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Sapporo in Japan starts issuing cards to verify LGBT partnerships

The city of Sapporo in Japan started issuing cards that will serve as legal and official proof of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) partnerships.

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Proof of love?

The city of Sapporo in Japan started issuing cards that will serve as legal and official proof of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) partnerships. This comes after calls from couples in LGBT relationships to come up with “portable evidence” that they can present in emergencies and other situations that require the same.

This is worth highlighting: The new card – which is the same size as a name card and bears the names of both partners and the date of issue – simply asks people to recognize its purpose, while acknowledging it is not legally binding.

This is because LGBT partnerships do not entail legal rights or obligations under civil law in the way that marriage does, although the new card is expected to be used when couples rent accommodations or wish to visit a partner in the hospital, among other situations.

In the absence of a similar nationwide scheme, various localities in Japan have been certifying the partnership oaths of LGBT couples since 2015.

Tokyo’s Shibuya and Setagaya wards became the first municipalities to recognize such partnerships in 2015. Other cities eventually followed, including: Iga, Takarazuka, Fukuoka, Naha and, yes, Sapporo.

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What it’s like to be trans in Taiwan

Tamsin Wu visits gay-friendly Taiwan, where she meets Abbygail Wu, founder of Intersex, Transgender and Transsexual People Care Association (ISTSCare), who said that the country is still failing its LGBTQ citizens, and particularly lags in promoting trans rights.

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Photo detail by Thomas Tucker from Unsplash.com

Taiwan may be the most gay-friendly country in Asia, but according to Abbygail Wu, founder of Intersex, Transgender and Transsexual People Care Association (ISTSCare), the country still receives a “failing mark” when it comes to LGBTQ equality. Transgender people, in particular, usually bear the brunt of sex-based discrimination.

ISTSCare has a one-woman 24/7 hotline service. Abby has dealt with calls concerning struggles related to suicide attempts, job insecurity or homelessness, and even domestic violence. To provide support and assistance to hotline callers, ISTSCare also partners with NGOs and other LGBTQ-related organizations.

Aside from the hotline service, the organization does its advocacy work through protests, by maintaining an online presence, as well as directly communicating with political figures and trans-friendly journalists to rouse awareness and discussion on transgender and intersex issues.

ISTSCare in Taiwan

In 2014, four years after the first official notice regarding gender reassignment procedures in Taiwan was issued, the Ministry of Interior (MOI), with the support of the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW), announced the easement of legal requirements on changing gender identity. MOI promised that it would immediately work on letting transgender citizens change their gender marker without having to go through rigorous psychiatric assessments, sex reassignment surgery (SRS) and parental approval. However, MOI backtracked since then.

“MOI, which is handling the national ID cards, they said there are still a lot of research to do about the gender issue and they try to get some professional opinions, but MOHW already said this is not a medical issue, it’s an internal affair issue. So MOI, they’re just under the pressure and paused a lot of meetings… and now the issue is still under research for four years,” Abby lamented. “We’re the first Asian country to pass the bill but it’s not implemented.”

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Despite MOHW already stating that medical professionals should not have a say when it comes to determining one’s gender identification, transgender citizens are still presently forced to consider SRS. Besides that, they are also required to seek the expensive involvement of psychiatrists and, outrageously, the consent of their parents. Otherwise, their gender identity cannot be legally recognized.

Abby clarified that not all transgender people want the help of doctors to validate their gender identity. Hence, SRS is especially discriminatory towards transgender citizens who do not wish to undergo surgery. “What is gender? Is it just based on our anatomy? Or is it in our behavior? In our mind? Or in the way we dress?… There are a lot of factors that influence what gender one identify as, but society focus on the least publicly visible aspect – our sex organ.”

Abby continued, “There are risks to surgery and that is one of the reasons why not all transgenders want to go through it. And also, they may question themselves, ‘Do I really want to have surgery or is it just for the sake of getting this ID?’”

Abby standing beside the transgender pride flag.
Photo credit: Ketty W. Chen

“One day before the presidential election, I went to the DPP (Democratic Progressive Party) headquarters to talk with the Department of Woman. I told them, ‘tomorrow is already the day for voting, are you going on stage and advocate for transgender rights? This has been neglected for the past 3-4 years. Then they just told me, ‘this requires social consensus’… I went out of that meeting deeply upset,” Abby shared.

