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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.

READ:  Taiwan holds first trans-specific Pride march

Travel

Colonial-era law criminalizing gay sex retained in Singapore

Gay sex is illegal in Singapore. The ban carries a maximum penalty of two years in jail for homosexual acts.

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Photo by Lily Banse from Unsplash.com

Gay sex is illegal in Singapore.

That’s the gist in the decision made by Singapore’s High Court, which ruled that its colonial-era law criminalizing sex between men is constitutional and would be retained, overturning a bid by gay rights activists to scrap it.

Singapore is one of former British colonies still clinging to Section 377A of the Penal Code (the “anti-buggery law”), which came into force in 1938 after being adapted from a 19th-century Indian penal code. Though rarely enforced, that the law exists at all is an affront to equal treatment sought by the LGBTQIA people particularly of Singapore.

In Singapore, the ban carries a maximum penalty of two years in jail for homosexual acts.

The latest attempt to overturn the law was spearheaded by three gay activists who lodged court challenges seeking to prove that the law is unconstitutional. But the High Court dismissed all three after hearing them together behind closed doors. The High Court ruled that the law does not violate articles of Singapore’s constitution regarding equality and freedom of speech.

The High Court similarly stated that just because the legislation was not enforced, it did not “render it redundant,” stating: “Legislation remains important in reflecting public sentiment and beliefs.”

Speaking outside the High Court, M. Ravi, a lawyer for one of the complainants, said that the decision is “shocking to the conscience and it is so arbitrary. It is so discriminatory, this legislation.”

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This is not the first time that the law was challenged. In 2014, the first challenge to the law was also dismissed, highlighting that the city-state is still conservative.

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Travel

Idaho legislature eyes to ban transgender people from modifying birth certificates

The Idaho legislature is asking the governor to sign into law a bill that will ban transgender people from modifying their birth certificates to reflect their gender identity. There is already a federal court ruling that ban such a law.

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Photo by Binyamin Mellish from Pexels.com

In the US, the Idaho legislature is asking the governor to sign into law a bill that will ban transgender people from modifying their birth certificates to reflect their gender identity. The Senate passed the legislation in a 27-6 vote. The state House previously passed the bill.

There is already a federal court ruling that ban such a law. In March 2018, a federal judge ruled that Idaho’s law barring transgender people from making the birth certificate change violated the Equal Protection Clause of the US Constitution. The same judge scrapped the ban and warned against new rules.

And so if signed into law, the new bill would likely trigger costly lawsuits.

Ohio and Tennessee are the only other states in the US where transgender people cannot change their birth certificates.

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A charterer’s guide to Papua New Guinea

quite surprising that Papua New Guinea still fails to register on the radar of many adventurous travelers given that it has the largest area of intact rainforest outside the Amazon.

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It’s quite surprising that Papua New Guinea still fails to register on the radar of many adventurous travelers given that it has the largest area of intact rainforest outside the Amazon. With more than 600 islands, this huge island country offers visitors a huge range of fascinating things to engage with, whether it be related to food, culture, activities or the stunning environment itself. Plus, with so many islands making up the country, Papua New Guinea represents the perfect place to take a chartering expedition.

In this article we demonstrate some of the things that should be on the top of your list. 

Biodiversity like nowhere else on earth

Taking a luxury yacht charter to Papua New Guinea would be a waste without the opportunity to immerse yourself in its impressive waters. As a country largely untouched by tourism, Papua New Guinea has gained an international reputation as a premiere site for diving due to the plethora of barrier reefs, coral walls, coral atolls, coral gardens and shipwrecks that lie under its clear waters. 

Divers interested in marine biodiversity are also in for a treat – despite only covering 1 percent of the Earth’s surface, Papua New Guinea has 5% of the world’s biodiversity in an area referred to as the Coral Triangle. This amounts to an incredible 800 species of coral, 20,000 plant species, 600 species of fish, and 750 species of birds. 

Even if you’re more interested in snorkeling, you’ll still be able to catch a glimpse of large pelagic fish, sharks, rays and, in September, you might even spot a pod of orcas if you’re particularly lucky! For those wanting to interact with the water in a drier capacity, Papua Guinea offers some incredible fishing. Jungle rivers teem with Black Bass and river tigers, while ocean fishing can net you some impressive dog tooth tuna, sailfish and marlin. 

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Immerse yourself in local culture

The yacht charter to Papua New Guinea is price-friendly, especially if you’re travelling from Australia. Certainly one of the biggest drawcards of Papua New Guinea is the incredible cultural diversity. In a country where over 800 languages spoken, it’s easy to see how unique dances, rituals, festivals, music and art play a huge part in the daily lives of locals. If you’re wanting to immerse yourself in local culture, make sure to organize a “Sing Sing,” a local tribal dance. During this dance, you’ll have the good fortune of the villagers painting you with traditional decorations and demonstrating their unique cultural rites, dance and music. 

Although generally hot and humid all year round, the best time to see all of this is typically during the drier months between May through to October. As an added bonus, these months also happen to be when many of the country’s big festivals are held!

