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Religious Harmony Act of Singapore amended to list sexual orientation as protected ground against discrimination

On October 9, 2019, the Religious Harmony Act of Singapore was amended to specifically list sexual orientation as a protected ground against religiously motivated hate speech, violence and discrimination.

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Photo by Joshua Ang from Unsplash.com

Earlier this month, on October 9, 2019, the Religious Harmony Act of Singapore was amended to specifically list sexual orientation as a protected ground against religiously motivated hate speech, violence and discrimination.

This is the first time that a legal or policy document in Singapore included the words “sexual orientation”, indicating that public morality, peace or public order, which have often been used to prevent LGBTQIA people from organizing public events or founding organizations, are not a justification for violence and discrimination.

A couple of months before this development, the Ministry of Social and Family Development also stated explicitly that protections against intimate partner and domestic violence are inclusive of LGBTQIA people, who are at a high risk of such violence with often frightfully little recourse.

This is not to say that LGBTQIA Pride has finally completely landed in Singapore.

Singapore is one of the 68 countries around the world where same-sex relations are still criminalized. The country still has Section 377A of the Penal Code; and although this is rarely imposed, and is facing a number of challenges in the courts, those who engage in homosexual acts may be sent to jail, so that its existence makes LGBTQIA criminals purely for who they love.

Over a year ago, a survey showed that 55% of 750 Singaporeans support the ban on gay sex, with only 12% opposing the antiquated Section 377A of Singapore’s Penal Code, which states that a man found to have committed an act of “gross indecency” with another man could be jailed for up to two years.

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Singapore’s media industry also still blatantly prohibits positive depictions of LGBTQIA stories and characters, just as the the damaging practice of conversion therapy is openly pushed by some of the religious and conservatives, along with other forms of discrimination.

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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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.

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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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Travel

LGBTQIA travel guide in Ireland

Due to the abundance of icons and interesting spots and events, here is a list of the best and must-see in Ireland.

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Ireland currently sits up there with the most progressive countries in the world. Having legalized gay marriages in 2015 and generally legalizing homosexuality in 1993, the country has quickly become a mecca for the LGBTQIA community.

Gay Dublin

Merely walking around the city, you are bound to see several icons that will intrigue you as a member of the LGBTQIA community. For example, simply walking around the famous Stephen’s Green Park will lead you to Oscar Wilde who was not just one of the most famous Irishmen in history, but also an iconic playwright. His statue shows a lot about how highly Ireland regards its LGBTQIA community.

However, due to the abundance of icons and interesting spots and events, I have taken it upon myself to list the ones I believe are the best and must-see.

  • The George Gay Club
    Your visit to the country wouldn’t be complete without a night out at this iconic gay club. The club was opened in 1985, long before homosexuality was legalized in the country. And even then, it was a safe haven for homosexuals. A place they could come to have fun while being themselves.
    In the present day, this hasn’t changed a bit as the club has retained its reputation for being a fun, loud, and raucous place for gays to have fun. You can always check out their social media pages for up to date information.
  • The Panti Bar
    If you are a fan of drag shows, then this is by no mistake the best place for you to be. Some have even proudly called it the best gay bar in Europe and they definitely have their reasons.
    Run by the Irish drag queen and icon, Panti Bliss, it has been the perfect LGBTQIA spot for more than a decade.
    Panti Bliss is well known in the Irish community because of her part in the fight for LGBTQIA equality and rights. The bar opens daily from 2pm and runs till very late.
  • The Dublin Gay Pride Parade
    The parade which was established in 1974 has since evolved from a one-day event into a full-blown 2-week annual festival that takes place in June. The festival rounds up with a huge street celebration which always proves to be massive fun for everyone.
    The party is attended by the whole city and even some Irish leaders like Leo Varadkar, have been known to attend.
No trip is complete without a taste of the local cuisine. Enjoy the unique taste and flavor that Ireland has to offer by sampling their food and craft beer.

Other Highlights

Naturally, being gay doesn’t define who we are. Like everyone else, we have a liking for the finer things in life and Ireland will never be found wanting of such great attractions. Apart from the obviously gay activities, there are a lot of other fun things to do in Ireland, and some of them include:

  • Guinness Storehouse
    Located at the Saint James’s Gate Brewery in central Dublin, this exhibition space was where the renowned stout was first brewed back in 1759.
    A visit here will take you through a fun journey of how the iconic stout is created. You will even get to taste some variants. You can finish your trip here with a free pint of Guinness at the Gravity Bar on the seventh floor while taking in a spectacular view of the city.
  • Book of Kells/Dublin Castle
    This right here is the embodiment of Irish heritage. A visit to this monument will take you through a journey of discovering some of the most important parts of Irish history.
    It is known for its incredible artistry and its numerous secrets and mysteries which date as far back as 800AD. 
    After this, a trip to explore the Dublin Castle will be the perfect way to round up the trip.
  • Irish Food Walking Tour
    No trip is complete without a taste of the local cuisine. Enjoy the unique taste and flavor that Ireland has to offer by sampling their food and craft beer. Eat and drink your way through the various restaurants and cafes, while basking in the ambiance of the Irish hidden gems.
Merely walking around the city, you are bound to see several icons that will intrigue you as a member of the LGBTQIA community.

Traveling Tips

Deciding to visit Ireland is probably the best vacation decision that is possible to be made. However, as a visitor who is probably visiting for the first time, there are a couple of things that need to be known in order to ensure you have the best possible experience.

  • Mobile Apps
    Being a stranger in a new land, one of the best apps that you can have at your fingertip is Google Maps.
    The app offers you both an offline and online mode. This means that if you are not sure if you will have access to the internet where you are going, you can pre-download a map of the area. And if you have an internet connection, you can easily access the app for up to date information on how to get around in the area.
  • Travel Insurance
    This is not even up for debate. You should have travel insurance as it protects you against travel risks and incidences like loss or theft of valuables, cancellation cover in the event you are unable to travel because of unforeseen medical issues, and even medical expenses while traveling.  To get the best travel insurance quote from different Insurance companies you should visit AA Insurance and find more information about right type of travel cover.
    It is important to keep safe while traveling overseas by always making sure you do not go out alone or stay out late. However, in the event of an accident, your travel insurance can protect you from unexpected costs. 
  • Money
    Although a lot of the businesses accept credit cards, some of the smaller ones prefer getting paid in cash. Therefore, it will be of great advantage to you to come along with some cash to aid in your transactions.
  • Tripadvisor
    This app comes quite handy when you are looking for which hotel to stay or which restaurant to eat around.
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