The Scottish government is to draft a bill calling for a statutory declaration application process to change gender following a consultation to reform the Gender Recognition Act.
Under the new proposals, trans men and women would not have to provide psychiatric and medical reports to legally change their gender.
The SNP Government ordered a review of the Act because trans people complained the process to legally change gender is complicated, time-consuming and intrusive.
The Gender Recognition Act is a 2004 act that allows people in the UK to change their legal gender.
Speaking at Holyrood in Edinburgh, the Scotland capital Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville, delivered the update.
Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP leader, has previously stated: ‘As an ardent, passionate feminist, and have been all my life, I don’t see the greater recognition of transgender rights as a threat to me as a woman or to my feminism.’
Responding to the news, Becky Kaufmann, Justice Policy Officer at Scottish Trans Alliance, said, ‘We warmly welcome that the draft bill will remove the offensive and intrusive requirement that trans women and trans men provide psychiatric and medical reports in order to change their birth certificates. It is important because trans women and trans men will no longer have to depend on a tribunal panel of strangers to decide the reality of their own lives.’
‘Detrimental to the quality of debate’
James Morton, Scottish Trans Alliance Manager, furthermore said: ‘It has already been sixteen months since the initial consultation on Gender Recognition Act reform closed. The delay in publishing a draft bill has been very detrimental to the quality of debate in some parts of the media and on social media.
‘It is vital that the Scottish Government publish the draft bill as soon as possible to enable appropriate scrutiny of the exact details rather than further unhelpful speculation. Long delays between announcements and actions embolden those who are prejudiced against trans people, and create intense distress for many vulnerable trans people.’
‘Current outdated, intrusive and medicalised process’
Colin Macfarlane, Director, Stonewall Scotland commented: ‘We are pleased to see the Scottish Government’s commitment to introducing a system of self-determination to our country’s gender recognition laws.
‘The proposals outline the Government’s intention to replace the current outdated, intrusive and medicalised process in favour of one that ensures trans people are respected. When delivered, the new system will demonstrate that the Scottish Government recognises trans people for who they are, marking an important step towards trans equality.
‘It’s important the second round of public consultation doesn’t delay legislative progress and instead focuses on making the system of self-determination work effectively for trans communities in Scotland. The Scottish Government has already done a full comprehensive public consultation on the principles of reforming the Gender Recognition Act that ended in March 2018. The original consultation received over 15,000 responses with nearly two-thirds of Scottish people (65 per cent) supporting a system of self-determination. This shows clear public support for reform and bringing Scotland’s gender recognition laws in line with international best practice.
‘While it’s great the Scottish Government plans to simplify the process of getting a Gender Recognition Certificate, it is disappointing to see that recognition for under 18s is not included in this bill. For a government that has prided itself on empowering 16- and 17-year-olds to exercise their judgment in areas like voting, it’s a shame they have not removed restrictions imposed on trans young people.
‘In addition, we welcome the Scottish Government’s move to create a working group to address non-legislative ways of recognising non-binary identities. However, this needs to be backed up by a commitment to review the need for legal gender recognition. For non-binary people, not having any legal recognition means they are currently forced to identify as something they are not and this needs to change.
‘It’s absolutely vital the Scottish Government makes an explicit commitment to uphold their 2016 election manifesto to pass legislation before the 2021 election. Any further delay will allow more fear and misinformation to spread and that will profoundly impact on trans people’s quality of life in Scotland. Trans people have suffered for far too long from inequalities that can be easily removed.
‘We look forward to working with the Scottish Government to take action and show that Scotland is a country where all LGBT people can be accepted without exception.
US President Donald Trump pledged to end HIV transmissions by 2030 in his State of the Union address last night.
Speaking in Washington, D. C., Trump said: ‘In recent years we have made remarkable progress in the fight against HIV and AIDS. Scientific breakthroughs have brought a once-distant dream within reach.
‘My budget will ask Democrats and Republicans to make the needed commitment to eliminate the HIV epidemic in the United States within 10 years. We have made incredible strides, incredible.’
‘Together, we will defeat AIDS in America and beyond,’ he furthermore added.
But LGBTIs have responded with scepticism, pointing out Trump’s ‘dangerous anti-equality record.’
An alternative State of the Union address by the Human Rights Campaign, published on their website and amplifying the voices of LGBTI Americans, offered a blistering response.
‘His administration must reverse their attacks on Medicaid’
Aryah Lester the Deputy Director, Transgender Strategy Center, told HRC: ‘Transgender people and people living with HIV deserve a government that has our backs.
