Gay Related News ARCHIVE

One in six homeless LGBT+ youth have been sexually abused by family members, damning report finds

Maggie Bask, PinkNews
 
April 14th 2021

LGBT+ youth are being forced into homelessness after sexual abuse from family members, a shocking report confirms, with many having casual sex to keep a roof over their head while homeless.

Almost a fifth (17 per cent) of LGBT+ young people surveyed by LGBT+ youth homelessness charity akt said they felt like they had to have casual sex to find somewhere to stay while they were homeless. A similar number (16 per cent) said they engaged in sex work as a direct result of being made homeless.

The charity asked 161 LGBTQ+ young people about their experiences of homelessness in the last five years in the UK. Almost a quarter (24 per cent) said they experienced being homeless for one to three months, while 21 per cent experienced up to six months of being homeless. Almost three per cent said they had been homeless for over three years.

The damning report found that many LGBT+ young people experienced sexual abuse before being made homeless. One in six (16 per cent) said they were forced by family members to do sexual acts before they became homeless. The same number said they experienced this with a romantic partner.

Sadly, the akt report found abuse was prevalent in other areas. Two-thirds (66 per cent) of LGBT+ young homeless people said they were repeatedly belittled by family members to the point they felt worthless, and a similar number (61 per cent) said they felt frightened or threatened by their family before they became homeless.

Half (50 per cent) said, before they were homeless, they feared expressing their LGBT+ identity to their family would result in them being evicted.

Tim Sigsworth, chief executive of akt, and Terry Stacy, chair, said in a joint statement that the tragic report provided evidence for rethinking how organisations and the UK government support young LGBT+ people at risk of homelessness.

The charity called for the government to introduce “mandatory monitoring of gender and sexuality as a first vital step across housing and homelessness services” which it said would lead to “faster and more responsive interventions”.

akt said there also needed to be a “stronger emphasis on prevention focused intervention” to limit the long-term impacts of homelessness including “poor mental health and perpetual journeys of abuse”.

Rick Henderson, CEO of Homeless Link, said the akt research shows the “abuse many LGBTQ+ young people experience in their family home”. He said the experience of homelessness is “isolating and can inhibit young people’s opportunities to build relationships and communities with their peers”.

“This report shines a light on the experiences of abuse, discrimination and suffering faced by young people who are marginalised due to their sexuality or gender identity,” Henderson said.

“While there is extensive research about how early experiences of adversity impact on health and social welfare, this research provides an explicit picture of how these experiences lead to and sustain young LGBTQ+ people’s homelessness and risk of further abuse and exploitation.”

Unfortunately, the majority (92 per cent) of young LGBT+ people surveyed by akt said that being homeless harmed their mental health. Almost three in five (58 per cent) said it had negatively impacted their physical health.

Three in 10 (29 per cent) said they started drinking as a way to cope with being made homeless, and 22 per cent admitted to taking drugs for the first time because of being homeless.

Almost one quarter (24 per cent) said they weren’t aware of any housing support services available to them, compared to 44 per cent who said they were aware.

Foreign Drug Pricing Puts America's Most Vulnerable Patients Last

By Guy Anthony, The Advocate

April 13, 2021

Photo by Julie Viken from Pexels

A proposed bill could have devastating effects for anyone on medication, including people living with HIV.

It’s no coincidence that American companies led the charge to develop COVID-19 vaccines. Numerous policies — from strong patent protections to a welcoming immigration system — help ensure that the world’s smartest scientists can pursue cutting-edge research here.

Many Americans, especially those with HIV, are alive today thanks to this innovation. Unfortunately, these same Americans have the most to lose if a well-intentioned but misguided drug-pricing bill becomes law.

The proposal — introduced in 2019 as the Lower Drug Costs Now Act, or H.R. 3, and set to return within weeks — would set drug prices, pegging Medicare payments to the average price in six other developed countries.

In these “reference” countries, though, government officials make coverage and payment decisions based on heartless and antiquated cost-benefit analyses, called “quality-adjusted life-years.”

These “QALYs” are inherently discriminatory, especially against those living with disabilities or chronic diseases, as they put a dollar figure on “perfect” health. So even when a treatment works exactly as it’s supposed to — and brings a patient back to his or her full life — those with underlying health conditions, like HIV, are deemed to never be “worth” as much to government regulators.

Let’s be clear. Such analyses are cruel. And by importing other nations’ drug prices, we’d be importing such analyses here. In many of the reference nations, government regulators declare hard cut-offs on what they’ll spend — and therefore conclude that many patients are essentially “too expensive” to be worthy of care. In the United Kingdom’s National Health Service, for example, medicines that cost more than $42,000 annually generally aren’t covered.

This refusal to cover medicines that exceed an arbitrary threshold explains why the average patient in OECD countries had access to only 51 percent of new cancer medications launched worldwide from 2011-2019, while American patients had access to 96 percent.

Currently, QALYs aren’t used to determine the cost of drugs in the United States. In fact, the George H.W. Bush administration established that using QALYs would violate the Americans with Disabilities Act. And the Affordable Care Act includes protections that bar U.S. officials from using QALY assessments to make coverage or payment decisions.

But under H.R. 3, vulnerable patients would be subjected to discriminatory QALY assessments, just indirectly.

The bill is also concerning because it would discourage research.

