A lesbian couple in India were allegedly forced apart by their families, who barged into their home and publicly beat one of them in front of their village.
The two women, who are both adults, were living happily in the Baghpat area of Uttar Pradesh in Northern India. On Sunday (8 November) the relatives of one of the women burst into their house and forcibly separated the pair, Times Now reports.
When one woman attempted to resist she was humiliated and beaten in the street, in full view of bystanders who filmed the scene and circulated the footage on social media.
She told local news that she and her partner had made a conscious decision to live together, and that they wanted to work in the field of education but were facing continuous resistance from their families over their relationship.
The lesbian couple had already notified the police of their situation and appealed for safety, she added, but the family took matters into their own hands.
“We had given a written complaint to the police to provide us protection,” she told The Times of India. “But before they could, Shreya’s [name changed] relatives came here and thrashed me publicly and even tore my clothes. And they took her away.”
A senior police official said that the authorities are looking into the matter.
Homosexual relations were decriminalised in India in 2018, but LGBT+ people still face an enormous amount of stigma, particularly in rural areas.
With same-sex marriage remaining a distant hope for queer Indians, some couples are legitimising their relationships by entering into a maitri karar, a type of “friendship contract”.
The couple were forced to file a high court lawsuit to gain protection when their plea for safety was ignored by police. The courts finally granted a protection order in August, giving the women the right to live together in peace.
The EU has unveiled its first ever plan to tackle LGBT+ discrimination following increasing calls for action over the rise of homophobic rhetoric in Poland.
The European Commission’s unprecedented five-year strategy details a number of targeted actions, including legal and funding measures, aimed at addressing the inequalities still faced by LGBT+ Europeans.×
It includes plans to extend the list of EU crimes to cover homophobic hate speech, ensure that LGBT+ concerns are better reflected in policy-making, and propose new laws to guarantee same-sex parenthood will be recognised across the 27 member nations.
“This is not about ideology. This is not about being men or women. This is about love,” said commission vice-president Vera Jourova. “This strategy is not against anyone. This does not put anyone on a pedestal. But it is about guaranteeing safety and non-discrimination for everyone.”
The commission said some progress is being made toward equality, but acknowledged a 2019 European Fundamental Rights survey that found 43 per cent of LGBT+ people still feel discriminated against, compared to 37 per cent in 2012.
Coronavirus lockdowns are thought to be worsening the situation by forcing some young people to remain in places where they might face violence, hostility and bullying or suffer anxiety or depression.
Although the strategy doesn’t specifically mention Poland, commissioner for equality Helena Dalli made clear that the country’s extreme anti-LGBT+ policies are in direct opposition to the EU’s “core values”.
“Today, the EU asserts itself, as the example to follow, in the fight for diversity and inclusion,” she declared in a statement on Thursday (12 November)
“Equality and non-discrimination are core values and fundamental rights in the European Union. This means that everybody in the European Union should feel safe and free without fear of discrimination or violence on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or sex characteristics.
“We are still a long way away from the full inclusion and acceptance that LGBTIQ people deserve,” she admitted.
Member countries that don’t have equality strategies were prompted to adopt one suited to the needs of their citizens, with the reminder that the commission will be monitoring their progress and reviewing the situation in 2023.
The Oxford English Dictionary definition of the word “woman” has been updated to reflect LGBT+ relationships following complaints that it was sexist.
The world-famous dictionary previously described women as “a man’s wife, girlfriend or lover”. This has now been amended to acknowledge the fact that a woman can be “a person’s wife, girlfriend, or female lover”, rather than only a man’s.
Other terms have been identified as “derogatory”, “offensive” or “dated”, such as the words “b***h”, “bint” and “besom”, which are listed as synonyms for woman.
The changes came after a petition was launched earlier this year by campaigner Maria Beatrice Giovanardi to get rid of all phrases and definitions that discriminate against or patronise women.
t gained more than 34,000 signatures and included the leaders of Women’s Aid and the Women’s Equality Party among the signatories.
Speaking to PinkNews in March, Giovanardi said she had been “astonished” to realise that the Oxford Dictionary used derogatory synonyms and misogynistic examples that perpetuate negative female stereotypes.
“By contrast, for the word man, the examples and synonyms are exemplary, demonstrating intellect and social status,” she noted.