Charter this amazing land today

With an unmatched diversity in flora, fauna and natural scenery, Papua New Guinea is the perfect destination for charterers looking for a travel adventure. Whether you’re a fan of fishing, wreck dives or food, this beautiful country has more than enough to offer and with it only just starting to turn heads internationally, there’s never been a better time to check it out.  

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Travel

Bill proposing nationwide ban on ‘conversion therapy’ introduced in Canada

Amendments to the Criminal Code proposing to ban so-called “conversion therapy” practices to change, suppress, or divert one’s sexual orientation or gender identity were introduced in Canada by its ministers of Justice and Diversity, Inclusion and Youth.

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Photo by Ali Tawfiq from Unsplash.com

Amendments to the Criminal Code proposing to ban so-called “conversion therapy” practices to change, suppress, or divert one’s sexual orientation or gender identity were introduced in Canada by its ministers of Justice and Diversity, Inclusion and Youth.

“Conversion therapy” practices are already illegal in a number of provinces and cities around Canada, including Ontario, Manitoba, Vancouver, Calgary, and Edmonton. The “Act to amend the Criminal Code (conversion therapy)” goes a step beyond regional bans and proposes nation-wide criminalization of the practices, naming specifically the prohibition of causing minors to undergo “conversion therapy” at home or abroad, as well as criminalizing advertising of and profiting from “conversion therapy”.

David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, and the Bardish Chagger, Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth, announced the introduction of proposed legislative amendments to the Criminal Code.

The legislation proposes five new Criminal Code offences related to conversion therapy. These include:

  • causing a minor to undergo conversion therapy
  • removing a minor from Canada to undergo conversion therapy abroad
  • causing a person to undergo conversion therapy against their will
  • profiting from providing conversion therapy
  • advertising an offer to provide conversion therapy

The legislation would also authorize courts to order the seizure of conversion therapy advertisements or to order their removal from computer systems or the Internet.

Conversion therapy aims to change an individual’s sexual orientation to heterosexual, to repress or reduce non-heterosexual attraction or sexual behaviors, or to change an individual’s gender identity to match the sex they were assigned at birth. It harms and stigmatizes lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and two-spirit (LGBTQ2) persons, undermines their dignity and negatively impacts their equality rights. It reflects myths and stereotypes about LGBTQ2 persons, in particular that sexual orientations other than heterosexual, and gender identities other than cisgender, can and should be changed. The practice can take various forms, including counselling and behavioural modification.

READ:  Brazilian Supreme Court criminalizes homophobia, transphobia

If passed, Canada will join Malta, Ecuador, Brazil, and Taiwan, becoming only the 5th country in the world to ban “conversion therapy” at a national level.

International attention on so-called “conversion therapy” has grown in recent months and years. The UN’s Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is working on a report on the topic due to be issued in June. A nationwide ban is pending in Germany; bans have also been considered in the UK, Ireland, Australia, Chile and elsewhere.

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Travel

Travel tips when discovering Mexico

When you are traveling to Mexico, you need a few tips to make the vacation as amazing as possible.

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When you are traveling to Mexico, you need a few tips to make the vacation as amazing as possible. Each tip helps you find the best place to stay, the best way to get to Mexico, and the best locations to visit. Moreover, you can travel to Mexico for less money when you get value out of each activity, accommodation, or mode of transport. 

Search For Cheap Flights

You can fly to many cities in Mexico for your vacation, but you should search for flights well in advance of your trip. You can fly into Cancun, Mexico City, Los Cabos, or even Acapulco. Once you get to Mexico, you can rent a car to drive between every new resort city. 

If you are traveling to the countryside, you should go with a tour guide who knows the area. Plus, you can take taxis in every city if you want to spend less money trying to get around. This is especially helpful in resort towns where you can walk almost anywhere.

If you are traveling to the countryside, you should go with a tour guide who knows the area.

Do Not Miss The Pyramids

When you come to Mexico, you need to see the ancient pyramids that were built by the Mayans and Aztecs thousands of years ago. Many people who travel to Cancun can take a tour to Chichen Itza where some of the most beautiful pyramids have been preserved. You can take pictures of the pyramids, and you can take tours into some of the corridors that lead to the heart of these massive structures.

When you come to Mexico, you need to see the ancient pyramids that were built by the Mayans and Aztecs thousands of years ago.

Try Baja California

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Baja California is the peninsula that sits on the western side of Mexico. It is connected directly to California, but it is separated from the rest of Mexico by the Gulf of California. You can drive down the length of this peninsula to Los Cabos where you can stay in a beautiful resort for several days. You can take charter boats on the water to fish, and you can float on the Pacific Ocean for days at a time.

Try The Penthouse

You can try penthouse rentals in Mexico when you travel to the largest resort towns. You can get an amazing view of the ocean, or you can look over Mexico City from your penthouse. Renting the penthouse is much cheaper than paying for an executive suite in a hotel.

