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Where we’ve been. Where we are. Where we’re headed.

That, in a gist, is how I perceive San Francisco’s “LGBTQIA central”, Castro District to be. It celebrates where we are now by paying (some) attention to our shared past; but it also highlights the areas where our community needs to act (and act fast) before we can truly say that we have Pride.

Castro District is a neighborhood in Eureka Valley in San Francisco, California. It was named after José Castro (1808–1860), who opposed US rule in California in the 19th century. As one of the very first gay neighborhoods in the US, it actually became LGBTQIA-centric starting only the late 1960s, aided by the hippie and free love movements in neighboring Haight-Ashbury district.

By the 1970s, it was already an upscale gay community (first mitigated by people’s movement here before it became the prime spot that it is now).

Castro’s influences in the (global) LGBTQIA community are numerous.

Harvey Milk was from here; in 1973, he opened a camera store here, Castro Camera, and he also began his political involvement as a gay activist here. So this place sorta helped exemplify LGBTQIA political involvement, particularly at a time when we had even harder times.

Then in the 1980s, the area was hit hard by the HIV and AIDS crisis. This is a defining moment for the LGBTQIA community (with HIV “blamed” on gay people, and with the American government not lifting a hand to do something/anything about this sitch then), so this helped galvanize the (particularly) gay community.

Castro also shows cracks in the rainbow. Perhaps most apparent is the blatant commercialization of Pride. In Castro, everything LGBTQIA-related can be bought.

And then there are some of our stereotypical concepts of “beauty”, which surfaced from Castro. The one that immediately comes to mind is the “Castro clone” that exemplified butchness and masculinity; to date, this idiotic penchant for “straight-acting and straight-looking” continues…

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Truly, nowadays, Castro is a “living” reminder of the LGBTQIA community’s history.

But Castro also shows cracks in the rainbow.

Perhaps most apparent is the blatant commercialization of Pride. In Castro, everything LGBTQIA-related can be bought.

This – not surprisingly – highlights the social stratification within the LGBTQIA community. Exactly because the we’re talking moolah, and because not everyone has this, the social classes that divide the community is highlighted. Even the nearby LGBT Center isn’t immune to this, with some LGBTQIA people critical of it (supposedly) for being elitist.

Then there’s the leaving behind of members of the LGBTQIA community. For instance, in San Francisco, the homeless population is approximately 7,499 – 29% of them identify as LGBT; and 11% of them have HIV or AIDS. If you want to see some of them, try waking up early – like 6.00AM or so – and take a walk along Castro Street to see them, living in the midst of the trash from the partying that happened the night before.

Castro has long become a tourist trap that highlights “progressive LGBTQIA community” a la America. And – as such – it can’t be denied how it’s a good reminder that we’ve (well, at least ‘they’ have) made progress.

But it also stresses – for me – that so much more still needs to be done…

The founder of Outrage Magazine, Michael David dela Cruz Tan is a graduate of Bachelor of Arts (Communication Studies) of the University of Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia. Though he grew up in Mindanao (particularly Kidapawan and Cotabato City in Maguindanao), even attending Roman Catholic schools there, he "really, really came out in Sydney," he says, so that "I sort of know what it's like to be gay in a developing and a developed world". Mick can: photograph, do artworks with mixed media, write (DUH!), shoot flicks, community organize, facilitate, lecture, research (with pioneering studies under his belt)... this one's a multi-tasker, who is even conversant in Filipino Sign Language (FSL). Among others, Mick received the Catholic Mass Media Awards (CMMA) in 2006 for Best Investigative Journalism. Cross his path is the dare (read: It won't be boring).

Travel

A third of Poland declared ‘LGBT-free zone’

Local municipalities in Poland adopted resolutions that are specifically “against LGBT propaganda” or are “pro-family”, thereby creating hostile spaces for non-heterosexual people or those who are not deemed to be for the so-called “natural family”.

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Hate thrives in parts of Poland, apparently.

Local municipalities in Poland adopted resolutions that are specifically “against LGBT propaganda” or are “pro-family”, thereby creating hostile spaces for non-heterosexual people or those who are not deemed to be for the so-called “natural family”.

According to an “Atlas of Hate” map, a Polish area greater than the size of Hungary has effectively become an “LGBT-free zone” in the heart of Central Europe. Almost 100 municipalities adopted the resolutions (with municipalities starting to pass the first revolutions in March 2019), including five voivodships (the largest administrative unit in Poland) in the southeast of the country, and dozens of counties and other smaller units.

The resolutions are actually non-binding; but these still highlight how a handful of Polish politicians are denouncing of “LGBT ideology” as a “foreign import” that is supposedly threatening the Polish nation and its antiquated Christian values.

One of the resolutions, passed in April 2019 by the local council in Ryki, a town 100 kilometres southeast of Warsaw, states: “In relation to the aggressive homosexual propaganda, promoted and conducted as part of the ideological war by leftist-liberal political circles and ‘LGBT’ groups, which are threatening our fundamental norms and the values of our social and national life, our council adopts the declaration ‘Powiat Rycki free of gender ideology and LGBT.’”

This resolution also states that its purpose is to “defend children, youth, families and Polish schools from sexual depravity and indoctrination, which lead to many pathologies already existing in Western countries, such as accepting pornography, abortion, sexual criminality, the crisis of the family and many others”.

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It similarly decries the “promotion of homosexuality” and sexual education in schools, the “early sexualisation of children” promoted by the World Health Organization, the “pressure exercised by homopropaganda” and the “imposition by LGBT activists of… programmes and an ideology leading to the depravation of children”.

Human rights campaigners – including the European Parliament – have condemned the resolutions, saying they are discriminatory and undermine LGBTQIA rights.

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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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Travel

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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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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