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/

Gay men right wing shock

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BBC | 17073

The BBC have discovered that 20% of their sample of French gay men,many of whom are in same sex relationships, will be voting for the Front National in the French Presidential election this weekend.

They are more concerned about immigration and other cultural issues than any threat to end gay marriage in France.

“There are priorities in France other than homosexuality. I myself am in a same-sex couple and there have been many advances in this area,” Cedric explains. “But for me there are more pressing issues like the economy, the national debt and unemployment.” He thinks the anti-gay marriage policy of the FN is a ploy to win conservative voters over to their cause.

Polls suggest the party is now more popular in the LGBT community than perhaps many would want to admit. Of the 3,200 gay French men the dating app Hornet spoke to, one in five said they would be giving Marine Le Pen their vote.

Why does Marine Le Pen appeal directly to some LGBT voters? For many, it’s her tough stance on immigration.

“Where are the gays most in danger? In Islamic countries,” says Pascale, who doesn’t want to be photographed. “Gay people are being crucified – it’s a danger and I don’t want it coming to France, definitely not.” But further north, in the poorer and more multicultural suburb of Pont-de-Flandre, it’s a different picture. “The FN supporters you spoke to, were they white?” house DJ Kiddy Smiles asks us, “Yes? I’m not surprised.”

The first round of voting in the French Presidential election takes place this Sunday.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/39641822/why-gay-french-men-are-voting-far-right

Shoulder to shoulder

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Press Association | 17069

Hundreds of Britons held a protest outside the Russian Embassy against the reported torture and murder of gay men in Chechnya, where up to 100 men are said to be held in concentration-style camps and at least three men have died.

Michael Salter-Church, co-chair of Pride in London, said: “It sends a shudder down the spine to hear about concentration camps in 2017. Russia’s abuses cannot be ignored.”

Demonstrators draped in rainbows shouted “close the camps” and laid pink flowers while passing traffic beeped their horns in support.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/hundreds-protest-against-chechnyas-gay-10223107

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/

DUP’s blocking of gay marriage hits the buffers after elections

Following the latest assembly election in Northern Ireland, unionists have lost their majority at Stormont for the first time ever. Most significantly for gay people, the DUP fell short of the 30 seats it needed to trigger a controversial ‘petition of concern’.

That is the mechanism which gives them a veto over issues such as gay marriage.

The DUP have wielded petitions of concern as an effective veto on progressive legislation. The Northern Irish Assembly has repeatedly voted to legalise same-sex marriage, but the motions have always been blocked by the socially conservative DUP.

Marriage equality campaigners are now hopeful that Northern Ireland will soon join the rest of Britain and the Republic of Ireland by legalising same-sex marriage.

The seats won by the parties are now: DUP: 29, Sinn Féin: 28, SDLP: 12, UUP: 10, Alliance Party: 8, Green Party: 2, Traditional Unionist Voice: 1, Independent: 1

http://leftfootforward.org/2017/03/northern-ireland-dup-loses-petition-of-concern-power-clearing-the-way-for-equal-marriage/

Its time for gay marriage to arrive in Northern Ireland

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Andy Allen | Paul McErlane/Guardian | 17048

Andy Allen, who represents Belfast East, a former soldier who lost both his legs and most of his sight in a Taliban bomb attack in Afghanistan, has pledged that if re-elected to the Northern Ireland assembly he will support moves towards same-sex marriage equality.

due to the opposition of the Democratic Unionist party and many of Allen’s party colleagues, Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK where LGBT couples cannot get married.

“I was elected to the last assembly only in May and I was the only mainstream unionist to vote for same-sex marriage. Whenever I realised it was coming forward I spent a great deal of time talking to people on both sides of the argument, including the gay community. I reached out to individuals from that community as well as religious organisations and faiths who robustly argued against it. But I found myself coming to a view of ‘live and let live’,” Mr Allen told reporters.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/feb/27/ulster-unionist-election-pledge-support-gay-marriage

Buttigieg gets attention

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Pete Buttigieg | Joshua Roberts/Reuters | 17046

The Guardian profiles Pete Buttigieg, a gay Mayor who is being viewed as a potential leader of the Democrat party.

Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Harvard- and Oxford-educated, served in Afghanistan as a lieutenant with the Navy Reserves – and is openly gay.

A 2014 Washington Post profile called Buttigieg “the most interesting mayor you’ve never heard of”. The next year, Buttigieg won his re-election bid with 80% of the vote, a wider margin than the first time around. In June, New York Times columnist Frank Bruni proposed: “The First Gay President?”

Since entering the race for chair of the DNC his crisp public performances have attracted the attention of influential Democratic party officials and donors.

Time will tell.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/feb/23/pete-buttigieg-democratic-party-chair-candidate

Macron gets the hard hat on

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Emmanuel Macron | EPA | 17037

Emmanuel Macron, a contender in the French presidential election, saw his poll lead vanish after he made controversial remarks on gay marriage.

Mr Macron had overtaken François Fillon, the conservative candidate and former favourite who is embroiled in a corruption scandal, but the latest polls indicate that the two candidates are now neck-and-neck.

Mr Macron provoked outrage by describing former French colonial rule as a “crime against humanity” during a visit to Algeria.

Mr Macron then infuriated Left-wing supporters by trying to reach out to Right-wingers who opposed gay marriage, saying they had been stigmatised and “humiliated” under President Hollande’s Socialist government.

Mr Macron and Mr Fillon ended the week level-pegging on 20 per cent, with both men trailing Ms Le Pen, on 26 per cent in one poll, while another poll places Mr Macron and Mr Fillon both on 18.5 per cent.

The first round of the French Presidential election is on April 23rd.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/02/18/macron-loses-lead-remarks-colonial-algeria-gay-marriage-spark/

The lady’s not for iced fruit cake, then

French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has pledged to end same-sex marriage, despite gaining support from the country’s gay voters.
The far-right leader said she would abolish same-sex marriage in a long list of 144 pledges released this week.

Le Pen, who is currently leading the polls for the spring elections, said the reversal of the same-sex marriage law would not be retroactive, and she would revert back to the system in place prior to 2013 with gay couples only being able to enter into civil partnerships.

Perhaps gay couples in France should reconsider who they should vote for.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4228540/Marine-Le-Pen-pledges-end-sex-marriage.html

http://www.spectator.co.uk/2015/01/how-marine-le-pen-is-winning-frances-gay-vote/