I knew we Tucsonans are pretty proud of our fun little city, but there is a whole gay world out there full of amazing people and we should know a little about their lives. With that in mind, I present to you the Gay News section; a few of my favorite news sources talking about Gay News and Events around the world. Check back regularly for constantly updated news and information that truly matters.
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Police thwart LGBT activists’ attempted parade planned in defiance of an official ban from local authorities
Turkish police have thwarted an attempt by gay pride activists to hold a parade in Istanbul in defiance of an official ban from the local authorities.
Police fired rubber bullets at a group of around 40 activists in the country’s largest city, an AFP journalist reported, a day after the city governor’s office banned the march citing safety and public order concerns.
13-year-old spoke to congregation in Eagle Mountain, Utah in May
Bishop calls recording of incident and protest ‘problematic’
A video of a young Mormon girl in Utah telling her congregation that she is gay and still loved by God, before her microphone is turned off by local church leaders, has sparked a new round of discussions about how the religion handles LGBTQ issues.
Savannah, a 13-year-old Mormon girl from Utah, is cut off while speaking to her church congregation about being gay. Video of the incident, which happened on 7 May, shows the girl giving her testimony until the microphone is turned off and she is asked to sit down
Jayne Ozanne to warn C of E general synod over high rate of suicide, depression and self-harm among LGBTI Christians
A leading gay activist in the Church of England who says she endured “spiritual abuse” because of her sexuality is urging the church to ensure the safety of LGBTI Christians.
Jayne Ozanne, whose experience in a charismatic evangelical church led to a breakdown, has warned that the high rate of suicide, self-harm and depression among LGBTI Christians will continue unabated unless spiritual abuse is tackled.
Public Health England records first downturn in infections in London, thanks to frequent testing and rapid treatment
A big drop in the numbers of gay men becoming infected with HIV in London may signal that the Aids epidemic in Britain can be brought to a close, public health experts believe.
New data from Public Health England talks about the potential elimination of HIV, revealing the first downturn in the epidemic among gay and bisexual men since it began, thanks to a combination of frequent testing of people at high risk of infection and rapid treatment.
The presenter faces calls for him to quit after making a joke about Caitlyn Jenner
The Footy Show presenter, Sam Newman, has issued a statement after being asked to apologise for his transphobic comments, which caused outrage in the LGBTIQ community.
Newman, no stranger to airing his controversial views, appeared confused when asked by Billy Brownless on Wednesday night for his opinion on a banner shown on screen bearing the image of Caitlyn Jenner.
How are other companies trying to improve the diversity of their workforce? And what lessons can we learn from them?
The digital development department’s Diversity and Inclusion Group works to ensure we live our values and is constantly looking for new and innovative ways to do this. Attending Lesbians Who Tech (LWT) was a really valuable opportunity to hear how other companies are trying to improve the diversity of their workforce. While LWT is a series of conferences for queer women, the practical advice offered by its speakers can be seen as transferable to other underrepresented groups.
There are two parts to improving diversity, attracting a wider range of candidates and developing a company culture to ensure you retain them. Leanne Pittsford’stalk included the staggering statistic that in the past five years $1.2 billion has been spent by tech companies on diversity. In spite of this the tech industry is still dominated by people who are all a bit the same. It seems that money alone is not enough to change the face of the tech industry.
Under a huge baobab tree in Sudan’s Nuba mountains, I met Sebila, a 27-year-old mother of three. In March last year, her village had been attacked by Sudanese ground troops and bombed by government war planes. The assault forced Sebila and many other villagers to flee deeper into rebel-held territory.
She was just back in the village for the day with her children, two toddlers in tow and carrying a baby, to dig up sorghum she had buried. Sebila said food here is scarcer than it has been for years, because of poor rains and conflict fighting. “It’s exhausting, trying to feed them all [my family],” Sebila said of her children.
Aid obstruction in the rebel-held territories of Sudan’s South Kordofan and Blue Nile has been in force for nearly six years, and has had a devastating impact on the communities here. For Sebila – and all the women living across these territories – it has meant no access to contraception. “Every year, I give birth,” she told me. “It would be better if I could space it [out].” But Sebila cannot space her babies out, or have any control of her body. Like all women living in rebel-held territory here, she has zero access to contraception.
It has also meant a severe lack of maternal healthcare. There is no local midwife, and Sebila lives five hours’ drive from a hospital, in a region where cars are a rare luxury. Women told me of waiting hours for transport while in obstructed labour, or being held propped up, bleeding and falling in and out of consciousness, between two men on the back of a motorcycle to reach a hospital. Multiple and closely-spaced births can carry serious health risks for both mother and infant, and can be life-threatening without proper treatment.
Yet there is no coordinated international aid effort under way in the Nuba mountains. Funds are in place, but both the government and the rebel group are preventing supplies getting in. The conflict has left already-stretched health services in the region in a pitiful state. Most facilities are little more than a table with some basic medicines, and there are only five doctors and one blood bank for perhaps close to a million people.
Despite many rounds of peace talks since fighting began in 2011, the Sudanese government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North have failed to agree on how to allow aid – needs-based and impartially delivered – into the affected areas. Instead they are still arguing about whether aid can come through a third country, or, as the government insists, only from inside Sudan. Some aid groups have found ways to provide occasional help, unauthorised by the government but supported by the rebels, but this is no substitute for the large-scale effort needed.
