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Record number of LGBTI people are sworn into US Congress

A record number of LGBTI people have been sworn in as members of US Congress today. In the US House of Representatives, newly elected LGBTI Democrats included Angie Craig, Sharice Davids, Katie Hill and Chris Pappas. Everybody welcome: 116th US Congress opens. Photo: YouTube. They joined re-elected incumbents Mark Takano, Sean Patrick Maloney and David Cicilline, who all returned to office. And bisexual Arizona senator, Kyrsten Sinema, becomes the second ever out LGBTI senator to join the US Senate. Democrats turned in a strong performance in US midterm elections. They have regained control of the House and look set to challenge Trump’s Republican government on LGBTI issues. Speaker vows to support efforts of LGBTI Congress members over Equality Act Incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi has vowed to support efforts to re-introduce the Equality Act, which has been blocked by Republicans. ‘A historic number of LGBTI people will serve in the new US Congress’, Victory Institute ceo, Annise Parker, said in a statement. ‘Their influence will shape the debate on equality legislation and issues moving forward’. LGBTI influence: Annise Parker, ceo of LGBTI rights group, Victory Institute, sees historic chance for transformation. ‘In the US Senate, those opposed to the Equality Act will now need to look two openly LGBTI Senators in the eyes and tell them their lives are not worth protecting’, the former Houston Mayor added. ‘In the US House, Speaker Pelosi will have eight LGBTI representatives to consult on policies that affect our community’, Parker added. ‘The relationships these LGBTI ...

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Emirates accused of cutting same-sex scenes from in-flight shows

The world’s fourth largest airline, Emirates has been accused of censoring same-sex scenes from some productions shown on its flights. Among the programmes where gay scenes have been cut are Killing Eve and Oscar-nominated Ladybird, according to the Evening Standard newspaper. Same-sex censored: Global airline claims to have ‘multicultural’ values. Photo: BBC Scenes were removed from shows on Emirates’ flights Emirates cut a kiss scene between the two lead female characters in Killing Eve, sources told the paper. A kiss scene between two boys in US film, Ladybird, was also removed, the paper reported. However, comparable heterosexual scenes were left untouched, the Standard noted. These included a semi-nude encounter between Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts in comedy-drama Notting Hill. While airlines often edit the films they show, the paper said this type of censorship runs counter to previous statements trumpeting Emirates’ progressive values. The Dubai-based carrier stated in 2017 that, ‘as a multicultural global company, it does not discriminate against people of any race, religion or sexual orientation. Diversity is a foundation of our brand.’ Censorship city: Glittering Dubai claims world class status, but LGBTI rights are non-existent. Photo: Wikipedia The UAE has long-standing censorship of print media  The move is similar to practices that have existed within the United Arab Emirates in regards to newspaper and magazine censorship. All publications imported to the nation are scrutinised for ‘unsuitable’ content, which includes any nudity and LGBTI content. This is often cut off by scissors or scored through with black ink. ...

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‘A Change of Sex’ star Julia Grant dies

Julia Grant, who was the first ever trans woman in Britain to have her transition recorded for television, has died, aged 64. Grant transition was charted in the BBC documentary, A Change of Sex, which aired in 1979. Pioneer: A Change of Sex Star, Julia Grant, has died. Photo: Julia Grant Facebook Tributes for LGBTI campaigner Tributes have poured in for Grant, who was from Manchester and was an active force in the LGBTI world. Gay rights campaigner and Manchester Liberal Democrat Leader John Leech responded: ‘I’m really sad to hear the news that Julia Grant has passed away. She was rightfully looked up to by many as a leader in the LGBTQ+ community, in particular here in Manchester, but also across the country.’ ‘Throughout her life, she took on issues that others couldn’t quite bring themselves to and, in the process, changed the course of thousands of people’s lives. ‘Even as recently as last year, I know she was just as angry as I am about the overdevelopment and destruction of heritage and history in our Gay Village.’ ‘RIP Julia’ Helen Belcher, trans campaigner, wrote on Twitter: ‘I hear Julia Grant has passed away. Julia was the focus of the 1979 BBC mini-series A Change of Sex – programmes that stayed with me for years, partly because it became obvious to me that “being trans” was (at the time) repellant to those around me. ‘One of the key moments in the series was John Randall, then head of Charing Cross ...