Developing new medicines is risky. Fewer than 12 percent of experimental medicines entering clinical trials are eventually approved by the FDA. Drugs that make it to market have to subsidize all these failures. That’s why, on average, it costs $2.6 billion to bring a new medicine to market, according to a Tufts University study.

By tying Medicare’s payments to the arbitrarily low prices paid abroad, H.R. 3 would reduce monies available for research and development. And by limiting potential returns, the bill would make research projects less attractive to investors. One analysis found that H.R. 3 could result in at least 56 fewer new medicines over 10 years.

As a person living with HIV, I’ve seen the power of medical innovation firsthand. In 10 years, I’ve gone from taking three pills per day to only one. At the height of the HIV/AIDs epidemic, the disease was a death sentence. But today, thanks to the innovation of the pharmaceutical industry and the incredible antiretroviral treatments it developed, those living and loving with HIV have life expectancies that match those without it.

Encouraging innovation is the best way to help vulnerable patients like me. Unfortunately, H.R. 3 puts patients last.

Guy Anthony is the president and CEO of Black, Gifted & Whole.

Straight Guys On TikTok Are Pretending to Be Gay for #Homiesexual Clout

By Zeynep Sasmazel, via Hornet.

10th April 2021

Bisexual singer, songwriter and actress Tayla Parx releasing the single “Homiesexual,” which features lines such as “And that’s just exactly why I only fuck with homies, I’m a homiesexual / But if I let you kick it, don’t go feeling special.” Tayla has helped pen some of the biggest tracks of the past few years — including Ariana Grande’s “Thank U, Next” and Panic! At The Disco’s “High Hopes” — and her “Homiesexual,” released in 2019, is a straight-up bop.

Possibly not as cool: Pretending you’re gay for the social media clout.

My gut reaction to the “homiesexual” trend, which seems to live predominantly on TikTok, was “oh no.” These videos of young, straight guys show them sharing beds, spooning, swapping kisses and generally being overly affectionate with one another. The effect is somewhere between twee and borderline exploitative — most of the guys are minors and, as previously mentioned, straight. Queerbaiting has long been a tactic of the entertainment industry to get LGBTQ folk invested in works that don’t actually cater to us. (Most recently, see that recent episode of Supernatural.) But this homiesexual trend doesn’t seem to be baiting queer folks into viewership, but instead … female followers.

Connor Robinson, a TikTok star who partakes in the homiesexual trend, says: “Girls are attracted to two attractive guy TikTokers with massive followings showing a sexual side with each other.” With nearly 1 million followers on TikTok, Robinson estimates that 90% of them are female.

Ercan Boyraz, head of influencer management at Yoke Network, believes these videos are “a super effective way for aspiring social media stars to accumulate more followers, as many young women enjoy watching two guys mess around together.” In an era that revolves around garnering the most followers, getting the most likes, having the most desirable body and living the most picturesque life, there is undoubtedly enough material on the psychology of social media trends to write a thesis.

Often, when and if there is harm done, that harm is circular, rather than linear — it isn’t enough to just say that this bizarre appeal of queerness as a costume to gain followers could be problematic. How did we get here? How do we choose to frame perpetrators of these trends with the knowledge that they’re minors?

What’s worse — young men expressing affection toward one another to gain popularity among young women, or the way adults publicly talk about these young men (the New York Times article on the homiesexual trend describes Robinson as “a 17-year-old British TikTok star with rosy cheeks and a budding six-pack”)? And what is the effect of this trend on the LGBTQ community?

An op-ed in The Emory Wheel dives into the nuances of “homiesexuality,” namely what it means to embrace a softer, more affectionate masculinity versus commodifying the queer experience. Sophia Ling writes, “While redefining heterosexuality, as well as accepting and normalizing fluid sexuality warrant praise, these cannot remain mere side effects of popularity-seeking behavior on social media.”

Rebelling against toxic, heteronormative masculinity is not a bad thing in and of itself — in fact, this rejection of the norm is something we ought to encourage as a society. But not when it comes at the price of the queer experience.

That brings us to an even more difficult question: Who decides whether actual LGBTQ folk are negatively impacted by a particular trend? The obvious answer is LGBTQ people. The reality of the situation is that you’ll be hard-pressed to find an entire community of people agreeing 100% on one thing.

Homiesexual T-shirts have already started to appear on Amazon, advertised as the “perfect gift [for] reality fans, queer and quirky people, beautiful, elegant and fashionable.” Just like I don’t love when mega-corporations decide to care about the LGBTQ community for a single month in the summer in order to get our money, I don’t love this either.

The most popular definition of the term “homiesexual” on Urban Dictionary is “It’s a sexuality where we homies but it aint gay cause we’re just homies.”

While TikTok seems to be the center of this trend, there are #homiesexual tags on both Instagram and Twitter as well.

A quick look into the #homiesexual tag on TikTok yields over 55 million results.

This article was originally published on January 31, 2020. It has since been updated.

Malta is officially re-opening for travellers this summer, which means Europe’s most LGBT-friendly holiday destination is soon yours to explore.

Pink News

9th April 2021

The Mediterranean archipelago has announced vaccinated and unvaccinated tourists will be able to visit Malta from 1 June, with at least 18 airlines, including Air Malta, making the trip. Under current plans, international travel from the UK will resume no earlier than 17 May.

