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Court says Trinidad and Tobago laws barring gay sex are unconstitutional

A Trinidad and Tobago court has ruled that prohibiting gay sex between consenting men is unconstitutional.

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IMAGE DETAIL FROM Trinikevin FROM PIXABAY.COM

Change happening.

A Trinidad and Tobago court has ruled that prohibiting gay sex between consenting men is unconstitutional.

In a ruling, judge Devindra Rampersad said sections of the Sexual Offences Act, which prohibit “buggery” and “serious indecency” between two men, criminalized consensual same-sex activity between adults, and were unconstitutional.

With this, the judge thereby struck down down the antiquated “anti-buggery law”.

This decision followed a similar ruling in Belize in 2016.

A final judgment on how to deal with the sections of the act is expected in July.

The case was brought in 2017 by Jason Jones, an LGBT activist for who lives in Britain but was born in Trinidad and Tobago. In an online campaign,Jones said he wanted to challenge laws inherited while the country was under British rule.

Trinidad and Tobago became a republic in 1976.

The country still has no laws protecting the human rights of LGBT people. In the (old) law, being convicted of buggery carries a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison.

 

Travel

Cry freedom

#Buffalo may (just) be a sleepy city in Upstate #NewYork in the US. But it does have surprises – e.g. The Freedom Wall, which celebrates the nation’s historic and ongoing struggles for political and social equality.

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Chicken lovers may know the story – i.e. that the Buffalo wing was allegedly invented by Teressa Bellissimo in 1964 at Anchor Bar in the sleepy city of Buffalo in the state of New York.

The thing though, is, sans the spiced fried chicken, Buffalo has other surprises – e.g. The Freedom Wall.

Located at the corner of Michigan Avenue and East Ferry Street, The Freedom Wall was built in 2017 by John Baker, Julia Bottoms, Chuck Tingley and Edreys Wajed.

It was commissioned by the Albright-Knox Art Gallery Public Art Initiative, in partnership with the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA).

It was developed in collaboration with the Michigan Street African-American Heritage Corridor and neighborhood stakeholders.

From the get-go, the intention was always clear: The Freedom Wall eyes to celebrate the nation’s historic and ongoing struggles for political and social equality.

The large concrete wall surrounding NFTA’s Cold Spring Bus Maintenance Depot now has portraits of 28 civil rights leaders.

Some of the subjects depicted include:
Rosa Parks
Mama Charlene Caver Miller
William Wells Brown
King Peterson
Angela Davis
Bill Gaiter
Malcolm X
W. E. B. Du Bois
Frank Merriweather
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Mary B. Talbert
Thurgood Marshall
Minnie Gillette
Harriet Tubman

Now, The Freedom Wall continues to encourage conversations about the scope of the long journey toward equality and freedom.

And that a lot of effort still needs to be done to bring about a just and equitable world.

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

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Travel

Best LGBT nightspots in Vegas

If you’ve been to Vegas before, don’t be fooled into thinking you know all the best places. Bars, hotels and clubs are opening, closing and changing their names all the time.

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Photo by James Walsh from Unsplash.com

Las Vegas – it’s America’s biggest playground and it’s a place where everyone is welcome. Age, sex, ethnicity, sexual orientation, nationality, wealth, social background – none of them matter in Sin City. Vegas has a large and vibrant gay scene, and one that extends far beyond what is affectionately know as the fruit loop around East Naples Drive, near the University of Nevada. 

If you’ve been to Vegas before, don’t be fooled into thinking you know all the best places. Bars, hotels and clubs are opening, closing and changing their names all the time. If you leave it for more than a couple of years between visits, it can feel like you’re entering a completely different city and you have to learn it all again from scratch. 

Five years ago, for example, the Blue Moon resort was the first place on everyone’s list. But Vegas’s first and only specifically gay hotel and resort suddenly closed its doors in October 2014. There have been rumors of it reopening, but none of these have come to fruition as yet. 

Here, we’ve taken a look not just around the fruit loop area but also up and down the strip to find some of the top LGBT nightspots in Glitter Gulch. 

Piranha Nightclub

The exception that proves the rule in the constant swirl of Vegas change, the Piranha nightclub is one constant that has been around for years. The two-floor nightclub is chic, sophisticated and high-energy. The dance floor is always packed, but if you want something a little calmer, it is well worth splashing out on a VIP package. 

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That provides an opportunity to rub shoulders with the rich and famous, as the VIP area and skyboxes are a popular celebrity haunt. As well as offering an amazing view of the dance floor, you can enjoy a luxury patio, accessed through a walk-through aquarium full of – you guessed it – piranhas. Check out the weekend party package for four, which includes two bottles of New Amsterdam along with mixers in the $350 price. 

Piranha is on Paradise Road just to the north of Tropicana Avenue and close to the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. 

Sahara Hotel and Casino

Let’s face it, there’s never been a particularly strong correlation between casino gambling and gay culture. As a result you’re not going to find a “gay casino” as such in Las Vegas, but whether you go to Paris, Wynns or the MGM Grand, you’re guaranteed a warm welcome and a great night’s entertainment. 

