New York Court appoints openly gay judge for the first time

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Paul Feinman | New York Law Journal/Rick Kopstein | 17114

Mid-level appeals court judge Paul Feinman, an openly gay judge, has been appointed to New York’s state Court of Appeals. The state Senate unanimously confirmed him less than a week after Governor Andrew Cuomo nominated him for the post.

Feinman previously served in the Appellate Division in Manhattan and will fill the lone vacancy on the seven-member Court of Appeals.

http://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/politics/albany/2017/06/21/new-yorks-top-court-gets-first-openly-gay-judge/103079984/

Serbia strides ahead

Congratulations to Ana Brnabić, a graduate of the University of Hull, who is Serbia’s first gay Prime Minister and first female Prime Minister.

Brnabić will take up her role as Serbia navigates a crucial few years: the country is preparing for EU membership while retaining its traditionally close relationship with Russia, and nurturing a growing friendship with Beijing.

That’s quite a job description.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jun/15/serbia-gains-its-first-female-and-gay-prime-minister-ana-brnabic

Ireland’s glass ceiling smashed

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Leo Varadkar | Cyril Byrne | 17103

Congratulations to Leo Varadkar who has been elected the new leader of the Republic of Ireland’s Fine Gael party and will consequently become the youngest and first openly gay taoiseach, ten years after entering politics.

In 2015, Mr. Varadkar was widely praised for bravery and honesty when he became the first Irish government minister to come out. His stand is credited with bolstering the successful gay marriage “yes” referendum campaign, making Ireland the first country to legalize gay marriage by popular vote.

Mr. Varadkar was born in Dublin in 1979, and is the son of an Irish Catholic nurse from County Waterford and a Hindu doctor from Mumbai, India. His parents met in England in the 1960s and lived in India for a time before moving to Ireland.

http://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/is-having-a-gay-taoiseach-a-big-deal-for-ireland-1.3105955

First at NATO

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Isopix/REX/Shutterstock | 17098

Gauthier Destenay, the husband of Luxembourg’s gay prime minister Xavier Bettel posed alongside the other wives and partners of Nato leaders at their summit this week for a group photo.

He looks as if he is enjoying the occasion. He stood behind a grinning Mrs Trump and Emine Erdogan, the wife of Tayyip Erdogan, President of Turkey.

http://metro.co.uk/2017/05/26/husband-of-luxembourgs-gay-prime-minister-joins-nato-leaders-wives-in-photo-6664770/

Five a day the Belfast way

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Julian Simmons | UTV | 17085

The Belfast Telegraph has been speaking to long time Northern Ireland television personality Julian Simmons about being gay.

He remembers one occasion when he was the victim of a homophobic attack in Belfast.

“On one particular day I went down Bedford Street to cross at the back of City Hall into Donegall Place and I was standing at the traffic lights and a red courier van comes along and as it came along a window went down and this fella shouted out ‘Ye big fruit ye’ and spat. As he spat me the wind caught it and the spit landed on a woman six feet down the road, and of course everyone was looking, and I said ‘I’m so sorry about that’.”

Nobody, anywhere, should ever be subjected to homophobia. Not even people who work on television.

http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/utvs-julian-on-antigay-abuse-being-spat-at-in-street-and-why-his-search-for-mr-right-is-on-hold-35694230.html

Good for Angela

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Undated file photo | Copyright control | 17081

German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to help protect gay rights at her first visit to Russia since 2015. She held talks with Mr Putin at his summer residence in Sochi.

At a joint news conference, Mrs Merkel said she had received “negative reports on the way that homosexuals are dealt with, particularly in Chechnya. … I asked President Putin to use his influence to ease the way that homosexuals… are dealt with in the country.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-39779491

Breaking the mould in the Philipines

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AFP | 17077

Philippine Congresswoman Geraldine Roman, in the yellow top, is the first transgender woman to be elected to public office in the Philippines. Geraldine replaced her mother as a district representative after the 2016 elections.

“I may be a neophyte congresswoman but I’m a veteran in politics,” she said over a quiet lunch in her ancestral home.

The election of Roman, who underwent sex reassignment surgery in New York in the 1990s, symbolised many things to many people: a transition to progressive liberalism in a country where religion is meshed with law; a breaking of stereotypes; a hope for change.

Hate crimes against transgender women are particularly horrific. The Philippine Hate Crime Watch reported 157 cases of hate related murders from 1996 to 2011 – a number which advocates say is likely to be underreported.

But Roman’s win meant a lot to the LGBT community, which saw in her a champion for acceptance and an advocate for the Anti – sexual orientation and gender identity expression discrimination bill.

http://www.scmp.com/week-asia/society/article/2090744/transgender-politician-fighting-gay-rights-philippines

Campaigning, Bath style

Ben Howlett the Tory MP who was accused of groping a gay couple at a Eurovision Song Contest party last May will not be charged. It was alleged he put his hands in a man’s pants and tried to kiss him at a bar in his Bath constituency.

The party was held in a private residence at one of the city’s poshest addresses.

Howlett was accused of putting his hands inside a gay man’s pants and trying to kiss him; he is also alleged to have said “let me f*** you” to another man and grabbed his crotch. Prosecution chiefs said there was not enough evidence to proceed.

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/3387629/tory-mp-ben-howlett-accused-of-groping-a-gay-couple-at-a-eurovision-song-contest-party-will-not-be-charged/

An old issue raises its ugly head once more

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Seattle Gay Pride | File photo | Christopher Zeuthen/Seattle Weekly | 17066

Ed Murray is the Mayor of Seattle and he has been accused of paying drug-addicted teenage boys for sex decades ago. Two other men are making similiar accusations. Murray denies the allegations.

Ed Murray has a lot to lose: in twenty years of local political activity he managed to pass both the Anderson-Murray Anti-Discrimination Law and the bill establishing gay marriage. He is Seattle’s first openly gay mayor.

One old-timer who lived on Capitol Hill during the 1980s, who asked that his name not be used for reasons of political fealty, said that while he doesn’t know anything about the specific allegations against Murray, the kind of relationship described in the lawsuit—that is, an older man paying an under-age teenager for sex—“would have been very consistent with [Seattle gay culture in] the ’80s.”

This was caused in part, he says, by “the closet and how people could interact.” With an entire population (gay men) sanctioned into the shadows, there was no social mechanism for enforcing the age of consent,

says Seattle Weekly.

Gay Activist used to have a page about “Conduct in public office” but the page was deleted because so few people viewed it. Gay Activists everywhere should be aware that they are representing the community, and conduct themselves with pride.

http://www.seattleweekly.com/news/accusations-against-murray-leave-the-lgbt-community-he-fought-for-reeling/

Gay flags at half mast

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Gilbert Baker | Pride Winnipeg | 17063

Gilbert Baker, a San Francisco-based activist and artist best known for creating the rainbow flag representing gay rights, has died at the age of 65. He was living in New York.

Baker, who was born in Kansas in 1951, was stationed in San Francisco in the early 1970s while serving in the US Army, at the start of the gay rights movement.

According to the website biography Baker began making banners for gay rights and anti-war protests, often at the request of Harvey Milk, who would become the first openly gay man elected to public office in California when he won the 1977 race for a seat on the San Francisco board of supervisors.

Milk rode under the first rainbow flags made by Baker at the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade in June 1978.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/31/gilbert-baker-rainbow-flag-inventor-gay-rights-dies