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Brunei halts death penalty for gay sex after massive outcry

Brunei backtracked on enforcing laws introduced last month that would have made sex between men (along with adultery) punishable by stoning to death.

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Photo by vyngor from Pixabay.com

Brunei – a small Southeast Asian country – backtracked on enforcing laws introduced last month that would have made sex between men (along with adultery) punishable by stoning to death.

Last month, Brunei rolled out a strict new interpretation of Islamic laws, or Sharia (first introduced in 2014, giving it a dual legal system with both Sharia and Common Law). The first phase covered crimes punishable by prison sentences and fines; and – on April 3 – the second phase covered crimes punishable by amputation and stoning. For the latter, offenses such as rape, adultery, sodomy, robbery and insult or defamation of the Prophet Muhammad carry the maximum penalty of death; lesbian sex carries a different penalty of 40 strokes of the cane and/or a maximum of 10 years in jail; theft merits amputation; and those who “persuade, tell or encourage” Muslim children under the age of 18 “to accept the teachings of religions other than Islam” are liable to a fine or jail.

But Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah extended a moratorium on the death penalty to cover the new legislation; with the reconsideration following global outcry over the laws. In a speech, the sultan said he was aware there had been “many questions and misperceptions” regarding the implementation of the legislation, called Syariah Penal Code Order (SPCO). “As evident for more than two decades, we have practiced a de facto moratorium on the execution of death penalty for cases under the common law. This will also be applied to cases under the SPCO which provides a wider scope for remission.”

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Death penalty is legal in Brunei, albeit no executions have been carried out in the country since 1957.

Travel

In first for Asia, Taiwan parliament legalizes same-sex unions

Taiwan became the first place in Asia to legalize marriage equality, as it passed a bill that allows same-sex couples to form “exclusive permanent unions” and another clause that would let them apply for a “marriage registration” with government agencies.

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All photos taken during Taiwan's Pride parade in 2015

Taiwan became the first place in Asia to legalize marriage equality, as it passed a bill – by 66 votes to 27 – that allows same-sex couples to form “exclusive permanent unions” and another clause that would let them apply for a “marriage registration” with government agencies.

In 2017, Taiwan’s top court ruled that not allowing same-sex couples to marry violates the constitution, with judges at that time giving the government until May 24, 2019 to make the changes or see marriage equality enacted automatically.

The law, however, only: 1. allows same-sex marriages between Taiwanese, or 2. with foreigners whose countries recognize same-sex marriage. It also permits adoption of children biologically related to at least one of the same-sex pair.

But while this development is monumental, there are members of Taiwan’s LGBTQIA community – much like in Western countries where marriage equality has also already been legalized – are also lamenting the over-emphasis on same-sex marriage as a seeming “end-all issue”.

In 2015, for instance, during Taiwan’s Pride, some members of Taiwan’s LGBTQIA community lamented the “hijacking” of an LGBTQI event because of the lack of opportunity to highlight “non-mainstream LGBTQI issues.”

LGBTQIA activist 徐豪謙, for instance, noted at that time that “people only talk about the politically correct and popular issue of same-sex marriage, as if we don’t have other issues to face.”

In other parts of Asia, only Vietnam decriminalized gay marriage celebrations in 2015, even if it stopped short of giving full legal recognition for same-sex unions.

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In the Philippines, various government officials – including Pres. Rodrigo Duterte – have expressed support for civil unions, not marriage equality per se. To date, however, even the anti-discrimination bill is failing to gain traction in Congress, and is still stalled after almost 20 years.

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Travel

What you need to know in planning for a getaway

Staying near the action will help you get the most out of the getaway. That might be a campsite or a cabin in the outdoors, a condo on the sea beach, or just a resort in the near vicinity of the city’s must-see points of interest.

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A getaway can be the ideal opportunity for any individual to unwind far from the hustles and bustles of the hectic city life. However, it requires some doing while planning for the getaway and one needs to be meticulous while doing so.

In the following paragraphs, we mention some essential tips that will aid you to plan for the getaway in the best possible way.

1. Pick an interesting destination

In case you adore the water, it will be sensible for you to spend some time basking on the sea beach, going for a picnic near the lake in your locality, or kayaking down the river. Maybe you prefer exploring the streets in your city or wandering through the wilderness. Although the getaway might not take you far away from your abode, it will be a sensible idea to follow your interests which will provide you with a memorable time out there. In case you want to organize a getaway cruise for you as well as your companions, it will be imperative to make a decision on the size of the ship which you’d like to go on. You’ll come across lots of articles on the Internet which will provide you with genuine and authentic info. Feel free to browse them and take your time for research till you find a cruise which is reasonably affordable as well as comfy too.

