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New York City LGBTI center cancels controversial Republican event

The Center, an LGBTI space in New York City, has canceled a controversial Republican event. Right-wing campaign group Walk Away had planned to host an LGBT Town Hall at the Center later this month. The group hopes to get LGBTI voters to leave the Democratic Party for the Republicans. But, in a statement on Friday (22 March) the Center said it had canceled the event. ‘In recent days we have learned that certain of the panelists announced for this event have made repeated, well-documented past statements that violate our mission’ the statement said. It said the event would promote ‘discriminatory speech or bigotry’. It also said it would negatively impact groups and individuals that use The Center. The event was due to take place on Thursday 28 March. ‘Permitting this event to proceed would make many of our community members feel unsafe’ the statement said. Legal action Walk Away took to Facebook to respond. ‘Unfortunately, an open letter to The Center from a group claiming our panelists, “espouse white supremacist, xenophobic, bigoted views” was successful in strongarming them into canceling this event’ it wrote. Walk Away said it anticipated legal action. ‘We must rise above and express our frustration without attacking them’ the statement said. The event was set to include Walk Away founder Brandon Straka, political commentator Rob Smith, writer Mike Harlow, and conservative trans YouTuber Blaire White. White has videos on subjects like ‘There Are Only 2 Genders’, ‘Fat Acceptance is Stupid’, and called nonbinary identities ‘largely bullshit’. CNN ...

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How Malaysian newspapers are fueling LGBTI hatred

For the second time this month, LGBTI rights advocates in Malaysia have condemned the media for its coverage of LGBTI issues. At least three local newspapers have been criticized for their coverage of a transgender woman who appeared in court this week. The Malay Mail misgendered the woman throughout. The English-language paper referred to the trans woman as a ‘male tourist’. Malay-language daily Astroawani, meanwhile, used the degrading term ‘bapuk’ to describe the woman. Transgender activist Nisha Ayub told Gay Star News the word ‘bapuk’ is very offensive to the community. She likened it to words like faggot and tranny in English. ’The media could be our downfall,’ she told Gay Star News. Portraits of LGBTI activists which were removed from an exhibition in Malaysia | Photo: Facebook ‘Pollute’ and ‘infect’ Malaysia, where gay sex is illegal, is becoming less and less tolerant of its LGBTI population. The country has seen a crackdown on LGBTI individuals spurred by the religious fundamentalism of politicians. Organizers of a Women’s March earlier this month are being prosecuted after they included demands for LGBT rights. ‘LGBT practices will never be accepted in this country’, a government official also said. It comes after the country’s leader last year said LGBT rights were a Western concept and not for Malaysia. The Centre for Independent Journalism Malaysia, meanwhile, criticized coverage of the march by local press. They called out two dailies for using words such as ‘pollute’ and ’infect’ in headlines about the LGBTI population. ‘Show some ...

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Costa Rica president vows to legalize same-sex marriage before court deadline

Costa Rica will legislate same-sex marriage before it becomes legally automatically in line with a Supreme Court ruling, the country’s president said. Alvarado told the Associated Press he would take action before a May 2020 court deadline. ‘We are, as a government, do everything that [same-sex marriage] is respected as a right’ he said. In August last year, Costa Rica’s Supreme Court found the Family Code, which prevents same-sex marriage, was unconstitutional. The ruling said that if there was no legislation within 18 months, same-sex marriage will automatically come into law. Alvarado in December passed legislation to afford LGBTI citizens more rights. New measures allow same-sex couples in Costa Rica the right to receive a housing allowance for low-income families. Legislation also recognizes same-sex transnational partnerships and extends the recognition of gender identity to migrants. Costa Rica also passed legislation last year which will allow trans individuals to register under their assigned gender. Long wait for equality LGBTI Costa Ricans have already become agitated at parliament’s failure to act on August’s ruling. The ruling says that ‘acts of open discrimination, whether they are expressed or implied, cannot be justified in any way in a democratic society that respects fundamental rights’. Writing the law is ‘complex’. That’s what interim president of the Constitutional Chamber, Fernando Castillo, said earlier this month. He said also said some lawmakers had not finalized their notes. What’s more, Enrique Sanchez, the country’s first openly gay legislator, has accused the chamber of purposefully delaying the law change. ...

