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Out in the World: LGBTQ+ news from Europe & Asia

LGBTQ+ stories from around the globe including Taiwan, China, Australia, the UK & Hungary focusing on events that matter

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TAIWAN

Photo Credit: Taiwan Pride/Facebook

TAIPEI, Taiwan – The 21st annual LGBTQ+ Pride parade through the streets of the capital city this year marked a major milestone as over 180,000 people marched on Oct. 28 for Asia’s largest Pride parade.

Mixed in with drag queens and go-go dancers, Vice President Lai Ching-te became the highest-ranking official to join the throngs of people celebrating the occasion on the streets of downtown Taipei.

The theme of this year’s pride parade was “Stand with Diversity,” came months after adoption rights were extended to same-sex couples in the country and the recognition of Taiwanese same-sex spouses who were married in foreign countries.

Ching-te — the country’s vice president and a leading presidential candidate, who is running as the progressive party’s candidate in the January 13, 2024 elections noted that Taiwan is at the forefront of LGBTQ rights in Asia in his remarks to reporters and Pride attendees.

“Love knows no boundaries; LGBTQ+ rights are human rights. Today, we celebrate love, courage & justice at the 21st Taiwan Pride parade. As the first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage, we stand with diversity & remain committed to building a more inclusive society for all,” he told the crowd adding: ““I want to explain to all my good friends that marriage equality is not the end but the starting point of Taiwan’s equal rights culture. In the future, I will stand with everyone and move forward together on the road of diversity. I will stand with all of you, firmly supporting you in being true to yourselves, [and] making Taiwan even more beautiful.”

CHINA

Photo Credit: Hong Kong Marriage Equality

HONG KONG, China – A ruling by Hong Kong’s Court of Appeal Oct. 17 is being called a partial victory for LGBTQ+ rights in Hong Kong. The High Court  dismissed a government’ bid’s legal attempt to deny same-sex married couples the right to rent and own public housing saying that it was “discriminatory in nature” and a complete denial of their rights. 

Court of Appeal justices Jeremy Poon, Aarif Barma and Thomas Au said in their ruling that the authority’s treatment of gay married couples was “discriminatory in nature” and they should be afforded equal treatment.

“The differential treatment in the present cases is a more severe form of indirect discrimination than most cases because the criterion is one which same-sex couples can never meet,” the judges wrote.

LGBTQ+ equality rights group Hong Kong Marriage Equality released a statement saying that the decision had made clear “that discrimination and unequal treatment on the ground of sexual orientation has no place in public policy decisions.”

In September, same-sex couples won a partial victory in the Court of Final Appeal, Hong Kong’s high court, when it ruled that the government must formulate an alternative framework for same-sex couples seeking legal recognition as the court refused to recognize same-sex marriages which are not currently allowed.

AUSTRALIA

The launch event for the 33rd Melbourne Queer film festival was held in the Melbourne town hall (Photo Credit: Melbourne Queer film festival)

MELBOURNE, Australia – The 33rd annual Melbourne Queer film festival, the largest and oldest queer film festival in the country kicks off from November 9 – 19 with the festival’s theme of “rewind to fast forward.”

David Martin Harris, the festival’s CEO speaking with Australia’s largest LGBTQ+ media outlet, the Sydney Star-Observer, noted, “This year’s fabulous program will bring the community together to celebrate queer film, our diverse stories, and voices,” said Harris. “There are so many stories from across the globe that share important messages, whether that be heart-warming, uplifting, hilarious, or inspirational – the program will connect audiences for a celebration like no other.”

According to the Star-Observer, staying true to its theme Rewind to Fast Forward, this year the festival celebrates queer classics including La Cage Aux FollesGlen or GlendaHead On and Offside, alongside a vibrant tapestry of fresh stories from around the world.

In an interview with The Guardian UK, Cerise Howard, the curator of the film festival, regarding the overarching theme said “We [LGBTQ+ people] have always been here so it’s vital we engage with our history.”

