Thursday, February 14, 2013

Gays Celebrate Marriage In France, And Adoption Breakthrough

February 13, 2013: France's National Assembly passes a highly-debatable bill that allows same-sex marriage, a step that was celebrated by pro-gay rights activists in the country. Gay rights activists were celebrating Wednesday after France's National Assembly endorsed a hugely controversial bill to legalise same-sex marriage and adoption. The bill, comfortably adopted by the primary chamber on Tuesday evening, still has to go to the Senate for examination and approval, but the upper house is unlikely to prevent the groundbreaking reform from becoming law by the summer. "I was in the Assembly and it was really a very moving moment," Nicolas Gougain, a spokesman for the Inter-LGBT rights group, told AFP. "We so badly want to see this bill adopted after many, many years of campaigning for equal rights. "It was very satisfying too that there was such a clear majority and that the debate allowed deputies to address the falsehoods that have been spread for months about families with gay parents." Gougain said his organisation would be following the debate in the Senate closely but voiced confidence the gay community would be able to celebrate a landmark victory with a once-in-a-generation party at the annual Gay Pride march, scheduled to take place in Paris on June 29.
[PHOTO: People demonstrate in support of the government project to legalize same-sex marriage and adoption for same-sex couples in Paris, Sunday Dec. 16, 2012 (AP)]

GLBT Rights Mostly Out Of Reach In Eastern Europe

February 10, 2013:  Ania and Yga have been inseparable for the last 17 years, living together as a couple in the Polish capital Warsaw but their love is seen as second class in this deeply Roman Catholic country. As Britain and France legalise gay marriage, in January Polish lawmakers voted down three bills on civil unions for unmarried couples whether gay or straight. With the Polish constitution defining marriage as a relationship between a man and woman, the drafts did not include the right for gays to marry or adopt. In July, parliament rejected four similar draft laws. The conservative Polish scenario is repeated elsewhere in the region where homophobia is still an issue, except for the overwhelmingly secular Czech Republic, which allows gay couples legal rights within civil unions. "It's humiliating when I fill out official documents as Yga's partner and bureaucrats cross out the word 'partner' and replace it with...'other'," Ania Zawadzka told AFP. Although the situation won't change overnight in Poland, one of Europe's most religious and conservative countries, a recent survey suggests acceptance of civil unions for lesbians and gays is slowly on the rise. While 69 percent of Poles opposed gay marriage and adoption in a February survey, a majority 55 said they backed civil unions for both gay and straight couples. For Robert Biedron, Poland's only openly gay member of parliament, it's an encouraging sign. "We will continue to submit bills on civil unions until one of them is accepted because we want to live in an egalitarian society, without exclusion or discrimination," Biedron, an MP with the anti-clerical Palikot Movement, told AFP recently. "I can't imagine a Poland in which civil unions won't be recognised," he added. Having entered parliament for the first time in 2011, the Palikot Movement is part of a new wave on the left-wing of Poland's political scene, until now dominated by ex-communists. Read more here, and stay tuned to Ekta Transglobal for GLBT-rights news.
[PHOTO: People hold a giant rainbow flag as they take part in a gay pride parade in Warsaw on June 2, 2012. (AFP)]

Gay Royalty On The Oprah Show

In 2006, Oprah Show viewers met the world's only openly gay prince, Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil of Rajpipla, India. Prince Manvendra told how difficult it had been for him to come out. He was publicly rebuked by his parents and risked his freedom—homosexual acts were punishable by 10 years to life in prison. When Prince Manvendra returned to The Oprah Show in 2011, he was happy to report that his country's attitudes about homosexuality were changing. India had overturned its anti-gay laws, gay pride parades were springing up all over the country, and Prince Manvendra was back on speaking terms with his father. "The mainstreaming has started happening," he told Oprah. "A lot of guys are actually coming out to their parents, and a few of them have even come out to the society."