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A school is forcing a trans male student to run as prom queen

A school in the USA is reportedly trying to remove a transgender male student from the prom king ballot. Students at Johnson High School, Georgia nominated Dex Frier as a potential prom king, according to WSB-TV. He would run as one of six nominees at prom this Saturday (23 March). But, Frier claims, last week he attended a meeting in the principal’s office. ‘They called me there to tell me I couldn’t run for prom king ’cause I wasn’t legally male,’ he told Buzzfeed. ‘The only way I was eligible to run for prom was to be put on the prom queen ballot.’ He told the new site it was ‘upsetting’ and that he felt ’suppressed’ by school officials. Hall County Schools Superintendent Will Schofield spoke to WSB. He said the district had ‘never removed any student from any prom’. He did not want to ‘disrupt us from our core mission of providing an education for the boys and girls in our community’. Petitions Frier’s classmates have started an online petition. It calls for Frier to be allowed to run as prom king. What’s more, it accuses Hall County Schools of a ’transphobic attitude’. ‘We, the Johnson High School student body, elected Dex Frier to represent us as a male member on Prom Court’ the petition says. ‘Not only are we confused at this decision, but we are severely disappointed in the Hall County School Board’ it goes on to say. The petition seeks ‘solidarity in the fight for human ...

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These are the movies you need to watch to mark same-sex marriage in Taiwan

Taiwan is set to become the first country in Asia to legalize same sex unions by May 24. To mark the occasion, the region’s first online LGBTI streaming service, GagaOOLala, have chosen 24 movies on the topic. The ‘Go! Marriage Equality in Taiwan’ selection was made together with activist group Marriage Equality Coalition Taiwan. ‘We hope the “Go! Marriage Equality in Taiwan” topic can help members of the LGBTQ+ community who didn’t think marriage is an option’ Robby Lu of GagaOOLala told Gay Star News. It is also for those ‘who are considering but hesitant about committing to marriage find courage, support, guidance and most important of all, happiness once they’re wedded’. The 24 selected movies are free for viewers in Taiwan until May 24. Equal rights and coming out The movies are divided into six sub-categories: Equal rights, premarital coming out, wedding preparation, becoming parents, after becoming parents, and legal rights. GagaOOLala’s selection includes local and international movies. Different Path, Same Way is a documentary showing the lives of a newlywed gay couple in Hong Kong. Paternal Instinct from 2004, meanwhile, shows a gay male couple in New York who want a baby. Cambodian documentary Two Girls Against the Rain documents a captivatingly courageous lesbian couple in Cambodia who have known and loved each other since the Khmer Rouge. The list also, of course, includes Taiwanese director Ang Lee’s 1993 classic the Wedding Banquet. The award-winning feature films features a gay Taiwanese man in the US organizing a sham ...

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UN expert calls to decriminalize gay sex worldwide by 2030

The UN’s LGBT expert on Thursday (21 March) called on the world to end laws that criminalize LGBT people by 2030. ‘I don’t see why we shouldn’t ask to see a world free of criminalization by 2030’ Victor Madrigal told the International Gay and Lesbian and Transgender Association (ILGA) world conference in New Zealand. Some 70 states worldwide criminalize same-sex consensual activity, according to an ILGA report released Wednesday. ‘Decriminalisation is not getting us from zero to one: it is getting us from minus one to zero’ Madrigal said. ‘There is no room to argue for legal justification of criminalization of same-sex relations’ he also said. He fought back against some countries’ that have anti-gay laws but claim they are not implemented. He said people still used the laws to harass and threaten LGBTI people. ‘Criminalisation creates an incentive for persecution’ he argued.  He promised to engage states anti-gay laws. ‘Coalition is fundamental, not one state can do this alone’ Madrigal told the conference. More than 500 people from 100 countries have gathered for the ILGA conference. State-sponsored homophobia ILGA released the 13th edition of its report into laws that affect LGBTI people world-wide this week. It found that as of March 2019, 70 States continue to criminalize same-sex consensual activity. Six UN member states impose the death penalty on consensual same-sex sexual acts. It is technically possible in another five states. This is our new map of laws affecting people on the grounds of their sexual orientation across the ...

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Japan must stop forcing trans people to be sterilized

Japan should stop forcing transgender people to be surgically sterilized, Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday (20 March). The rights group released an 84-page report detailing the harm caused by Japan’s Gender Identity Disorder Special Cases (GID) Act. According to Japan’s law, two ‘respected medical professional’ must first diagnose a trans person with ‘gender identity disorder’ before they can apply to change gender. They must also be over 20 years old, unmarried, not have any underage children. Importantly, the law forbids them to have functioning genitalia. ‘Japan should uphold the rights of transgender people and stop forcing them to undergo surgery to be legally recognized’ said Kanae Doi, Japan director at HRW. The law is based on an outdated premise that treats gender identity as a so-called ‘mental illness’ and should be urgently revised.’ Medical procedures are lengthy, expensive, invasive, dangerous, and irreversible, the report says. The practice is also contrary to international human rights law and international medical best practices. What’s more, Japan’s Supreme Court recently upheld the law. ‘It is humiliating’ HRW spoke to 48 transgender people, as well as with lawyers, health providers, and academics from 14 prefectures in Japan. They painted a picture of how the law infringes on their rights. Some of the trans people included in the report said they felt forced to undergo surgery. ‘I don’t want to [have surgery], to be honest’ one transgender man told HRW. ‘I feel pressured to be operated on – so terrible.’ Another transgender man said he ...

