Tanzania Just Lost $10 Million in Funding Over Homophobic Comments

Developmental Minister Ulla Tørnæs of Denmark showed that actions have consequences when she decided to withhold about what translates to $10 million in foreign aid to Tanzania following homophobic comments made by a Tanzanian official, according to LGBTQ Nation. Denmark is one of Tanzania's largest donors.

Recently, Paul Makonda, governor of Tanzania's capital Dar es Salaam, announced what could be called a witch hunt in which suspected gay people will be arrested on the basis of their sexuality. Makonda, a (misguided) Christian said that homosexuality is immoral and does not belong in Tanzania as he sees it as an affront to the Christian and Islamic values that are in place. He asked citizens to report anyone who they suspect is gay so that his ad-hoc team can arrest and persecute them.

Tørnæs expressed disappointment with the Tanzanian government for doing nothing about these comments as they have much wider implications. Recently, two men were arrested at a same-sex wedding and were forced to undergo anal examinations to prove their homosexuality. Amnesty International condemned the Tanzanian government for its indifference towards Makonda's comments as well as the anal examinations, saying that they are a form of torture. 

By refusing to give foreign aid to Tanzania, Tørnæs is showing the world that homophobia is unacceptable (although I guess we all kind of knew that anyway) and that if one tries to humiliate and incarcerate people based on an immutable characteristic, they should expect consequences. 

h/t: LGBTQ Nation 

Dedicated Church Member Kicked Out for Being Gay and is Asked to Repent

Kimberley Mills was once a dedicated member of Calvary Baptist Church in Oshawa, Ontario until she made the mistake of coming out as a lesbian to a few members of the church because she was tired of hiding her sexuality and her partner. The word got out to the higher-ups in the church and she was given a letter that dismissed her position in the church and said that she had to repent for her sins in order to regain her place in the clergy, according to Gay Star News.

Mills was involved in the church for about three years, acting as a youth pastor who frequently attended small fellowship groups within the church until she received the fateful letter telling her that she has been terminated from her position. In the letter, written by Deacon Chairman Dr. Tim Wagner,  Kim was informed that because she lives in disobedience of the scriptures her membership with the church was removed. They mentioned specifically that she did not heed the warning in 1 Corinthians 6-9, which says

"Don't you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don't fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality."

The letter also states that the church hopes that Mills will see the error of her ways and that her "heart will respond to the conviction of the Holy Spirit that comes with our obedience to this Scripture and that" she "will repent and be restored to your church family who love you deeply." Ignoring the subject-verb disagreement at the end of that statement, what was written was basically telling Mills that the church sees her as damaged and only through denial of her true self can she be given her position back. Wagner also states that the church will continue to pray for Mills' "restoration," as in the members of the church hope she converts to heterosexuality.

Mills was always gay but the church did not know and they allowed her to work as a clergywoman, while also being a lesbian. So if she wanted to keep her position as a youth pastor, she should have stayed closeted. But is that really any way to live? There are more progressive churches that accept that some people can be gay and also Christian. Unfortunately, this is not one of them. However, they did say that Mills will still be able to attend church services, but she cannot work for the church for as long as she is a lesbian.

So I suggest she finds a new church.

h/t: Gay Star News

LGBTQ Employees in Kansas Will Have Protections Again

In many states across the US, LGBTQ employees face workplace discrimination because of their sexuality daily, and Kansas is one state that does not have protections in place for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees. Laura Kelly, who defeated Kris Kobach for the position of governor in the midterm elections, said that she will provide LGBTQ employees with protections in the workplace, according to The Wichita Eagle.

Kansas did at one point have protections, as from 2007 to 2015, LGBTQ people were protected from firing, harassment, and discrimination based on sexuality. In 2015, however, former governor Sam Brownback removed those protections after same-sex marriage became legal nationwide, as be felt that the order created a new protected class through executive action rather than legislative. 

Laura Kelly, in a news conference that touched upon issues such as foster care, LGBTQ rights, and her approach to filling the new administration, claimed that she would bring back protections for LGBTQ people, which was one her campaign promises. According to the Human Rights Campaign, only a minority of states have full protections for LGBTQ in employment and in the middle of the country, ranging from North Dakota to Texas, there are no protections in place. However, things are changing in Kansas as two LGBTQ people, Brandon Woodard and Susan Ruiz, both won seats for the Kansas House of Representatives and as Sharice Davids, a Native-American lesbian won a seat in Kansas' third congressional district. 