Cruise liners will also be up and running again, letting you step straight off the dock into the UNESCO World Heritage Site that is the entire capital city of Valetta.

The tiny island nation at the crossroads of Europe and Africa is steeped in culture and history – and it also has the crucial bonus of being a champion of LGBT+ rights.

Malta’s strong LGBT+ equality laws have seen it top the Rainbow Europe list for the last five years in a row, ahead of Belgium, Luxembourg, France and Denmark.

Discrimination against LGBT+ people has been banned there since 2004, and in 2014 it became the first European state to enshrine gender identity as a protected category in its constitution.

LGBT+ hate crimes are prohibited by law, same-sex marriage and adoption are both legal, and conversion therapy is banned as of 2016, when Malta became the first EU country to do so.

It all adds to the Maltese’s reputation of kindness and excellent hospitality which has seen the country grow as a top tourist destination year after year.

The island also boasts a balmy Mediterranean climate with over 300 sunny days per year, a top-ranked healthcare system and some of the world’s best diving locations.

As for COVID-19, Malta’s sensible public health measures led to the World Health Organisation dubbing it “the country to follow” amid the pandemic.

At the time of of writing, Malta is one of the highest vaccinated summer destinations in Europe with over 40 doses of the vaccine carried out per 100 population.

And the average numbers of daily infections are currently hitting all-time lows for 2021, with less than 100 daily cases. 

“All our decisions strive to find a balance and give priority to the health of Maltese citizens and the tourists who will come into our country,” said tourism and consumer protection minister Clayton Bartolo.

All of which is to say, Malta could be the perfect place to shake off your lockdown blues.

 

Sec. Pete Buttigeig Hopes Cruising Can Commence This Summer

 

In a White House press briefing, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said he hopes to bring cruising back by the middle of summer. But don’t get too excited, it’s not exactly the kind you’d hope.

When Secretary Buttigieg, in his first briefing since joining the Biden administration, was asked by reporters about the possibility of the cruise industry opening up again, he seemed optimistic. “The CDC is hopeful that a lot of these operators will be able to be cruising by mid-summer,” he answered, “We want to do this as soon as we responsibly can but we want to be safe.”

He added that “the bottom line is safety” and that he “can’t wait for us all to be on the move as much as possible, but it’s gotta be safe and responsible.”

So, while one type of cruising may be back this summer, we still have to wait to be seen if it will be safe to hook up once more people are vaccinated.

Buttigieg’s comments come just one day after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration and the Centers for Disease Control, demanding that they reopen the cruise ship industry. Cruise ships were shut down over a year ago because of the ongoing global pandemic.

DeSantis announced his lawsuit in a news conference where he said “the CDC has locked down this industry for over a year, this is not reasonable, this is not rational.” He added, “we don’t believe the federal government has the right to mothball a major industry for over a year based on very little evidence and very little data.”

The CDC had shut down cruises because of outbreaks of the pandemic tied to ships, but DeSantis said that that’s not a valid enough reason to impact Florida and it’s economy this much. Florida is the center of the cruise industry in the U.S., with Miami, Port Canaveral, and Port Everglades being three of the biggest ports in the world. Meanwhile, gay travel company Atlantis scheduled a cruise from Los Angeles to Mazatlan, Mexico that departs on Halloween.

While cruises originating in the United States have been shut down, the industry has resumed in other parts of the world. “People are going to cruise one way or another.” DeSantis said, “the question is are we going to do it out of Florida, which is the number one place to do it in the world, or are they going to be doing it out of the Bahamas or other locations?”

LGBTQ students file lawsuit against Liberty University

By David Reddish, Queerty

6th April 2021

A group of 33 former students from across the nation has joined together in a class-action lawsuit against the Department of Education. The reason: the group argues that Liberty University, among other religious colleges, discriminates against LGBTQ students. The suit further argues that Liberty and other religious institutions like it violate Title IX of the US Constitution.

“I wanted to do my part in this lawsuit because I wanted Liberty, and all these other schools, to treat their queer students the same way that they treat everyone else,” Lucas Wilson, a gay man, told WSLS News. Wilson is one of the former students joining the Religious Exemption Accountability Project in the lawsuit.

“[These universities] see [being queer] as, without question, a negative and detrimental practice,” he added.

In the same interview, Wilson went on to claim that Liberty University, which he attended from 2008 to 2012, ostensibly “welcomes” LGBTQ students, only to shame and discriminate against them in public. That includes forced community service, fines or forced conversion therapy programs.

That homophobia, according to the lawsuit, doesn’t stop with faculty, either.

“Students at Liberty behave in homophobic and anti-queer ways because they know they can do so with relative impunity,” one of the plaintiffs, McKenzie McCann, a former Liberty student says in the complaint. “Liberty’s culture enables such conduct and makes students feel like Liberty is backing them.”

“What we’re asking is the department be allowed to do its job and investigate discrimination complaints that are filed by LGBT kids instead of just closing them when there’s a religious exemption asserted,” said Paul Southwick, the lawyer representing the Religious Exemption Accountability Project. “The government is actually giving its stamp of approval to the discrimination through its federal funding. That is a violation of the due process rights and equal protection rights of LGBTQ students. The Supreme Court has made clear that the government can no longer treat gay people in a manner that fails to recognize their dignity as human beings.”

