Every month we 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. This month, a look at how Weibo reversed its ban on gay content, an update on PrEP and finally, a tip of the hat to the Manchester police for taking LGBTQ domestic violence seriously.
A PrEP update from around the world
In the United States, more public health programs are encouraging people to begin PrEP, especially African American women, and gay and bisexual men. From Scotland, Dr. Rak Nandwani of the National Health Service of Glasgow announced that during the first eight months of their new program to fully support PrEP, demand has “greatly exceeded expectations”. And in Brazil, the Institute of Technology in Pharmaceuticals announced it will begin manufacturing PrEP in the country — a move that the government expects to decrease treatment costs by 60%.
Three STIs are increasingly common in young men who have sex with men
The U.S. CDC released new data showing that reported diagnoses of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis have reached an all-time high. The CDC identified that people aged 15 to 24 who are gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men are at greatest risk for these infections. In California, researchers are using social media to track and predict new outbreaks of syphilis.
In addition, New Zealand’s Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) found that the number of reported syphilis cases has more than doubled since 2015. The Ministry of Health, Director of Public Health Dr. Caroline McElnay, urged the community to use condoms.
Russia bans HIV denialism in the fight against AIDS
As part of Russia’s strategic plan to end AIDS, the Health Ministry drafted legislation that would make it illegal to deny the existence of HIV or to recommend an HIV-positive person not to seek treatment.
Poland may get its first gay president
In Poland, whose constitution bans same-sex marriage, campaigns are beginning for the 2020 presidential election. A new survey found that the top three contenders for the post include openly gay mayor and LGBT activist Robert Biedroń. Meanwhile, in Paraguay, the newly elected Mario Abdo Benítez ran on a platform that included opposition to both abortion and same-sex marriage.
Will Taiwan renege on its marriage equality promise?
In May of 2017, Taiwan’s Constitutional Court made a historic ruling, finding that the ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional and subsequently giving the Legislative Yuan two years to enact new laws that allow same-sex couples marriage rights. However, a year into the grace period, anti-LGBT activists have successfully petitioned the Central Election Commission (CEC) to consider a referendum that could reverse the ruling.
The proposed questions ask if Taiwan unions should be restricted to heterosexual couples and if the national education curriculum should exclude “gay and lesbian education”, despite curriculum requirements created by the Gender Equality Education Act of 2004. The proposals must now collect nearly 282,000 signatures (1.5% of total eligible voters) for the national referendum to be held.
Trinidad and Tobago’s High Court declares that criminalizing LGBT is unconstitutional
Trinidad and Tobago’s High Court of Justice issued a landmark ruling declaring that laws which criminalize same-sex relationships between consenting adults are unconstitutional. Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi has already announced the government will appeal the decision. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) applauded the decision.
Though many celebrated the win, local news reports tense backlash, including vandalism, protests, and suspected gay people being evicted from their homes. The Catholic Church declared support for the ruling and supporters spread a “fact sheet” that explains what the ruling does and doesn’t mean.
LGBQ college students who are religious have more suicidal thoughts
A new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine evaluated data of over 21,000 US college students and found that among students who identify as LGBQ, increased religious engagement was tied to increased risk of suicidal thoughts and actions. Researchers noted that faith-based communities are often major partners in suicide prevention and called on them to “be willing and equipped to assist all people who seek their services, regardless of sexual orientation”.
Manchester police become the first to document LGBT victims of domestic violence
In the UK, the Manchester police force is the first force in the country to document LGBT victims of domestic violence. Just a year into the protocol change, the force announced they had recorded 775 incidents in the area. Joanne Simpson, director of domestic abuse group Independent Choices, urged for more areas to take up the protocol: “I think if we don’t look for problems then we can pretend they’re not there — it’s easier for the state to ignore that there is an issue with LGBT domestic abuse.”
Weibo reverses ban on gay content
China’s leading social media network, Sina Weibo, launched a “cleanup” campaign to censor pornography and content “related to homosexuality”, shutting down popular pages such as “Gay Voice”. Users immediately objected and the hashtag campaign “I am Gay” #我是同性恋 received over 240 million views and 170,000 posts before Weibo took it down. Even the state-run paper People’s Daily ran an editorial seeming to criticize the censorship, stating: “Intellectually speaking, there should be a consensus around respecting other people’s sexual orientation.”
In an unprecedented move, Weibo reversed the ban on gay content.
Will Russia actually take care of LGBTQ World Cup participants?
Although a Russian news outlet announced that a Pride House will be established during Russia’s 2018 World Cup, Pride House International, the organization that develops safe spaces for LGBT+ fans, athletes, and allies said they have not heard from local organizers. Many activists have had concerns that Russia’s “anti-gay propaganda law” will prevent fans and athletes from being safe during the games.
Meanwhile, the search for the 2026 World Cup host is underway, with the US and Morocco considered top contenders. An investigation by the AP found that Morocco had failed to acknowledge its laws that criminalize homosexuality or address how LGBT fans and athletes would be protected.
Hornet 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.