As well as workplace discrimination, Kelly wants to require adoption agencies with state contracts not to discriminate against LGBTQ couples who want to adopt, as a policy that was instated allowed adoption agencies to turn away same-sec couples due to conflicts with religious beliefs. Groups who support this policy, such as the Family Policy Alliance of Kansas says that Kelly is "an enemy of life, family and religious freedom" and that her campaign promises are inconsistent with the values that the people of Kansas hold dear.

But judging by the results of the midterm election, do Kansans really hold those beliefs dearly?

h/t: The Wichita Eagle 

Trans Activists Booted from Pence Rally

At a Mike Pence rally that took place in Savannah, Georgia that took place on November 1, four transgender activists were told by a state trooper that they had to leave the public event that they had registered to attend because they were trespassing, according to LGBTQ Nation.

Rainé Eliza, who is the person who recorded the video below, and three other transgender activists recently attended a rally held for Representative Buddy Carter, who has a history of being anti-LGBTQ and also wants transgender people to be prohibited from serving in the military. Mike Pence was scheduled to speak at the event. 

Buddy Carter recognized the activists from a campaign barbecue that they attended. Upon recognizing them, Carter spoke jovially to them and asked them if they enjoyed the barbecue and said that he enjoyed having them there. Rainé asked him how he felt about trans people and Carter said that he had no comment and then walked away. In my (albeit anecdotal) experience, many political candidates simply don't care about LGBTQ rights. 

Moments later a state trooper appeared in front of them to escort the activists out of the premises or they would face arrest for trespassing. At a public event. That they registered for. I can't see how they were trespassing... something tells me their escort was much more sinister... How ridiculous. 

As they were leaving, Rainé chanted "You cannot erase trans people!" While leaving, a man wearing a "Gays for Trump" shirt said, "I'd love to, though." Now I am not going to go into the infighting regarding transgender people within the LGBTQ community right now because this would be a much longer post. What I can say is that people aren't shy about their transphobia and now actively display it to the world. It's a sad state of affairs when the literal President of the United States is attempting to erase trans identities and someone from the group that transgender people belong to agrees with him. What a shame.




h/t: LGBTQ Nation, Facebook

Anti-Trans Ads Pulled From Spotify After Backlash

As many people may know, on ballots across the country there are questions that pertain to certain social topics. In the upcoming midterm elections, Massachusetts ballots have three questions, one about nurse-patient ratios, one related to campaign finances, and one that would repeal a law that bans discrimination against transgender people in public places. Spotify was recently under hot water for airing advertisements that urge Massachusetts voters to vote "no" on Question 3, reversing the progress made for transgender people, according to Into More

The popular music streaming service has since removed the ads because of backlash that they received by multiple people. Spotify was not shy in admitting that they aired the "No on 3" campaign, which would help Massachusetts residents to roll back protections for transgender people, namely for bathroom access, which, as everyone knows, is a hotly-debated topic nationwide. 

The company said that they pride themselves in displaying a variety of voices and do not discriminate in their advertising, but they noted that these anti-trans ads were in violation of their advertising policy. They did not say who was responsible for purchasing the ad. The company's advertisement policy prohibits “content that promotes stereotypes or inaccurately portrays or attacks an individual or group on the basis of age, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation or handicap.”

Renew MA Coalition and the Massachusetts Family Institute are the primary donors of the ad and are connected to the anti-LGBTQ law firm Alliance Defending Freedom, which was designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Center.

It's sad to hear about a company that is so widely-used would run such a hateful ad that is in clear violation of their advertisement policy, as it very obviously attacks a group. It is good that they removed the ad, but it is suspicious that they won't release who purchased the ad in the first place and the fact that they only removed the ad after people threatened to stop using the streaming service. 

h/t: Into More, Boston.com

Men's Sauna In London Ejects Transgender Man

A transgender man was evicted from a men’s sauna in London for not having a penis.

Gay Star News is reporting on an incident that occurred on October 29 at the Sailor’s Sauna which bills itself as a ‘social club for men interested in other men.’

In less elegant terms - a bath house.

The trans man, who identifies as ‘Jason’ in the Gay Star News report, says he was “A little nervous about being trans as I haven’t had bottom surgery but was reassured (by a friend) there would be no issue.”

