Homophobic nations attempted to sabotage a LGBTI rights resolution at the United Nations today (12 July).
Nations like Egypt and Pakistan attempted to derail the vote on the Independent Expert for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.
The role is intended to hold nations to account on LGBTI issues. Created in 2016, it will now continue for the next three years.
Distracting amendments included removing all mentions of sexual orientation and gender identity from the role.
Another amendment suggested ‘reiterating importance of respecting religion’ in the role.
What is the United Nations Independent Expert for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity?
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres | Photo: Facebook
Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the current mandate holder, is chosen by the United Nations to further LGBTI rights.
He has analyzed barriers created by criminalization of homosexuality and stigma of being LGBTI. He intends to assess crises through an intersectional lens that respects grassroots LGBTI advocacy.
The resolution passed 27 to 12 with 7 abstentions during the 41st session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
Nazhat Shameem Khan, the representative for Fiji, opposed all of the derailing amendments.
‘All people are born free and equal in dignity and rights,’ she also said.
‘Human rights are universal.’
Countries held accountable to protect their LGBTQ citizens
‘Today’s vote ensures… countries will be held accountable to protect their LGBTQ citizens,’ Jean Freedberg, HRC Director of Global Partnerships, said.
‘Yet even as we celebrate this victory, there is so much more to be done to truly protect even the most vulnerable among us, including transgender and intersex people — and to advance our path towards full equality.’
Established in 2016, the IE SOGI also helps nations to develop policies and actions to protect LGBTI people.
‘The extraordinary work of hundreds of human rights defenders and grassroots organisations from all over the world is what made today’s historic result possible’, said Tuisina Ymania Brown and Luz Elena Aranda, co-Secretaries General at ILGA World.
‘Their continuous push for change prompted 56 states to support the renewal of the mandate and send a clear message that the Human Rights Council will support protections against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity’.
‘This resolution to Renew IE SOGI represents a landmark moment,’ Julian Braithwaite, representing UK, also said.
‘It will resonate much beyond this room, especially in the 69 countries that still criminalize consensual same-sex intimacy’.
Amazon has removed books by a ‘gay cure’ conversion therapy author.
Joseph Nicolosi penned a book that spread the dangerous and harmful practice of attempting to ‘cure’ a person’s sexual or gender identity.
He was the co-founder of the National Association of Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) and a prominent leader in the ex-gay movement.
His book, A Parent’s Guide To Preventing Homosexuality, is one of the most well known ‘conversion therapy’ books.
But now, it has been removed from the UK and US versions of Amazon.
Rojo Alan, from Peterborough, wrote to Amazon several times to get the book removed from listings.
He previously went through conversion therapy himself as a young child.
Failing to get the right response, he engaged with others to leave negative reviews on the website. Quickly, the rating fell from four stars to two stars.
‘I looked into the “rules of publishing” on Amazon, to see what sort of things they allow and don’t allow,’ he said.
‘Once I wrapped my head around that I started to look into the laws of conversion therapy. The legal side of things.
‘Once I gathered everything I went back to Amazon and I threw all the information I had at them in several conversations. Yet I was given the same “we will refer this to the relevant team”. Again it felt hopeless and I wasn’t too sure what else I could do.’
But, sure enough, Amazon removed all of the English language books by Nicolosi. It took Alan three months from the first email to removing the books.
‘These books were “how to” books,’ Alan told Gay Star News, also describing it as a ‘huge step in the right direction’.
‘These were books that were lying to parents on how they could cure their children from being gay or trans. It’s lying because it’s actually just a form of abuse.
‘The books went into ways in which you can mentally and physically abuse your child.
‘If this helps anyone from being harmed, that would be a good reason to do it.’
He was previously quoted in a documentary: ‘Everyone is heterosexual.’
‘The idea that some people are naturally homosexual, or naturally gay, is just a social construct.’
He also said: ‘So when you have individuals with same-sex attraction, we it as something went wrong developmentally and we try to resolve the issue and put them back on the path toward their natural heterosexuality.’