‘If Donald Trump truly wants to stop the spread of HIV, his administration must reverse their attacks on Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act and the rights of LGBTQ patients. No real public health agenda can ever include dangerous cuts or discrimination against those who need services the most.’
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi meanwhile confirmed she had invited two trans military serve members to watch the State of the Union address in the House chambers.
‘This is a presidency rooted in prejudice and fear’
HRC President Chad Griffin also added: ‘For more than two years, Donald Trump and Mike Pence have made attacking LGBTQ people and other marginalized communities a top priority of their administration.
‘From undermining protections for transgender youth, to threatening to deport Dreamers, to attempting to ban transgender service members from the military, to working to eviscerate health care coverage for those most vulnerable – this is a presidency rooted in prejudice and fear.
‘But at every turn, we have put up roadblocks on this administration’s path of destruction and discrimination, uniting with our allies across movements.’
He furthermore added: ‘Now, with a pro-equality majority in the House of Representatives poised to pass the Equality Act and tackle other critical issues, we continue to demonstrate that when we stand together we are a force to be reckoned with.’
Berlin isn’t just the German capital – it’s also the sex capital of, well, the world. Probably. As such, the land of experimental sexuality and underground sex clubs provides the perfect backdrop for this surreal drama.
Based on a true story, Yony Leyser’s second film looks at the fateful collision of American writer Ezra and Russian escort Sasha, and the unlocking of their sexual inner selves.
We’ve all been here. The 10 Year Plan looks at Myles and Brody – two cute West Hollywood-residing gay BFFs – who make a pact to marry if they haven’t found Mr Right within a decade.
Now, the two leads (Jack Turner and Michael Adam Hamilton) may look like boyfriend twins, but that doesn’t mean their characters are meant to be together. Indeed, while the lovelorn Myles is looking for a life partner, Brody wants to screw around forevermore. Yeah, we’ve definitely been here. An accessible drama with a glossy finish.
A spiritual and artistic relative of the French movie Stranger By the Lake (also released in 2013), Everlasting is a beautiful, and beautifully eerie, portrait of woodland cruising.
In it, strapping, greying language teacher Carlos hooks up with a hooded youth in a lush forest outside Barcelona. However, he isn’t just any teen – he’s one of Carlos’ students. Yikes. Things go downhill from there.
Two half-brothers form an overly close relationship as children, and grow up to cross boundaries as adults in this uncomfortable drama that will undoubtedly be too much for some viewers. That said, it obviously has its fans. It’s scored a respectable 6.7/10 on IMDB.
And while it might sound exploitative, some will argue it handles its controversial subject matter with sensitivity and tact. Also, much of the movie was filmed in Rio de Janeiro, and the stunning natural beauty is undeniable.
Novelist Dennis Cooper is known for his surreal, provocative depictions of queer sex and violence in his books. He brought his favorite subject matters to the big screen for the first time with this shocker, directed by his friend Zach Farley.
The second movie on this list split into separate stories, Like Cattle Towards Glow shows 13 characters’ experiences of explicit sex (but as Cooper has insisted it’s ‘not a porn movie‘) and in some cases, disturbing violence. Not one for date night.
Think Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, but between two surly male cadets in a military high school. Yes, really. And this one isn’t a porn film either!
In fact, while the guys in it are certainly visually compelling as in any porno, this is one of the most daringly artistic films on this list. Oh, and it’s full of the English literary master’s beguiling dialogue. An intriguing idea.
While most of these films are modern, this hidden classic dates back 30 year to 1986, and boasts a fantastically intimate, gentle tone and rhythm akin to My Beautiful Laundrette, a style made-over in the recent TV series Looking.
It follows New Yorkers Michael and Robert as they navigate a strained but loving gay relationship during the AIDS crisis, as Michael’s ex Nick – for whom he still holds a torch – battles the disease. Tragically, director Bill Sherwood died of AIDS-related complications himself in 1990.
OK, OK, we know. Every gay and their grandmother has seen this one. But like American Pie (the mainstream cult teen film it’s based on), Another Gay Movie gets funnier with each viewing.
This frothy comedy follows four gay high schoolers who make a pact to lose their virginities by the end of summer. The stereotypical humor and campy tone won’t be for everyone, but isn’t that every US comedy? Besides, we’ll always have a soft spot for AGM – these guys’ disastrous sexcapades are simply too relatable.
Baby-faced Joseph Gordon-Levitt alert! (Although he was actually 22 when this came out!) The Looper star appears in a supporting role in this rom-com, playing Paul, the missionary partner of Latter-day Saint Aaron, who is less than impressed when Aaron starts to fall for the perma-tanned gay party boy next door.