Jason even went to the trouble of checking out the Sailor Sauna website which listed no ban on transgender men anywhere.

So, Jason, who says he’s “a very passable trans man” and identifies as bisexual, went to the sauna with his friend this past Monday evening.

Things seemed to go well for about an hour. But when Jason and his friend climbed into the jacuzzi, management approached him and told him he would have to leave.

“A staff member came over and requested I leave,” says Jason. “I was not allowed because of my genitals.”

Jason tried to explain that he is transgender, that there is no language about prohibiting trans men from entering the sauna, and even showed the staffer his government-issued passport that lists a male gender marker.

At that point, the staff member told Jason, “If you had t*ts and a d*ck, it’d be fine.”

During the confrontation Jason pointed out that The Equality Act of 2010 protects transgender people from discrimination, but the staffer wasn’t having it saying the business is licensed as a 'male space' and, as such, could violate the terms of their license.

The evening ended with Jason being refunded his money and ejected from the sauna.

“It was humiliating,” said Jason.

Gay Star News reached out to Sailor’s Sauna, and it was confirmed the incident took place.

And, the spokesman for the sauna repeated the concern about whether the business license could come under fire if they allowed trans men on the premises.

Then, in a statement to Gay Star News, a spokesman said:

“On Monday evening, a customer informed a member of staff that a woman was using the venue. I can only confirm what was said on the reception. The customer was told we did not know how we would stand in regards to our license. We are only licensed for men to use the venue.”

“I understand that the gentleman was male however his physical gender was different and as a customer had already stated that a female was using the venue, I explained that I would need to clarify with the council. The customer was given a full refund and we did apologise.”

“We have had confirmation from the council that if someone has a GRC [Gender Recognition Certificate] or ID confirming they are male, we would not be in breach of our licence.”

“I would also like to confirm that transgender men are welcome in our sauna.”

(h/t Gay Star News)

No Gays Allowed: Massachusetts Man Thrown Out of Bar for Being Gay

Imagine it being 2018 and it still actually being 1950. Unfortunately this is a reality for many people as so many business owners haven't caught up with the times and believe that it's okay to discriminate against people based on their race, gender, or sexual orientation. One man, Jacob Froias, said that he was thrown out of Al's Café in New Bedford, Massachusetts on October 28 for being gay, according to WBSM.com.

Froias was about to enjoy a meal with his mother when friend and owner Alsuino Cordeiro approached him and said "You can't come here anymore... last time you were here you and your little Filipino boyfriend were outside hugging and it made everyone uncomfortable. You essentially embarrassed the establishment." While I do love some good alliteration, a person can't embarrass an establishment, only the people inside of it...

According to Froias, his boyfriend was smoking a cigarette outside next to him in May and they hugged because it was cold, which for some reason greatly offended the people inside Al's Café.

After being told the leave, Froias and his mother, not wanting to be conspicuous, quietly got up to leave. As they were leaving, Cordeiro started throwing homophobic insults at Froias.

Froias shared his experience in a Facebook post that got bundreds of shares, as people supported him through this ordeal. However, not everyone was happy with Jacob bringing to light the homophobic owner, as he has received threatening messages from peope associated with Al's Café.

Froias is uncertain as to whether or not he'll be seeking legal action as he does not wish to destroy someone's life over this incident, but he does want people to know what he experienced so that they may think twice about giving their money to a homophobe.

I was surprised to hear that something like this happened in this day and age and in Massachusetts, the state that was first to legalize same-sex marriage in 2003. I suppose this shows that even though progress has been made in regard to LGBT rights, there will always be people who will try to push them back.

h/t: WBSM.com

Conviction Overturned in Russian Gay Propaganda Case

Recently a Russian teen was persecuted under the anti-gay "gay propaganda" law for posting pictures online. However, while he was found guilty initially, his conviction has been overturned, according to Pink News.

Russia's "gay propaganda" law basically bans anyone from promoting "propaganda" of any sexuality other than heterosexual, according to Mic. After the 2013 bill became law, multiple bans on pride parades have been instated as well as a surge in violence against LGBTQ people, among other things. This is a step backwards for equality in Russia and a slap in the face for LGBTQ Russians. 