“I felt I needed to point out the obvious – that not describing men and women in an equally respectful way, disadvantages women because it perpetuates negative stereotypes that present women as lesser beings, which in turn influences the way women are talked about and treated.
“This is just one of many examples of everyday sexism and how mainstream culture frequently dehumanises women by portraying them as sex objects or subordinate to men.”
In a statement to The Telegraph, publisher Oxford University Press said the dictionary is “driven solely by evidence of how real people use English in their daily lives”.
It added: “We have expanded the dictionary coverage of ‘woman’ with more examples and idiomatic phrases which depict women in a positive and active manner.
“We have ensured that offensive synonyms or senses are clearly labelled as such and only included where we have evidence of real world usage.”
Amid a chorus of cheers, applause and pumping car horns, he continued: “I mean it. Especially for those moments when this campaign was at its lowest ebb — the African-American community stood up again for me.
“They always have my back, and I’ll have yours. I said from the outset I wanted a campaign that represented America, and I think we did that. Now that’s what I want the administration to look like.”
Biden’s victory speech was a reassuring return to the professional, presidential rhetoric eschewed by Donald Trump, and a sign of his intention to be president to “all people” – including marginalised groups.
His words carried echoes of Barack Obama’s 2008 speech, which was the first time a president-elect had ever mentioned the gay community in an inaugural address.
And as Biden promised to usher in a new era of cooperation, he acknowledged the painful truth that “too many dreams have been deferred for too long” – a reference to the poem “A Dream Deferred” by Langston Hughes, a gay Black man.
“We must make the promise of the country real for everybody — no matter their race, their ethnicity, their faith, their identity, or their disability,” he said.
“We stand again at an inflection point. We have the opportunity to defeat despair and to build a nation of prosperity and purpose. We can do it. I know we can.”
Mauree Turner has become the very first non-binary state lawmaker in US history. The Democratic community organiser and queer Muslim won election to district 88 in Oklahoma City, winning out over Republican Kelly Barlean with a projected 71 per cent of the vote.
Ahead of the US election, they told HuffPost: “I’m Black, Muslim, femme, queer, born and raised in Oklahoma – politics was the last thing in my crosshairs.
“Oklahomans have representation that doesn’t have our shared lived experience – that hasn’t been in a family that had to live off SNAP benefits, [or] a single-parent household because one parent was incarcerated. That was my upbringing, and it’s not a unique one.”
Michele Rayner-Goolsby, Florida’s House of Representatives.
Michele Rayner-Goolsby is the first Black queer woman to win a seat in the Florida legislature. She will represent District 70 in the State House after winning 30 per cent of the vote in a crowded race against three opponents.
It’s not the first glass ceiling she’s shattered: Rayner-Goolsby is also a civil rights attorney, social justice advocate and lead counsel of Civil Liberty Law, her own law firm.
“It really has been a people powered campaign” she told the Tampa Bay Times, saying that she sees her victory as “pushing back on patriarchy.”
“We ran with integrity. We ran with transparency and we ran with accountability.”
Shevrin Jones, Florida State Senate.
Joining Rayner in the Sunshine state is Shevrin Jones, Florida’s first out LGBT+ state senator. He’ll be one of the only out Black men serving in US state senates as he represents District 35.
Jones came out as gay in 2018, explaining he had decided to start living his truth “just a little bit more” after the death of his older brother. He has since become a powerful voice for LGBT+ rights in Florida.
“I’m humbled to have earned the trust of the people of SD 35,” he tweeted after the result was announced. “I am looking forward to serving you in the Florida Senate. Thank YOU! #WEthePEOPLE.”
Raised in a rural town in South Carolina, Jackson moved to Georgia a decade ago and has become a powerful advocate for public education, criminal justice reform, ending the death penalty, and of course, LGBT+ equality.
“I felt really early that I wanted to make a difference in the world,” she told The Advocate in a 2020 Champions of Pride profile.
Jabari Brisport, New York State Senate.
Jabari Brisport, hailed as “the next AOC”, has become the first ever Black LGBT+ person elected to the New York state legislature.
A gay, Democratic socialist, public school teacher and third-generation Caribbean-American, Jabari Brisport has become the New York state senator representing Brooklyn’s 25th District.
Mayor Annise Parker, the president and CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, said Brisport’s experiences as a Black queer person “will provide an essential perspective that has never been represented in the New York state legislature and will pave the way for a government that is more representative of the people it serves.