A penthouse is typically someone’s home who loves living in a vacation destination. You can cook meals in the penthouse, and you will have plenty of space for your family. Plus, the penthouse provides you with a level of privacy that you cannot get in a hotel or a resort.

You can get an amazing view of the ocean, or you can look over Mexico City from your penthouse.

Bring Many Forms Of Currency

The American dollar is a powerful tool around the world, and you can easily travel with US dollars in Mexico. However, many local merchants only accept pesos or credit cards. You should convert some of your cash to pesos before coming to Mexico so that you get the best exchange rate. You can use traveler’s cheques because they are easy to replace, and you can use a credit card or debit card that does not charge outlandish fees for each international transaction.

You should convert some of your cash to pesos before coming to Mexico.

Conclusion: Don’t Forget Your Passport

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You need to bring your passport to Mexico if you plan to get through customs. Plus, you need to know where the nearest embassy or consulate is when you arrive in Mexico. You can go to the embassy or consulate if a crime has been committed or if you lose your passport. The embassy is considered American soil, and it is a safe place to go while you get your new travel documents.

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LIVING HISTORY

Rainbow’s beginning

You know why LGBTQIA Pride is observed in June? It’s all because of an uprising that happened in June 1969 in a somewhat nondescript bar in New York City, Stonewall Inn.

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You know why LGBTQIA Pride is observed in June? This is because of the uprising that started in a bar in 1969: the Stonewall Inn, which is located in the Greenwich Village of Manhattan, New York City.

That uprising is widely accepted to have helped in paving the way for the modern fight for LGBTQIA rights. And so it can be said that at Stonewall Inn, the rainbow started – well – rising.

Now, this is worth emphasizing: The struggle for human rights of the LGBTQIA community did not just start in 1969 in New York City.

In the Philippines, for instance, often-repeated is the claim that prior to the colonization of the country by the Spaniards in 1521, the natives already had “babaylans” (roughly: shamans/spiritual leaders) who, at times, were males who lived as females (not always; but some were). These people had positions of power, respected for traversing realms/realities. Not surprisingly, therefore, and even if the term re “LGBTQIA” still did not exist in those days, these people ave often been used as examples of how “accepted” gender-non-conforming people were in the past; until they were demonized by West-introduced dogmas (e.g. Christianity).

Now, this is worth emphasizing: The struggle for human rights of the LGBTQIA community did not just start in 1969 in New York City.

In the West, social reformer Jeremy Bentham is largely considered to have written the first known argument for homosexual law reform in England sometime around 1785, when the legal penalty for “buggery” (anal sex) was death by hanging. Too bas his essays were only published in… 1978 (!).

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Then there’s France, which – in 1791 – became the first nation to decriminalize homosexuality.

The LGBTQIA movement as we know it now is (very) anchored in the West – e.g. because of the anti-LGBTQIA sentiments in Victorian England (around 1890s), English socialist poet Edward Carpenter started a concerted effort to campaign against discrimination; and movements were also started in Germany at the turn of the 20th century. Heck, even one of the very first “homosexual organizations” in the US – called ONE Inc. – pre-dated the Stonewall uprising, having been founded in 1952; while the Mattachine Society was established in 1950. There was also a lesbian organization, Daughters of Bilitis, established in 1955. And still in the US, there was a 1962 gay march held in front of the Independence Hall in Philadelphia, which some historians consider as the actual “beginning of the modern gay rights movement”.

Suffice to say, though, before the Stonewall uprising, LGBTQIA Americans already faced an anti-gay legal system. In fact, in the 1950s and 1960s, very few establishments welcomed gay people. And those that did were often bars, although bar owners and managers were rarely gay (at the time, the Stonewall Inn was supposedly owned by the Mafia).

Police raids on gay bars were routine in the 1960s. And on June 28, 1969, a police raid was done at the Stonewall Inn.

But the officers lost control of the situation because the patrons fought back.

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The tensions between New York City police and LGBTQIA patrons and then residents of Greenwich Village erupted into more protests the next days as the abused eventually held a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations against the police raids and, yes, State-sanctioned abuses.

Within months since the uprising, LGBTQIA organizations (to emphasize: THAT WERE MORE POLITICAL) were founded across the US. And a year after the uprising, in June 1970, the first pride marches took place in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Police raids on gay bars were routine in the 1960s. And on June 28, 1969, a police raid was done at the Stonewall Inn.

The Stonewall National Monument was established at the site in 2016.

Today, LGBTQIA pride events are held annually throughout the world toward the end of June.

On June 26, 1994, ProGay Philippines and Metropolitan Community Church helmed a march in Quezon City. Dubbed as “Stonewall Manila” or as “Pride Revolution”, it was held in remembrance of the Stonewall Inn uprising, and coincided with a bigger march against the imposition of the Value Added Tax (VAT). With this, the Philippines gained the distinction of being the first country in Asia and the Pacific to host a Pride-related march.

Pride now marks that uprising that happened in a somewhat nondescript bar, Stonewall Inn.

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