April 28, 2016

Tennessee now allows therapists to refuse gay clients

Governor Bill HaslamRepublican governors of conservative states have really gone out of their way to push an anti-LGBT agenda under the guise of "religious liberty" laws.
Mississippi, North Carolina and Missouri are at various stages of adopting bills that would protect people who cannot, because of their strongly held religious beliefs, provide service to gay people. Those protected include everyone from florists and bakers to ministers, and in some cases, large businesses.
Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam (in this totally not doctored photo) wants to take that "protection" a step further and has signed an anti-LGBT bill that will allow counselors and therapists in the state to turn away clients based on “sincerely held principles.” (Note that it says principles and not just religious beliefs.)
The law says that counselors and therapists are protected from liability if they turn away a client whose goals, outcomes, or behaviors conflict with their beliefs.
Counselors must, however, refer the client to a provider who will see them.
The bill's sponsor, Senator Jack Johnson, claimed that “[the law] is not anti-anybody, it’s not anti-anything; it’s just pro-religious liberty.”
The American Counseling Association said the law was an “unprecedented attack” on the counseling profession.
"This is the first time in the history of the Association that any legislative body—local, state, federal—has ever passed a piece of legislation specifically targeting our code of ethics, that has never been done," said Art Terrazas, Director of Government Relations, American Counseling Association.
"This bill opens the door to blanket discrimination—whether it’s a veteran suffering from PTSD or a woman suffering from spousal abuse— and we at the American Counseling Association are not going to stand for that. Governor Haslam now has a choice. He can either follow the heroic example set by Governor Deal of Georgia and veto this terrible legislation, or he can be on the wrong side of history and legalize discrimination."
We think therapists should refuse to see Republican politicians. "Sorry, we can't treat stupid."
Tennessee Governor Signs Bill Letting Counselors Refuse Service  [Buzzfeed]
American Counseling Association and Tennessee Equality Project call on Gov. Haslam to veto Hate Bill 1840 [LGBT Weekly]

April 19, 2016

Even gay turtles deserve a home

Amnesty International Turkey conducted an interesting hidden camera experiment to see if a turtle's sexuality - or, more specifically, its homosexuality - would turn-off potential buyers. Sadly, it did.
At a small pet store, people were shown turtles in a tank. When they asked about them, the shop owner advised potential customers that they were, in fact, gay turtles. 
“Hmm… is it contagious?” asked one woman.
A man hoped the shop sells “decent ones” instead.
“That one’s decent too," countered the shopkeeper. "He is completely healthy and fine.”
“Healthy?" the man replied. "But you said he is gay!”
Yep, a gay turtle was a difficult sell. Even a couple that seemed to have no issue with it admitted, "It’s not a problem… we’ll be giving it away as a gift anyway.”
Of course, the video may seem silly at first but it was designed to highlight a serious and growing problem of homophobia in Turkey. 

Reality show contestant takes on North Carolina's anti-trans law

Neal Gottlieb, a contestant on the most recent season Survivor, hiked to the top of Mount Mitchell, the highest mountaintop in North Carolina.
He wanted to take a stand against the state's House Bill 2, recently passed anti-LGBT legislation which forces trans people to use restrooms that do not correspond with their gender identity. So Gottlieb placed a rainbow-colored outhouse with a trans Pride flag at the mountain’s peak.
He then took to Facebook to write an open letter to Governor McCrory:
As of this morning, an outhouse proudly displaying a trans pride flag is sitting atop Mount Mitchell, North Carolina’s tallest mountain. It was placed there in protest of HB2, your state’s institutionalization of discrimination (also known as hate) against members of the trans community (also known as humans). Yes, at least for a little while, North Carolina’s highest point is an outhouse; a fitting symbol for a state that has sullied itself with shitty, repressive legislation.
Gottlieb added, "Of course you can admit that you shit the bed, reverse HB2 and wipe away the mess this harmful legislation leaves behind. We all make mistakes. Please stop dumping on freedom and admit your wrongs. We’ll all feel much better when this passes.”
This is not the first time Gottlieb has spoken out in support of LGBT rights. “In 2014 I placed a flag on the top of Uganda’s tallest mountain in protest of the country’s criminalization of homosexuality," he explained. "It’s sad that I would have reason to undertake a similar protest on United States soil, but I saw in 2014 how such an action can have far reach, call our leaders and inspire others to keep up the good fight. The idea for the outhouse and how it tied in with the “bathroom bill” came to me about two weeks ago out of the blue.”
Thank God he's on our side!

April 5, 2016

No "Wicked" for bigots!