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Germany’s law recognizing a third gender comes into effect

A law in Germany which legally recognizes intersex and gender non-conforming people has come into effect. Those who do not identify as either male or female can now register as ‘diverse’ on official documentation. The law came into effect on Tuesday (1 January) after having been approved by Germany’s parliament in December. However, those wishing to register as intersex require a certificate of approval from a doctor. As such, critics claim that the law does not do enough to recognize the rights of intersex or gender non-conforming people. 0.5% to 1.7% of the world’s population From 2013, Germany allowed people who do not identify as either male or female to opt-out of registering their gender. However, in 2017 the country’s top court ruled that not recognizing intersex people constituted denying basic rights to a gender. The UN estimates that between 0.5% to 1.7% of the global population are born with intersex traits. Other countries have passed similar laws. In June, Austria’s constitutional court passed a law which recognizes the rights of intersex people. Australia, India, Pakistan, Nepal, New Zealand, and Canada have also introduced measures to improve the rights of the intersex community. Still facing criticism Many progressive politicians and LGBTI rights supporters in Germany have welcomed the move. But some equal rights activists have said the law does not go far enough with regards to recognizing the rights of the intersex community. Those wishing to register as intersex must first undergo a medical examination and receive approval from a doctor. Equal rights activists have ...

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Women marry at midnight to become first same-sex couple to marry in Austria

Two women tied the note just minutes after midnight in Austria making them the first same-sex couple to get married on the day it became legal. Nicole Kopaunik and Daniela Paier, both 37, got married in the southern town of Velden at five minutes past midnight on 1 January. In December 2017, the Constitutional Court ruled the same-sex marriage ban was discriminatory. The government complied with the court’s ruling and legislated that marriage will be available to all from 1 January, 2019. The couple who will take the married name of Kopaunik are the second same-sex couple to marry. ‘We are a family and will have a family name,’ Paier told Orf. Five of couples who challenged Austria’s laws in the Supreme Court got special permission to marry early. One of those couples was two women who tied the knot in October last year. Town gets behind happy couple The women had been engaged for four years and didn’t want to have a civil partnership. Civil partnership have been available to same-sex couples since 2010. ‘Getting married was only a matter of time for us, or rather a matter of legal regulation,’ Kopaunik said. ‘Now everyone has the chance to decide for themselves, if they want a “marriage for all” or a legal partnership, but that was not the case before. ‘We decided to marry and are happy about it.’ Wedding planners, Velden locals and even the mayor got involved in planning the couple’s big day. ‘Thanks to all church ...

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Ricky Martin announces arrival of new baby daughter

Singer Ricky Martin has taken to Instagram to announce he and his husband have become dads again. Martin, 47, became a dad to twins Matteo and Valentino in August 2008 via a gestational surrogate. Earlier this year, he married artist husband Jwan Yosef, 34, in a low-key ceremony. The two had been dating since 2016. A daughter for Ricky Martin and Jwan Yosef On 31 December, in a surprise Instagram posting, Martin announced the latest addition to his family. ‘We are beyond happy to announce that we have become parents to a beautiful and healthy baby girl, Lucia Martin-Yosef. ‘It has been a special time for us and we can’t wait to see where this stellar baby will take us. Both her beautiful brothers and me and Jwan have fallen in love with Lucia.’ View this post on Instagram Nos emociona anunciar que nos hemos convertido en padres de una hermosa y saludable niña a la que hemos llamado Lucía Martin-Yosef. Esto ha sido sin duda un cumpleaños y celebración de la Navidad única en nuestras vidas. Tanto sus hermanos como Jwan y yo estamos completamente enamorados de nuestra beba y agradecidos de poder comenzar este 2019 con el mejor regalo que podíamos recibir, el regalo de la vida. We are beyond happy to announce that we have become parents to a beautiful and healthy baby girl, Lucia Martin-Yosef. It has been a special time for us and we cant wait to see where this stellar baby will take us. ...

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Nine times queer culture went mainstream

How often have LGBTI people been told they need to ‘tone it down’ if they want mainstream success? What about those instances when they didn’t tone it down? Or when something aimed at gay audiences crossed over? Below are just a few examples. Tom of Finland Tom of Finland was the pseudonym of Finnish artist Touko Laaksonen (1920-1991). Laaksonen began drawing his homoerotic art as a private hobby. He began to send it off to underground gay magazines and physique publications in the late 1950s, using his chosen nom de plume. His images of sexy, smiling, bikers, lumberjacks and soldiers proved immediately popular. Laaksonen’s beautiful drawings depicted a hyper-realized, masculine ideal. His men often had super-enlarged penises and muscles. They presented a happy, carefree, unashamed portrayal of homosexuality that many gay men had not seen before. They were also uninhibited in their depiction of men having sex with one another. Two of the Tom of Finland stamps produced in Finland to commemorate the artist (Image: Finland Postal Service) Laaksonen relocated to the US later in life. He died in 1991, but his fame has continued to grow. In 2014, his home country of Finland celebrated his worldwide appeal by issuing a set of stamps featuring his artwork. What better signifier of establishment approval? Although some Christian groups in Finland complained, the stamps went on to be the best selling set in the Finnish Post Office’s history. See also: David Hockney’s swimming pool paintings. Julian and Sandy Julian and Sandy was ...

