Will the Pope help?

The worried parents of 16 young gay Poles have implored Pope Francis to help combat what they call “widespread” homophobia in Poland, as the pontiff visited the strongly Catholic EU state for the first time.

Pointing to a recent string of “attacks on offices of organisations working with homosexuals, burning of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) symbols, and beatings of non-heterosexuals”, the group implored Francis to intervene.

“Instead of compassion for families, society is engulfed by a wave of homophobia,” the group said in an open letter, which was published by several Polish newspapers and magazines in the past week,

reports NDTV.


Don’t forget the diver

The United States navy will name a ship after gay rights icon Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official in California. Activists in San Diego and San Francisco had campaigned for the navy to honor Milk (and other LGBT individuals) for their service in the US armed forces, despite being officially banned until 2011.

Milk was a diving officer from 1951 to 1955. He was honorably discharged with the rank of lieutenant junior grade. He moved to San Francisco in 1972, where he lived in the Castro district, owned a camera shop, and advocated for the rights of LGBT people in the growing gay neighborhood. In 1977, he won his election to the San Francisco board of supervisors, becoming the first openly gay elected official in California, then in 1978, Milk was killed in San Francisco city hall by a former supervisor who also killed the mayor, George Moscone.


FDA re-reviewing the gay blood ban

Last December the U.S. Food and Drug Administration overturned a 30-year ban on all blood donations from men who have sex with men, saying the change was based on science showing an indefinite ban was not necessary to prevent transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus.

Now the FDA has signalled it is reviewing its blood donor deferral recommendations. They currently prohibit donations from gay men for a year following their last sexual encounter in order to reduce the risk of transmitting HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Many other countries follow the same rule.

One of the proposals is Individual risk assessments, which could consider whether an individual has been in a monogamous relationship.

The FDA has invited interested parties and persons to submit comments, backed by scientific evidence, supporting alternative potential policies, to reduce the risk of HIV transmission.


Alleged Grindr killer faces new charges


Stephen Port | Public Domain | 16284ga

Stephen Port, 41, who is accused of drugging and murdering four men he met on gay dating websites, faces 17 further charges related to attacks on eight other men. Reporting restrictions were lifted on Monday.

Port is accused of luring men to his flat in east London before killing them. He was originally charged with four counts of murder and four counts of administering a poison. He is now additionally accused of six further counts of administering a poison, seven counts of rape, and four sexual assaults against another eight men.

Port, of Barking, east London, appeared at the Old Bailey on Monday via videolink from Belmarsh prison, pleaded not guilty to all the charges, which are alleged to have taken place between 2011 and 2015.


Lube banned in Tanzania

The Tanzanian government has banned imports and sales of sexual lubricants in its latest move targeting the gay community. Health Minister Ummy Mwalimu justified the move on the grounds that the product encourages homosexuality, which is banned in the east African nation.

“It is true that the government has banned the importation and use of the jelly to curb the spread of HIV. It is estimated that 23 percent of men who have sex with men in Tanzania are living with HIV/AIDS. I have instructed stakeholders working with gay people to remove the products from the market.”

Gay male sex is punishable by life imprisonment under Tanzanian law, but there is no such ban on lesbian relations. In practice, there had been no known arrests for homosexuality in recent years.

Recently Paul Makonda, the newly appointed regional commissioner for the port city of Dar es Salaam, this month announced a major crackdown against gay people and there have been arrests of suspected gays in clubs.

Tanzania bans sexual lubricants in crackdown on gays

What a friend we have in Trump!

“As your president I will do everything in my power to protect LGBTQ citizens.”

Donald Trump surprised the Republican National Convention when he broke from party tradition on Thursday to give a historic shout-out to the LGBT community.

“Only weeks ago in Orlando, Florida, 49 wonderful Americans were savagely murdered by terrorists,” Trump said during his acceptance speech. “As your president I will do everything in my power to protect LGBTQ citizens.”

After the crowd roared in approval, Trump added: “I must say, as a Republican it’s so nice to hear you cheering for what I just said.”

How things are changing.

Donald Trump Embraces Gays in Historic Shout-Out at Republican National Convention

It’s the Isle of Men!

Same-sex couples will be able to marry in the Isle of Man, 24 years after gay sex was decriminalised on the island.

A new law from today also lets heterosexual couples have civil partnerships instead of marriages if they prefer.

The Isle of Man’s marriage (same sex couples) bill 2016 was promoted by Allan Bell, the island’s chief minister, who has been in a gay relationship for over 20 years.

Mr Bell said he had no plans to marry his partner imminently but that he hoped there would be a queue outside the register office today. Religious institutions are not exempt from the act.

Bell was one of a number of politicians who faced insults in the House of Keys, the directly elected lower branch of Tynwald, the parliament of the Isle of Man, when arguing for decriminalisation of homosexuality. One politician said that to legalise gay sex would “lead to a charter for wimps and perverts to further infect society”.

Congratulations to the Isle of Man for their wisdom and humanity.


Will Australia name the day?

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has indicated a plebiscite to legalise gay marriage could be held in early 2017 if it wasn’t possible this year.

Liberal gay marriage advocate Warren Entsch insists the coalition is not delaying a national vote on same-sex marriage. Mr Entsch, who brought forward a failed cross-party bill to legalise gay marriage in the previous parliament, is convinced a public vote is the way to go, despite new polling showing support for a plebiscite softening. He believes the Senate will back the public if a plebiscite is carried.


Hart Van Homos – less van cash


Jet Bussemaker | Uncredited/HP De Tijd | 16280ga

The Dutch government is withdrawing its subsidy for a Christian group named Hart van Homos which encourages celibacy among gay men after all, emancipation minister Jet Bussemaker told the Dutch Parliament.

The minister’s u-turn follows pressure from ruling party MPs who argue the group is sending out the wrong message. The group’s mission statement says that its workers ‘opt for friendship without a sexual relationship.’

Last month it emerged that Hart van Homos had received government money via an umbrella foundation. At the time Bussemaker said she would not withdraw the grant, saying she was confident the organisation would not proscribe to gay Christians how they should live their lives.

Minister does u-turn on gay Christian group funding, withdraws subsidy

Hart Van Homos (translated by Google)

Like a festering sore, the gay blood ban continues to discriminate

In the aftermath of the mass shooting at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, in which 49 people were murdered, almost all of them members of the LGBT community, a vestige of the era of AIDS paranoia and hysteria was resurrected. Many gay and bisexual men were summarily banned from giving blood, despite the desperate need for donations to help the 53 hospitalized survivors. FDA policy prohibits men who have had sex with men in the last year from donating blood. A community already grieving and feeling under attack now found itself unable to participate in the most immediate way of helping its members heal,

writes Kali Holoway.

This is outdated thinking, steeped in homophobia and baseless fear; a relic of the early 1980s, when reliable testing for AIDS took an extensive period of time. … HIV/AIDS is now detectable in blood as little as nine days after exposure. What’s more, all blood is screened after donation, regardless of who gave it. That heterosexual blood donors, regardless of the number of partners they have had and whether or not they have practiced safe sex, face no donation ban highlights the glaring and underlying unfairness of the FDA’s position.

Exactly. Let’s try to end this offensive discrimination against gay men and men who have sex with men, for once and for all.