaker are left alone

As an online video about coming out to parents racks up more than 100 million views in China, the state censorship board has removed all traces of a similar documentary from the internet.

The country's leading queer filmmaker, Fan Popo, said he was puzzled as why to his 'harmonious' 2012 film, Mama Rainbow, was deleted from all Chinese video sharing sites.

February 25, 2015

A director in the banking industry, Armario says he has got used to the fact that he will have to come out again and again; a process he has dubbed 'Groundhog Gay'

In December 2013, I'd been with my company for over five years, and had been in a new role for just over six months. I was thrilled to have recently been promoted.

My peer group team had gathered for a Christmas meal and drinks, and everyone was getting into the Christmas spirit.

One of my new colleagues was being welcoming, polite and inclusive, and sought to make me feel comfortable in an established group by asking me a series of personal, yet to him, unintrusive questions.

'What does your wife do?' he asked.

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 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 6, 2015

Sluts or social pariahs searching for something more?

Why does every gay chat conversation on social media start with the topic of sex?

That’s the question someone put to me a few days ago.

After all, my friend reasoned, it doesn’t happen that way when a straight guy and girl start to chat.

They do not ask each other in their first conversation, let alone the first line of their conversation, ‘What do you like in bed? What is the size of your cock? How long can you go for? Top? Bottom? Versatile?’ or any one of the many other, sometimes much stranger, questions gay guys fire out or get quizzed on.

February 6, 2015

Rhinestone-covered cash machines print 'out and proud' on receipts

A New Zealand bank has transformed four of its most prominent ATMs into rhinestone-covered GAYTMs in support of diversity and inclusion.

The GAYTMs, which were by introduced by ANZ Australia last year to celebrate the famous Sydney Mardi Gras and quickly became a sensation on social media, were commissioned in New Zealand as part of the bank’s diversity program.

Antonia Watson, chief financial officer and ANZ Pride Network executive
sponsor, said celebrating diversity was not only the right thing but also made good business sense.

February 4, 2015

More than 80% of calls are from men

More than 80% of calls to India's first lesbian helpline in Chennai are from men – but why?

Aksam, a 24-year-old boxing coach who volunteers at the helpline, said some men called to try and get contact numbers for lesbians while others were curious about lesbianism and relationships between women.

February 1, 2015

Some 5,000 people marched in the Indian city's eighth and one of the largest pride parades

'He's gay and I'm happy,' said Pradip Divgikar who marched with his son Sushant at the 5000-strong march in Mumbai on Saturday.

'I want all parents of LGBTQ children to be like him,' the son, who represented India at the Mr Gay World competition last year, said of his father in India's DNA newspaper.

According to DNA, parents of LGBTI children formed a substantial chunk of the marchers.

January 29, 2015

We’ve done a quick pop-quiz of some seasoned travellers to help inspire your 2015 travels.

Holidays, vacations, and romantic mini-breaks are special moments in our lives. Whether you’ve invested months of planning or if it’s a spur-of-the-moment spontaneous decision, we are all chasing that elusive perfect holiday.

To help inspire your travel dreams for 2015 we did a quick pop-quiz of some seasoned travellers and asked them to share their best holiday memories and travel plans for the year ahead.

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Eli Lieb – singer/songwriter