The language in some of the festival’s historic films “may be considered problematic today”, Howard told the Guardian, pointing to terms like “sex change operation” rather than gender affirmation surgery in 1953 drama Glen or Glenda. “But it’s important we are able to collectively not just enjoy but be educated by films of yesteryear.”

“We need to see our community in all its diversity, but we don’t need to see us all painted as saints – because we’re not,” she added. “We are complex, nuanced human beings capable of good and bad.

“We’d be doing audiences a disservice if we tried to paint a utopian vision of our lives – because no one could relate to that anyway. So the stories shouldn’t aim to be universal but particular – because in that particularity I think people can see themselves and engage more.”

 Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s journalist Patricia Karvelas.
(Screenshot/YouTube ABC Australia)

SYDNEY – Nationally prominent Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s journalist Patricia Karvelas recently has been the target of right wing homophobic and racist trolls for talking openly about her life as a now out proud lesbian, and her wife and family.

In an interview with the network’s ABC Queer program, Karvelas said that she had to keep her sexuality a secret at the start of her career, especially from anti-LGBTQ+ politicians. Karvelas said that she was “paranoid” about being outed and did not want to lose out on opportunities because of her sexuality. 

After she shared her personal story with the network’s ABC Queer, British right-wing tabloid publication Daily Mail reported on her interview, which then triggered online trolls that viciously targeted the award-winning journalist with vile homophobic abuse.

In a X-formerly Twitter post, the veteran journalist responded with “Daily mail writes story. Trolls target me for hours with vile stuff. My family is really proud of me thanks.”

ABC’s Director of News, Justin Stevens, released a statement on behalf the network defending her and taking aiming at the British tabloid publication without naming it noting “publicizing it and publishing personal photos to illustrate it is irresponsible and unjustified.”

“ABC journalist and presenter Patricia Karvelas is a fine, principled journalist and a courageous and generous human being,” the statement read adding:

“We’re proud she works for the ABC and grateful for her hard work and huge contribution to the national public broadcaster and audiences.

It is disturbing, saddening and angering that Patricia should find herself the target of online trolling and abuse, much of it sexualised, homophobic and racist, just for speaking publicly about her life.

For a major national media outlet to compound that abuse by publicizing it and publishing personal photos to illustrate it is irresponsible and unjustified.

As the eSafety Commissioner says: journalists are more likely to experience online abuse who are female, from diverse racial or social backgrounds, are younger, have a disability, or identify as LGBTIQ+. It can have devastating professional and personal impacts. It can lead to the silencing of journalists, with some self-censoring, retreating from covering certain topics or leaving the industry.

Media outlets should be combatting dangerous online abuse and gender-based and sexual bullying, and standing in solidarity with peers experiencing it, not disingenuously serving to amplify it.”

UNITED KINGDOM

Corei Hall by Rita Williams

LONDON – The death of a 14-year-old trans boy by suicide on October 12 created a need by his mother Rita Williams, to set up a GoFundMe fundraiser to cover her son’s funeral expenses. The family indicated that after the costs of a memorial headstone, grave plot, flowers and other associated funeral expenses were raised any remainder was to be donated to charities and the hospital that treated him.

On November 3rd, Williams thanked contributors for raising £10,493 raised of the £6,000 goal. She had written that “after Corei has been laid to rest and the memorial paid for, we will give everything remaining to charity: 50% to Great Ormond Street Hospital as they looked after Corei and us so well in his last days, and 50% split equally 3 ways between the trans youth charities Think2Speak and Mermaids, and the youth mental health charity Young Minds, in the hope that young lives can be saved.”

In a November X-formerly Twitter post, Williams also shared a picture of a letter she received regarding her son’s organs. In the letter, it details that one of his kidneys and pancreas was provided to a lady in her 40s who had been on the organ donation waiting list for seven years, whilst the other kidney was given to a young girl who had been waiting for two years. 

“As you may be aware, kidney disease is a very debilitating condition. It requires sufferers to have a special diet and for some dialysis in hospital, sometimes up to four times a week,” the letter reads. 

“Corei has given this lady and young girl the chance of a life free from dialysis they were dependent on.”