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Canadian gay bishop marries in Toronto cathedral

An Anglican gay bishop has married his partner surrounded by friends and family at a cathedral in Toronto. Bishop Kevin Robertson has married his partner Mohan Sharma at St James Cathedral in the Canadian city. I do: Bishop and his husband after the Toronto ceremony. Bishop Susan Bell of the Diocese of Niagara carried out the ceremony, which took place on 28 December. Diocese celebrated marriage of gay bishop The Diocese of Toronto posted a notice congratulating the couple. The missive noted that the pair were married in the presence of their two children, families and friends. In a sign of shifting attitudes within the church, Colin Johnson, who is the Archbishop of Toronto, also attended the ceremony. Bishop Kevin and Mohan have been a couple since 2009. Their relationship was blessed in 2016 according to the Pastoral Guidelines of the Diocese of Toronto, but, after this week’s ceremony, are now officially married. The couple’s union provide a boost to LGBTI Christian keen to see more equality within their religion. However, gay marriage in general continues to be a thorny and controversial issue within the Christian church. However, we couldn’t be happier for the couple and their families and wish them a long and happy marriage. See also: Church of England bishops face backlash after boycotting trans baptisms Read the original article Author: Mark Johnson

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Facebook apologizes for banning anti-LGBTI evangelist over transphobic post

Facebook has apologised to Christian evangelist, Franklin Graham, for banning him from the social network over a 2016 transphobic post. Graham’s original post supported North Carolina’s ‘bathroom bill’ against trans people being able to use appropriate toilet facilities. While Facebook took down the post at the time, it has now been reinstated. Inconvenient truth: Graham sparked controversy over how people should pee. Photo: wikipedia Graham banned for just 24 hours last week Facebook banned Graham, who is the son of influential pastor, Billy Graham, for just 24 hours last week. ‘It was a mistake to ban Graham over a 2016 post he made on the site, and a mistake to have taken down the post,’ an unnamed spokesperson told The Charlotte Observer. ‘Facebook has restored the 2016 post and will apologize in a note to the administrator of Graham’s Facebook page,’ the spokesperson said. The post was originally flagged for failing the site’s policy against ‘dehumanizing language’ and discrimination based on ‘sexual orientation, race and other factors’. Graham immediately seized on the apology to slam Facebook’s censorship policy. He said the social media giant is ‘making the rules and changing the rules. Truth is truth. God made the rules and His Word is truth. Actually, Facebook is censoring free speech. The free exchange of ideas is part of our country’s DNA.’ Graham took issue with music legend and LGBTI supporter, Bruce Springsteen Graham’s 2016 post focused on singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen canceling a North Carolina concert because of House Bill 2. Many were dismayed ...

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Absolutely Fabulous actress June Whitfield dies

National treasure: June Whitfield passed away in her sleep. Photo: YouTube Dame June Whitfield, one of the stars of hit comedy show, Absolutely Fabulous, died suddenly last night, at the age of 93. The actress won the hearts of fans around the world as Edina (Eddie) Monsoon’s long suffering mother in the series, which had a huge gay following. Dame June’s agent issued a statement today saying that she ‘passed away peacefully last night’. June’s career started way back in the 1940s and she starred in some of the earliest Carry On films. However, she was best known for her role inBBC Terry and June and Happy Ever After in the 1970s and 80s. Household name: Whitfield was best known as wife June in BBC comedy series Terry & June. Photo: BBC Ab Fab hit series brought her a new generation of adoring fans But it was Absolutely Fabulous that many exposed the star to a new generation of fans. She was given some of the best deadpan lines as a foil to Jennifer Saunders’ manic PR woman, Edina Monsoon, in the series. The actress became a dame only last year. However she was awarded an OBE in 1985, followed by a CBE in 1998. Earlier this week she hit the headlines again, saying there was ‘too much sex and swearing’ on TV these days. She also told David Hamilton on BBC Radio Sussex that political correctness means you ‘can’t make a joke out of anything.’ Tributes have flooded in from fans ...

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