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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.

LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

What are the most LGBTQ-friendly colleges in the US?

LGBTQ-friendly colleges are critical for the safety and well-being of gay, lesbian, trans, and nonconforming young people, providing a safe space for queer young people, while helping prepare them for a workforce that is still frequently hostile.

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Photo by Scott Webb from Unsplash.com

Considering going to school in the US of A?

Colleges and universities have long been the place where young people find themselves and their people, developing into the people they will be through the rest of their life. That has, historically, been particularly true of LGBTQ youth, who could go from unsupportive homes and communities to find a place where they are accepted for who they are.

Today, while society in general is more tolerant than in the past, college can still be a crucial place of safety and growth for LGBTQ young people. This is why College Consensus published its ranking of 25 LGBTQ-friendly colleges in the US.

“By highlighting institutions that make inclusiveness an intentional aspect of their education and community, (we) encourage students to find the place they will feel welcome, and urges schools to consider their own policies and culture,” the group said in a statement.

Institutions in the ranking were chosen based on the strength of their student organizations, institutional inclusiveness policies, and recognition by the Campus Pride Index.

While society in general is more tolerant than in the past, college can still be a crucial place of safety and growth for LGBTQ young people.
Photo by Janko Ferlič from Unsplash.com

The top 25 (in alphabetical order) are:

  • Augsburg University
  • Elon University
  • Harvey Mudd College
  • Indiana University Bloomington
  • Ithaca College
  • Kansas State University
  • Lehigh University
  • Macalester College
  • Montclair State University
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • Portland State University (tied)
  • Princeton University
  • Rutgers University
  • San Diego State University
  • Southern Oregon University (tied)
  • The Ohio State University
  • Tufts University
  • University of Colorado at Boulder
  • University of Louisville
  • University of Maryland, College Park
  • University of Massachusetts
  • University of Oregon
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Washington
  • University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire
  • Washington State University
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“For decades, colleges and universities have been at the vanguard of culture, whether that meant protecting artistic expression or giving young people a forum to voice their political views.” However, for LGBTQ students, inclusive policies “can truly be a matter of life or death,” particularly as discrimination and hate crimes are still prevalent in many communities.

“LGBTQ-friendly colleges are critical for the safety and well-being of gay, lesbian, trans, and nonconforming young people,” the editors explained, providing “a safe space for queer young people, while helping prepare them for a workforce that is still frequently hostile.”

While ranking the most LGBTQ Friendly Colleges is somewhat subjective, College Consensus chose their criteria carefully: “a vocal and well-promoted campus pride organization is a clear sign” of acceptance, at least in the campus community, since many are student-led groups. The other level of impact is in official institutional policy: “inclusive language in their student handbook; gender inclusive housing (or gender neutral housing); explicit non-discrimination policies (for instance, women’s colleges that are openly welcoming to trans women).”

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Travel

1 in 11 people now identify as LGBT in Japan

At least one in eleven people identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, while more than two-thirds of respondents were familiar with the acronym LGBT.

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Photo by Sorasak from Unsplash.com

The more people know, the more they are able to identify with the LGBTQIA community.

So it seems in Japan, where a survey conducted by advertising giant Dentsu Inc. found that at least one in eleven people identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, while more than two-thirds of respondents were familiar with the acronym LGBT.

The survey was done in October 2018, and it involved 60,000 people aged between 20 and 59. Of that, 8.9% self-identified as LGBT individuals, a rise of 1.3 percentage points from the previous survey conducted in 2015.

The survey also found that 68.5% either knew that LGBT was an acronym for sexual minorities or had heard of the term. In 2015, 37.6% of respondents answered similarly. Better yet, almost 80% of the respondents said they wanted a “deeper understanding of the LGBT community to ensure that they would not make LGBT individuals feel uncomfortable instead of just knowing the acronym”.

Other findings of this study included:

  • 65.1% of LGBTQIA respondents said they had not told anyone about their sexuality, indicating the still-difficult process of coming out in Japan
  • 78.4% approved or were likely to approve of marriage equality
  • 72.1% wanted stronger legal protections for the LGBT community

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Travel

Angola drops colonial-era anti-gay laws

Angola’s parliament voted to remove the so-called “vices against nature” provision in a newly adopted penal code, in effect decriminalizing all same-sex conduct.

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Photo by Priscilla Linda from Unsplash.com

Angola’s parliament voted to remove the so-called “vices against nature” provision in a newly adopted penal code, in effect decriminalizing all same-sex conduct. In addition, the government has also banned discrimination against people based on sexual orientation, with offenders liable to face up to two years in jail.

Speaking in Geneva, the spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) welcomed the development. Rupert Colville said that the Government has also prohibited discrimination against people based on sexual orientation.

The UN Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, Victor Madrigal-Borloz, added that such legislation “was one of the root causes behind grave and pervasive human rights violations against gay, lesbian, trans and bisexual people”.

Madrigal-Borloz urged other States to follow Angola’s move, adding that “all other countries that still criminalize homosexuality, must observe these processes of decriminalization as motivation to examine their own legal frameworks, and to bring themselves to full compliance with this human rights imperative”.

Of the 193 countries recognized by the UN, 68 still criminalize same-sex conduct.

Homosexuality remains illegal in several African countries, where antiquated colonial-era laws are maintained. In Nigeria, for instance, homosexuality is punishable by a 14-year jail term after an anti-gay law was passed in 2014; in Uganda and Zambia, the maximum penalty is life; and in Tanzania, an anti-gay crackdown, including arrests, has drawn international criticism and seen aid donors suspend donations.

READ:  California is first US State to denounce ‘corrective’ surgery on intersex children

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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.

READ:  #Pride setback in Hong Kong as court overturns landmark LGBT ruling

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.

READ:  Hong Kong to recognize same-sex partnerships in spousal visa applications

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NEWSMAKERS

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.

READ:  One in three LGBT travelers experienced discrimination on holiday

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