President Biden recently signed an executive order declaring that Title IX extends full anti-discrimination protections to LGBTQ people in education. That order, however, contains a religious exemption. The Religious Exemption Accountability Project hopes that by suing, the courts will define just how far that exemption goes when it comes to the treatment of queer students.

In addition to Liberty University, the suit names other noted religious universities and colleges including Indiana Wesleyan, Bob Jones, The Moody Bible Institute, Brigham Young, Azusa Pacific and Colorado Christian, among others. It’s important to note that these institutions are not named as defendants in the suit; rather, they are named in hopes of bringing their practices to light within the courts.

“What I hope this lawsuit does is that it starts a conversation and that both sides are willing to listening; that we’re not out here making noise simply to make noise,” Lucas Wilson said.

At the time of this writing, Liberty University has not issued a comment on the lawsuit. Last year, the university became the center of a scandal involving former President Jerry Fallwell, Jr. over his misappropriation of funds and his & his wife Becki’s sexual liaisons with students.

 

Catholic Church fought suicide prevention hotline for supporting LGBTQ people

By David Reddish, Queerty

3rd April 2021

via Flickr

A new report on the creation of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has revealed that Catholic bishops actively worked to derail the hotline. The reason: the plan for the hotline included counseling of at-risk LGBTQ people.

The National Suicide Prevention Line, which goes into effect in July 2022, will offer mental health counseling services to Americans considering suicide by dialing 9-8-8 on any phone. Now, a new report has revealed that deputies of the Catholic Church quietly lobbied against the creation of the hotline, as it would affirm callers questioning their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The National Catholic Reporter has revealed that “When the U.S. Congress passed the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act last fall to establish a toll-free number with assistance for those with mental health crises, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops quietly lobbied behind the scenes against the legislation. The bishops’ justification? The legislation contained special funding for LGBTQ support.”

The same article also revealed that the Catholic Church also opposed the Violence Against Women Act in 2013 for the very same reason. “All persons must be protected from violence, but codifying the classifications ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity’ as contained in S. 47 is problematic,” the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote in a letter at the time.

The renewed scrutiny over the lobbying by the Catholic Church comes as the religious institution has also come out against the Equality Act, which is currently under consideration in the US Congress. The act would provide protections for LGBTQ people in housing and employment. President Joe Biden has indicated that should it pass, he will sign it into law. The council of bishops have opposed the law on the grounds that it represents a “violation of precious rights to life and conscience” and would “chip away at religious freedom.”

The news also comes following the announcement that the Catholic Church would refuse to bless same-sex unions. In a statement, the church said that God “does not and cannot bless sin: He blesses sinful man, so that he may recognize that he is part of his plan of love and allow himself to be changed by him.” The announcement has yielded wide criticism, as Pope Francis had previously spoken out in favor of legal protections for queer people, and singer Elton John revealed that the Catholic Church was a major investor in the film Rocketman, which dealt heavily in queer content.

 

In landmark ruling, Japan court says not allowing same-sex marriage is 'unconstitutional'

Channel News Asia, via Reuters.

March 17th 2021

TOKYO: A Japanese district court on Wednesday (Mar 17) ruled that not allowing same-sex couples to marry is “unconstitutional”, setting a new precedent in the only Group of Seven nation not to fully recognise same-sex partnership, though it rejected demands for damages to be paid.

The ruling, the first in Japan on the legality of same-sex marriages, is a major symbolic victory in a country where the Constitution defines marriage as being based on “the mutual consent of both sexes”.

As it currently stands, same-sex couples cannot inherit their partner’s assets – such as the house they may have shared – and also have no parental rights to any children their partners may have.

Though partnership certificates issued by individual municipalities around the nation help with renting places to live and hospital visitation rights, they still do not allow the same full legal rights as for heterosexual couples.

The Sapporo District Court threw out the demand for damages by the six plaintiffs – two couples of men and one of women – who had asked that the Japanese government pay ¥1 million (US$9,200) each in acknowledgement of the pain they suffered by not being able to legally marry.

But the recognition that not allowing them to marry was unconstitutional was the victory the plaintiffs, their lawyers and activists had been hoping for as a key symbolic step forward and precedent-setter.

Similar cases are currently being heard in four other courts around Japan and this ruling may influence the outcomes there as well.

By Asian standards, Japanese laws are relatively liberal. Homosexual sex has been legal since 1880, but social attitudes keep the LGBT community largely invisible and many have yet to come out even to their families.

Some in the business world say Japan’s not allowing same-sex marriage makes it difficult for companies, especially foreign companies, to attract and keep highly-skilled labour in an increasingly international economy.

The American Chamber of Commerce last year issued a statement saying that Japan’s stance makes it less competitive internationally as a result.

A number of companies have taken their own steps to work around the situation, including both international companies and Japanese firms such as Panasonic. But there are limits.

“For things that are part of the national system, such as pensions, there’s nothing they can do,” said Masa Yanagisawa, head of Prime Services at Goldman Sachs Japan and a board member of the NGO Marriage for All Japan.

“All the other advanced countries have this, so Japan will lose out competitively. Then there’s the fact that people can’t be who they are. It becomes quite business critical.”

Gilead, Merck collaborate to develop long-acting HIV treatment

Mrinalika Roy, Reuters

March 15th 2021

Gilead Sciences Inc pharmaceutical company is seen during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in California

Gilead Sciences Inc and rival Merck & Co Inc said on Monday they will test a combination of their experimental HIV drugs to develop a long-acting treatment for the infection that affects millions worldwide.