The World Psychiatric Association has condemned so-called ‘gay cure’ conversion therapy.
The group said they consider sexual orientation to be ‘innate’. They also said it is determined by ‘biological, psychological, developmental and social factors’.
‘WPA believes strongly in evidence-based treatment,’ they also said.
‘There is no sound scientific evidence that innate sexual orientation can be changed.
‘Furthermore, so-called treatments of homosexuality can create a setting in which prejudice and discrimination flourish, and they can be potentially harmful … The provision of any intervention purporting to “treat” something that is not a disorder is wholly unethical.’
A teen girl and a man have been arrested after two gay men were ‘drugged, robbed and raped’ in London.
One of those men was also killed.
The body of Adrian Murphy, 43, was found in a block of flats in Battersea, south-west London, on 4 June.P
Murphy, who had been talking to a stranger on Grindr, is believed to have invited him to his home.
Police were called by the London Ambulance Service at 6.38pm after the body was found. Officers attended and he was pronounced dead at the scene.
A post-mortem examination at St George’s Hospital failed to determine a cause of death.
The man’s laptops, mobile phones, a wallet and cash were also stolen.
A 24-year-old man was arrested on 12 June on suspicion of murder, rape and theft.
A 17-year-old girl was also arrested on 12 June on suspicion of murder and theft.
The man was bailed to attend a police station at a later date and the girl was released under investigation.
Police appeal for information
Detective Chief Inspector Rob Pack is investigating the case.
DCI Pack, said: ‘We have linked these two incidents through our suspects and our enquiries continue to establish the exact circumstances.
‘We know the victim in the Walthamstow incident met the male suspect through a social networking site and we are investigating whether there is a similar connection in Mr Murphy’s death [in Battersea].
‘Both incidents happened over a short period of time and thorough enquiries have led us to make these prompt arrests. However, there is a possibility other offences may have been committed before 30 May.
‘Has anything similar happened to you, or someone you know? A meeting arranged online that has led to intoxication, robbery and possibly sexual assault. Please have the confidence to approach my team so we can investigate what happened to you. You can also contact third party organisations such as the charity Galop. You will be taken seriously and treated with sensitivity.
‘I would also be keen to talk to anyone who saw anything suspicious on the afternoon of 4 June around Lombard Road, anything that looked out of place.”
Anyone who can help is asked to contact 101, quoting CAD 6467/4 June, Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or the charity Galop or via their Shoutline on 020 7704 2040.
RIP Adrian Murphy
Murphy, originally from Kilkenny, Ireland, worked as a professional dancer.
Brother Frank wrote Murphy died ‘unexpectedly’ at home. He wrote a poem, saying: ‘I am thinking of you looking at the Stars. The colours that you wore of gay with Pride.
‘Influenced not by those who Disapproved. Your life a Whirlwind of the brightest Rainbow.’
Another friend described him as a ‘genuinely great person’.
‘Your silly stories would make the grumpiest person in the world laugh, I’m devastated,’ they also said.
‘You’re gonna be truly missed. Rest In Peace Princess.’
Vatican rejects trans people in crushing statement
The biological differences between men and women are ‘constitutive of human identity,’ the office claims.
‘Efforts to go beyond the difference, such as the ideas of “intersex” or “transgender”, lead to a masculinity or feminity that is ambiguous,’ the document stated.
If someone is not cisgender, they are aiming to be ‘provocative’, according to the office.
The 31-page document also says ‘gender theory’ forces people to ‘move away from nature’.
It states: ‘In this understanding of things, the view of both sexuality identity and the family become subject to the same “liquidity” and “fluidity” that characterize other aspects of post-modern culture, often founded on nothing more than a confused concept of freedom in the realm of feelings and wants, or momentary desires provoked by emotional impulses and the will of the individual.’
