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4 Reasons to add Iceland to your bucket list

It’s true that the weather is cold and you will find some stunning glaciers there, but that’s only one small part of Iceland. If you haven’t considered it before, here are some reasons you should add Iceland to your travel bucket list.

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The first thing that comes to mind when you think of Iceland is probably cold weather. The clue is in the name I suppose. People picture huge glaciers everywhere and constant snow all year around but that’s not what Iceland is all about.

It’s true that the weather is cold and you will find some stunning glaciers there, but that’s only one small part of Iceland. If you haven’t considered it before, here are some reasons you should add Iceland to your travel bucket list.

IMAGE SOURCE: PIXABAY.COM

Great Hiking Trails

One of the best ways to see explore any new country is on foot. Instead of driving through and only catching a glimpse of the landscape as you pass, you’ll have the time to really take it all in if you’re walking. If you’re into hiking, Iceland is definitely the place for you. The Laugavegur trail, in particular, is worth hiking.

Visit https://www.gadventures.com for more information on great guided tours of the trail. This incredible 55 km trail will take you through volcanic landscapes, vast forests and even hot springs where you can stop and relax. It will take you a total of about five days and it can get pretty tough, especially if the weather is bad, but it’s absolutely worth it if you want to see Iceland in all its glory.

It’s Sustainable

Everybody has different priorities when it comes to picking a country to visit; some people are all about the sun, while others are looking for great food and drink. For some people, sustainability is important. If you’re serious about sustainability then you might not want to visit a country that doesn’t do its part to protect the planet.

You won’t have to worry about that in Iceland because they’re a world leader in green energy. Eighty-one percent of the country’s energy comes from geothermal and hydro energy and they’re leading the way when it comes to reducing the use of fossil fuels.

Blue Lagoon

Iceland has managed to get all of that geothermal power to replace fossil fuels because there are loads of thermal pools in the country. The most famous one is the blue lagoon which attracts tourists all year round. The water is always lovely and warm and it’s filled with minerals so it’s great for your skin as well.

The Northern Lights

The Northern Lights is probably associated with Iceland even more than the glaciers and cold weather. This incredible feat of nature, officially known as the Aurora Borealis, is like nothing else you’ll ever see in your life. It’s one of the natural wonders of the world and everybody should try to see it at least once. There are other places in the world that you can see the Northern Lights but Iceland is one of the highest countries which means you’ll get the best view from there. If you’re planning to go to Iceland to see the Northern Lights, the best time to go is between September and April.

Check out https://www.travelandleisure.com for more information on the best way to see them.

Iceland is a magical country which is quite unlike any other place on Earth so make sure you add it to your bucket list today.

Travel

China’s ban on online LGBTI content deemed lawful

A court in Beijing, China ruled on October 23 that the country’s ban on online LGBTI content was lawful.

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Photo by Li Yang from Unsplash.com

Backward step in China.

A court in Beijing, China ruled on October 23 that the country’s ban on online LGBTI content was lawful. This was first reported by GayStarNews.com.

In January, Fan Chunlin challenged China Netcasting Service Association’s (CNSA) June 2017 decision to label homosexuality “abnormal sexual behavior” and ban it from China’s internet. Fan filed a case with the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court.

But in the last week of October, the court ruled against the 30-year-old Fan from Shanghai.
Banning LGBT-related content has been making news in China.

In July 2017, China also banned gay content from the internet, with the regulator calling it “abnormal”. As published by the China Netcasting Services Association, the regulation censors online content ranging from movies and documentaries to cartoons and educational videos. The new rules “will edit or ban content if it displays ‘abnormal sexual behaviors’.”

Along with LGBT content, also to be removed are those that promote ‘luxurious lifestyles’, show ‘violent and criminal processes in details’, or demonstrate ‘obscenity’ including masturbation.

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Travel

Tanzania’s anti-gay initiatives worsening HIV situation

Key populations are particularly at risk of HIV infection. While national prevalence among adults in Tanzania is 4.5%, 17.6% of the country’s men who have sex with men are living with HIV.

