The things that really matter, indeed

Tim Wilson proposing | Sky News/House of Representatives | 17168

Tim Wilson, a gay Australian MP, fought back tears as he popped the question to Ryan Bolger just moments after a bill paving the way for same-sex marriage was introduced in Australia’s House of Representatives. It was the first time an MP had proposed on the floor of the House.

He said: “In my first speech I defined our bond by the ring that sits on both of our left hands – that they are the answer to the questions we cannot ask. So there is only one thing left to do: Ryan Patrick Bolger, will you marry me?”

Mr Bolger, who was sitting in the public gallery, quickly responded “yes” as the floor erupted in applause, and house speaker Rob Mitchell added: “That was a ‘yes’, a resounding ‘yes’. Congratulations, well done mate.”


Not many assylum seekers are let in

After a very long wait the Home Office have released some provisional figures revealing the fate of gay assylum seekers. The HO describe the figures as “experimental” whatever that means.

In the last two years a total of 3,535 asylum applications were made by people fleeing persecution at least partly based on their sexual orientation. That is around 6 percent of all asylum claims. More than two-thirds of these were rejected.

Of cases with a clear resolution, 2,379 claims were rejected, and just 838 approved.

The Home Office accepted just 63 gay asylum seekers from Nigeria, where gay people can face extreme violence or decades in jail. 268 gay Nigerians were turned away.

Australian senators would like some wedding cake

Two weeks after Australians overwhelmingly endorsed same-sex marriage, the Australian Senate approved a bill to allow gay marriage by 43 votes to 12.

They also rejected amendments to legally protect people who refuse to provide professional services to same-sex couples on religious grounds, including lay ministers and civil celebrants, as well as vendors like caterers and florists.

The bill will go to the lower House of Representatives next week, where it is also expected to be approved.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull aims to have the bill approved before Christmas.

Escapees tell their story

For a number of years Your Activist has received word from gay people in Uganda about the persecution they faced. Your Activist’s advice was always to get to a place of safety.

Apollo Kimuli and Barnabas Wobiliya have done just that and have spoken to the Salt Lake Tribune about their lives.

The slurs came at the young boy like barbs.
Sometimes the word hurled his way from other kids was “guera,” meaning “girl” in the dialect of his native Ugandan village. At other times, it was “mudiga,” a word used for gay people, he said.
“I used to talk like a girl … walk like a girl. I used to be in the company of girls, so they called me all sorts of names, because I was expressing like a girl,” said Barnabas, … who remembers being about 10 when the teasing began.

A 2016 report by the U.S. State Department criticized Uganda for its human- and civil-rights failures, including violence and discrimination against women, children and other marginalized groups, including the LGBTQ community.

Your Activist is glad so many people have escaped persecution in Uganda, and hopes that conditions in Uganda will improve soon.

Working abroad? Be careful

Pride In London

Getty Images | 17167

Relocating abroad for work is incredibly exciting but if you’re LGBTI it can also be fraught with additional difficulties. The BBC has been looking into the matter and identifying what precautions members of the community need to take when working in various countries.

The writers conclude that

… multinational companies have two choices. One is to turn a blind eye to the challenges faced by LGBTI employees and subsequently suffer the consequences of premature assignment returns and failed assignment costs. The other is taking an equally challenging path by acknowledging the challenges and concentrating on efforts to support LGBTI people through their international assignment experience.

Potential good news from Sri Lanka

After a number of recommendations from the United Nations, the Sri Lankan government plans to decriminalize homosexuality.

Gay sex is currently illegal in Sri Lanka under the “gross indecency” law inherited from the country’s colonial past.

Deputy Solicitor General, Nerin Pulle, has pledged to reassess and change the country’s penal code in response to their third Universal Periodic Review, the United Nations Human Rights Council process in which U.N. countries scrutinize the human rights records of other U.N. members.

The Sri Lankan government received seven specific recommendations to amend penal code sections that criminalize consensual same-sex sexual activity, which is currently punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Other recommendations aimed to help fight anti-LGBT discrimination.

UK: HIV numbers down again

The incidence of HIV among gay men is falling, according to Public health England.

PHE uses the CD4 counts of men diagnosed with HIV to estimate the incidence of HIV in the community. A man diagnosed with HIV at a CD4 count of 400 is likely to have acquired HIV about four years ago. So each year’s data is used to refine previous year’s estimates.

PHE now say infections in gay and bisexual men have been steadily falling for five years. There were 2,800 infections in 2012, 2,100 infections in 2014 and 1,700 infections in 2016.

The estimated figures for people with undiagnosed HIV have been falling, bringing England close to meeting the United Nations 90-90-90 targets. Estimates are now that 88 percent of people living with HIV have been diagnosed, 96 percent of those diagnosed are taking treatment, and 97 percent of those treated have an undetectable viral load.

An estimated 10,400 people living with HIV have still not been diagnosed.