In this monthly look at news briefs from around the world—courtesy of Equal Eyes, a news source produced in collaboration with UNAIDS and the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS—two countries lift their lifetime bans on gays donating blood, Australia has reopened inquiries into gay men hunted for sport in the ’80s and ’90s and HIV infections in Russia have reached terrifying rates.
1. Out of Control HIV
This year Russia surpassed 1 million HIV infections and had an estimated 275 new infections per day. Journalist Neil MacFarquhar examined how the continued rise in HIV reflects the tension between civil society and the Kremlin—who earlier this year labeled many AIDS-supporting NGOs “foreign agents,” banned imported condom sales and has supported “moral education” for the public while opposing youth sex education.
2. HRC Releases the State Equality Index
From the United States, the Human Rights Campaign released the State Equality Index, a comprehensive review of legislation affecting LGBT rights and documenting more than 200 anti-LGBT bills filed in state legislatures this past year. Most recently, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington State, Texas and Kentucky have introduced legislation preventing trans people from using restrooms matching their gender identity, and in several cities the legislation will negate local LGBT non-discrimination ordinances.
3. Doubly Victimized by Anti-Gay Laws
Out of India, a story of a young man’s rape went viral after he reached out to a friend in the United States. The American friend urged him to report the assault to police, but with local laws criminalizing homosexuality, the man is afraid of being arrested. With the man’s permission, the friend posted their conversation to Facebook to bring attention to the dangers and lack of support the gay community has in India.
4. A New Official Gender Category
In the United States, New Yorker Sara Kelly Keenan was re-issued a birth certificate designating her gender as “intersex”—the first U.S. birth certificate to recognize the gender category.
5. Argentina Protests Over HIV Drug Shortages
In Argentina, HIV advocates and health providers protested outside the Buenos Aires Health Ministry over the ongoing shortage of antiretroviral drugs. The Health Ministry’s AIDS director Dr. Carlos Zala said that missing medicines are due to bureaucratic roadblocks and not actual shortages of supplies.
6. Get the Sex You Want!
Canada’s Gay Men’s Sexual Health Alliance launched its ‘The Sex You Want’ campaign to educate trans and cisgender gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men about preventing, testing and treating HIV and other sexually transmitted infections with sex-positivity.
7. Lifting the Blood Ban
Ireland and Switzerland both removed lifetime bans on blood donations by men who have had sex with other men. New regulations will allow gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men to donate provided they remain celibate for one year.
8. Homosexuality Isn’t Punishable
In Lebanon, Judge Rabih Maalouf ruled that “homosexuality is a personal choice and not a punishable offense.” The ruling contradicts Article 534 that criminalizes “sexual intercourse contrary to nature” often used to penalize those accused of homosexuality. Activists say this is a step towards decriminalization.
9. Gay Men Hunted for Sport
Australian authorities have reopened inquiries into the deaths of 88 murdered men during the 1980s and ’90s whom they suspect were victims of “gangs of teenagers” that hunted gay men for sport. Former police minister Ted Pickering admitted they could see now that predators were attacking gay men and that “they were doing it with the almost-certain knowledge that the police would not have gone after them. That was the police culture of the day.”
10. Meet the Parents—Live!
In China, millions of people watched a live web broadcast of a gay couple as they traveled to their parents’ homes and revealed that they are gay. The men were one of six couples participating in a Chinese Spring Festival tradition to bring your boyfriend or girlfriend to meet the parents.
Unicorn Booty brings attentions to global issues of significance for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people. Our partnership with Equal Eyes, a news source produced in collaboration with UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, is part of that effort. To learn more, visit their site at Equal-Eyes.org.
This coverage promotes sexual and gender equality while highlighting issues of health, violence, culture, and legal and human rights. Equal Eyes provides advocates and allies a common frame of reference for the realities of global LGBTI communities. Through followup reporting and disseminating this coverage, our effort is to ensure we have a representation of the global stories that matter most or may have under-reporting.