Having said that, no city on earth has as much choice as Vegas when it comes to gambling halls, so you can afford to be fussy. The Sahara on Las Vegas Boulevard gets singled out here for a couple of reasons. First, it’s a place with its own unique style. Across the board, casino fashion is changing from the archetypal formal wear of Monte Carlo, but the vibe at Sahara is one that really encourages you to express yourself, so make an effort and get dressed up for the night. 

Secondly, though, once you’ve had enough of the blackjack, roulette and slots, there are few places better to catch a show. The Sahara has hosted some of the absolutely classic gay icons across the years. These include Liberace, Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland, Liza Minelli, Barbara Streisand and Kenny Kerr. 

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Quadz

Fancy something a little more casual? Quadz could be just the thing, with its retro, dive bar feel. The drinks are cheap, the chatter is friendly and it is one of those places that is as popular with locals as it is with visitors. In Vegas, that’s one of the highest accolades, so definitely pay the place a visit. 

The focus here is on traditional bar games like pool, darts and good old fashioned arcade games. There’s a juke box with an eclectic mix so that you can choose your own soundtrack for the night. Quadz also has regular game nights, including Cowboy Bingo once a month and poker every Thursday evening. 

Quadz is on Paradise Road, right opposite Piranha Nightclub, and is open 24/7. 

The Luxor (Temptation Sunday)

If you’re visiting Las Vegas in the height of summer, a pool party makes all sorts of sense. The Luxor Hotel and Casino on The Strip hosts regular gay pool parties of a Sunday. The Luxor pyramid serves as the perfect backdrop for sun-kissed fun around the pool, and the party vibe is enhanced by Go-Go boys and the cheesiest of party music. 

Temptation Sunday also hosts a range of top-notch DJs, so if you are in Vegas for a while, it is worth checking who is on when and planning your visit to The Luxor accordingly. If you want to really make it a party to remember, you could consider renting out a cabana for the occasion. These come equipped for four, and comfy chairs, soft drinks, towels and even a flat screen TV with sports package are all provided for you and your party. 

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The Temptation Sundays Seasons runs throughout the summer months from about May to September.

The Phoenix

Situated on West Sahara Avenue, a short drive to the north west of The Strip, The Phoenix is a friendly cocktail bar that offers cheap drinks, good conversation and a great variety of special event nights.

On a run of the mill evening, there will be no-nonsense bar food, dancing and a choice of video games and traditional bar games to keep you amused. Time your visit right, though, and you could join the fun for an underwear party. Dare to bare and it’s all you can drink for a one-off $5 charge. 

Phoenix is a bar that allows smoking even if you’re not playing casino games, so keep that in mind. For smokers, it’s like a step back in time to the good old days, but for others, it can come a bit of a culture shock. However, there’s a fabulous outdoor patio where you can take in the fresh desert air.

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Travel

Surrounded by art

Heading to Niagara Falls in NY in the US? The waterfalls may be the main attraction;buut there’s more to see in Niagara Falls than the body of water. Go IG crazy with a quick visit at Art Alley NF.

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When heading to Niagara Falls in the state of New York in the US, the three waterfalls at the southern end of Niagara Gorge (between the Ontario, Canada and, yes, the US state of New York) may be the main attraction. This isn’t exactly surprising; heck, everyone who saw 1980’s Superman (before he got grumpy and too dark – even if he stayed yummy – with DC’s re-imagining of the alien boy scout) will want to see the… grandeur of the location. For that matter, Hollywood has repeatedly “told” us (via the likes of 2003’s Bruce Almighty, 2014’s Tammy, 2016’s After the Sun Fell, and 2016’s The American Side) that it’s a must-visit.

When you get there, though, it is but… a body of water.

Sure, it is grand. Perhaps made even grander by the power of illumination, with the waterfalls enveloped in various colors when the sun sets. But truth be told, there’s more to see in Niagara Falls than just the body of water.

Case in point: Art Alley NF.

Located a few minutes from Niagara Falls State Park, Art Alley NF is a public mural project located at 425 Third Street in Niagara Falls, NY.

Credit for its development goes to Seth Piccirillo, the city’s community development director, and Rob Lynch, one of Niagara Falls High School’s art teachers. The two established the roadside inlet in 2016 to house 19 murals from local artists.

Think of San Francisco’s Clarion Alley, and you’d get the idea of what this is. Sans the angst, political activism, et cetera…

The location used to be a vacant lot blocked by a wall. It was blasted down by the city’s Department of Community Development to make way for a walkway lined with the murals.

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Street art enthusiasts ought to like this; or at least IG aficionados.

Though I say that again, when in Niagara Falls, NY in the US, don’t just stick to the body of water (you can check this in a just a day); instead, be surrounded by art with a quick visit to Art Alley NF.

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Traveling as a broke college student isn’t impossible

To be honest, any of your trips will require some money, because all the blessings of our civilization have some monetary equivalent in one or another currency. However, it is extremely important to understand that travel expenses can be reduced to some minimum that can be quite easily obtained or earned anywhere.