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Photo by jambogyuri from Pixabay.com

Identified as a major barrier to ending AIDS, homophobia, the irrational hatred, intolerance, and fear of LGBT people, is worsening the HIV situation in Tanzania.

On 31 October 2018, the Regional Commissioner for the capital city, Dar es Salaam, Paul Makonda, announced the creation of a task force to identify and arrest people suspected of being gay and he appealed to the public to identify and report them. This follows a broader pattern of arrests and state-sponsored harassment of LGBT Tanzanians that includes the forced closure of HIV clinics accused of promoting homosexuality. In the wake of this announcement, 10 people were unjustly arrested in Zanzibar on spurious charges.

These actions are contrary to Tanzania’s stated commitment to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030. In its National Guideline for Comprehensive Package of HIV Interventions for Key Populations from 2014, the government declares: “To ensure an effective and sustainable response to HIV there is a need to reach out to KPs (key populations) with a comprehensive package of prevention, treatment, care, support interventions and other public health services.” It goes on to acknowledge: “Public discussion of MSM elicits strong reactions of fear, hatred and disgust. MSM and transgender people have remained largely invisible to many of the ongoing interventions for HIV prevention, treatment and care.”

Key populations are particularly at risk of HIV infection. While national prevalence among adults in Tanzania is 4.5%, 17.6% of the country’s men who have sex with men are living with HIV.

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On behalf of the International AIDS Society (IAS), the IAS Governing Council Africa Regional Representatives expressed “grave concern regarding the reported anti-gay initiative underway in Tanzania.”

The IAS Governing Council Africa Regional Representatives added: “Institutionalized discrimination, such as the public scapegoating now occurring in Tanzania, drives many people away from the services that can save their lives. The climate of fear created by such stigmatizing official actions undermines the ability of HIV programs to reach those in greatest need. Barring vulnerable communities from specialized services that play a critical role in linking them to essential HIV services leaves them with few options for accessing lifesaving and medications and information.”

Tanzania is said to have made some important gains in its response to HIV, with new infections dropping by 22% from 2010 to 2016 and AIDS-related deaths dropping by 54%. Indeed, its national guidelines – based on the principle that “services and programs implemented are non-stigmatizing, non-discriminatory, accessible, acceptable, affordable and equitable for all” and that “the legal, policy, and social environment [should] allow access by KP to available health services” – exemplify this capacity. The epidemic among key populations including gay men and other men who have sex with men, however, continues unabated.

“Now is the time for Tanzania’s government to take seriously its human rights-related responsibilities as stewards of the public health. As colleagues in the global HIV response, we call on Tanzania to end this initiative that threatens to hobble the national HIV response at a moment of such promise. We plead that our colleagues in Tanzania heed their own government’s advice – stated so clearly in its national guidelines – and commit to providing equitable, unobstructed access to high-quality, non-stigmatizing prevention, treatment and care services to all communities, including gay and other men who have sex with men,” IAS Governing Council Africa Regional Representatives ended.

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Malaysian Prime Minister stresses his government’s rejection of LGBT rights

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad voiced his government’s rejection of LGBT rights. “Sometimes Asians accept Western values without questioning,” he said. “We should be free not to change our values according to their wishes.”

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IMAGE DETAIL FROM ZUKIMAN MOHAMAD FROM PEXEL.COM

Strong(est) erroneous rebuke of LGBT community.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad voiced his government’s rejection of LGBT rights. Speaking in Chulalongkorn Univeristy, the 93-year-old Mohamad said that “at this moment, we don’t accept LGBT,” adding that LGBT rights are incompatible with the “institution of marriage and institution of family.”

In particular, Mohamad irrationally used the debunked “being LGBT is Western” argument.

“Sometimes Asians accept Western values without questioning,” he said. “We should be free not to change our values according to their wishes.”