2. Take into consideration your accommodation

Staying near the action will help you get the most out of the getaway. That might be a campsite or a cabin in the outdoors, a condo on the sea beach, or just a resort in the near vicinity of the city’s must-see points of interest. Whatever accommodation you pick, loitering nearby will allow you to enjoy your time to the fullest.

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3. Venture out with a partner

Traveling solo has its own advantages, but a getaway at the weekend can be enjoyed much better while you are with a partner. A good company will allow you to share your feelings and he or she can likewise come of help to you in case you are in need.

4. Pack light

In case you are going for a two or three-day trip, there is no need for you to pack many items whatsoever. Simply take one casual outfit for the day and another one for the evening and perhaps an additional set of apparel will do just fine. Look for any transitional piece such as jeans which can be combined with a casual T-shirt while you’re venturing out at the daytime and a trendy jacket for the evening. In case you are planning to do lots of walking, make it a point to take with you a pair of sneakers as well. There is no need to carry any extra items like shampoo, lotion, or conditioner given that you’ll find them in the hotel where you will be staying.

5. Pack some snacks

It hardly matters whether you are driving, flying, biking, or hiking, it would be a sensible idea to bring some mouth-watering snacks along with you. Eating these treats every couple of hours will boost your energy and will likewise motivate you to have a nice time along with your companions. It will likewise help you save your cash by keeping you away from expensive and unhealthy airplane or gas station foods.

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One of the best ways to plan for your weekend will be to design the outline of the trip on your laptop or PC. You may likewise discuss with your friends and family members regarding some essential aspects like the ones mentioned above. Preparing yourself in advance will save you from lots of unexpected problems afterward.

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Travel

Top tips for LGBT travel in Portugal

If you are planning to travel to Portugal as an LGBT couple, Portugal is known for being safe for the LGBT community, especially in its cities.

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Photo by @lemurdesign from Unsplash.com

Portugal is generally known for its acceptance of the LGBT community, with vast improvements to its laws and legislation in recent years that put Portugal ahead of many other European countries in terms of its attitude.

If you are looking to visit Portugal, then you should read this guide before you travel to decide if Portugal is right for you and your partner.

Is Portugal LGBT Friendly?

Portugal is known for being LGBT-friendly, especially due to its implementation of recent laws, such as the country’s legalization of gay marriage in 2010, which is considered early considering that the UK only legalized gay marriage four years later, in 2014. Not only this, but adoption for same-sex couples is legalized, and so is IVF for lesbian couples.

Lisbon also produces the Lisbon Gay and Lesbian Film Festival every year.

What to Do

  • If you are looking for nightlife, there are a range of gay bars and nightclubs surrounding the city centers such as Lisbon, where they are centered around the Barrio Alto area of the city. 
  • There is an annual Gay Pride Parade in Lisbon every year, and this often attracts over 50,000 visitors to the city. The theme differs each year, and the annual festival is typically held in June. The events normally centre around a large party held at the Terreiro De Paco, and the festival is organized by a number of local LGBT associations.
  • Lisbon also produces the Lisbon Gay and Lesbian Film Festival every year, which is a week-long festival in June which focuses on the best LGBT films that have been produced in the past year.
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Where to Stay

  • Many Portuguese resorts are LGBT friendly, and there are many beaches in the Algarve region that are popular with those from the LGBT community. Resorts also often have exclusive gar bars and clubs or will display a rainbow flag to state that they are friendly towards the community.
  • If you are looking for somewhere to stay in Portugal as an LGBT couple, you should consider the luxury of an exclusive villa for the duration of your stay. James Villas provides luxury accommodation for holidays in Algarve, allowing you to have the relaxation of staying in your own private rooms for the duration of your stay, with all the facilities that you will need to have an enjoyable visit.
If you are looking for somewhere to stay in Portugal as an LGBT couple, you should consider the luxury of an exclusive villa for the duration of your stay.

How Can You Stay Safe?

Although Portugal is a country that is mainly LGBT friendly, there will always be instances of prejudice against the LGBT community, especially in rural areas outside of the city. However, although you may run into prejudice, this is not any more extensive than elsewhere in the world, and you will probably find that you have an uninterrupted and comfortable stay without any other considerations or prior planning.

If you are planning to travel to Portugal as an LGBT couple, Portugal is known for being safe for the LGBT community, especially in its cities, and there is a range of gay pride events, bars, clubs and entertainment exclusive to the community.

Although Portugal is a country that is mainly LGBT friendly, there will always be instances of prejudice against the LGBT community, especially in rural areas outside of the city.

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Top destinations for LGBT honeymoons

It remains an issue that LGBT equality and rights are not always respected in every country around the world, which can dramatically rule out certain destinations as a honeymoon choice for many couples.

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Photo by Ali Tawfiq from Unsplash.com

As it is, planning a honeymoon is already a massive decision, with so many factors to consider to ensure the the couple (or throuple; or more, if this is the case) have the perfect newlywed escape. But for LGBT couples, there are often additional factors to consider.