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Photo by Capturing the human heart. from Unsplash.com

Traveling without money or traveling at minimal cost is quite possible. This is verified by the great experience of many students. To be honest, any of your trips will require some money, because all the blessings of our civilization have some monetary equivalent in one or another currency. However, it is extremely important to understand that travel expenses can be reduced to some minimum that can be quite easily obtained or earned anywhere.

It is possible to extract the necessary funds both before the trip and during your journey. The most optimal and most often used option is to make money before the trip. Earning during the trip itself is difficult and requires certain mental costs, language proficiency, ability to negotiate and sociability.

How to reduce costs while traveling?

1. Transport

The most basic way to reduce transport costs is to use hitchhiking. It is the cheapest way to travel across the country. In many ways, it may not be a convenient and comfortable way of movement but it greatly reduces your costs. 

If you need to use air travel then there are ways to find cheap air tickets. Many companies often arrange various promotions, layout promotional fares, making substantial discounts on their flights. You can find special services for monitoring such actions on the Internet. You should subscribe to them and follow the layout of messages. This is inconvenient when you have limited dates but if you are looking for tickets in advance, you can quite easily stumble upon a direction suitable for you and buy a cheap ticket.

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There are cheap bus companies selling their tickets via the Internet as well. They can also be purchased much cheaper if purchased in advance. There are such companies in the USA and Europe, and there are many more in Asia.

2. Overnight stay

To get an apartment for an overnight stay you can use many well-known services such as CouchSurfing, where you are looking for people in a particular region, and you can spend the night or stay for a while. These people also often play the role of guide for you, showing the city, and telling valuable information about it.

If you do not have the ability or desire to use Couchsurfing, then you can sleep in a tent and there is nothing wrong with that. Putting a tent in the center of any city, of course, is not the best idea, but if you stop in front of the city in advance, even on the highway, you can easily find a place to sleep. This is the same tourism as if you went hiking in the mountains. 

However, if you need comfort, and you cannot use Couchsurfing, you can find cheap guesthouses or hostels on hotel booking sites, like booking.com. The minimum price for hostels in Europe and Asia is $ 4-5 per night. It is still spending but you can earn some money while traveling by freelancing or selling your writing pieces to companies like Pro-Papers if you are good enough and have a great passion in writing essay.

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Another option is to spend the night in a monastery, both Christian and some other (for example, Buddhist).

3. Nutrition

You can buy cheap food in large retail chains, like American Walmart or French Auchan. In such stores most often there are locally produced products from this distribution network. There is no brand markup on it and therefore it is much cheaper. Use it and avoid additional spending in such expensive countries like Norway and the USA.

In various religious institutions, temples, monasteries are often free dining. For example, many people like eating in a Sikh temple – in India or some other country. In Buddhist monasteries, orthodox charity canteens, etc.

Taking food with you and carrying it in your backpack is another great idea. If you are traveling to expensive countries, you can stock up on food from home. If you have the necessary utensils, a gas burner, a stove-stove, you can cook very cheap food by your own instead of spending money on the purchase of ready-made dishes, even if in cheap public catering. Cooking yourself will be cheaper.

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NEWSMAKERS

Taiwan holds first trans-specific Pride march

The trans community of Taiwan converged in the first-ever trans Pride march. The gathering aimed to spread awareness on issues that are specific to the trans community, including the need for the Taiwanese government to remove “sexual reassignment surgery” from the list of requirements for transgender people to change their gender markers.

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TAIPEI, TAIWAN – As the country holds the 17th annual Taipei Pride parade, the transgender community of Taiwan converged in the first-ever trans Pride march. The gathering aimed to spread awareness on issues that are specific to the trans community, including the need for the Taiwanese government to remove “sexual reassignment surgery” from the list of requirements for trans people to change their gender markers.

The main event of Taipei Pride is themed “Together, Make Taiwan Better”; but to date – and akin to other LGBTQIA developments in Western countries – trans-specific issues continue to be relegated to the sidelines when discussing concerns of the LGBTQIA community, making trans-specific gatherings important.

The first trans march was held in San Francisco in 2004. And then, just as it is now, it continues to be a gathering pushing for the creation of a space for the diverse communities in the LGBTQIA community to unite and achieve the social justice and equality the LGBTQIA movement sought out in the beginning.

Pride, as a whole, has devolved into a corporate/money-earning stunt/parade; so that marches for trans and lesbians are now the more political versions.

As it is, the annual LGBTQIA Pride parade in Taiwan – first held in 2003 – attracts over 100,000 participants. Last year, 130,000 people joined the event, boosted by the passing of same-sex marriage legislation. It is the largest commercial Pride gathering in Asia, ahead of Tel Aviv Pride in Israel, which is the largest in the Middle East.

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Taiwan LGBT Pride Community, the organizer of Taiwan LGBTQ Pride parade, holds the parade on the last Saturday of October.

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Travel

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.

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