As part of the non-exclusive agreement, the companies hope to develop a therapy that allows for less frequent dosing, compared to the current once-daily treatments available to HIV patients.

The agreement also takes on rival treatments by GlaxoSmithKline’s unit ViiV Healthcare, which recently filed an application to expand the use of its HIV drug Cabenuva to include dosing every two months.

“The market will infer that GSK and ViiV are left out in the cold here, supporting our long-standing concerns over the longer term outlook for GSK’s HIV franchise,” Citi analyst Andrew Baum said.

Gilead and Merck will share global development and commercialization costs 60% and 40%, respectively, while having an equal share of the therapy’s sales until the revenue crosses certain milestones.

The companies will share equal profit until annual sales of the therapy’s oral version hit $2 billion and the injectable version’s sales reach $3.5 billion, following which the revenue will be split 65% for Gilead and 35% for Merck.

1.7 million new HIV infections were reported globally in 2019 and 38 million people were living with HIV, according to the World Health Organization.

 

DR Congo HIV study: ‘New hope in search for cure’

BBC News, Africa

March 2nd 2021

Scientists carrying out HIV research in the Democratic Republic of Congo have discovered a rare group of people who could potentially unlock new treatments to tackle the virus.

Known as HIV controllers the group tested positive for HIV antibodies but they had a low to non-detectable viral load without the use of medication.

The head of Abbott’s global viral surveillance programme, Mary Rodgers, told BBC World News that typically less than 1% of people with HIV are able to suppress the virus naturally, so when they found up to 4% of people who were able to do this, the scientists were shocked.

She explained that the study was serving as a springboard for further research.

“When we first started to see the data coming in from the study we were surprised, but we were also elated. This could mean that this is something that we can actually cure,” she said.

First retirement community for LGBT people in the UK to open in London this year.

Maggie Baska, Pink News
 
March 2nd 2021

Tonic Housing has been awarded a £5.7m loan from the mayor of London to purchase 19 properties in Vauxhall, Lambeth.

This will become the UK‘s first provider of queer-affirming housing for older LGBT+ people. Sales for the property are due to start in the spring with residents expected to begin moving in this summer.

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, said he is proud to support Tonic in creating the UK’s first LGBT+ retirement community through the Greater London Authority’s Community Housing Fund.

“London is an open, diverse, inclusive city, and I’m delighted to see these long-held plans come to fruition with the help of this loan and my community-led housing hub,” he said.

Khan added that he looks forward to seeing and supporting Tonic’s work to establish further LGBT+ developments in “the years to come”.

“Older Londoners deserve to be able to enjoy their later years in comfort and security, surrounded by a thriving, supportive community.”

 

Anna Kear, CEO of Tonic Housing, said the organisation is “making history” by “realising a long-held dream” in providing a “safe place for LGBT+ people to live well in a community where they can be themselves and enjoy their later years”.

Kear promised the London project will be the “first of many” retirement communities, “achieved by working in partnership with London and other cities”.

The retirement community – known as Tonic@Bankhouse – will create and host events and activities with residents based on their interests, including collaborations with other LGBT+ organisations and support providers. And all Bankhouse staff will have LGBT+-focused training.

Councillor Jack Hopkins, leader of Lambeth Council, said he is “delighted” to see “such an innovative and positive” development for older LGBT+ people happening in Lambeth.

He said: “Our borough is one that is truly diverse – we are really fortunate to have such a strong and thriving LGBTQ+ community living, working and visiting Lambeth.”

Beach erupts in protest as armed police arrest gay couple ‘for kissing’

By Lily Wakefield, Pink News

February 28th 2021

Two gay men were arrested after kissing on a public Mexico beach but were freed after fellow sunbathers charged after the police vehicle and demanded their release.

In a video that has gone viral around the world, two men are seen in handcuffs being dragged into a vehicle by armed police.

Quickly, a group of swimsuit-clad beachgoers charge and surround the vehicle, refusing to let the police take the men, and begin chanting: “I’m gay! I’m gay too!”

According to LGBTQ Nation, police in Mexico later issued a statement saying the gay men had engaged in oral sex on the beach, and were arrested for “immoral acts and sexual erotic demonstrations, on the road or public places”. However, witnesses strongly dispute this version of events.

One beach-goer shared their story online: “While I was on the beach with my family, we noticed around 4.30 that two police officers in their ATVs approached a group of young foreigners.

“After about 20 minutes passed, we noticed that a patrol arrived and proceeded to arrest them with handcuffs.

“Observing what happened, I approached them and to my surprise, and that of many who had approached, the ‘reason’ for their arrest was because they were gays and they had kissed.

“The policemen were violent, and gave arguments such as: ‘There are families and children and they cannot be seeing this.’

“They were forced into the patrol and they would not let them go, all of us who were gathered were upset at seeing the situation, no matter how much we told them that they were not committing any crime, they did not release them.”

The beach-goer said that after “a few minutes” of protest, the men were released.

They added: “They were not committing any crime, we were by their side, at no time did they do anything wrong, simply by kissing like any other couple, they wanted to take them.

“I am furious because it is not possible that in the 21st century this type of oppression against the LGBT + community continues. We all deserve the same treatment, and appropriate sanctions must be applied to these officers.”