Vatican: Doctors should ‘intervene’ on intersex children
The Vatican also calls on doctors to ‘intervene’ on intersex patients, even when parents do not agree.
Intersex groups are against medically unnecessary procedures intended to ‘normalize’ infants at birth. Many of these procedures may impact a person’s quality of life.
The only saving grace of the document is that it praises educational programs that combat ‘unjust discrimination’.
A New Ways Ministry spokesperson described the document as a ‘harmful tool’.
They said it will be used to ‘oppress and harm not only transgender people, but lesbian, gay, bisexual people too.’
”The document associates sexual and gender minorities with libertine sexuality, a gross misrepresentation of the lives of LGBT people which perpetuates and encourages hatred, bigotry, and violence against them,’ they said.
‘The document… will confuse those who sincerely struggle with questions of gender identity and sexual orientation. Such confusion leads to self-harm, addiction, and even suicide. The misinformation the document contains will cause families to reject their children, and it will increase alienation of LGBT people from the Church.
‘The only truth that the document reveals is that the Vatican remains ill-equipped to discuss gender and sexuality in the modern world.
‘By ignoring new scientific understandings of gender identity, and by refusing to engage in dialogue with LGBT people about their lived experiences of self-understanding and faith, the Vatican remains in the dark ages, promoting a false teaching that relies on myth, rumor, and falsehoods.’
Brazil still has the most reported trans murders in the world
The Trans Day of Remembrance update has seen an increase of 43 cases compared to last year’s update, and 73 cases compared to 2016.
Brazil (167 murders) and Mexico (71), once again, lead the list of the most reported killings of trans women and men.
The United States has seen 28 trans people killed, an increase from last year’s 25.
Other killings have been reported in Pakistan, Colombia, France, the UK, and elsewhere around the world.
But these horrifying numbers are just the tip of the iceberg.
Beheaded, gunned down, and shot to death
Media organizations – including normally reputable names – are often guilty of misgendering the victims when they are trans, making it even more difficult to get a real sense of the problem.
And there are multiple countries, many in Africa, where we have little knowledge of the violence happening against trans people. The highest numbers have been found in countries with strong trans movements that carry out professional monitoring.
‘We cannot estimate a number, but indeed what we can register is just a small fraction,’ Lukas Berredo, from Transrespect vs Transphobia Worldwide, told Gay Star News.
The majority of the people killed, 62%, were sex workers.
A recent survey has found 0% of American Muslims identify as gay or lesbian.
The ISPU research interviewed 804 American Muslims.
They found not one identified as gay or lesbian.
Around 4% identified as bisexual and 2% said they were ‘something else’. Another 2% refused to answer the question’.D
There are, of course, LGBTI people who identify as Muslim in the United States.
CNN interviewed members of progressive mosques, like Masjid al-Rabia.
The mosque is intended to be women-centered, anti-racist, LGBTI affirming, and welcoming to many Islamic traditions.
Muslims for Progressive Values have eight ‘inclusive communities’ in the United STates.
Berkeley’s Qal-bu Maryam Women’s Mosque, described as the ‘first all-inclusive’ place of worship, opened in 2017.
Liberal Muslims say a future also looks good for LGBTI people of the Islam faith.‘
Dalia Mogahed, director of research for the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, said there is a ‘huge division’ right now.
‘There are a lot of different opinions and, frankly, there is a lack of space to discuss it,’ she said.
‘When you have a community that is so under the microscope and being subjected to litmus tests for civility and tolerance, people become afraid and self-censoring.’
And when asked about the 0% statistic, Mogahed said it can be read a different way.
If 92% of American Muslims identified as straight, she said, then the remaining 8% may be lesbian or gay, even if they’re reluctant say so.
‘The fact that there is a segment of Muslims who identify as something other than straight means that, even though they may not be acting on that inclination or orientation, they have negotiated a space where they can still be Muslim,’ Mogahed said.
‘There is enough space within the theology to be able to do that.’
Scientists have developed an all-in-one immunotherapy approach in a bid to ‘cure’ HIV.