WickedBroadway composer Stephen Schwartz has lashed out at North Carolina after the state passed a law that allows for the discrimination of the LGBTQ community for "faith-based" reasons.
He said that the show Wicked will not be allowed to take stage in North Carolina. Schwartz added that he will also withhold permissions for Godspell and Pippin.
"I feel that it is very important that any state that passes such a law suffer economic and cultural consequences, partly because it is deserved and partly to discourage other states from following suit," explained Schwartz.
He added that he hopes others will follow his example.
“If you are in agreement, you may want to join me in refusing to license our properties to, or permit productions of our work by, theaters and organizations in North Carolina until this heinous legislation is repealed,” he said.
Mitchel Sommers, executive director for the Community Theatre of Greensboro (CTG), feared the boycott could lead to “a theatrical disaster.”
“CTG’s bread and butter is its shows, which all must get royalty permission from their owners in order to be produced,” Sommers said. “If Stephen Schwartz’s ban on NC theaters producing his work is mirrored by his other Broadway colleagues, which is inevitable, what are we going to put on?”
Jamie Lawson, the artistic director for the Theatre Alliance in Winston-Salem, said that Schwartz' decision would hurt the wrong people.
“If your suggested boycott occurs, it will likely put our nonprofit theater company of 32 years… out of business,” he wrote on Facebook. “From a 45-year-old gay man who grew up in a rural town and turned to theater in the darkest hour, I would hate to see the whole state go dark because of a few bigoted individuals who care nothing about a theatrical boycott, anyway. You wouldn’t be hurting them; you would be hurting us… your supporters.”
Political bigots only seem to "soften" their position when their state's pocketbooks are hit and hit hard. A boycott by theater, film and corporations will help send the message, though hints from Wahington that millions in federal transfers may be in jeopardy is more likely to have the intended effect. 

No ‘Wicked’ for NC: Composer Stephen Schwartz bans NC shows over HB2 [The Charlotte Observer]

Stephen Schwartz Bans Productions Of “Wicked” In North Carolina After Anti-Gay Law [NewNowNext]

April 3, 2016

Russia accuses Calvin Klein of gay propaganda

The Russian government is using its anti-gay "propaganda" law to fine Calvin Klein for being gay positive. 

The newest video ad (below) has show two boys flirting with each other, to the point of revealing their true feelings. Bits of the phrase "Do you want to..." appears in tattoo form through the video. It's pretty gay, all right.  
Given that the fine for anti-gay propaganda is ONE MILLION RUBLES, you'd think CK would be more careful. Oh, wait a minute, that's just $15,000 in real money ... so no wonder Calvin Klein doesn't give a flying fuck what the Russian government thinks. 

March 29, 2016

Rights groups sue North Carolina over anti-gay law

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Lambda Legal and other equality groups have filed a lawsuit challenging the recently passed North Carolina law that undid local LGBT rights by-laws and restricted transgender people’s access to restrooms.

Last week Republicans in the state legislature convened a special session, ramming through a bill which was signed by Governor Pat McCrory the same day. The bill cancelled an existing LGBT rights ordinance in Charlotte and barred  local municipalities from enacting gay rights ordinances in the future. It also explicitly barred transgender people from using public restrooms of the gender they identify with.

The lawsuit argues the law violates people’s equal protection, privacy, and liberty rights under the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and their civil rights under Title IX of the Education Act of 1972.

Donald Trump. Ted Cruz. Given the climate of fear and hatred that the front-runners for the Republican presidential nomination are fomenting, should we be surprised that it is percolating down to the states? 

ACLU and Lambda Legal sue North Carolina over anti-LGBT law [Frontiers]

March 24, 2016

Germany proposes new guidelines for sex workers

Germany is close to passing a new set of regulations for sex workers that it said would help protect people in the industry.
The bill, which received cabinet approval this week, will be voted on by Germany's Legislature. If passed, it would become law in 2017.
First, all sex workers will have to use condoms when working with a client. Workers would also have to register with the government. They will have to receive updated health advice every two years, and will be protected from being told "the nature and scale of sexual services" should they work at a brothel.
Also, brothel owners will require permits, and those with a history of fraud, blackmail or smuggling will be refused.
Fines would cost up to $56,000 for each violation.
Cornelia Moehring, an opposition politician, doesn't think the new regulations will be of any use.
She argued that most workers "will continue working illegally and really lose any protection. Obligatory condom use can't be checked and is a pure illusion.”
Hydra e.V., Germany's sex workers’ association, agreed. The group said the bill was about “controlling us not protecting us.”
“It would minimize our already scarce chances of finding another job, if we want, or drive us into illegality if we chose not to register for these very reasons,” the group said in a statement. “Moreover, we are sure that enforced counselling and registration would not present us with the perfect environment for reporting situations of abuse or exploitation. Finally, the legal enforcement of a practice within the realm of sex, however advisable, would affect our right to sexual self-determination over our own bodies.
“Our conviction is that sex workers know best what would improve their lives.”