“While it shouldn’t have to be the case, it remains an issue that LGBT equality and rights are not always respected in every country around the world, which can dramatically rule out certain destinations as a honeymoon choice for many couples,” stated The Latin America Travel Company.

With this in mind, the firm compiled its LGBT Honeymoon Ranking to create an “exhaustive, inclusive list of all the best places for LGBT couples to honeymoon and enjoy the perfect, romantic break everyone hopes their honeymoon will be.”

The Middle Earth is the second best destination for LGBT honeymooners.
Photo by Jeff Finley from Unsplash.com

For the list, the firm analyzed both LGBT equality, plus overall honeymoon appeal across every destination around the world, using a variety of studies, reports and surveys. Firstly, the list was limited to those countries where homosexuality is not criminalized. These countries were then analyzed using various factors including marriage equality, LGBT travel recognition, honeymoon popularity and romantic setting, to assess the best honeymoon destination for LGBT couples.

Topping the list: Canada, with New Zealand in second place and Australia in third.

The Land Downunder joins the list of the best destinations for LGBT honeymooners.
Photo by Leio McLaren (@leiomclaren) from Unsplash.com

Other countries making the list are: Argentina, ranking in the top 20, largely as a result of the same-sex marriage bill that legalized same-sex marriage in 2010, making it the first country in Latin America to de-criminalize it; Ecuador (23rd), Costa Rica (26th), Chile (27th), and Brazil (30th).

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Surprisingly (or not surprisingly?), no Asian countries made the list.

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Travel

Puerto Rico bans gay ‘conversion therapy’

Gov. Ricardo Rosselló issued an executive order that bans gay “conversion therapy” for LGBTQIA youth, a move that is expected to – literally – save lives.

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Photo by Michelle Bonkosky from Unsplash.com

Puerto Rico, a US territory, is making news with the advancement of LGBTQIA human rights.

Gov. Ricardo Rosselló issued an executive order that bans gay “conversion therapy” for LGBTQIA youth, a move that is expected to – literally – save lives.

“Today we take a step forward to raise awareness among the people about this type of practice that causes pain and suffering,” Rosselló said in a statement. “Love and respect should always prevail without distinction of sexual orientation, race, color or religion.”

The unscientific practice of gay “conversion therapy” has fallen under intense scrutiny particularly in recent years for the abusive nature of a practice that attempts to change the sexuality of – particularly young – people through repressive and sometimes even violent means. The American Psychological Association (APA), among many organizations, publicly discredited the “discrimination, prejudice and immoral treatment” of gay “conversion therapy” all the way back in 2000.

“As a father, as a scientist and as the governor for everyone in Puerto Rico, I firmly believe that the idea that there are people in our society who need treatment because of their gender identity or whom they love is not only absurd, it is harmful to so many children and young adults who deserve to be treated with dignity and respect,” Rosselló added in a statement.

Rosselló’s move is also worth highlighting because his own political party blocked a bill that would have banned conversion therapy, leading to him issuing this executive order.

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Top 10 US cities LGBT travelers are booking for Pride this year

With 2019 marking the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Inn riots, what are the best places in the US to go to for Pride?

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Heading to the US to experience (the largely commercial) Pride?

There are over 150 cities in the US that celebrate Pride, with events that can be political or… plainly commercial/for partying. This ought not be a surprise, considering that the country is now largely credited for starting the modern LGBTQIA movement, thanks to the 1969 Stonewall Inn riots in Manhattan, New York, where members of the community stood up against police forces to fight for their rights.

And with 2019 marking the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Inn riots, what are the best places in the US to go to for Pride?

Travel booking site Orbitz did an online survey to determine where LGBTQIA travelers were booking this year for Pride. And here are the top 10 cities LGBTQIA travelers are looking to book this year based on data compiled, along with the dates for each city’s respective Pride events.

  1. Provincetown, Massachusetts, May 31 – June 3
  2. St. Petersburg, Florida, June 21-23
  3. Atlanta, October 11-13
  4. Long Beach, California, May 18-19
  5. New York City, June 1-30
  6. Minneapolis, June 22-23
  7. Columbus, Ohio, June 14-16
  8. Miami, April 1-7
  9. Houston, June 22
  10. San Francisco, June 29-30

Other key findings:

  • 79% of LGBTQIA travelers plan to attend this year’s Pride events with a group
  • 57% of the travelers prefer staying in a hotel during Pride
  • 54% of the travelers are looking at car-sharing to attend a Pride event
  • 80% of the travelers are willing to sacrifice their cell phone and break the “pics or it didn’t happen” rule of Instagram during Pride celebrations in exchange for free parade tickets, meals and hotel accommodations
  • 30% are looking to spend less than $100 on Pride travel and accommodations
  • 67% claim experience is the most important consideration when traveling for Pride
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