Us too

Painting by Scott Ewalt | Bedford and Bowery | r

According a survey by gay men’s health charity GMFA, some 62% of British gay men have been touched or groped in a bar without consent. In the US 40% of gay and 47% of bisexual men have experienced sexual violence other than rape, compared with 21% of heterosexual men,

writes Michael Segalov.

Take, for instance the “dark room” – a space few people will speak of outside the confines of the gay scene’s sweaty, hedonistic heart. To the uninitiated, the concept is simple: it’s a room in a club, it’s dark and you have sex. When it comes to consent, though, the situation is more complex.

Yes, we have a lot of work to do on our culture. It will take many years before all the harm done by oppression and self-oppression have been dealt with, and we may have to wait another generation or two to see progress – that’s assuming that our rights continue to be respected by society and our laws.

At least we are thinking about what needs to be done.


See you at eight

Yusuf Celik | r

In Ottawa, Canada, gay Muslims who have been largely rejected or ignored by their community are finding a sense of connection and acceptance by gathering around the dinner table. Gay Muslims United hosts a cooking night on Saturday, bringing people together to prepare food and share a meal.

“We want to create this family-like atmosphere,” said Yusuf Celik, the founder of Gay Muslims United. “The mosques are not welcoming us, our community is not welcoming us, and our families are abandoning us.” he said.

Celik’s Facebook group for Gay Muslims United, created on Jan.1, 2018, now has more than 12,000 followers, and hopes to give gay Muslims a voice and provide support, especially for those who live in fear of persecution from family, friends and their culture.

According to Celik, gay Muslims often feel left out in Canadian LGBTQ societies.

“We have different cultural practices, and different needs,” he said. “Most LGBTQ groups in Canada are focused on human rights and advocacy. But we need to build something where we can create a family atmosphere, where we can cook together, enjoy the meal together and dance and laugh together.”

Trump’s war on Trans

Ben McKeown / Associated Press | r

In post-marriage-equality America, where same-sex couples live openly and increasingly are embraced in their communities, those on the conservative right who once pushed back against gay rights now appear to have shifted their focus to the transgender community,

writes Jaclyn Cosgrove in the Los Angeles Times.

10 states have introduced a flurry of bills to make life tougher for trans students who try to use campus restrooms that match their gender identity. The U.S. Department of Education confirmed that it will no longer investigate civil rights complaints from transgender students who say they were barred from using restrooms that align with their gender identity.

Alaska and Massachusetts are also considering ballot initiatives that could restrict the freedoms of trans people.

The moves are a direct result of President Trump’s rescinding the Obama administration’s directive that discrimination against transgender students on the basis of gender identity violates Title IX of the American Constitution.

New York gets tough on insurers

State financial regulators in New York said today they would investigate reports in American newspapers that gay men have been denied life, disability or long-term care insurance policies because they were taking medication to protect themselves against HIV. Note that the applicants did not have HIV.

If proved these denials of cover would amount to illegal discrimination based on sexual orientation and the companies doing so could be penalized, according to Maria T. Vullo, New York state’s superintendent of financial services.

Insurers around the US had denied policies to gay men after learning they took Prep to avoid catching H.I.V. through sex. To get insurance, some men even stopped taking the protective drugs.

Conversion in China

Human Rights Watch have published first-hand accounts from people in China who have been subjected to forced gay conversion therapies.

Their report details 17 cases between 2009 and 2017, including verbal and mental abuse, forced medication and electric shock therapy in Chinese hospitals. 11 of those interviewed were forced to take medication without being informed about its purpose or side-effects. Five of those interviewed were subjected to electric shocks while being shown images or videos – or given verbal descriptions – of homosexual acts.

Doctors and clinics can charge up to 30,000 yuan (£3,440) to “treat” gay people.

Sheltering in Albania

Human Rights Watch have visited an emergency shelter for homeless gay people in Tirana, the capital of Albania.

…The shelter, which serves LGBT youth between 18 and roughly 25 who have been rejected by their families, was founded with donations from the US and UK Embassies. The Dutch embassy now provides some support, but the shelter is running out of funds.

That afternoon, I met with Tirana’s mayor, Erion Veliaj. I told him I was impressed by the shelter and asked if the city could support it. “Yes,” he said. “Let them send me a proposal, we must be able to find some money for this service.”

Gay Botswana student goes to court for his human rights


Moreri Sejakgomo | 17164

A 21-year-old University of Botswana student, Letsweletse Motshidiemang, has filed papers in the Lobatse High Court challenging the constitutionality of Section 164(a) and 167 of the Botswana Penal Code, which criminalise homosexuality. Motshidiemang says the law interferes with his fundamental right to liberty, his right to use his body as he sees fit, which includes expressing his sexuality through the only means available to him as a homosexual, and he has a right to equal protection of law and the right not to be subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment. The student wants the court to declare that the said sections interfere with his fundamental right not to be subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment or other such treatment.

“The law violates my fundamental right and freedom to privacy in that it interferes with an intimate and personal aspect of my life that causes no disrespect to the rights and freedoms of others and also causes no harm to the public,” he states. He says arguments that Batswana do not accept homosexuality do not hold any water as evidenced by remarks made by Members of Parliament Botlogile Tshireletso, Duma Boko and some chiefs to the effect that there should be no discrimination based on sexual orientation.