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With lack of funding, community support and societal understanding of trans issues, how could transgender rights obtain social consensus when this feat requires acceptance and approval from the status quo in order for the relevant social change to take effect? Why should the rights and well-being of a minority group fall in the hands of the majority? Currently, both the public and the government possess inadequate knowledge in dealing with transgender issues, which exacerbates the struggles transgender citizens face.

Prejudice against transgender folks can also be felt within LGBTQ communities. On one hand, some non-transgender members of the LGBTQ community question the gender identity of trans people. On the other hand, there is also internalized transphobia.

“A lot of transgender are more binary [in the way they see gender]. They think a man should act and look a certain way and that a woman should act and look a certain way… ISTSCare does not condone this kind of thinking,” Abby said.

Trans activist Abbygail Wu and her partner in a protest for their marriage right.
Photo credit: Ketty W. Chen

When asked why ISTSCare is run by only three people (including Abby and her partner), she shared that many transgender citizens in Taiwan find it difficult to prioritize doing advocacy work because their life situation is oftentimes mentally and emotionally taxing. On top of having to deal with an unsupportive family, they often face discrimination in the job market. Hence, there’s a high level of difficulty for them to get a good job, gain professional working experience and make a decent living, let alone have the financial resources to go through SRS. As of now, they’re in this loop of societal discrimination and economic vulnerability with no recourse.

READ:  Finding my Pride by not holding back

Another reason for the lack of transgender-focused activists in Taiwan is attributed to the problem of privilege. Abby adds that well-off transgender citizens tend to be exclusive in their social group. Post-surgery and after assimilating in heteronormative society, they also tend to ignore the struggles faced by less fortunate transgender citizens. They would rather not get associated for fear of being found out and face discrimination. Albeit joining Pride Parades, they are at other times nowhere to be found when it comes to advocating for transgender rights.

Abby clarified that not all transgender people want the help of doctors to validate their gender identity.
Photo credit: Abbygail Wu

Abby said that ISTSCare’s main goal right now is to push for a non-discriminatory, comprehensive gender identity law in Taiwan.

“We hope to be like Argentina. Just file [required] papers to the courthouse and they will assign the legal gender change. No need to go through any kind of medical process.”

Having a well thought out gender identity law may not help solve all transgender issues and alleviate them from all of their struggles. However, getting the said law done and implemented right would be one significant progress for the recognition of the human rights and dignity of, not only transgender citizens, but also intersex and non-binary people.

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Luxembourg named best country for workers in LGBT community

Luxembourg tops the list of 30 countries, thanks to the Grand Duchy’s anti-discrimination laws, low unemployment, high minimum wage and – most significantly – its “recognition as one of the most LGBT-friendly countries according to the Gay Travel Index.”

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IMAGE DETAIL BY CODE83 FROM PIXABAY.COM

Rainbow at work.

Luxembourg is apparently the best country in the world for LGBT workers, according to data released by Silver Swan Recruitment via its LGBT Worldwide Workplace Index.

Luxembourg tops the list of 30 countries, thanks to the Grand Duchy’s anti-discrimination laws, low unemployment, high minimum wage and – most significantly – its “recognition as one of the most LGBT-friendly countries according to the Gay Travel Index.”

The LGBT Worldwide Workplace Index was compiled by analysing the following factors:

  • LGBT laws and rights
  • LGBT employment laws
  • Minimum wage
  • Unemployment rate
  • Average salary
  • LGBT-friendliness

For each of the six factors, a score from zero to three was awarded to each country, meaning that the top possible result was 18. Luxembourg scored a total of 17.

Only the top 30 countries in the rankings were awarded a place on the LGBT Worldwide Workplace Index.

Image source: Silver Swan Recruitment

Second in the list is Australia, followed by New Zealand, then Monaco, France and Belgium. The Netherlands, known as a strong supporter of gay rights only made seventh place on the list. This was mostly due to the country’s average salary rating.

At the bottom end of the 30 countries index comes Spain, Slovenia and Colombia, respectively.

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Travel

San Francisco’s Castro District highlights Pride is still a long way away…

Outrage Magazine visits San Francisco’s Castro District to see that the LGBTQIA community may have achieved a lot, but so much more needs to be done before Pride is really felt by all.

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Where we’ve been. Where we are. Where we’re headed.