Sunday, February 10, 2013

GLBT Adoptions The New Norm In Quebec

February 9, 2013: "I would like to have a mother, but I wouldn't want to lose my two dads," says Frida, a radiant six-year-old Canadian girl unaware of the international controversy raging over gay parenting rights, AFP reports. In Britain and France the debate over gay marriage and parenting has provoked heated debate. But in Canada, a nation born out of their new world colonies, Frida's situation is no longer very unusual. A gay couple in their 40s adopted Frida when she just a baby. Cheerful and vivacious she runs wild in the Montreal home of Laurent Demers and his partner Steven LeBlanc, burning off energy before bedtime under the watchful gaze of her doting fathers. Britain voted on Tuesday to become the 11th country to allow gay couples to marry―but the reform divided Prime Minister David Cameron's ruling Conservatives and must go before the upper chamber before becoming law. In France, where the issue has sparked impassioned protests, that National Assembly approved homosexual marriage and adoption only last month. Canadian gays and lesbians have been tying the knot since June 2005, when a series of court decisions forced Ottawa to legalize gay nuptials on the basis that denying gay couples the right to marry was discriminatory. Read the full story from Tengri News here. And stay tuned to

Anti-Gay Group Receives Canadian Funding To Work In Uganda

February 10, 2013: An evangelical organization that describes homosexuality as a "perversion" and a "sin" is receiving funding from the Government of Canada for its work in Uganda, where gays and lesbians face severe threats. The federal government has denounced virulent homophobia in that East African country and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has condemned plans for an anti-gay bill that could potentially include the death penalty for homosexuals. Nevertheless, the federal government is providing $544,813 in funding for Crossroads Christian Communications—an Ontario-based evangelical group that produces television programming—to help dig wells, build latrines and promote hygiene awareness in Uganda through 2014. Until Tuesday, the organization's website carried a list of "sexual sins" deemed to be "perversion." Just hours after The Canadian Press contacted the group to ask a spokesperson about the site, the page in question disappeared from public view. The organization is being funded by the Canadian International Development Agency. Just a few days ago the Quebec government announced its desire to create its own parallel agency because it no longer supported CIDA's policy choices. Read the full story on CBC News here.
[PHOTO: The minister responsible for the Canadian International Development Agency, Julian Fantino. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)]

In Bed With The President Of Ghana?

Sunday, February 10, 2013: International gay lobbyist Andrew Solomon has called on President John Mahama to take a lead role in promoting gay and lesbian's rights in the West African sub-region. Solomon says the mere fact that there is a national debate on gays and lesbian rights in Ghana, "even if the debate is to have gays lynched," is progress. The lobbyists remarks appeared in an article in The New York Times, Friday. The article made reference to the raging debate on homosexuality in Ghana; his (Solomon's) relationship with president John Mahama and how it all began, including the recent denial and quick u-turn of the Information and Media Relations Minister Mahama Ayariga on the relationship between President John Mahama and Andrew Solomon. According to him the president personally called to apologize to him, a day after his minister had put out an obviously incorrect information. He denied ever raising funds for John Mahama's campaign in the 2012 elections as well as paying an amount of $20,000 to purchase the president's book. Solomon also denied categorically that he was desperately pushing for Nana Oye Lithur to be appointed as Minister, just so she could champion gay rights in Ghana. He said he has no such power to meddle in the foreign affairs of another country adding "The only way I may have influenced him on gay rights was by welcoming him into the household of a joyful family with two dads. It is deeply unsettling to be implicated in a national scandal, to know that my attempts to be kind and helpful to someone would become his millstone."