The letter goes on to state that a teenage girl also received a lifesaving liver transplant because of the young man and now has the chance of a “healthier and brighter future”. 

Finally, the “very precious and especially rare gift of a double lung transplant” was given to a man in his fifties. 

In the GoFundMe post, Williams wrote of her son:

Corei was a typical teenager who loved giraffes, doctor who and the colour yellow. He loved all sorts of animals and adored his friends. He was open and accepting of everybody. He had wicked sense of humour and was full of sass, and he was also stubborn and a pain in the arse! He was so passionate about everything, whether that be bugs, sewing or his mates.

He was autistic and struggled with his mental health. Unfortunately he was also subjected to transphobic abuse. […] I’d like to share some words that he wrote in his last letter. Please take them to heart and act on them in his name.

“Thank you all. You changed my life for the better, but it wasn’t enough. Everybody who was there however,is the reason I was able to last this long. I beg of you all, don’t miss me. I will hopefully be seen as a boy in my next life, so I’m happy, do not miss me.

You are all precious humans who deserve to be loved, cherished and have all your dreams come true. To anybody who misgendered/deadnamed me; I forgive you, I only hope this teaches you to think more carefully about your actions.

Protect trans youth, in my name. Take this as an opportunity; be thankful for your family and friends because they are still here, though I may not be.

I am a person filled with grudges and anger but I choose to let them all go. I will be happy as a boy with god so no need to worry about me. Thanks again to those people. – Corei”

HUNGARY

L Simon László, former Director General of the Hungarian National Museum
(Photo Credit: L Simon László/Facebook)

BUDAPEST, Hungary – In a statement posted to his personal social media accounts on Monday, Nov. 6, L Simon László, the Director General of the Hungarian National Museum announced that he was fired by Hungary’s cultural minister János Csák for allowing the presentation of five photographs that portray elderly queer Filipinos caring for each other in a group home they’ve shared for decades at the prestigious World Press Photo exhibition.

The cultural minister said that public display of the photographs violated 2021 law that restricts minors under age 18’s access to content that depicts LGBTQ+ people, culture or history.

In his statement László wrote: “Minister János Csák informed me this morning that he terminated me from the position of Director General of the Hungarian National Museum because in his opinion I sabotaged the Child Protection Act. I accept the decision, but I cannot accept it. The museum deliberately did not violate any legislation by presenting the pictures of the World Press Photo exhibition.

The ministry itself acknowledged this in its previous letter: “In my opinion, no circumstance suggesting intentional violation of the law on the part of the Hungarian National Museum (… )” Contrary to what was stated in the Ministry’s announcement, we followed the [Csák] instruction without delay and without delay, we introduced the under 18 years restriction and immediately notified the sustainer.

As a father and grandparent of four children, I strongly refuse that our children should be protected from me or the institution I manage.”

Reuters reported the museum stopped selling tickets for the photo exhibition for youngsters after the far-right Mi Hazank/Our Homeland party had initiated a government inquiry, the party said.

“Based on the initiative of Mi Hazank, youngsters under 18 cannot visit the exhibition at the National Museum as it violates the child protection law,” the far-right party told state news agency MTI. The new rule was posted on the museum’s website.

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European Union

Gay US ambassador to Hungary marches in Budapest Pride parade

David Pressman has criticized government’s anti-LGBTQ crackdown

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U.S. Ambassador to Hungary David Pressman marches in the Budapest Pride parade on June 22, 2024. (Photo courtesy of Pressman's X account)

U.S. Ambassador to Hungary David Pressman on Saturday marched in the annual Budapest Pride parade.

Pressman, who is gay, posted to his X account pictures of him holding an American flag while standing behind a banner that read “United States embassy.” Pressman on Sunday spoke at Budapest Pride’s Family Pride Event that took place at his official residence.

“We’ve gathered for a celebration of families, of freedom, and of love — all things that are increasingly under attack for LGBT people in Hungary,” he said.