March 21, 2016

Celebrating men with real bodies

Egale Canada, dedicated to making the lives of queer Canadians better, has started a new campaign called m.bodiment. It was designed to help queer men of all shapes and sizes become comfortable in their own skin, while encouraging body-shamers to be more respectful towards others.

According to Egale: 

Within this framework, fat-phobia, body shaming, and discrimination based on appearance are seen as detrimental to a person’s self-esteem, and in turn a potential danger to their health. With this project, Egale is determined to open a dialogue about men’s bodies; gay, bi, trans, and queer men’s body image; mental health; and health and wellness.

In Episode 1 of a corresponding web-series, four guys talk about what it was like to take off their clothes for the first time on camera. 

You can follow the series here.

March 15, 2016

It's official: porn is a "public health crisis" in Utah

Utah has declared that pornography is a "public health crisis."
Last month, the state Senate passed a resolution promising to crack down on pornography and the "sexually toxic environment" that it perpetuates. This week, the state's House of Representatives followed suit and approved the Senate's resolution. In both cases, the decree was passed with unanimous support.
According to the resolution, porn consumption leads "to a broad spectrum of individual and public health impacts and societal harms," and "recognizes the need for education, prevention, research, and policy change at the community and societal level in order to address the pornography epidemic that is harming the citizens of Utah and the nation." It also causes hairy palms!
The result of the resolution? Well, nothing actually.
"It's symbolic," State Senator Todd Weiler, who sponsored the legislation, explained. "Pornography is addictive and harmful, especially for adolescents. Like illegal drugs, pornography will affect the brain chemistry of an adolescent."
He fears that porn will mean fewer men will want to marry, and those who do are more likely to cheat.
In 2013, he passed another anti-porn resolution against "gateway pornography," citing Sports Illustrated's swimsuit edition as an example. (And don't forget women's ankles!)
At this point, porn will not be banned in the state.
"I'm not trying to ban it," he said. He just wants to make it harder to get. "When I was a kid, you could put a couple quarters in the vending machine and you could walk out with cigarettes. Today in Utah, you have to be 19 to buy cigarettes. We didn't ban tobacco; we just made it less accessible to children."
He plans to talk to Internet Service Providers to get them to create an "opt in" option for adults who want access to porn. And he's spoken with fast food restaurants to see if they can create stricter firewalls for their Wi-Fi connections. 
"I'm in touch with McDonalds of Utah," Weiler said. "I feel confident that McDonald's will come on board. It's the right thing to do. We know that kids are using the free, unfiltered Wi-Fi to access porn."
Of course, you can cross the road to Burger King to have your burger any way you want it ... including with a side of porn.
Utah's Legislature Has Declared Porn a 'Public Health Crisis' [VICE]

Russian authorities looking into gay-positive CK ad

Yes, once again Russian officials are whining about another ad that supposedly promotes homosexuality.
A number of complaints have been filed against Calvin Klein for a recent CK2 perfume commercial. Yes, there are two same-sex couples in the ad, leading some to suggest it contains "elements of propaganda of homosexuality and peadophilia."
Now, the ad was not featured on television. It was shared through YouTube, and therefore voluntarily watched by the offended. Authorities in the city of Arkhangelsk region are looking into the reported “propaganda."
If charges are laid against the company and it is found guilty, it faces a fine of about $15,000 and a ban on selling in the country.
Here is the video:

March 7, 2016

Double, double, toil and trouble ... witches hex Martin Shkreli

WitchMartin Shkreli has more to deal with than just legal woes; he now has angry witches on his case.
The former Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO came under fire last year when his company took Daraprim, a drug used to help AIDS and cancer patients, and increased its price by 5500% per pill (to $750).
He was later arrested on unrelated fraud charges, accused of using money from various investors in some of his earlier ventures to help pay back debt he owed. He was also fired from Turing.
Now witches are looking to make him pay for his past misdeeds.
“This is a person who flouts the justice system, and whose affluence shields them from being accountable,” Howl, a witch, explained. “And they’re really pugnacious about it, and really jerky about it.”
According to Howl, a wax effigy of the Shkreli, some hexing oil and herbs were used to cast the spell.
“When people think of casting hexes, it’s like dark and scary magic, the black arts, and they don’t want to get near that,” she said. “When in reality all we’re trying to do is get justice. The hex is not to bring anyone harm, but to make sure justice is served, and that there is a balance, and that balance is restored.”
Is it even possible to turn a big prick into a toad?
Witches put a hex on Martin Shkreli—and it might be working  [Daily Dot]

March 3, 2016

Indonesia embracing homophobic rhetoric

Anti-gay Indonesia

Indonesia was never the most gay-friendly country in the world, but the predominantly Muslim country is slowly becoming aggressively homophobic.