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Taron Egerton: It was ‘important’ to authentically portray Elton John’s sexuality in Rocketman

Paramount Pictures screened earlier footage of their upcoming Elton John biopic Rocketman at The Troubadour, where John made his US debut in 1970, on Monday (18 March) night. Stars of the film Taron Egerton, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Jamie Bell was in attendance for the screening. John’s husband David Furnish introduced them. Egerton, who takes on the iconic role of John, read a letter from director Dexter Fletcher to the audience. Fletcher wrote of his joy at getting to make this movie and depict the life of John. He also noted for die-hard Elton John fans that he knows John didn’t perform Crocodile Rock at the Troubadour. However, it’s the song Egerton’s John performs at the venue in the movie. Fletcher said he loved the energy of the song for the scene and John gave them ‘artistic license’ to make that change. A magical and dramatic film worthy of Elton John? The footage shown was steeped in magical realism, grandeur, musical numbers (yes, this is a full blown musical movie), and many sequins. In other words, it appears to be a movie worthy of Elton John’s legendary career. Paramount showed snippets of several scenes, including some great moments between Egerton and Richard Madden, who plays John’s former manager and lover John Reid. They also showed an extended scene of John performing at The Troubadour, from arriving in Hollywood, full of sunshine, palm trees, and a grainy 70s aesthetic. John’s performing on a Monday night but suddenly gets nervous and hides ...

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US Supreme Court won’t hear B&B owner’s appeal for refusing lesbian couple

The United States Supreme Court decided on Monday (18 March) they would not hear an appeal from the discriminatory bed and breakfast owner from Hawaii who turned a lesbian couple away. In 2007, Aloha Bed & Breakfast owner Phyllis Young refused to allow a lesbian couple to stay at her establishment due to her Christian beliefs. The refusal happened when couple Diane Cervelli and Taeko Bufford from Southern California requested only one bed. They had traveled to Honolulu to visit a friend. They further said the experience at the bed and breakfast ‘soured’ their trip. ‘In my past experiences in Hawaii, people have been so friendly. It was just hurtful. It made me feel we weren’t good enough,’ Cervelli said. She is no longer with Bufford. The couple sued and several years later, in 2013, Hawaii’s First Circuit Court found in favor of them. The court’s judge ruled Young violated the state’s public accommodations law. This law disallows businesses from discriminating against clients on the basis of their sexual orientation, race, and gender identity. Last year, another court delivered a blow to Young. Hawaii’s Intermediate Court of Appeals upheld the previous ruling against her. Young argued the state of Hawaii did not give her proper notice that her business fell under the public accommodations law. She then appealed to the Supreme Court. Religion is not a right to discriminate ‘The freedom of religion does not give businesses a right to violate non-discrimination laws,’ said Peter Renn, a lawyer with Lambda Legal. They represented Cervelli ...

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George Michael’s art collection goes for $15 million at auction

Over the past two days, auction house Christie’s sold the entirety of the late George Michael’s art collection. The auction took place both online and at the physical auction house in London. The whole collection amassed over $15 million (over €13,200,000). All of these proceeds will go towards continuing the singer’s philanthropic efforts. There were bidders from 52 countries and five continents. Around 15,000 people visited the pre-auction exhibit of Michael’s collection. Some of the artists featured in Michael’s expansive collection are Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Sarah Lucas, Michael Craig-Martin, Marc Quinn, and more. One piece auctione was Craig-Martin’s Commissioned Self Portrait (George). It sold online for $231,700 (€204,384), which is a world record for the artist. There were 30 other world online auction records, as well as four world auction records broken at the evening auction in London. Two works by Damien Hirst – The Incomplete Truth and Saint Sebastian, Exquisite Pain – sold for a combined $2.3 million. The auction house raised a further $331,169 (€292,127) through the sales of catalogues and limited edition tote bags. As Christie’s described, Michael’s collection ‘represented a dialogue with his own British contemporaries […] who rose to prominence by challenging the status quo of the time, together creating the Young British Art movement. They added Michael developed a friendship with many of these artists. Lifelong dedication to charity ‘Philanthropic work was hugely important for George during his lifetime and it was his wish that this work would continue after his passing,’ Michael’s trustees said. A 2018 report ...

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