Gay sex was decriminalised in Mexico in 1871, and LGBT+ Pride marches have taken place in Mexico City since the late 1970s.

In 2016, the former president of Mexico Enrique Peña Nieto signed an initiative to amend the country’s constitution and legalise same-sex marriage on a federal level.

However, the country is predominantly Catholic – around 83 per cent of the country’s population identifying as such as of 2010 – with religious discrimination remaining common, especially outside of large cities.

 

House passes bill that would prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ Americans after days of heated debate

Trish Turner contributed

The House on Thursday passed the Equality Act, a top agenda item for President Joe Biden that would prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ Americans in a 224-206 vote.

Three Republicans voted with all Democrats on the measure, which the House also passed two years ago but languished in the then-GOP-controlled Senate. In 2019, eight House Republicans supported the bill.

The measure would extend the protections of the Civil Rights Act to LGBTQ Americans to block discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., Tom Reed, R-N.Y., and John Katko, R-N.Y., voted with Democrats in support of the proposal on Thursday.

The vote followed two days of emotional and — at times — personal debate in the House between Democrats and Republicans, with some lawmakers speaking from their own life experiences on the floor.

“None of us should be evicted, fired or denied accommodations and services simply because of who we are and whom we love,” said Rep. Ritchie Torres, D-N.Y., who is one of the first openly gay Black men to serve in Congress.

Republicans opposing the bill cited concerns that it would infringe on their religious beliefs and irrevocably impact women’s sports across the country.

“When men or women claim to be able to choose their own sexual identity, they are making a statement that God did not know what he was doing when he made them,” said Rep. Greg Stuebe, R-Fla. “You are going to singlehandedly destroy women’s sports in the name of equality, how ironic.”

Democrats and LGBTQ advocacy groups condemned the rhetoric from Greene and other Republicans in opposition to the bill.

“Their attacks on trans people and the transgender community are just mean, mean,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said of the “despicable comments.”

Alphonso David, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, called the comments “dangerous and transphobic.”

“These comments actually create additional stigma against communities that need to be protected,” he said.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, 44 transgender or gender non-conforming Americans were killed last year, the highest tally the organization has ever recorded.

“(The attacks are) not based on fact, they’re based on fear,” he said.

The Equality Act will need to garner the support of 60 senators to get to Biden’s desk for his signature, which would require the support of at least 10 Republicans, assuming all Democrats back the package.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, a critical swing vote who cosponsored the legislation in 2020, told the Washington Blade this week that she would not do so this year, pointing to unspecified changes she requested that were not made. She did not say what changes she had sought.

“Sen. Collins supports ensuring fairness and equal treatment of all Americans, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and she is considering all possible options to do so, including introducing her own bill,” Collins’ spokeswoman Annie Clarke told the Washington Blade.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will take up the measure, but has not yet scheduled a meeting to do so.

 

Love, Victor Star Michael Cimino Faced Antigay Bullying Over Role

By: Mey Rude (Advocate Mag.)

February 17th 2021

The actor says he even recieved hateful messages from people he knows.

Some people are so ignorant, they can’t even separate reality from fiction.

That’s what Love, Victor star Michael Cimino has learned since taking on the lead role in the series, according to a new interview with Attitude.

While Cimino is straight, his character is not, and that’s all that matters to some people. “To be honest, I actually have gotten homophobic messages,” Cimino told the site. “What’s the craziest part is, it’s like sometimes, it’s from people I know, which is even crazier.” He continued, saying that it reminds him how important the show is.

“I think it just kind of shows where the world’s at, and possibly how much this show is actually needed,” he said. “I feel like it starts a conversation, and I think that’s the most important thing. And I think especially in a time like the world is right now, we need more conversations started.”

When he was asked how those homophobic messages made him feel, he said he wasn’t bothered. “As far as when it was people I know, I would either kind of lean into it, and be like, ‘OK, and what?’ or I would try to enlighten them as much as I possibly could,” he said.

He added that, in his opinion, “the best thing to do is try to educate them or realize that they’re ignorant and you can’t really say anything that’s going to help them, unfortunately.”

The teen drama about a gay teen who moves to a new high school was originally slated to air on Disney+ but was moved to Hulu after it was deemed “too adult” for Disney. When it premiered in June of last year, it became Hulu’s most watched drama. It was renewed for a season two in August last year.

 

Pete Buttigieg becomes first out confirmed cabinet member

By Trudy Ring (Adovcate Mag.)

February 2nd 2021

Pete Buttigieg made history again Tuesday, becoming the first out member of the LGBTQ+ community to be a Senate-confirmed Cabinet member.

The Senate confirmed Buttigieg, who is gay, to be secretary of Transportation by a vote of 86-13. At 39, he is the youngest Transportation secretary and one of the youngest Cabinet members ever, and the first one from the millennial generation.

He is the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., and he sought the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. He was the first out presidential aspirant to appear in a major party’s debate, and he made history by sharing his coming-out story in that forum. He won the most delegates in the Iowa caucus in January but dropped out of the race in March and then endorsed Joe Biden. He went on to work on Biden’s transition team. Before going into politics, he worked for a consulting firm and served in the military in the Iraq War.