This has very serious consequences for reproductive health. None of the women I met in the Nuba mountains had any access to family planning. One clinic provides a three-month injectable contraception, but local rebel regulations require women to get their husband’s permission first. Despite evidence that gonorrhoea and syphilis are on the rise and hepatitis B common, condoms are scarce. Most of the women I met had never seen a condom, let alone any other form of contraception.
It is also feared that the number of women and girls dying in childbirth in the rebel-held areas of Southern Kordofan – already much higher than other states in Sudan – is rising yet further. And two major aid efforts, including a UN polio vaccination campaign for children, have failed.
Sudan has a long history of aid obstruction going back to the start of the conflict: denying travel permits; rejecting visas; blocking work permits; and expelling aid workers. Meanwhile, citing mistrust of the government, the rebels have still not agreed to an offer by the US to provide aid via Khartoum, and have instead called for yet more negotiations.
Although aid saves lives, and warring parties in conflict have an obligation to allow the delivery of humanitarian assistance to civilians, preventing it from reaching people is rarely punished. The UN security council briefly threatened punitive action against Sudan in 2012, but never acted. The health crisis unfolding in the Nuba mountains should prompt a change of tack. The UN security council, the African Union and the EU should investigate and consider travel bans and asset freezes on rebel and government leaders found to have deliberately blocked such deliveries.
International aid is often a lifeline to civilians trapped in conflict. And it would help women like Sebila to access contraception, avoid risky childbirth, and feed their children.
“The jihadists are the law now,” an elder from central Mali told me. “The very day the French-supported operation finished, the Islamists were back in the villages,” confided another villager last week, referring to a military operation near the Mali-Burkina Faso border in April.
The endurance of the jihadist recruitment success and their appeal to many villagers suggests that military operations on their own will not be sufficient to defeat the threat. President Emmanuel Macron should keep this in mind when he visits the country this Friday.
Hailed as a military success, the 2013 French-led military intervention in northern Mali ended the region’s occupation by ethnic Tuareg separatists and armed Islamists linked to Al-Qaeda. But since 2015, attacks against Malian forces and abuses by Al-Qaeda-linked groups have moved southward to Mali’s previously stable central regions and, last year, spread into neighboring Burkina Faso.
Since 2015, I’ve interviewed scores of witnesses and victims to abuses in central Mali. They described how, in recent months, groups of up to 50 Islamist fighters closed down schools, banned women from riding on motorcycles driven by men other than their husbands, and imposed their version of Sharia (Islamic law). “We used to spend days celebrating a marriage or baptism, dancing and singing together,” one man said. “Not anymore.”
Men accused of being informants for the Malian government often turn up dead. Since 2015, Islamists have executed at least 40 men in their custody, including village chiefs and local officials. Some were murdered in front of their families. Several people said they felt pressured to send one of their sons to join the Islamists.
However, an equal number of villagers told me they welcomed the presence of the Islamist groups in central Mali; they saw them as a benevolent alternative to a state they associate with predatory and abusive governance. Many seethed as they described Malian army abuses during counterterrorism operations, including arbitrary arrests, torture, and executions.
Since late 2016, I have documented the alleged extrajudicial killing by soldiers of 12 detainees, the most recent in early May, and the forced disappearance of several others. Villagers described how soldiers detained and executed three family members in January. “We heard gunshots in the distance,” one witness said. “I followed the tracks of the army truck and found our people in a shallow grave.” This week, I received a desperate email from the brother of a man forced into a white pickup by men in uniform on February 3. “We have heard nothing; we have searched everywhere,” he said.
While the behavior of the state security services has improved in recent years, Malian authorities have made no meaningful effort to investigate those implicated in violations.
Villagers said the Islamists are recruiting by exploiting frustrations over poverty, abusive security services, rampant banditry, local Peuhl clan rivalries, and, especially, corruption.
“The jihadists speak a lot about corruption… how the authorities steal, torture and do bad things to us,” one elder said. “Honestly, they don’t need to try very hard to recruit the youth…”
Villagers also said the Islamists are increasingly filling the governance vacuum. They welcomed Islamist efforts to investigate and punish livestock thieves, including by executions. Others praised Sharia rulings in favor of victims of domestic violence or spousal abandonment. Elders from both the sedentary Bambara and pastoral Peuhl communities credited the Islamists’ efforts in late 2016 to resolve deadly land disputes. This meaningfully reduced communal violence in some regions, they said.
“We are fed up with paying bribes every time you meet a man in uniform or government official,” one villager said. “The Islamists get all this done without asking for taxes, money, or one of our cows.”
It was corruption, poor governance, and abusive security force conduct that significantly contributed to Mali’s spectacular collapse in 2012. The burden to resolve this situation lies first and foremost with the Malian government. But the French strategy in Mali and the wider Sahel won’t succeed without helping Mali to address the issues underlying decades of insecurity and the growing support for abusive armed Islamist groups. Military operations, including those supported by the French, are not enough to pull Mali from this deepening quagmire.
When President Macron visits Mali on Friday, he should urge the government to professionalize the security forces and hold them accountable, to support the chronically neglected judiciary, and to take concrete action against rampant corruption. Strengthening Mali’s weak rule of law institutions is complicated work, but no counterterrorism strategy can succeed without it.