Maxim Neverov, the teen who was charged with "propaganda of homosexuality among minors" for posting pictures online that could be construed as pictures of people in same-sex relationships, filed an appeal with his lawyer, Artem Lapov, to contest his conviction. Part of his conviction included him paying a fine of approximately $760.000 for posting the pictures online, but Lapov was firm in saying that Neverov was not paying the fine or accepting the conviction.

Neverov participated in a public protest called "Gays for Putin" as well as submitted twelve applications for the performance (all rejected) attempted to organize a pride parade, which led the Russian LGBT Network to believe that Maxim was targeted. 

Investigators reviewed Neverov's case materials and interviewed witnesses under the assumption of Maxim's innocence. They found no in incriminating evidence and decided to reverse their initial decision and Neverov does not have to pay the fine. 

While Neverov's conviction was overturned, things in Russia for LGBT people are still unequal. Since the law was passed, crimes against LGBT Russians have increased, many LGBT activists have been detained by the police, and a great deal of requests for pride events were shut down. Yes, the conviction being reversed is definitely a step forward, but the fact that the gay propaganda law was put in place initially speaks to a nefarious view of non-heterosexual people. 

h/t: Pink NewsMic

LGBTQ Employees Still Not Comfortable Coming Out at Work, Despite an Increase in Inclusion

Despite inclusion being beneficial for companies, as much as 35% of LGBTQ people are not comfortable coming out at work, as they fear discrimination from their coworkers, according to Georgia Voice.

The apprehensive LGBTQ workers fear physical assault and psychological trauma, as 18% of LGBTQ people have experienced hurtful comments by coworkers, 10% of minorities have been physically assaulted by customers and coworkers, and 12% of transgender workers have also been assaulted.

In addition, 31% of nonbinary people and 18% of trans workers are not comfortable accurately expressing their gender identity, 12% of gay and lesbian employees and 21% of trans workers do not feel comfortable reporting discrimination. While these statistics represent a minority of people, the numbers are still too high, as nobody should be uncomfortable with expressing who they are at work and they should never feel uncomfortable reporting discrimination. 

One worker, named Jacob, a twenty-two-year-old from Scotland, says that he faces discrimination at his job at a beauty store, being called "f****t* and "gay" from people outside the store. While he wasn't physically assaulted, he did say that it made him feel unsafe. Many LGBTQ people face this type of homophobia every day and work should be a place in which people feel safe but, unfortunately, it just doesn't happen, despite studies showing that inclusivity in the workplace boosts productivity as well as making at least half of Americans more likely to buy from companies that support LGBTQ rights.    

Homophobia and LGBTQ discrimination in the workplace (or anywhere really) is unacceptable and should not be tolerated and working in an environment in which people frequently experience homophobia can and most likely will decrease productivity and general well being, and as long as anti-LGBT actions and remarks continue to be excused, LGBTQ workers will be uncomfortable being themselves around their coworkers, which is why it's important to educate people on LGBTQ issues so that homophobic comments and actions can be a thing of the past. 

h/t: Georgia Voice

Holocaust Memorial Vandalized With Homophobic Message


A memorial In Tel Aviv was vandalized recently with the words "Death to LGBT" spray painted on the side, according to The Jerusalem Post. The statue, shaped like a pink triangle, represents the LGBTQ lives lost during the Holocaust, as LGBTQ people were required to affix a pink triangle to their concentration or extermination camp uniforms. Anywhere between 5,000 to 15,000 LGBTQ were sent to concentration camps and certain experiments in Buchenwald were designed to "cure" homosexuality.

The graffiti was discovered by witnesses on Thursday, October 25th. A picture of the vandalism was posted to Facebook by Ron Huldai, Tel Aviv's mayor. He then posted a picture of the memorial after the graffiti was cleared and he said: “We will continue to act and to protect members of the community as we have done so far.” 

Others have also spoken out against this hateful message, such as mayoral candidate Asaf Zamir, who was disturbed by the crime and said that he does not have the words to describe how he feels about people who would wish death on the LGBT community and will continue to fight for the rights of LGBTQ people. Etai Pinkas, the chairman of the LGBTQ Community Center spoke out as well, saying that it is not correct to assume that Tel Aviv is a wonderful place, as this vandalism shows that LGBT people still have to fight to be accepted.        

Tel Aviv police have opened an investigation. Hopefully, they will find the person or persons responsible for this incident. Regardless, writing such a hateful message should never be accepted and I am glad that so many people are condemning this heinous crime. 

h/t: The Jerusalem Post