Catch-22 still hits gay assylum seekers

It used to be the case that claims for asylum from gay men and lesbians were refused as the Home Office reasoned claimants could return to their home countries and just be discreet: refrain from same-sex relationships and hide their sexuality.

It took a case at the supreme court to overturn this. In the same way as you cannot be expected to hide your religion, the court said you couldn’t be expected to hide your sexuality.

Since then, the Home Office has changed tack in the way it refuses these asylum claims. Instead of telling applicants to be discreet, it just doesn’t believe them when they say they are gay,

writes Debora Singer of Asylum Aid in The Guardian.

Activists in the field allege that while excellent guidance and training is available to officials, neither of them are routinely implemented or followed.

2015: a record year for deaths of Trans in America

At least 21 transgender people have been killed in the United States already this year, which is more homicides than any other year on record, according to a recent report by Human Rights Campaign. During the first six months of the year alone, more transgender people were killed than in all of 2014. Most of the victims were transgender women of color. So far, none of the attacks have been deemed hate crimes,

reports Mother Jones.

Noone knows exactly how many trans people are killed every year. Police officers often refer to trans homicide victims with names and pronouns reflecting their gender of birth, rather than their gender identity. Trans women are often described by police officers as men. The FBI only began publishing statistics last year on hate crimes against gender-nonconforming people, their figures only reflect cases reported to authorities.

Mass arrest in Nigeria

Naij reports that Nigerian Police arresed twenty-one students allegedly involved in gay activities at two unnamed state-owned polytechnics in Asaba. Some of the students may have engaged in same sex activities for financial benefits. In Nigeria, gay sex is a crime, punishable by up to 14 years imprisonment in non-Sharia states, and death by stoning in Sharia states.

Celestina Kalu, a spokesperson for the state police, confirmed the arrests and said detectives had acted on a tip-off. When they raided the suspects’ house, they were holding an ‘initiation’ ceremony into their ‘evil’ group.

Following pressure by human rights groups the young men were released on bail.

Lack of law reform is making Aids twice as bad, says report into Aids in the Commonwealth


Uganda | EPA | 15441

The persecution of millions of people in Commonwealth countries where homosexuality is a criminal offence is worsening the Aids crisis, warns a major report produced for UK Prime Minister David Cameron. 40 out of 53 Commonwealth countries still criminalise same-sex relationships.

“The Commonwealth accounts for over 60 per cent of HIV cases worldwide even though it only covers 30 per cent of the world’s population because criminalisation worsens HIV pandemics and undermines efforts to tackle HIV.”

Not only are rates of HIV infection higher, but the proportion of people helped by health workers is lower.

Commonwealth nations account for more than half of the 78 jurisdictions where homosexuality is illegal. “An estimated 2.9 billion people live in countries where consensual same-sex intimacy is punishable by imprisonment, corporal punishment or even death. Of that 2.9 billion, approximately 174 million may identify as LGBT.”

Another nasty attack in Dallas


Geoffrey Hubbard | 15437

The Advocate warns us that there has been a further homophobic attack in Dallas, Texas’s gay area of Oak Lawn, this one leaving the victim hospitalized with a skull fracture. Geoffrey Hubbard, a bartender at the Cedar Springs Tap House, had left work and was walking to a friend’s house shortly after 11 p.m. on Thursday when he tried to go around a man on the sidewalk, but the man hit him on the head with an as-yet unidentified object and started going through his pockets.

Mr Hubbard had a temporal bone fracture and required stitches to his head. He is in the medical center’s intensive care unit.

Gay Activist wishes Mr Hubbard a speedy recovery and hopes his attackers are appropriately dealt with.

Turkey stops looking up men’s bottoms!

Up to now, gay men who were called up for military service in the Turkish armed forces, which is compulsory for men aged between 20 and 41, faced a degrading anal examination to see if they were homosexual. Homosexuals are exempt from serving in the Turkish army.

The Turkish Armed Forces have now relaxed this policy, meaning that these humiliating methods will no longer be enforced. Doctors will now merely observe the behaviours homosexuals display and the verbal declarations they make. In other words, a homosexual can choose to disclose or not to disclose his identity. If he does, this declaration will constitute the sole basis for the doctor’s decision.

“Being gay in Turkey is difficult, but for a gay of draft age, these difficulties become a hell. The medical examination for military service is perhaps the first challenge in your life that forces you to make a choice between your gay identity and social realities,”

a man known only as Ahmet told Al-Monitor.

Come out dears!


A footballer wears rainbow-coloured shoe laces as part of a campaign against homophobia in football | Uncredited | 15434

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore says gay footballers would be treated with respect if they were to go public about their sexuality. Scudamore is “absolutely sure” there are gay players in the Premier League, saying: “It would be very strange if there wasn’t.

The last openly-gay player in the English game was Justin Fashanu, while former Aston Villa midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger came out after his retirement in 2014.

HIV figures worse



HIV charities have warned about an “alarming” upswing in HIV diagnoses, after new figures revealed there are now more than 100,000 HIV-positive people in the UK. “HIV Testing Week” starts this Saturday.

An estimated 103,700 people in the UK are now living with HIV, taking the number above 100,000 for the first time. Transmissions among gay and bisexual men are at a new record high – with 3,360 men who have sex with men diagnosed as HIV positive in 2014.

“As National HIV Testing Week approaches we urge everyone to get tested. If we are going to reduce the number of people who have HIV, we need the number of people diagnosed to further increase. HIV treatment is now immediately available when diagnosed and once treatment is taken correctly, patients are classed as ‘undetectable’ and the virus can no longer be passed on. Testing is key to prevention,”

said Shaun Griffin of the Terrence Higgins Trust.

Jackie Biskupski becomes Salt Lake City’s mayor


Rick Bowmer/AP | 15432

Former Utah state lawmaker Jackie Biskupski has become the first openly gay mayor of Salt Lake City, having won 52% of the votes to defeat two-term incumbent Ralph Becker. The victory by Biskupski marked a milestone for LGBT people in Utah who have made major strides in recent years.

Biskupski takes over after progress on gay rights was temporarily marred in recent weeks when a judge ordered a foster child to be removed from a lesbian couple and placed with a heterosexual couple. The judge cited the child’s wellbeing as the reason for his order.

The ruling set off a firestorm around the state and nation. The judge then reversed his decision and took himself off the case.

Well done Ireland


Richard Dowling (L) and Cormac Gollogly | 15431 | Getty

Congratulations to Richard Dowling and Cormac Gollogly, who have become the first gay couple to get married in the Republic of Ireland. They married in Clonmel, Co Tipperary yesterday.

Senior Registrar for south Tipperary Mary Claire Heffernan confirmed they were the first same-sex couple to be civilly married in Ireland.

“We got civil partnered on the 18th of September and all our family and friends were there, that was really our wedding day,” Mr Dowling explained after the ceremony in Clonmel.

“This is formalising the legalities of our marriage. We wanted to try and get in the history books and be first across the line,” he said.