That, in a gist, is how I perceive San Francisco’s “LGBTQIA central”, Castro District to be. It celebrates where we are now by paying (some) attention to our shared past; but it also highlights the areas where our community needs to act (and act fast) before we can truly say that we have Pride.

Castro District is a neighborhood in Eureka Valley in San Francisco, California. It was named after José Castro (1808–1860), who opposed US rule in California in the 19th century. As one of the very first gay neighborhoods in the US, it actually became LGBTQIA-centric starting only the late 1960s, aided by the hippie and free love movements in neighboring Haight-Ashbury district.

By the 1970s, it was already an upscale gay community (first mitigated by people’s movement here before it became the prime spot that it is now).

Castro’s influences in the (global) LGBTQIA community are numerous.

Harvey Milk was from here; in 1973, he opened a camera store here, Castro Camera, and he also began his political involvement as a gay activist here. So this place sorta helped exemplify LGBTQIA political involvement, particularly at a time when we had even harder times.

Then in the 1980s, the area was hit hard by the HIV and AIDS crisis. This is a defining moment for the LGBTQIA community (with HIV “blamed” on gay people, and with the American government not lifting a hand to do something/anything about this sitch then), so this helped galvanize the (particularly) gay community.

Castro also shows cracks in the rainbow. Perhaps most apparent is the blatant commercialization of Pride. In Castro, everything LGBTQIA-related can be bought.

And then there are some of our stereotypical concepts of “beauty”, which surfaced from Castro. The one that immediately comes to mind is the “Castro clone” that exemplified butchness and masculinity; to date, this idiotic penchant for “straight-acting and straight-looking” continues…

READ:  San Francisco’s Castro District highlights Pride is still a long way away…

Truly, nowadays, Castro is a “living” reminder of the LGBTQIA community’s history.

But Castro also shows cracks in the rainbow.

Perhaps most apparent is the blatant commercialization of Pride. In Castro, everything LGBTQIA-related can be bought.

This – not surprisingly – highlights the social stratification within the LGBTQIA community. Exactly because the we’re talking moolah, and because not everyone has this, the social classes that divide the community is highlighted. Even the nearby LGBT Center isn’t immune to this, with some LGBTQIA people critical of it (supposedly) for being elitist.

Then there’s the leaving behind of members of the LGBTQIA community. For instance, in San Francisco, the homeless population is approximately 7,499 – 29% of them identify as LGBT; and 11% of them have HIV or AIDS. If you want to see some of them, try waking up early – like 6.00AM or so – and take a walk along Castro Street to see them, living in the midst of the trash from the partying that happened the night before.

Castro has long become a tourist trap that highlights “progressive LGBTQIA community” a la America. And – as such – it can’t be denied how it’s a good reminder that we’ve (well, at least ‘they’ have) made progress.

But it also stresses – for me – that so much more still needs to be done…

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Travel

Ecuadorian court rules that nation’s ban on same-sex marriage is illegal

A court in Ecuador ruled that the nation’s ban on same-sex marriage is illegal. The decision was rendered following a January ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights that the 20 countries under its jurisdiction must offer equal marriage rights to same-sex couples.

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IMAGE DETAIL BY DEZALB FROM PIXABAY.COM

Big hurrah for marriage equality.

A court in Ecuador ruled that the nation’s ban on same-sex marriage is illegal.

This decision was rendered by two judges in the Family, Women, Children and Adolescents Court in response to two cases brought by same-sex couples who were denied marriage licenses. The judges ruled that they must be allowed to wed immediately, as they cited a January ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights that the 20 countries under its jurisdiction must offer equal marriage rights to same-sex couples.

Last year, a decision in favor of marriage equality was released by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in response to a case filed in Costa Rica. Thereafter, the member countries of the Organization of American States across Central and South America have to comply with the ruling.

Ecuador initially did not follow the ruling of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights with the country’s Civil Registry denying licenses to the two female couples, leading to the cases that came before the Ecuadorian court in the city of Cuenca. Family, Women, Children and Adolescents Court Judges Iliana Vallejo and Ruth Alvarez both ruled that rejection of the women’s marriage license applications was a violation of their human rights.

The Civil Registry is appealing the ruling to the Provincial Court in Azuay, the province in which Cuenca is located.