University of Pittsburgh researchers say they have developed a way to ‘kick’ HIV cells hiding in the immune system. And not only does it kick it out of hiding, the approach also kills it.
No clinical trials have taken place yet.
However, researchers say this is an exciting step to one day developing a vaccine.
New all-in-one approach that ‘kicks and kills’ HIV
(Photo: rawpixel | Unsplash)
Robbie Mailliard, assistant professor of infectious diseases and microbiology, said it was ‘promising’.
‘A lot of scientists are trying to develop a cure for HIV. It’s usually built around the ‘kick and kill’ concept,’ he said.
‘There are some promising therapies being developed for the kill, but the Holy Grail is figuring out which cells are harboring HIV so we know what to kick.’
Antiretroviral therapy controls HIV infections so the virus is virtually undetectable and cannot infect others.
However, people living with HIV must take a daily regimen of medications. The virus goes into a latent, inactive phase that is hidden in the DNA of certain immune cells.
Nearly two dozen participants living with HIV donated a large amount of blood for the exciting study.
Men would sit for as long as four hours hooked up to a machine that processed the blood.
Inspired by cancer immunotherapy
The team used dendritic cells, used in cancer immunotherapies, to induce the immune system to kill HIV.
Resarchers then engineered these cells to seek out and activate the cells in which HIV was hiding, and also kill it.
Mailliard described it as the ‘Swiss Army knife of immunotherapies’.
The team is now pursing funding to begin clinical trials to test on humans.
But be cautious
HIV rates in China have surged 14 percent in the last year (Photo: Mil.Army)
Matthew Hodson, HIV advocate and sexual health expert, called the study ‘exciting’.
‘It’s exciting that there are a number of studies underway at the moment that are aiming towards a cure,’ he said.
‘This new work seems promising but it is very early days yet, as human trials have not yet started.
‘Last year’s RIVER study, which followed a broadly similar strategy, ultimately failed to reduce HIV DNA in the body, beyond the level provided by HIV treatment.’
Kat Smithson, Director of Policy and Campaigns at NAT (National AIDS Trust) said: ‘Developments in cure research are always exciting and welcome; in the future it will be interesting to see how these developments might continue in human trials.
‘But while we do still have a long time to wait when it comes to finding a cure for HIV, there are a great deal of technological innovations in treatment and prevention that are having an impact right now.
‘We have excellent available treatment for HIV, which suppresses the virus and stops onward transmission.
‘And we can even prevent acquisition of HIV using the drug PrEP. These innovations have led to a reversal of the epidemic in the UK.’
Survivors of Chechnya’s homophobic purge are, with very few exceptions, always anonymous.
Many people have fled for their lives. Officers could catch them and send them back to a concentration camp.
People are tortured, humiliated, beaten and electrocuted and murdered.
Very few can bear the pain without breaking.
Some former detainees have revealed what happened to them to Human Rights Watch.
The following survivors have all been given pseudonyms to protect their identities.
Survivors of Chechnya’s homophobic purge reveal what happened
One remembers a torture named the ‘carousel’. Security officials put you face down on the floor and beat you with pipes.
Officers, when they’re tired, also force other prisoners to carry on with the beating.
‘You literally turn black and blue from waist to toes,’ one survivor said.
Other survivors remembered the homemade electric chairs.
One said: ‘They turn the knob, electric current hits you, and you start shaking. And they keep turning the hellish machine, and the pain is just insane, you scream, and scream, and you no longer know who you are…
‘Finally, you faint, it all goes dark, but when you come to your senses, they start all over again.
‘And once they’re done with you and you get your bearings, you hear other inmates screaming, and the sounds of torture are just there all day, and at some point, you start losing your mind.’
Zurab, 32, spent a week in the detention facility.
On 1 March, he was arrested at his home. Quickly, he deleted his cell phone of all evidence of his communications with other gay men.
