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 PrEP is being handled across the world. We also see a few instances of how the United Kingdom is letting down the LGBT community. We’ve got that and more in our monthly look at global news.
PrEP around the world: The UK is turning away gay men, while Australia doubles enrollment
Brazil’s Ministry of Health published data from its evaluation of the impact of PrEP on HIV prevention among trans women and gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men. Researchers concluded that PrEP is effective and feasible in real-world settings.
In the UK, which is currently rolling out a massive 3-year PrEP trial, many major clinics have said public demand for PrEP far exceeds their trial capacity and they are now turning away gay men.
In Australia’s state of New South Wales, a PrEP trial was so successful in recruiting participants, that researchers petitioned the government to double enrollment. With higher participation, they announced that new HIV infections had declined by a third over the previous year. As of 1 April, Australia began offering PrEP through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme to subsidize costs and make it more accessible outside of research trials.
The South African government began distributing PrEP to sex workers for free. And in Kenya, sex workers and members of the LGBT community held a peaceful demonstration as part of their campaign for affordable access to PrEP.
As more national public health programs assess how PrEP fits with HIV prevention goals, advocacy group AVAC launched “PrEP Watch”, a collection of PrEP related data, including research, access, cost, and the Global PrEP Tracker for comparison across countries.
In Beijing, half of the HIV cases are college students
From China, the Beijing Municipal Commission of Education (BMCE) reported that college students accounted for half of the city’s HIV-positive cases. The BMCE has ordered that colleges and universities provide courses on “scientific and systematic knowledge about sex and reproductive health” to fight the epidemic.
Indonesia will soon vote on criminalizing homosexuality
As Indonesia’s Parliament prepares to vote on whether to criminalize same-sex behavior and sex outside of marriage through an amendment to the Criminal Code, the Chairman of the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) told students that “globalization and modernization” have led to “rampant LGBT people”, drugs, and promiscuity.
Scotland may pardon all men convicted of homosexuality
Scotland’s Parliament is considering the Historical Sexual Offences (Pardons and Disregards) Bill which would pardon all gay and bisexual men criminalized due to their sexuality. New Zealand’s Parliament unanimously passed a bill to allow criminal convictions of “homosexual activity” to be erased from men’s records. Activists are petitioning the government to also provide financial compensation to those convicted. And in Sweden, the Parliament announced it will financially compensate trans people who were forcibly sterilized between 1972 and 2013.
Ireland may ban conversion therapy, but the UK won’t
Following the European Parliament’s statement condemning conversion therapy, Ireland is considering a new bill to ban the practice, with a punishment of up to €10,000 and a year in prison. Meanwhile, the UK’s Department for Health and Social Care has declined repeated calls to ban conversion therapies, stating that a ban could cause “unintended, negative consequence for valid therapies” despite support from experts and Members of Parliament.
UK’s Labour Party gives in to transphobia
Also in the UK, the Labour Party decided to delay introducing a trans-inclusive policy until after upcoming elections after some activists threatened to resign from the party if it was enacted. The policy would have allowed trans women to participate in “all-women shortlists”, a practice that allows only women to act as representatives to Parliament for certain electoral areas.
Barbados says it will never have marriage equality
In Barbados, the Minister of Social Care and Community Development told members of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) that the country would never accept gay marriage. While acknowledging that gay people in the community were “nothing new”, he claimed the “LGBT lobby” harass and stigmatize others in attempts to force same-sex marriages on the country. The Human Rights Watch issued a response, stating that the Minster was misrepresenting efforts to decriminalize same-sex activity between consenting adults. HRW recently published ‘I Have to Leave to Be Me’: Discriminatory Laws against LGBT People in the Eastern Caribbean that explores how these laws lead to discrimination and violence.
Is the Catholic Church evolving on LGBT issues?
Nearly two years ago Pope Francis sparked controversy with Amoris Laetitia, his high-level document on the family. Although the plan did not call for acceptance of same-sex marriage, it was seen by many as a major step forward for inclusion of rainbow families, remarried couples, and single parents.
The document has been used by some US Archbishops to speak openly about LGBT people. Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago hosted seminars for religious leaders with presentations by theologians that support LGBTQ inclusion, gender discussion, and marriage equality. From Washington, DC, Archbishop Cardinal Donald Wuerl released “Sharing in the Joy of Love in Marriage and Family”, a detailed first of its kind pastoral plan to implement the Pope’s plan in parishes.
Writing for Crux, editor John Allen reflected on the Catholic Church’s difficulty accepting trans and other non-binary people and its objection to “gender theory” that suggests gender is socially and culturally constructed.
Pakistan gets its first openly trans news anchor
In Pakistan, fashion model Maavia Malik became the first openly trans news anchor joining the Kohenoor News show. Thousands praised Australian TV correspondent Karl Schmid for his emotional social media post revealing he is HIV-positive in which he wrote:
“For anyone who has ever doubted themselves because of those scary three letters and one symbol, let me tell you this, you are somebody who matters. Your feelings, your thoughts, your emotions count. And don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.”
LGBTQ teachers are losing their jobs all around the world
In the US, primary school art teacher Stacy Bailey was suspended after school officials accused her of discussing sexual orientation with students. Bailey objected to the school’s accusation, saying that she only mentioned her wife and family to her students. She suggested the suspension has more to do with her requests to the school that anti-discrimination policies include sexual orientation.
In Swaziland, some parents are demanding a teacher be transferred because they fear she is a lesbian. Swazi News reported that though students have “come to terms with the teacher’s sexual orientation, the community is having none of it and want her removed”.
In India, maths and science teacher Abhijit Kundu is suing the Calcutta International School for allegedly firing him after his autobiography “Amar Shamakami Ejahar (My Homosexual Confession)” was featured at the Kolkata International Book Fair.
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.