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Travel

British gov’t launches action plan against LGBT discrimination, to ban ‘conversion therapy’

The British government launched a 75-point action plan, and set aside almost $6 million to better handle discrimination against LGBT people. A major move from this action plan is the banning of “conversion therapy”, as well as a plan to help defend the rights of LGBT people globally.

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IMAGE DETAIL BY WALKERSSK FROM PIXABAY.COM

One big move. Finally.

The British government launched a 75-point action plan, and set aside almost $6 million to better handle discrimination against LGBT people.

A major move from this action plan is the banning of “conversion therapy” — a practice that the British government called “abhorrent” and said can range from “pseudo-psychological treatments to, in extreme cases, surgical interventions and ‘corrective’ rape.”

The plan comes just as the British government released an online survey to better understand the experiences of its LGBT population.

This survey found that of 108,000 self-identified LGBT respondents, more than 70,000 have avoided holding hands with a same-sex partner in public because they fear how others will react, while 23% said people at work had reacted negatively to them being LGBT and over half of those who accessed or tried to access mental health services said they had to wait too long. On conversion therapy, 2% of the survey’s respondents said they participated in some form of it, and 5% said they had been offered it.

While the survey is not nationally representative, the number of respondents represented around one-tenth of the country’s LGBT population.

British PM Theresa May said she was “struck by just how many respondents said they cannot be open about their sexual orientation or avoid holding hands with their partner in public for fear of a negative reaction.”

But according to Ruth Hunt, Chief Executive of Stonewall UK, these findings reflect what many LGBT people already know, that there’s still a long way to go until we reach full equality. The simple act of holding hands is something all same-sex couples do with a high degree of caution. Attitudes have changed but there are still pockets of society where we’re far from safe.”

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In addition to dealing with the issues facing LGBT people in the UK, the action plan has an international element to help defend the rights of LGBT people globally. The British government promised to “deliver an international conference with governments and civil society groups focusing on how to progress LGBT equality, and to provide funding to promote LGBT equality worldwide.”

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Your ultimate camping checklist for this summer’s vacation

It’s that time of year again when everybody is booking their trips away to give themselves a break from normality. Take a look at this ultimate camping checklist for this summer’s vacation.

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It’s that time of year again when everybody is booking their trips away to give themselves a break from normality. Usually, people choose to jet off abroad and spend a week or two on the beach sunning themselves. While this is a great option, it can work out extremely expensive and for some people, it gets monotonous because they’re doing the same thing day in and day out. If you’re looking for a little more from your holiday this year, or you’re simply looking on spending less money on a trip away, then why not consider camping? Don’t know where to start?

Take a look at this ultimate camping checklist for this summer’s vacation.

Bottled water

Most campsites supply a water tap for cooking and pot washing purposes, but it’s always a good idea to take bottled water to drink and also for cooking just incase their water isn’t very clean or there isn’t one at all.

Roof rack

Being in the great outdoors promotes more physical exercise. Why not take your bicycles on holiday with you and experience some well needed fresh air? You can buy roof racks online from 4WDSupacentre so that you can easily attach them to your car or van.

Blankets and pillows

While you may have already purchased sleeping bags, you will soon find that they can be very uncomfortable to sleep in for a number of days in a row. Take blankets and pillows to pad the ground out with for a much cosier slumber.

Camping stove

You may have an idea of cooking on an open fire, and while this is great, some campsites don’t allow fires on their grounds. Take a gas camping stove with you to heat your food so that you’ve always got a warm meal.

Windbreakers

Pick up a few windbreakers so that you can shield yourselves from the wind when you’re pitched up out in the open. Not only do they prevent you from being blown away, but they add some extra privacy to your space. Perfect for those times where the campsite is busy!

Firelighters

If you are lucky enough to stay on a campsite that allows open fires, then it’s always a good idea to keep a box or two of firelighters in your car in case it’s difficult to get a fire going. If you want to be super prepared, take some kindling to get your fire going nicely to save yourself even more time and effort.

Books

Camping poses the perfect opportunity to take some time out to simply sit in the sun and relax. Why not take a good book or two to accompany your relaxation and let yourself slip away into your book for an hour or two. Pair that with some ice cold drinks and you’re in relaxation heaven!

Toilet paper

Finally, one of the first items on your list should be toilet paper. While campsites often offer amenities for toilets and showering, you might find yourself in a sticky situation. Stock up on toilet paper so that you don’t land yourself in any uh-oh moments.

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