The police officer drove Zurab to a security compound. The officials dragged him into a room where he saw two gay acquaintances. One of them was bloodied and bruised from a recent beating.
The security official demanded to know who he was and his relationship with them. Zurab claimed they were just business contacts.
‘They beat me, they gave me electric shocks attaching wires to my ear-lobes,’ he said.
‘I would not give in. I insisted those two lied about me.’
He also said: ‘But the humiliation was the worst part of it.
‘They called me a ‘woman,’ a ‘fag,’ an ‘ass-bugger’… the most offensive things one can call a man. They mocked me, taunted me. I could not stand it. I wished they just killed me.’
Zurab was also not fed in seven days he spent there locked in a cage, losing 22 pounds in a week. He was given water in accordance with Muslim ritual and only after prayers.
Security officials released Zurab after finding no evidence he was gay. Two weeks later, a friend told him security officials had rounded up an ex-lover who had pictures of him on his phone.
‘I could not face another detention…’ he said, who fled to southern Europe.
He also said: ‘If they showed [it] to my relatives… If my father doesn’t kill me, my uncle will.’
A placard at a Chechnya protest in London, April 2017, targeting Russian President Putin for his inaction (Photo: David Hudson)
Khasan, a 20-year-old university student, was lured by an officer posing as a potential date.
The two met and the officer said there was an apartment outside the city limits.
After driving for 30 minutes, the officer posing as a gay man drove off the road into a field.
‘Three security officials in black uniforms were waiting for us there,’ Khasan said.
‘I understood everything as soon as I saw them, I begged him to turn back, I cried–but he pushed me out of the car.
‘They beat me, kicked me, and punched me in the face. They stripped me naked and filmed me on a cell phone, as they gave a running commentary about having caught a “faggot”.
The officials found Khasan’s phone and found intimate photographs and messages with other gay men.
Khasan was left with a broken jaw and bruises.
They said he had a month to deliver several thousand dollars or he would be outed to his family.
Khasan sold all his valuable electronic equipment, borrowed money and came up with the sum.
‘I did not have a choice. If my relatives found out about me being gay, the shame for the family would be unbearable,’ he said.
After he paid the ransom, he fled to join other survivors. He later learned that friends of his had been abducted – likely with information gathered from his phone. A friend’s mother called him in tears saying police had dragged her son away.
Magomed, 35, spent 11 days in the detention facility in Argun.
Three security officials accosted Magomed in a public place in Grozny. With them, a gay acquaintance was in handcuffs.
When the officials asked Magomed what they were after, he said no. One of the men then hit Magomed on the head.
Handcuffed, dragged into a car, he was driven to the camp. He was held there with around 40 to 50 people.
‘Every day it was torture, torture, and more torture,’ he said.
On his release, family members of many detainees had assembled in an official facility.
The officials shouted abuse while family members were forced to stand and listen.
Each detainee had to step forward, face his family and also ‘confess’ his sexual orientation.
‘Our relatives were in tears and they [officials] were telling them, “You know what to do now.”
‘They didn’t say “kill” but it was all crystal clear,’ Magomed said.
One of the detainees refused to ‘confess’ and security officials refused to release him to his relatives. Several other detainees were not released because their family members did not show up.
While officials ordered Magomed to not leave Chechnya, he kept hearing about detentions of gay people.
He immediately fled Chechnya for a neighboring region without even stopping to pack a bag, and from there went to central Russia.
‘My life is ruined. I cannot go back. And it’s not safe here [in central Russia] either,’ Magomed said.
Chechnya Crisis Appeal
As well as using our investigative journalism to keep you informed about what’s happening on-the-ground as it happens; we’re inviting you to make a difference today by donating to the Chechyna Crisis Appeal.
Every dollar, euro and pound you give will help evacuate LGBTI people in the most danger. And to pressure the Chechen authorities to stop this persecution.
Please also share our appeal with your followers, friends and family; ensuring we raise awareness and apply pressure to permanently end this abuse.