Pressman in his speech referenced a joint statement from 35 countries that expressed “serious concern about the targeting of LGBTQI+ people in Hungary, and called for the government to eliminate its discriminatory laws, policies, and practices.”

The U.S., Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Montenegro, North Macedonia, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the U.K. and Ukraine signed the statement alongside the U.S. and the General Delegation of Flanders, the Austrian Cultural Forum Budapest, the British Council, the Czech Centre, FinnAgora, Institut Français, Goethe-Institut, Instituto Camões and Instituto Cervantes.

“On the occasion of the 29th Budapest Pride Festival, we the undersigned embassies and cultural institutes express our full support for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI+) community in Hungary and their rights to equality and nondiscrimination, freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and freedom from violence, among others,” reads the statement. “Respect for the rule of law and universal human rights are the foundations upon which democratic states are build. International human rights law is grounded on the broad premise that all individuals have the same rights and freedoms without discrimination.”

Pressman in his speech said the Family Pride Event took place “at a time when democracy itself — in this country and around the world — is confronting unprecedented and serious threats.”   

“I’d like to talk with you this afternoon about freedom and democracy; and about those who instrumentalize love to undermine both,” said Pressman.  

“The fact that LGBT people and democracy are both under increasing attack is no coincidence,” he added. “Those who seek to undermine democracy, traffic in fear; and, tragically, few currencies of fear continue to hold more value than the love in this community.”  

Pressman further noted “posters all over Budapest during this political season fixated on you,” referring to LGBTQ Hungarians.  

“It’s why your parliament adopted laws aimed at you, and your government is now implementing those laws to target you,” he said. 

(Video courtesy of the u.s. embassy in hungary’s youtube page)
The Hungarian Parliament in Budapest, Hungary, on April 4, 2024. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Pressman has been a vocal critic of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and of his government’s crackdown against LGBTQ rights that has grown worse over the last decade.

The U.S. ambassador in 2023 reiterated these criticisms during a Budapest Pride reception.

Budapest Pride spokesperson Johanna Majercsik earlier this month told the Washington Blade that Pride “is a particularly important event in Hungary.” (The Blade in April traveled to Budapest, and interviewed Majercsik and other Hungarian activists.)

“Despite being a full member of the European Union since 2004, the Hungarian government has systematically reduced the rights of the LGBTQ+ community,” said Majercsik. “The government apparently doesn’t want to stop there, inciting people against our community, and making references about passing new anti-LGBTQ laws in the future (calling them child protection laws).”   

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India

Transgender Indian parliamentary candidate vows to continue fight for equality

Rajan Singh, 26, is from New Delhi

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Rajan Singh ran for India's parliament (Photo courtesy of Rajan Singh)

The storm that was India’s general elections has finally settled, leaving behind a landscape transformed by democratic choice. 

The Bharatiya Janata Party, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, clinched a decisive victory with a majority in parliament with 293 seats. The daily hum of life is returning to normal as the country resumes its rhythm amid the sweltering heat of summer.

Beneath the surface of political triumph and routine, however, there lies an overlooked narrative: The story of the transgender community. In the vibrant tapestry of this election, trans people remained a subtle but significant thread. A few trans people for the first time boldly stepped into the political arena, running for office and asserting their right to representation.

Rajan Singh, 26, was the youngest trans candidate.

She hails from New Delhi, the bustling heart of the nation. Singh secured 300 votes and lost the election, but as the first and youngest independent candidate to run in the recent general elections, her story is one of ambition and audacity. In a political landscape dominated by well-established parties and seasoned politicians, Singh’s decision to enter the fray as an independent was both bold and inspiring.

With her soft and humble voice, Singh told the Washington Blade that even after 75 years of independence, India still lacks even 75 public restrooms dedicated to the trans community. She highlighted a stark reality: There is no platform available for trans people who want to raise their voice on important issues.

Singh expressed her frustration and disappointment, pointing out the irony in India’s highly regarded constitution. 

“Our constitution begins with ‘We, the people of India,'” she said, “Yet in these 75 years, that ‘we’ has never truly included us.” Her words shed light on the ongoing struggle for recognition and equality faced by the trans community in a country that prides itself on its democratic values and inclusive ethos.