Two weeks ago, the Indonesian Defense Minister claimed the LGBTI movement was more dangerous than nuclear war.

He then added: "It’s dangerous as we can’t see who our foes are, but out of the blue everyone is brainwashed – now the community is demanding more freedom, it really is a threat."

Indonesia's top psychiatric association issued a statement that said "we need to promote, prevent, cure and rehabilitate LGBT people"

The world's first and only Islamic school for transgender women, created as a safe space for trans people to gather and pray, was forced to close after eight years.

And things have gone from upsetting to absurd 

Mayor Arief R Wismansyah of Tangerang claimed the "gay problem" is because of milk

“To create Indonesian children that are healthy, smart, and competitive, the most important thing is, from the beginning, to provide them adequate nutrition, especially breastfeeding,” Wismansyah said, "So, it’s no wonder that recently there are more LGBT." Huh?

And newspaper Bahasa Indonesia even offered advice on how to spot those icky gays.

  1. Likes to take selfies like an ‘alay’
  2. Likes to stare at other men’s behinds
  3. Likes to repeatedly stare at men he likes
  4. A gay usually cares about his appearance
  5. Up to date with fashion
  6. Smells nice
  7. Wears make up
  8. Wears an earring on one of the ears (right)
  9. Admires men
  10. Wears V neck t-shirts.
Who knew that only gays used soap? 
The scary thing is, this is sure to get much worse, making it even more important to stand up for one another in an increasingly hostile world.

February 29, 2016

Canada may soon pardon man who went to prison in 60s for being gay

George Klippert to receive pardon for being convicted of being gay.Canada was not always the gay-friendly country it is today. There was a time when being gay could land someone in prison.
George Klippert, for example, was given a life sentence simply for being a homosexual. 
In 1960, the mechanic was convicted of 18 counts of "gross indecency" and spent four years in prison. In 1965, he was convicted of four additional counts of "gross indecency" for having consensual sex with other men. 
He was examined by two psychiatrists who found him to be an intelligent and affable man. However, they also concluded that he would likely attempt to have gay sex again if freed. The state had Klippert declared a "dangerous sex offender" who needed to be held behind bars to prevent him from re-offending. He was the first, and last, Canadian to receive a life sentence just for being gay.
The Supreme Court of Canada upheld the designation in a 3-to-2 ruling in 1967, causing a furor in Parliament and the press. A month later, then-justice minister Pierre Trudeau introduced legislation that decriminalized consensual sex between two men.
“There’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation,” he famously told reporters at the time, echoing a Globe and Mail editorial of the week before.  
Klippert was not released until 1972. Now Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Pierre's son, is pushing to get  him an official pardon. Sadly, Klippert died in 1996 at the age of 69 so will receive the pardon posthumously.
“Klippert’s case was instrumental in the government’s decision to decriminalise homosexual acts between consenting adults,” Trudeau said in statement on Sunday. “As Canadians, we know that protecting and promoting fundamental human rights must be an imperative for governments and individuals alike.
“This includes gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation… but the fight to end discrimination is not over and a lot of hard work remains."
Trudeau said that similar cases will be reviewed to ensure others deserving of a pardon receive one as well.
Previous governments could have and should have done this, but it's nice to see that someone is willing to stand up and finally do the right thing.
Trudeau to urge pardon for man deemed a dangerous sex offender for being gay in 1960s [The Globe and Mail]

February 28, 2016

Grindr ... a good place for making friends?

GrindrA man took to Reddit - the online social news networking site that relies on user uploaded content - to open up about concerns he has with his relationship.

The issue: Grindr. His boyfriend of a year has admitted to using the hookup app, but claimed it is only to make new friends.

The concerned partner posted:
He's from overseas, and when I met him over the summer he had a lot of friends from his home country but unfortunately almost all of them had to go back home. ... 
I found out he was using Grindr when I saw that he'd been adding guys that I didn't know on Facebook who were obviously gay. When I asked him if he'd been using the app, he admitted to it and said that he was using it just to make friends and that his profile didn't have a picture, said he was partnered, and only looking for chats and friends.
I trusted him on this, and felt a bit at ease after talking to him but time and time again I'll start to feel uncomfortable about it. Whenever I brought it up again he'd say things like "you don't trust me, you should trust me etc...." and acts as if he's doing nothing wrong at all and that I'm the one being irrational. He's also super secretive over his phone.
Out of curiosity I downloaded Grindr to find him, and like he said there was no picture on his profile and it said that he was looking for chats and friends which was reassuring. But I also found that whenever I wanted to see him but he 'felt like being alone', I'd check Grindr and he'd be on it pretty much all night, or he'd say he's going to bed but will spend hours on Grindr after that.
Well, that's quite the pickle. We know what we'd do in this situation, but were curious about what all of you thought.