"The Deadly Seven"―Countries With Death Penalty For Homosexuality

Seven nations still carry out executions of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. Currently, the nations that prescribe capital punishment for homosexuals are: Iran, Mauritania, Nigeria, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, and Yemen. South Sudan, the world's newest country, may become the eighth nation to legally condone the execution of gays; and, if religious extremists have their way, Uganda could become the ninth. The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association (ILGA) released the fourth edition of its massive "State Sponsored Homophobia" report in 2010. The most significant change in that edition: One-sixth of the world’s gays and lesbians were emancipated when India’s Delhi High Court legalized gay sex last the previous July. Compared to the previous report, where they listed the 77 countries prosecuting people on ground of their sexual orientation, this year you will find ’only’ 76 in the same list, including the infamous 5 which put people to death for their sexual orientation: Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen [plus some parts of Nigeria and Somalia]  ILGA said that 76 nations criminalize "consensual sexual acts between persons of the same sex in private over the age of consent."  They are: Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Bhutan, Botswana, Brunei, Burundi, Cameroon, Comoros, Dominica, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guinea, Guyana, Iran, Jamaica, Kenya, Kiribati, Kuwait, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Qatar, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, São Tomé and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Tanzania, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Yemen, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. In addition, gay sex is illegal in the Cook Islands (a self-governing democracy in free association with New Zealand), the Gaza Strip in Palestine, and Northern Cyprus, which is recognized only by Turkey. "Naming and shaming homophobic countries is essential but it is also important to recognize countries where progress is being made," said ILGA Co-Secretary General Renato Sabbadini. "For this year we are happy to see the federal district of Mexico City and Argentina joining the community of states and local authorities recognizing equal marriage rights to same-sex couples―an example of genuine inclusiveness, which will set the standard for many to follow." Download ILGA's State-Sponsored Homophobia Report and Gay and Lesbian rights maps HERE.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Russia’s Anti-Gay ‘Propaganda Law’: Assault On Freedom of Expression

January, 2013: Russia’s Parliament has backed a bill which outlaws the “propaganda of homosexuality among minors” in a move that will restrict fundamental human rights and is in breach of the country’s international obligations to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people from discrimination, Amnesty International said today. The State Duma voted almost unanimously in favor of the controversial measure with only one parliamentarian against and another abstaining, during the first reading. The law would make the “promotion of homosexuality among minors” an administrative offense in federal law, with fines of up to 500,000 roubles (US$ 16,200). “This law is an attack on the right to freedom of expression,” said David Diaz-Jogeix, Europe and Central Asia Programme Deputy Director at Amnesty International. There is no legal definition in the Russian law of what constitutes ‘propaganda of homosexuality’ and the law could be interpreted very loosely. They are going to punish people for something which is perfectly legitimate – expressing themselves, being themselves. GLBT activists organized today a 'Kissing Day' protest in front of the Duma. Kissing couples were pelted with eggs and verbally abused by supporters of the law. Police reportedly detained 20 GLBT activists. Find global GLBT rights resources at:
[PHOTO: Police reportedly detained 20 GLBT activists protesing the bill outside the State Duma]

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

British Parliament Approves Gay Marriage

British lawmakers voted Tuesday, February 5, 2013 to allow gay and lesbian couples to wed, siding with majority opinion in the country but exposing major divisions within the ruling Conservative Party. Nearly seven hours of debate in Parliament culminated in a 400-175 vote in favor of a bill that authorizes same-sex marriages but also exempts religious organizations from having to perform them. The measure puts Britain on track to join other European nations, including Spain, Denmark and the Netherlands, in opening up marriage to homosexual couples. The bill now goes to committee and then to the House of Lords. But its approval in the House of Commons makes it highly likely that it will eventually become law. The vote handed Prime Minister David Cameron, whose administration sponsored the legislation, both a political victory and a political defeat. Approval of the bill allows him to portray himself and his government as in tune with public opinion and modern values, but it came at the cost of an angry mutiny by his own Conservative backbenchers, who said he had no mandate to press for such a change. An early count showed that as many, if not more, Conservatives lawmakers voted against the measure as for it, with many others abstaining. Its passage relied on the support of lawmakers from the opposition Labor Party and the Liberal Democrats, the junior party in the government coalition. The result is a blow to Cameron’s authority as head of the Conservatives at a time when the party’s rank and file are already nervous about his administration’s ability to turn around Britain’s sputtering economy. In a rare move, Cameron showed up in the House of Commons to cast a vote Tuesday evening. “I think it’s right that gay people should be able to get married too,” the British leader said in a last-minute televised interview. “This is, yes, about equality, but it’s also about making our society stronger… It’s an important step forward for our country.” ―Henry Chu, Los Angeles Times. For more global GLBT rights updates, please find Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil's Ekta Transglobal Foundation on Facebook!