“That was the main reason I decided to fight in the 2024 general election,” said Singh. “I am the first, youngest candidate from India’s capital, New Delhi. When I was born in 1997, my identity was male. In 2022, the government certificate indicated I was transgender, and in 2024, the Election Commission of India (ECI) issued a certificate stating me as third gender. When I apply for a government job, I become ‘others.’ so one person has four identities. Most strikingly all these identities are not mine. I identify as a trans woman and no one recognizes my feelings and identity.”

Singh told the Blade that when she filed her nomination for the election, her primary goal was to bring the real identity of the trans community to the center stage of the country. She explained her candidacy was a means to breathe life into the identity of her community, asserting that if people had acknowledged the trans community’s presence over the past 75 years, they would have been granted the same rights as other citizens.

With a voice tinged with pain, Singh told the Blade that if the trans community had been truly recognized as alive, there would have been moments when people saw the community speaking out. 

“There would have been a time when we had a leader to represent us, a chief minister, and even a prime minister,” she said. “But there is no one for the transgender community.”

During her interview with the Blade, Singh shared a slogan she coined for her election campaign: “Sauchalay se Sansad Tak” or “From the toilet to parliament.” This slogan encapsulated her mission to elevate the trans community from the margins of society to the heart of the nation’s decision-making process.

Singh told the Blade only a few trans people voted in the last election. However, this time, however, 228 trans individuals cast their votes in Delhi, a significant increase fueled by the community’s belief that someone was finally standing up for them.

“I was manhandled and threatened on the streets just for announcing my candidacy in the 2024 General Elections,” said Singh. “I was told ‘Chakka’ (a slang word for trans people), I was told how could we fight in election. When I went to the cops to file a First Information Report, they did not file my report. On April 29, Delhi High Court provided me heavy police protection and with that I went to file my nomination for election. If High Court would not have given me the police protection, I would not have been able to file my nomination.”

She told the Blade that society has been conditioned to view the trans community as only beggars and prostitutes, a misconception that is far from the truth. Singh emphasized these stereotypes have long overshadowed the diverse and significant contributions of trans people. Her campaign sought to challenge these harmful narratives and showcase the true potential and worth of the trans community. 

While talking to the Blade, Singh said India’s trans community has not seen much progress in the last 75 years. She acknowledged Modi has taken some steps for the community, notably with the passage of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act in 2019, which has increased awareness among ordinary citizens.

Singh, however, emphasized these efforts are not enough and much more work needs to be done. With great hope and determination, she called on the prime minister to establish a National Transgender Commission. This, she argued, would provide the necessary platform and resources to address the ongoing challenges faced by the trans community, ensuring their rights and dignity are fully protected and promoted.

“The world has seen for the first time in the last 75 years, that during the prime minister’s swearing-in ceremony this year three transgender people were invited,” said Rajan. “I was one of them.”

With immense pride and positivity, Singh stated this is not a loss for her or the community. She views it as a significant victory. For the first time, the trans community voted for one of their own. It marked the historic moment when a trans individual’s name appeared on the Electronic Voting Machine, an integral part of India’s voting system. This election symbolized a newfound self-respect and empowerment, as members of the trans community proudly pressed the button on the EVM, voting for representation and a brighter future.

“We will prepare and fight for the establishment of National Transgender Commission in the country,” said Singh. “We will pressure those political parties who will support the creation of the National Transgender Commission and basic services for the community, we will support them. I will again fight the election.”

Ankush Kumar is a reporter who has covered many stories for Washington and Los Angeles Blades from Iran, India, and Singapore. He recently reported for the Daily Beast. He can be reached at [email protected]. He is on Twitter at @mohitkopinion. 

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World

Out in the World: LGBTQ+ news from Europe & Asia

LGBTQ+ news stories from around the globe including Thailand, France, United Kingdom, Philipines & Namibia

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THAILAND
Thailand Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage, Becomes 39th Country to Do So

The Thai senate approved a bill legalizing same-sex marriage and adoption Tuesday, making Thailand the 39th country worldwide and the first in Southeast Asia to do so.

