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 and the Church of England embrace marriage equality, a Barbados Archbishop makes the controversial claim that God loves everybody and Tanzania closes its HIV drop-in testing centers for “encouraging homosexuality” — but at least they’re no longer planning to publish a list of gay people!
1. Malaysia Makes Steps Toward LGBTQ Inclusivity
The Islamic Development Department of Malaysia released a new video explaining how to approach the LGBT community. The video has garnered mixed reactions — although it emphasizes that sexual orientation can be changed and encourages individuals to subdue desires, some have praised the video for speaking without hatred.
2. Tanzania to Close Drop-In HIV Testing Centers
Tanzania’s Ministry of Health issued a statement declaring the government’s intention to close drop-in centers that provide HIV testing and counseling and other services after a special governmental task force accused them of encouraging homosexuality. The Minister also announced that health workers are undergoing training to learn how to positively work with special communities, including men who have sex with men. Meanwhile, the Deputy Health Minister announced they no longer plan to “publish a list of gay people.”
3. Get Gay-Married in Finland
The Finnish Parliament rejected a petition signed by over 100,000 citizens to stop the legalization of marriage equality. The law was passed in 2014 and will go into effect this month. In Slovenia, the first same-sex marriage was celebrated as new legislation came into effect bringing marriage equality to the country.
4. Barbados Archbishop Rejects Homophobia
In Barbados, the Anglican Archbishop of the West Indies Dr. John Holder held a press conference during which he said that churches that speak against homosexuality “seem to be misreading and misinterpreting the Bible” and emphasized that all people should be supported and treated equally as children of God.
5. This Transphobic Bus is in Bus Jail
In Madrid, Spain, authorities impounded a bus belonging to the group Hazte Oir (Make Yourself Heard). Mayor Manuela Carmena was concerned that anti-transgender phrases written on its sides could spark hate crimes.
6. Transgender People Given the Vote in Ecuador
In Ecuador, where voters must line up by sex, new legislation allowing people to change gender on their identity cards gave transgender citizens the ability to vote as the gender they identify for the first time.
7. Valentine’s Day Means a Celebration of Love and Visibility
China’s Beijing LGBT Centre ran a campaign on Valentine’s Day encouraging LGBT couples to dress in wedding attire and post pictures of themselves at famous landmarks to support marriage equality. Meanwhile, Belgium’s LGBT activists used Valentine’s Day to promote bisexual visibility.
8. The Church of England Refuses to Oppose Marriage Equality
The General Synod of the Church of England voted to reject Bishop recommendations that the Church continue to oppose marriage equality. The vote is not binding, but bishops must consider it when creating future documents. UK Anglicans spoke out about the continued division within the church.
9. National Geographic‘s Trans Issue Botched Abroad
Last month the National Geographic was lauded for its special issue on the “Gender Revolution” featuring a transgender girl on its U.S. cover for the first time. But not all the global editions of the magazine were as progressive. Transgender Europe, the Czech organization Trans*parent, Hungarian NGO Transvanilla and the German group Bundesverband Trans* — among others — spoke out on the problematic and misleading information contained in several of the international editions.
10. Moonlight Plays in Botswana and Wins Three Oscars
Botswana hosted the fifth annual Batho Ba Lorato Film Festival celebrating LGBTIQ films with this year’s theme ‘Breaking Down the Walls.’ Among the highlights was American film Moonlight, about an African-American gay man growing up in Miami. Moonlight won three Oscars — Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor for Mahershala Ali (the first Muslim-American actor to win an award), and the top prize of Best Picture.
Check out the moving Oscar acceptance speech from playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney: “This goes out to all those black and brown boys and girls and non-gender conforming who don’t see themselves. We’re trying show you, you and us. This is for you.”
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.
(Featured photo via Trevor Snapp/IntraHealth International)