He has spoken about when, as a teenager, he saw President Clinton’s ambassadorial nominee James Hormel denied Senate confirmation because he was gay. “I watched that story, and I learned about some of the limits that exist in this country when it comes to who is allowed to belong,” Buttigieg observed in December, when his nomination was announced. “And just as important, I saw how those limits could be challenged.” In his confirmation hearing, he introduced and praised his husband, Chasten Buttigieg.

During Donald Trump’s administration, Richard Grenell, an out gay man, was acting director of national intelligence, a Cabinet-level position, but because he held the post on an interim basis, he did not require Senate confirmation. He had been Senate-confirmed, however, to his previous post as ambassador to Germany.

Buttigieg is “bringing his political celebrity and legion of super fans to a mammoth agency that’s not used to headlines,” Politico notes. He became well-known nationally during his presidential run and has a strong Twitter following. So while he does not have extensive experience in transportation, he will likely be able to raise the profile and heighten the priority of the department’s projects.

“One of his primary tasks will be shepherding the transportation pieces of Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure vision, in whatever form it might take,” Politico adds. “He will be aided by deputy secretary-designate Polly Trottenberg, a DOT veteran from Obama’s first term who spent the intervening seven years running the New York City DOT.”

While his predecessor, Elaine Chao, was largely unavailable to the media, Buttigieg appears frequently on cable news programs and will probably continue to do so. 

“He is very unique in the sense that he brings a whole group of people from all over the country that got to know him when he ran for president,” Ray LaHood, who was President Obama’s first Transportation secretary, told Politico. “They believe in him; they believe in his leadership. He starts out with a huge, huge advantage.”

LGBTQ+ groups were thrilled at Buttigieg’s confirmation. “Congratulations to Secretary Pete Buttigieg on his historic confirmation,” Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David said in a press release. “This confirmation breaks through a barrier that has existed for too long; where LGBTQ identity served as an impediment to nomination or confirmation at the highest level of government. Let this important moment for our movement serve as a reminder to every LGBTQ young person: you too can serve your country in any capacity you earn the qualifications to hold. President Biden promised to deliver an administration representative of the diversity of this nation, and this confirmation is a significant achievement toward that goal. I look forward to working with Secretary Pete Buttigieg and the entire Biden cabinet.”

“Pete shattered a centuries-old political barrier with overwhelming bipartisan support and that paves the way for more LGBTQ Americans to pursue high-profile appointments,” Annise Parker, president and CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, said in a statement. “Pete testifying at his confirmation hearing, with his husband looking on, will be among the powerful images that define this unprecedented political moment and will be remembered as a milestone in America’s move toward social justice. While his confirmation is historic, Pete is focused on the difficult task ahead. America is in desperate need of a revitalized transportation effort and his two terms as mayor provide the experience and perspective needed to propose bold solutions. Americans are fortunate to have Pete as their Secretary of Transportation.”

GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis issued this statement: “With the Senate’s approval, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg is making history and moving our country forward as the nation’s first openly LGBTQ Senate-confirmed Cabinet member. His historic confirmation hearing, where he introduced his husband Chasten, was also a milestone for LGBTQ acceptance and representation. The role of Secretary of Transportation requires an innovative thought leader, someone who understands all Americans’ needs and has the courage to create and form the road ahead. Secretary Buttigieg’s vision will improve all Americans’ lives and navigate toward needed change to serve communities on the margins. We know he will continue to lead our country’s drive for LGBTQ acceptance. Congratulations, Secretary Buttigieg.”

From the Indiana Democratic Party: “It’s no secret Pete Buttigieg loves infrastructure and the ins and outs that come with it. On top of modernizing South Bend’s infrastructure system during his tenure as mayor, the significance of something as simple as an airport has on the Buttigieg family reminds all Hoosiers that our lives depend and rely on our nation having the best infrastructure system possible so that we can live, thrive, and even love while being in transit. The Indiana Democratic Party is proud of Secretary Buttigieg for all the work he’s accomplished for Hoosiers and the achievements he’ll make while leading the Department of Transportation under the Biden-Harris Administration. Buttigieg is a true example of what it means to have all voices — including LGBTQ Americans — at the table, and he’ll be an inspiration for so many who until this moment may have believed certain dreams were not possible.”

From Erin Uritus, CEO of Out & Equal Workplace Advocates: “Pete Buttigieg is very qualified to serve in this position with his accomplishments as mayor of South Bend, his groundbreaking campaign for president, and his dedication to improving infrastructure and rebuilding communities. Today it is even easier for LGBTQ Americans to see ourselves in national leadership. And we look forward to witnessing the power of someone from our own community bringing their full, authentic self into this role. Every workplace deserves out leadership — our federal government is no exception. The Biden-Harris administration deserves praise for continuing to demonstrate that diversity, visibility, and representation matter.”

From the Los Angeles LGBT Center: “The Center looks forward to working with Secretary Buttigieg to ensure that our country’s transportation network advances racial and gender equity in his role as secretary of the department. Public transportation in particular is of critical importance to communities that have long been marginalized by race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender and gender identity, and class, and we are optimistic that he will help address these historic inequities. After four years of continuous attempts by the Trump administration to target the LGBTQ community for discrimination, President Biden’s early appointments and actions are a welcome sign that the new administration will seek to reflect the nation’s diversity and thereby strengthen the country for all of us.”