The vote passed 130-4 with 18 abstentions. The bill now awaits royal assent from King Maha Vajiralongkorn and will take effect 120 days after publication.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin celebrated on social media, changing his profile picture to include a rainbow background. He wrote, “We celebrate another significant milestone in our Equal Marriage Bill journey. We’re proud to be a Pride Friendly Destination and look forward to hosting World Pride in 2030.”

The new law grants same-sex couples equal rights to heterosexual married couples. The government plans to amend other laws to be gender-neutral and expand surrogacy and IVF access for same-sex couples, though only for Thai nationals.

Thailand is the third Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage after Taiwan and Nepal, and the largest country to do so since Germany in 2017.

FRANCE

Macron’s Anti-Trans Comments Spark Controversy Ahead of French Elections

French President Emmanuel Macron faced backlash after describing pro-trans policies proposed by his political rivals as “ludicrous” during a World War II commemoration on June 18.

Macron criticized the left-wing New Popular Front’s proposal to simplify legal gender changes, saying, “There are completely ludicrous things, like going to change sex in town hall.”

Opposition leaders quickly condemned Macron’s remarks. Jean-Luc Melenchon, a left-wing party leader, called the comments “outrageous” on social media.

The controversy comes as France prepares for national elections on June 30, with Macron’s Renaissance party facing pressure from both far-right and left-wing coalitions.

UNITED KINGDOM

UK Labour Party’s LGBTQ+ Manifesto Disappoints Trans Advocates

The UK Labour Party, favored to win the July 4 election, released a manifesto with limited LGBTQ+ commitments, disappointing trans rights advocates.

Labour pledges to strengthen hate crime laws and ban conversion therapy, including for trans individuals. However, the party will maintain requirements for medical diagnosis in legal gender changes and support single-sex spaces that may exclude trans people.

The manifesto reflects ongoing debates in British politics over trans rights, fueled by activist groups and high-profile figures like author J.K. Rowling.

Labour leader Keir Starmer’s attempts to balance competing views have drawn criticism from both trans rights supporters and opponents.

PHILIPINES

Filipino Student Challenges Pope on LGBTQ+ Language

During a virtual synod, Jack Lorenz Acebedo Rivera, a Filipino student, urged Pope Francis to stop using offensive language against the LGBTQ+ community.

The request came after Pope Francis reportedly used a derogatory Italian term translated as “faggotry” in closed-door meetings, criticizing its prevalence in Catholic institutions.

The Pope’s reported language sparked protests, including at Rome’s Pride March on June 16. The Vatican issued an apology for the first instance but hasn’t addressed subsequent reports.

NAMIBIA

(Bigstock photo)

Namibia Decriminalizes Homosexuality in Landmark Ruling

Namibia’s High Court struck down laws criminalizing homosexuality on June 21, reducing the number of countries with such laws to 64.

The ruling declared the common-law crimes of “sodomy” and “unnatural sexual offences” unconstitutional, continuing a trend of decriminalization in sub-Saharan Africa.

Gay activist Friedel Dausab, who filed the case, testified about the laws’ personal and professional impact. The court also affirmed that the constitution prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The government hasn’t responded to the ruling. A bill banning same-sex marriage and LGBT rights advocacy, passed last year, awaits the president’s decision.

Global LGBTQ+ news gathering & reporting by Rob Salerno 

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Africa

Prominent South African activist elected to country’s parliament

Steve Letsike founded Access Chapter 2

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Steve Letsike (Photo courtesy of Steve Letsike)

A prominent South African LGBTQ activist has won a seat in the country’s parliament.

Steve Letsike, a lesbian woman who founded Access Chapter 2, a South African advocacy group, is a member of the African National Congress. She is also part of the ANC’s National Executive Committee that determines the party’s direction.

Letsike won a seat in the South African National Assembly in national and provincial elections that took place on May 29.