Like Another Gay Movie, some of the characters are knowingly, amusingly stereotypical. Wes Ramsey is a walking, talking Ken doll as Christian, while Steve Sandvoss as Aaron sends up Mormon cliches long before a certain blockbuster musical did.
Our final series of erotic vignettes – this time six – focusing on the moment man-on-man passion boils over into something physical.
From two straight guys more interested in each other than the woman they’re meant to be penetrating, to a guy aroused by tattooist’s needle, this promises an unapologetically intense insight into man-on-man desire.
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Janelle, Hayley, Lil Peep, MNEK and Troye | Photos: Atlantic/Columbia/Because Music/Capitol
10 December 2018
8 MNEK – Language
Fans were taken aback by the poor performance of MNEK’s debut album this year, such was the hype around the 23-year-old. He’d carved a name for himself the decade prior writing and producing for artists like Beyonce, Kylie and Madonna, and for hit collaborations with Zara Larsson and Stormzy.
But what happened with this project? You can’t fault MNEK’s bassy, velvety voice. The music certainly wasn’t lacking, either. The brash Correct and pulsating Tongue are glossily produced, instantly addictive and insanely confident.
They should have gone stratospheric, but didn’t. The nimble, joyously poppy LGBT anthem Colour with Hailee Steinfeld got a decent push via its video (and a superior lyric video), but didn’t connect either.
Language will go down as one of the most-dissected music mysteries of 2018. It’ll be interesting to see how MNEK’s next record does, and there’ll surely be one, as he’s an irrepressible talent.
7 Rita Ora – Phoenix
First things first, the presence of controversy-causing Girls on Rita’s long-delayed sophomore album is galling. What could have been her Lady Marmalade moment with Cardi B, Bebe Rexha and Charli XCX was instead a conceptual and musical low point for all involved. The tempo drags, the melody’s feeble and the lyrics, which clunkily explore same-sex attraction, are at best immature (‘Sometimes I just want to kiss girls!’ they chant like a nursery rhyme) and at worst offensive.
Silver linings, though: the song prompted Rita to disclose her past relationships with women. Phoenix alchemises this emotional honesty into a collection of finely-drawn pure pop songs that are often surprisingly vulnerable.
Half-comprised of pre-existing singles (just like the 90s!), Rita’s song with the late Avicii is Phoenix’s strongest moment: the sad, searching but entirely danceable Lonely Together was one of the best songs of last year.
Elsewhere, Your Song, Anywhere and Let You Love Me are a fizzing, mid-20s, love-induced head-fuck musical triptych. Rita’s got a strong voice but often opts for a delicate delivery here, expressing innocence and confidence simultaneously; one could believe all the songs are about the same person. Other tracks like Only Want You, Velvet Rope also click sweetly into place.
6 Years & Years – Palo Santo
Their million-selling debut Communion made a crowd-pleasing splash in 2015. And while Years & Years’ sophomore effort – a concept album about a futuristic, sexually-evolved world – had less of an impact, it’s the more ambitious and artistic of the two.
‘You don’t have to be straight with me, I see what’s underneath your mask,’ sings fearlessly queer frontman Olly on the spell-like Sanctify, the first cut from the album. It’s a strange, tense song, with tribal drums and beckoning vocals. On it, Olly invites his hetero-identifying lover to ‘sanctify’ his body. There are religious undertones, and yet, it’s as gloriously homoerotic as pop gets.
It’s telling, then, that after Sanctify didn’t light up the charts, the silly, sweet kiss-off If You’re Over Me, with its dangerously catchy chorus, was picked as the follow up single. A top 10 mainstay selling over 400,000 copies, it did its job.
But it’s not a fair reflection of Palo Santo’s weirdness, best exemplified in the title track. A depression-drenched ode to an ex, Olly sings likes he’s in a turned on trance as he longs for a past love and quite possibly destroys his new relationship (‘Do I look good in this position, just like him?’ he teases).
5 Troye Sivan – Bloom
Troye took a queer leap of faith with his second album. The thirst was real on My My My!, a euphoric celebration of gay sex and love (‘spark up, buzz cut, I’ve got my tongue between your teeth,’ Troye lulls). It’s the perfect introduction to the concise and sexy Bloom.
The sexuality peaks with the title track, labeled by fans an ‘ode to bottoming’ that paints receptive anal sex as beautiful and inviting an experience as walking through a garden. ‘The fountains and the waters are begging just to know ya,’ he says, before comparing his backside to a flower. OK, maybe this is the gayest song of the year.