From David J. Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition: “It was only fifty years ago that LGBTQ+ people were not permitted to work as civil servants in government. To have an openly gay man lead a government agency, one generation removed from prohibition of civil service for LGBTQ+ people, represents how far our nation has advanced in the pursuit of LGBTQ+ equality.”

FDA approves 1st long-acting HIV drug combo, monthly shots

Key Points
  • U.S. regulators have approved the first long-acting drug combo for HIV, monthly shots that can replace the daily pills now used to control infection with the AIDS virus.
  • Thursday’s approval of the two-shot combo called Cabenuva is expected to make it easier for people to stay on track with their HIV medicines and to do so with more privacy.
  • It’s a huge change from not long ago, when patients had to take multiple pills several times a day, carefully timed around meals.

U.S. regulators have approved the first long-acting drug combo for HIV, monthly shots that can replace the daily pills now used to control infection with the AIDS virus.

Thursday’s approval of the two-shot combo called Cabenuva is expected to make it easier for people to stay on track with their HIV medicines and to do so with more privacy. It’s a huge change from not long ago, when patients had to take multiple pills several times a day, carefully timed around meals.

“That will enhance quality of life” to need treatment just once a month, said Dr. Steven Deeks, an HIV specialist at the University of California, San Francisco, who has no ties to the drug’s makers. “People don’t want those daily reminders that they’re HIV infected.”

Cabenuva combines rilpivirine, sold as Edurant by Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen unit, and a new drug — cabotegravir, from ViiV Healthcare. They’re packaged together and given as separate shots once a month. Dosing every two months also is being tested.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Cabenuva for use in adults who have had their disease well controlled by conventional HIV medicines and who have not shown signs of viral resistance to the two drugs in Cabenuva.

The agency also approved a pill version of cabotegravir to be taken with rilpivarine for a month before switching to the shots to be sure the drugs are well tolerated.

ViiV said the shot combo would cost $5,940 for an initial, higher dose and $3,960 per month afterward. The company said that is “within the range” of what one-a-day pill combos cost now. How much a patient pays depends on insurance, income and other things.

Studies found that patients greatly preferred the shots.

“Even people who are taking one pill once a day just reported improvement in their quality of life to switch to an injection,” said Dr. Judith Currier, an HIV specialist at the University of California, Los Angeles. She consults for ViiV and wrote a commentary accompanying one study of the drug in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Deeks said long-acting shots also give hope of reaching groups that have a hard time sticking to treatment, including people with mental illness or substance abuse problems.

“There’s a great unmet need” that the shots may fill, he said.

Separately, ViiV plans to seek approval for cabotegravir for HIV prevention. Two recent studies found that cabotegravir shots every two months were better than daily Truvada pills for keeping uninfected people from catching the virus from an infected sex partner.

Doritos new advert brings tears of joy to the LGBTQ+ community

Gay Star News

January 12th 2021

The ad was released by Doritos Mexico at Christmas and has found its way into LGBTQ members’ hearts across the globe.

Based on a true story, the ad has been viewed 14 million times. Titled “El Mejor Regalo” which translates to “the best gift”, the video is narrated by the father who notices there’s something more between his son and “friend” Manuel.

Unsure on what to do, the father turns to Reddit asking for advice, “Hello, I’m a 52-year-old divorced father and need some help, I think my son and his friend are a couple and he won’t tell me”.

The advert goes onto show us loving scenes between the two, including riding a horse together and trying to sneakily cuddle in the father truck.

In one scene whilst having a meal together, the son calls Manuel “Honey”, leaving Manuel looking confused on how to react.

Throughout it all, it’s clear the father isn’t judging his son and wants to support his son. He writes to Reddit, “How can I let him know everything is ok?”

As the advert comes to an end, the father and son duo are seen having a special moment.  Without outing the son, he simply says “I love you” to which Javier the son replies “What you want to tell me, is that you love me how I am?”

GlaxoSmithKline says EU approves HIV treatment

GlaxoSmithKline PLC said Monday that the EU has granted marketing authorization for ViiV Healthcare’s long-acting HIV treatment Vocabria.

The British pharmaceutical company said that majority-owned ViiV Healthcare announced the authorization of Vocabria in combination with Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson’s Rekambys and Edurant for the treatment of HIV-1 infection in adults.

The company said Vocabria could potentially change the treatment experience for some people living with HIV as it removes the need for daily HIV tablets and can reduce the days they receive treatment from 365 to 12 or six per year.

Scotland issues hundreds of pardons for men convicted of gay sex

By David Reddish, Queerty

Attempting to right past wrongs, the nation of Scotland–itself a province of the United Kingdom–has just issued hundreds of pardons under a new law that attempts to make up for years of the criminalization of gay sex.

Once upon a time, any kind of physical contact, flirting or even eye contact could lead to a criminal conviction for same-sex activity under Scottish law. Penalties ranged from public humiliation to prison time. The new statute automatically wipes clean the records of any men convicted under the laws as a sort of apology for homophobia.

“We know of people who were prosecuted as late as the early 1990s for things like kissing their boyfriend in the street,” Equality Networ director Tim Hopkins told Reuters. A conviction like this could have meant the end of your career, it could have meant losing your friends, it could have meant losing your family, all of those huge impacts.”

Scotland legalized same-sex activity in 1980. The new law–which does not offer any kind of compensation beyond an apology–will exonerate thousands of men, living or dead, of their convictions.