“Jabari shattered a rainbow ceiling in New York and his victory will encourage more people like him to step up and run.”
Charmaine McGuffey, Hamilton Country Sheriff.
Charmaine McGuffey made headlines when she announced that she was suing former Democratic sheriff Jim Neil, claiming he fired her from her position as major of the jail and court services because she is a woman and a lesbian.
She went on to run in the Democratic primary, putting her experiences with discrimination front and centre in her campaign. She won by a landslide and kicked Neil out of the race in the process.
She’s continued her victory streak by beating her Republican rival Bruce Hoffbauer, winning 52 per cent of the vote and becoming the first woman and first openly LGBT+ person to hold the position of Sheriff in Hamilton County.
Jones is a gay attorney who served in the US Department of Justice under Barack Obama. He recently worked for the Westchester County Law Department and also provided pro bono legal aid through The Legal Aid Society.
He’s claimed victory in New York’s 17th congressional district over Republican Maureen McArdle Schulman.
Ritchie Torres, New York’s 15th Congressional District.
Afro-Latino New York City councilman Ritchie Torres bested Republican candidate Orlando Molina in New York’s safely-Democratic 15th congressional district.
As the race was called, Torres said: “Tonight, a new era begins for the South Bronx. It is the honour of a lifetime to represent a borough filled with essential workers who risked their lives so that New York City could live.
“My pledge to the district is simple: I will fight for you. The Bronx is my home, it is what made me who I am, and it is what I will fight for in Congress. I thank the voters of the South Bronx from the bottom of my heart for the trust they put in me to represent them.”
Brianna Titone, Colorado’s 27th House District.
Colorado transgender lawmaker Brianna Titone won re-election with an increased majority, despite Republicans launching vile transphobic ads in a bid to unseat her.
Republican state representative Stephen Humphrey even took the time torecord a robocall that disparages and misgenders her, declaring she is “just too dangerous for Colorado families.” Despite his best efforts, she was re-elected with an increased majority of 2,280 over GOP opponent Vicki Pyne.
“The voters have spoken and selected me to continue to serve the people of House District 27. Thank you!” Titone said.
“It has been my honour to serve you the last 2 years and it is my honour again to serve for you the next two years. I will always do my best to represent the district to the best of my ability, to listen to views that differ from my own, and apply science and logic to the decisions that we face in governing the great state of Colorado.”
Sarah McBride, Delaware State Senate.
In another history-making victory for the US election, Human Rights Campaign activist and transgender rights champion Sarah McBride has become the first trans woman ever elected to a state senate.
She’s previously played a pivotal role in the fight for LGBT+ discrimination protections in Delaware, and has lobbied for the Equality Act to extend protections nationwide.
Annise Parker of LGBTQ Victory Fund celebrated McBride’s success in shattering the “lavender ceiling”, saying: “Sarah’s overwhelming victory is a powerful testament to the growing influence of transgender leaders in our politics and gives hope to countless trans people looking toward a brighter future.”
In a later interview, he added: “I’m just shocked at the amount of people who were ready to see something different… They truly felt that I will make some type of difference and I’m just so thankful that our voters really truly feel that way.”
Stephanie Byers, Kansas House of Representatives.
Stephanie Byers, a transgender teacher and member of the Native American Chickasaw Nation, is one of the few transgender people of colour to be elected to office anywhere in the United States. She is the first transgender representative in the Kansas state legislature, helping to bolster further representation.
Annise Parker of LGBTQ Victory Fund said Byers’ win “will reverberate well beyond the borders of the state”.
“Her victory will inspire more trans people to run for office because they see it is possible and understand these candidates are transforming how America perceives them,” Parker said.
“While cynical politicians attempted to weaponise trans issues for political gain this cycle, Stephanie’s victory is a powerful reminder that most voters reject the politics of bigotry and will elect trans people who have a positive vision for their communities.”
Dan Palmer has come out as gay, becoming the first Wallabies player and just the second men’s international to do so.
In a moving column for the Sydney Morning Herald, the 32-year-old Australian former rugby union player described his mental health problems and drug abuse as he struggled to accept his sexuality, revealing that he regularly cried himself to sleep and even contemplated suicide.
“I was incredibly frustrated, angry and desperately sad. I despised myself and the life I was living. I was trapped in a false narrative and could see no way out,” he wrote. “Most nights, I cried myself to sleep and routinely numbed myself with a heavy cocktail of opioids.