The second best song is the playful Plum. Here, Troye compares the perfect stage of his relationship to sweet, ripened fruit that might be on the turn. One’s mind wanders to Call My By Your Name’s peach scene; indeed, you can imagine Elio penning lyrics like ‘jealous you can sleep, you’ve been keeping me up and I mouth the words I think I wanna speak.’
For this listener, Troye’s graceful, haunting voice underwhelms on slower tracks like The Good Side and Animal. And I feel his maddeningly underplayed Ariana Grande duet Dance To This was a massive missed opportunity. But otherwise, I’m still enthralled by this album four months later.
4 Lil Peep – Come Over When You’re Sober, Pt. 2
Lil Peep’s second album was released posthumously last month: the ‘trip hop rapper’ sadly passed away of an accidental drug overdose last year. From Amy Winehouse’s Lioness: Hidden Treasures to Michael Jackson’s Micheal, music lovers are often wary of cobbled-together collections of a late artist’s songs. And rightly so. They’re often disappointing.
Not in this case. Come Over When You’re Sober, Pt. 2 feels authentic. It perfectly frames the bisexual star’s uniquely sombre sound. That he’s at all affiliated with the modern SoundCloud rap scene is a mystery to me. His music has more overtly in common with 90s grunge and the better 00s emo bands. The tortured, pleading Sex With My Ex could be Nirvana, and is funereal and intoxicating.
On the downtempo Cry Alone and the desolate, echoey Runaway, a lonely-sounding Lil Peep speak-sings brutally honest lyrics exploring messed up relationships, drug use and mental health. Listeners with such issues of their own should proceed with caution. The pessimism and sense of looming tragedy could prove triggering for some.
I should also mention, the guest artist on wistful bonus track Falling Down will give some LGBTIs pause for thought. The late XXXTentacion, who was murdered in July, was of course flagrantly homophobic. Lil Peep brings something gentle and searching out in him on thus bonus track, as two lost souls struggle to decipher their pain (‘your love is like walking on a bed of nails’). Listening to it with hindsight is devastating.
3 Hayley Kiyoko – Expectations
When I first heard about Hayley Kiyoko, nicknamed ‘lesbian Jesus’ by fans, and her song Curious I was…dubious. I jumped to the conclusion that ‘curious’ was being utilized in the most basic of ways. That Hayley was a gimmicky artist feigning sexual ambiguity like many before her. How wrong I was.
After warming to her stunning debut Expectations, and noting the pride and electropop revelry with which it celebrates out and proud lesbianism, I revisited Curious. I finally paid attention to the complex narrative at play. ‘I’m just curious, is it serious?’ Hayley teases the object of her affection, who’s seemingly chosen a guy over her; ‘Calling me up, so late at night, are we just friends? You say you wanted me, but you’re sleeping with him.’
She doubles down on the theme with the infectious sexual confidence of He’ll Never Love You Like Me. Ditto the sweeping, pulsating wall of sound that is What I Need, her chemistry-laden duet with Kehlani. In a parallel universe, this was the Billboard Hot 100 number one of the summer.
She switches gear on the mid tempo Wanna Be Missed, my most-listened to song of the year on Spotify. She sounds defenceless, desperate, ‘fragile like glass’, but also sexy; laying her cards on the table and insisting ‘say you can’t walk, can’t talk, go on without me.’ An amazingly mature debut album.
2 Janelle Monae – Dirty Computer
After years of speculation and ambiguity, Janelle came out as pansexual on the cover of Rolling Stone this year, the same week her third album was celebrated by music critics worldwide.
Loaded with razor sharp political commentary and poetic lyrics, Dirty Computer is definitely food for the brain. But that’s not to say it’s weighed down by its own intellectualism. Its bursting with sound you can sing and dance to without much thought whatsoever.
Although you can’t miss the point of the epic, flirtatious PYNK, which conjures images of a vagina with more immediacy than even the above trousers. It also features the musical climax to end them all.
One of Dirty Computer’s best qualities is how different each song is from the next. And yet, each blends into the next seamlessly. The Prince-inspired funk of Make Me Feel is a high point, along with the pop-R&B of Crazy, Classic Life, which some of my favorite lyrics of the year: ‘I don’t need a diamond ring, I don’t wanna waste my youth, I don’t wanna live on my knees, I just have to tell the truth.’
1 Christine and the Queens – Chris
Her graceful debut Chaleur humaine sold over a million copies worldwide. It was a masterclass in top quality, intelligent indie pop. Then French star Christine, who identifies as pansexual, waited four years to release the follow up. But Chris was worth the wait. It has a broadly similar sound to its predecessor, but intensified, and powered by hyper-articulation (she uses the word ‘soliloquize’, foe example) and plenty of sexual exploration.