Crown Princess of Sweden Presents 'Gay of the Year' Award

Swedish Crown Princess Victoria made headlines after handing out the country's "Gay of the Year" award to an author whose writings about the 1980s AIDS crisis has gripped the nation. "It's a true delight for me to be here tonight. To feel your power, your happiness and your sense of community," the princess said in a speech hailed as historic by media and gay rights activists. The prize was given to author and comedian Jonas Gardell, whose book and TV series "Never Dry Tears Without Gloves" has sparked a national debate on the treatment of gay men during the onset of the AIDS crisis of the 1980s. "Few have touched us and made us so proud as you have. Your message is clear. Straighten your back. Stretch out your hand. We will wipe each other's tears," Victoria said to the author after a surprise appearance that prompted a standing ovation at the glitzy award show. "Victoria, you're our crown princess, but I think tonight I'm our queen," Gardell replied. Last year's Gay of the Year title went to Sweden's first elite footballer to announce he's gay, Anton Hysen, son of former Liverpool star Glenn Hysen. Sweden legalized gay marriage in 2009 and the Lutheran Church, which was the state church until 2000, has authorized the celebration of same sex marriages. Please support Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil's GLBT activism at Ekta Transglobal.
[PHOTO: Sweden's Crown Princess Victoria holds hands with Swedish gay author Jonas Gardell, after handing out the "Gay of the Year" award to Gardell during the annual Swedish QX Gay Gala in Stockholm, Sweden on February 4, 2013.]

Homophobia Around the World―Nigeria's Anti-Gay Bill Resurfaces

Damian Ugwu, Regional Program Director of Africa for the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission reports on Nigeria: "While we watch the flames of homophobia in Uganda with horror, the same fires are burning in countries around the world. Nowhere is this more evident than in Nigeria. The latest version of the deceptively named "Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill" declares that the "public show of same sex amorous relationship [sic] directly or indirectly is hereby prohibited." Incredibly, it would punish same-sex affection―yes, even a simple hug or kiss―with 10 years in prison. The Nigerian anti-gay bill recently resurfaced in Nigeria's lower parliament after a long silence from legislators. On Nov. 13, 2012, the House of Representative unanimously referred the "Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill" to a committee to scrutinize every section of the bill. This was after the Nigerian Senate unanimously passed the bill a year ago. The committee is also expected to call for a public hearing before the bill is put to a vote." Read the full article HERE, and please support Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil's GLBT rights advocacy at

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Chef Art Smith and Husband Jesus Salguerio to Climb Kilimanjaro for African GLBT Rights

Celebrity Chef Art Smith will be climbing Kilimanjaro with his husband Jesus Salguerio to bring attention to GLBT rights in Africa! 
Top Chef Master, personal chef to Oprah, and executive chef of Art and Soul DC and Table Fifty-Two in Chicago Art Smith challenged his husband, artist Jesus Salgueiro, to climb Mount Kilimanjaro with him this July in support of GLBT rights in Africa. Smith, best known as the master of fried chicken for his indulgent southern cuisine, dropped 120 pounds last year after a complete diet-and-fitness makeover, and his new healthy comfort food cookbook, entitled Art Smith’s Healthy Comfort: How America’s Favorite Celebrity Chef Got it Together, Lost Weight, and Reclaimed His Health!, hits shelves this May. But Art’s desire to conquer Africa’s tallest peak came from very a different place. Smith and his husband will join a very small club of married gay couples who have climbed the 19,000 foot mountain. Ekta Transglobal salutes this global GLBT leader and will continue to report on this historic event. Please stay tuned to for more.