In May 2018, Malaysia started to block Internet access to public information about HIV/AIDS and LGBT travel. On May 4, Sinar Project, a Malaysian media watchdog, reported the country’s first known online censorship of an LGBT-specific community travel website, Utopia-Asia.com, which TMNet, a Malaysian Internet Service provider, began blocking in April without explanation. Ooni Explorer, a global observation network for detecting censorship, surveillance and traffic manipulation on the Internet, found that TMNet was engaging in DNS tampering by re-routing Utopia Asia’s domain name to display a false notice and deceive customers in Malaysia into thinking those resources no longer existed.

Malaysia begins blocking online HIV and AIDS, LGBT travel information

But anti-LGBT efforts have long been noted in Malaysia. In 2015, the Justice for Sisters criticized arrests made following the decision by the country’s Federal Court on Section 66, triggering a wave of fear among the transgender community to freely move. This development affects LGBT of various countries – e.g. on October 21, three transpinays were arrested in Terengganu in a raid by the immigration department after undercover clients solicited sex from them (the three are currently detained at the Ajil immigration depot, and may be jailed or fined if found guilty).

Malaysia as a study of increasing violence against transwomen in APAC

Sodomy is still a crime in Malaysia, where the dominant religion is Islam.

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Two men linked to LGBT Facebook page arrested in Indonesia

Indonesian police arrested two men who allegedly operated a Facebook account to facilitate meet-ups for gay people and other sex-related services. The case marks the first police crackdown on online LGBT groups in this conservative country.

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Photo by 'Capturing the human heart.' from Unsplash.com

Indonesia’s LGBT crackdown continues.

Indonesian police arrested two men who allegedly operated a Facebook account to facilitate meet-ups for gay people and other sex-related services. The two men being now held were allegedly managing a Facebook page named “Gay Bandung Indonesia” since 2015, which has 4,093 members.

According to Hari Brata, the deputy director at the West Java police directorate of special crimes, the suspects (who were identified by their initials IS and IH) were charged with “breaking electronic information law by creating and transmitting pornographic content”.

Specifically, the suspects were charged under Article 27, Point 1 of the Electronic Transactions and Information (ITE) Law on transmitting and spreading electronic information containing immorality. The law carries a maximum sentence of six years’ imprisonment and a maximum fine of one billion rupiah.

The case marks the first police crackdown on online LGBT groups.

Consensual same-sex sexual intercourse is actually legal in Indonesia, except the provinces of Aceh and for Muslims in the city of Palembang in South Sumatra. But the conservative country is known for anti-LGBT attacks, with raids of LGBT-related venues common, as well as public caning of members of the LGBT community.

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Law granting rights to trans people passed in Uruguay

The law will grant trans people the right to get an operation that matches their sexual identity. This will be paid by the Uruguayan state, along with provision of hormone treatments.

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Image detail by Paz Arando from Unsplash.com

A law that guarantees rights to the transgender community was passed by Uruguay’s Congress, coming at the heels of a similar legal measure already passing the Senate of the South American country.

When properly signed, the law will grant trans people the right to get an operation that matches their sexual identity. This will be paid by the Uruguayan state, along with provision of hormone treatments.

The law also ensures a minimum number of trans people are given public jobs in the next 15 years. Specifically, it mandates that 1 percent of government jobs be reserved for trans people; just as it eyes to establishes a pension to compensate trans people who were persecuted during Uruguay’s 1973-1985 military dictatorship.

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Bill signed to add gender ‘X’ to birth certificates in New York

Beginning January 1 in New York City, non-binary and gender-nonconforming people can choose to change their gender to “X” on official city documents by submitting their own affidavit.

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Beginning January 1 in New York City, non-binary and gender-nonconforming people can choose to change their gender to “X” on official city documents by submitting their own affidavit.

This comes after New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio signed a new law adding the ability to select a third gender on birth certificates without needing a letter from a health-care provider.

According toDe Blasio, “New Yorkers should be free to tell their government who they are, not the other way around. You be you. Live your truth. And know that New York City will have your back.”

With this development, New York follows the states of California, Washington, New Jersey and Oregon in passing such legislation.

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