If that makes the album sound like a chore, an easy in is the arresting Doesn’t matter. The cocky percussion and soaring, ethereal vocals combine to create light-footed dance song, full of strange synths and soaring vocals. The astonishing lyrics deal with weighty themes – suicidal thoughts, the existence of God – with elegance and honesty.
On Girlfriend, Christine plays with gender and sings with a light arrogance: ‘Don’t feel like a girlfriend, but lover, damn, I’d be your lover, girlfriend’. Here, the character she creates wouldn’t feel out of place on Grindr with the words ‘masc4masc’ on their profile…
Then there’s 5 dollars, the most beautiful, angelic-sounding song about sex work you will ever hear. The video ups the androgynous ante; I’m a gay man and the sight of Christine in a harness left me hot under the collar. And yet, for me, her voice is gloriously girlish, and that friction creates new, exciting possibilities.
The coolest, most up-to-the-minute record of the year.
A new United Nations report on violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity has found that bi women are more at risk from sexual violence.
The report was presented at the 38th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva this month.
It also found that LGBTQ people are generally more at risk of physical and sexual violence then their heterosexual counterparts.
The report claims: ‘Research reveals that bisexual persons are more prone than lesbian or gay persons to experience intimate partner violence, with shocking rates of intimate partner violence, domestic violence, rape, and sexual assault.’
It furthermore notes: ‘Trans and gender non-conforming persons, especially when they are persons of color, belong to ethnic minorities or are migrants, living with HIV, or sex workers, are particularly at risk of violence, including of killing, beatings, mutilation, rape, and other forms of abuse and maltreatment.’
Some 69% of bi woman respondents said they have been raped or suffered physical violence and/or stalking from a partner. The number for bi men is 37%.
Meanwhile, 698,000 LGBTQ respondents said they had undergone conversion therapy, half of whom while they were teenagers.
Another statistic to emerge from the report is that 2,609 trans and gender non-confirming people have been murdered across 71 countries between 2008 and 2017. However, the number is believed to be much higher due to a lack of accurate data.
Brace yourselves: Pride season is less than three months away.
The unofficial pride month in the US is June, in recognition of the Stonewall Riots. The Riots – in response to a police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a queer bar in New York City on 29 June 1969 – were a turning point in the history of sexual equality.
As such many major cities holding their LGBTI festivities across this month – many on the same weekend. Which means now is the perfect time to decide between them…and get your travel plans sorted!
Here are five such extravaganzas for your diary, taking place in blockbuster US destinations all accessible from Heathrow Airport near London, the largest in Europe.
Head to the Go-Heathrow search portal to hunt for the best flight deals to your destination of choice.
The largest city in California hosts one of the most popular Prides in the country. With most of the action taking place in the gayborhood of West Hollywood (WeHo), LA Pride is yet to announce its headliners. But past performers include the Boy Is Mine singer Brandy and Confident singer Demi Lovato, who filmed the video for Really Don’t Care at LA Pride in 2013.
The annual LA Pride Parade will take place on Sunday 10 June while the LA Pride Festival will take place on Saturday 9 June and Sunday 10 June in WeHo. Tickets for the LA Pride Festival will be on sale soon.
A three-and-a-half-hour drive from Miami is the fabulous, tropical island city of Florida Keys. It’s one of America’s LGBTI-friendliest cities, not least because seminal gay writer Tennessee Williams used to live here.
Pride provides the perfect opportunity to explore the rest of the Keys destinations, such as Islamorada. They’re all easily accessible via the Overseas Highway, a 113-mile mostly-bridged road connecting each island like a threading needle.
The capital of Tennessee is also the music capital of America. As such, performers in recent years have included En Vogue and the openly bisexual Vanessa Carlton. As well as the Main Stage entertainment, be sure to check out the Equality Walk and the Drag Stage.
In time for Pride, British Airways is launching a new, non-stop route. It will fly five times a week from Heathrow Airport in London to Nashville. It will be the first direct route to the city from Europe!
This year’s theme for one of America’s biggest LGBTI fests is ‘defiantly different’. And it’s a description that could be used for the star performer at NYC Pride’s Pride Island party, too. Australian starlet Kylie Minogue will take to the stage on Sunday 24 June.
The Wow singer has conquered the world since blasting onto the music scene in the late 80s. However, mainstream success in America has mostly evaded her. That said, the gay icon has a small but dedicated fanbase in the states. Thus, she is a fabulous, curveball inclusion on this year’s lineup.