“I fantasised about disappearing, changing my name and starting my life all over again. It is not an exaggeration to say my own death felt preferable to anybody discovering I was gay.”
After years of emotional turmoil, Palmer said he was partly prompted to come out in response to “the ignorance of Israel Folau”.
Folau was sacked from the New South Waratahs in disgrace last year for his persistent homophobic remarks, including the claims that “hell awaits” gay people and the Australian bushfires are “God’s judgment” for same-sex marriage.
Folau launched a $14 million wrongful dismissal lawsuit against Rugby Australia and eventually received a hefty settlement and an apology from his former employer. The disgraced player has now signed a new deal to play for the RFL Super League team Catalans Dragons.
His explosive comments led Palmer to reflect on how homophobia is internalised by young players, which was a contributing factor in his decision to write the column.
Dan Palmer: ‘Israel Folau will never see the impact he has had on these young people, but if he could, I doubt he could live with himself.’
Dan Palmer continued: “Although it wasn’t the primary impetus for me doing this, the longer the Folau saga dragged on, the more I felt a responsibility to say something.
“To me, what is more important than the damage he has caused rugby is the deep impact he has undoubtedly had on kids who looked up to him, and who struggle every day with understanding their sexuality.
“He will never see the impact he has had on these young people, but if he could, I doubt he could live with himself.”
The US airforce has finally granted an honourable discharge to a trans veteran whose life was marred by mental illness, homelessness, unemployment and drug use.
In 1984 Kelly Katherine Roser’s exemplary military career was upended by a one-time positive drug test for marijuana, which she used as a form of self-medication for the distress of her gender dysphoria.
For years she battled with the shame of her discharge, until now. At 59 years old, Roser has finally received the full honours she earned.
“Soldiers don’t fight for the flag or the Constitution – they fight for other soldiers. When you let them down, it is the worst feeling in the world,” she told the Daily News.
“Even with an honourable discharge, I may have failed at life but I am worthy to stand in their ranks.”
Roser struggled with her gender identity from the age of 13, but was unable to articulate her feelings. “I wanted to scream that I was a woman,” she said, “but the only answer I had was that I wanted to join the Air Force to make me a man. That didn’t quite turn out as expected.”
In her search for a sense of belonging Roser enlisted in the military in 1977. She was quickly promoted to the rank of staff sergeant, but still couldn’t shake the feeling there was something wrong inside.
As her emotional problems began to surface she was belittled by lower ranks and disrespected by her peers. She became prone to mental outbursts, which were met with “confusion and laughter” by her fellow airmen.
A psychiatric evaluation determined no problems and made no mention of gender dysphoria, which wasn’t commonly diagnosed at the time. Roser was unable to reach her full potential because the Air Force entirely missed the reason for her deteriorating mental state, her attorneys say.
“It is no surprise that Ms Roser’s mental health problems continued until they reached a breaking point,” they said in their legal brief, as seen by the Daily News. “This happened time and time again, and the end result was always the same.”
To cope, trans veteran Roser self-medicated with alcohol and, in her private quarters on base, cross-dressed and smoked marijuana.
“When I got my general discharge my life was over,” said Roser, who now struggles with vivid nightmares, bipolar depression and PTSD. “I wish I could have had a military career but, if I couldn’t have been a female, it would have been destructive.”
Her trauma only continued after she left the Air Force. Her emotional outbursts caused her to be fired from more than two dozen jobs, and she attempted suicide three times.
The pressure only eased when she transitioned in 2012. Now after decades of struggle, the final burden of her military discharge has also been lifted.
The Trump administration’s efforts to erase LGBT+ issues from its annual assessments on global human rights have been laid bare in a damning new report.
The shocking research by the Asylum Research Centre (ARC) identifies multiple, serious omissions of human rights issues — including torture, reproductive rights and homophobic persecution — in the US state department’s country reports.00:00/08:04×
These annual reports have been compiled by the US since 1976 and had long been viewed as a “gold standard” of objective information about the state of human rights around the world. In the UK they are used by the Home Officeto inform decisions about whether asylum seekers should be forcibly returned to their home countries.
Comparing reports from the last year of the Obama administration to the first three years of the Trump administration, the ARC found that references to anti-LGBT+ persecution had been virtually scrubbed from the record, along with multiple references to women’s healthcare and other civil and political rights.
Violence and discrimination against LGBT+ people, organisations and activists was omitted altogether from reports on Iraq, despite well-documented examples of homophobic violence in the country.
The latest Iran report scrapped all references to societal discrimination and abuse affecting LGBT+ people, and the earlier judgement that conversion therapy “may constitute torture or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment under international law” was no longer included.
Similar attempts to obscure and de-emphasise LGBT+ rights abuses were seen on reports of Eritrea, Pakistan and Sudan. Claims of improvements in these regions were also “inadequately substantiated”, the ARC said.
Chillingly, all of the Trump reports removed the “Reproductive Rights” section and replaced it with “Coercion in Population Control”, omitting information related to accessing reproductive rights, contraception and pre- and post-natal healthcare.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert claimed the administration was not “downgrading coverage of LGBT or women’s issues” — but the ARC research cites a 2018 Oxfam report which proved that reporting on LGBT+ issues abroad is down 21 percent under Trump, and reporting on women’s rights is down 32 percent.
The ARC’s findings were welcomed by the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group, “given the importance of the US Department of State reports in deciding asylum claims in a number of countries including the UK”.
Executive director Leila Zadeh warned: “Omitting this information could result in LGBTQI+ people being returned to danger.
“Decision-makers should consider country background evidence with a more critical eye, as lack of reporting on the risks LGBTQI+ people face in their countries of origin doesn’t automatically mean such risks don’t exist.”
The hard-won progress on LGBT+ rights in schools could be at stake as a new report finds homophobic and transphobic language is ubiquitous in educational establishments.
The new study by GLSEN, a national LGBT+ education advocacy group, found that just under 99 per cent of LGBT+ students in the US have heard offensive remarks about their sexuality or gender identity.×
Comments such as “that’s so gay” are still regularly thrown around playgrounds and campus cafeterias, which almost 92 per cent of queer students said made them feel “distressed”.
Almost 97 per cent of respondents stated that they had heard the phrase “no homo” at school, while more than 95 per cent reported hearing homophobic terms such as “dyke” and “faggot”.
About 69 per cent said they had experienced verbal harassment because of their sexual orientation, while just under 57 per cent said they had also been called names or threatened because of their gender expression.
A further eleven per cent said they had been physically assaulted, or “punched, kicked (or) injured with a weapon” because of their sexuality, the report noted.
The troubling results came from a survey of 16,700 LGBT+ students aged 13 to 21 in all 50 US states as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, American Samoa and Guam.
“This is a very significant wake-up call about how the progress we’ve won is directly under attack,” said Eliza Byard, the executive director of GLSEN, formerly the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network.
“Where we are now is so different from where we were 20, 25 years ago in terms of how better things are. On the other hand, where we are is clearly still unacceptable,” she told Reuters.
Unfortunately the high prevalence of LGBT+ abuse isn’t isolated to schools: a recent Kantar survey across 14 countries and 24 industries showed that a quarter of LGBT+ people experience bullying in the workplace, and more than half suffer from “consistent high stress, anxiety and mental health problems” at work.
Mike Pompeo has defended his decision to address an overtly anti-LGBT+ group which reportedly led to an internal protest among “appalled” state department employees.
On October 3, the secretary of state delivered a keynote speech at a fundraising gala for the Florida Family Policy Council, an extreme anti-LGBT+ Christian organisation that advocates for conversion therapy and the repeal of same-sex marriage.×
Concerns were first raised by members of Pompeo’s advance team, who flagged the group to their supervisors after they discovered anti-gay flyers when scoping out the site of the event, the Miami Herald reported.
Several other state department employees also raised complaints after learning that the group’s website offers LGBT+ people “help leaving the gay lifestyle”.
Lisa Kenna, executive secretary at the state department, was alerted to the concerns and attempted to mitigate fallout from the event.
Pompeo ultimately gave a virtual address for the fundraising gala, which filled a ballroom with roughly 700 guests, but one source described several aides as “appalled” it still took place despite their concerns.
They add that afterward, Mike Pompeo highlighted his appearance in his latest “Miles with Mike” message to department employees.
A state department spokesperson downplayed internal dissension overthe secretary’s appearance at the event, but did not address the group’s views or answer questions on whether the secretary supports conversion therapy.