The ANC lost its parliamentary majority that it had had since Nelson Mandela in 1994 won the South African presidency in the country’s first post-apartheid elections. MPs earlier this month re-elected President Cyril Ramaphosa after the ANC invited the Democratic Alliance and other parties to form a Government of National Unity.

Letsike in a statement to the Washington Blade described her election as “a milestone for the people of South Africa, and also affirmative of our party’s posture that is inclusive and intention to transformation agenda.”

“I am not in parliament for myself but the people that trusted the ANC to send individuals that will put people first,” said Letsike. “In that cohort that includes the LGBTI people like myself. Rooted in the teaching of a just society, that seeks equality and believes in the rule of law. That demand on developmental agenda from a queer lens and clear priorities of the people is important.” 

“I am delighted by this task, trust and hope for our people,” she added.

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Africa

Namibian High Court strikes down Apartheid-era sodomy laws

Gay activist challenged statutes in 2020

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(Bigstock photo)

The Namibian High Court on Friday ruled laws that criminalize consensual same-sex sexual relations in the country are unconstitutional.

Friedel Dausab, a gay activist, in 2020 challenged the Apartheid-era statute.

The Washington Blade previously reported Dausab said the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977, which listed “sodomy” as a Schedule 1 offense, and a second law that criminalized “unnatural” sexual acts, promote stigma and exclusion of LGBTQ Namibians. Equal Namibia, a Namibian LGBTQ advocacy group, on its X account praised the ruling.

“Welcome to a new Namibia. A born-free Namibia,” it said.

Dausab, who challenged the laws with the assistance of Human Dignity Trust, a British NGO, told Reuters he is “just happy.”

“It’s a great day for Namibia,” he said. “It won’t be a crime to love anymore.”

Namibia is the latest country in which consensual same-sex sexual relations have been decriminalized in recent years.

The Namibian Supreme Court in May 2023 ruled the country must recognize same-sex marriages legally performed elsewhere. The landmark decision sparked criticism among leading politicians and religious officials.

Activists say their rhetoric has contributed to increased harassment of LGBTQ Namibians and hate speech against them.

Amnesty International in a press release notes MPs last June passed two bills that “seek to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, discriminate against trans people and criminalize any support, celebration or promotion of same-sex unions with up to six years in jail and hefty fines.” Khanyo Farise, the group’s deputy regional director for East and Southern Africa, said the organization in recent weeks has “observed alarming rhetoric threatening LGBTI persons in Namibia.”

“Whatever the outcome of the High Court decision on June 21, violence and discrimination against LGBTI people has no place in Namibian society,” said Farise. “Authorities should take decisive action to prevent human rights violations against LGBTI persons and hold perpetrators accountable.”

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United Nations

US ambassador to UN: LGBTQ+ community ‘has shown remarkable bravery and resilience’

Linda Thomas-Greenfield hosted Pride Month reception on Tuesday

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U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield speaks at her annual Pride Month reception at the U.N. on June 18, 2024. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

UNITED NATIONS — U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield on Tuesday at her annual Pride Month reception at the U.N. criticized those in the U.S. and elsewhere who continue to crackdown on LGBTQ+ and intersex rights.

Thomas-Greenfield noted in the U.S. “a small, but threatening group of people continues to garget the LGBTI+ community, and especially trans individuals.” She specifically pointed out the increase of hate crimes in schools, especially in states with laws that target LGBTQ+ students. 

Thomas-Greenfield described Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act — which contains a death penalty provision for “aggravated homosexuality” — as “draconian.” She also cited the case of a Russian woman who authorities jailed because she wore rainbow earrings.   

“Despite these challenges, the LGBTI+ community has shown remarkable bravery and resilience,” said Thomas-Greenfield. 

Lawmakers in Greece, Estonia and Thailand since Thomas-Greenfield hosted her 2023 Pride Month reception extended marriage rights to same-sex couples.

Latvian President Edgars Rinkēvičs and French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, who are both gay, took office in July 2023 and in January 2024 respectively.

Dominica’s High Court of Justice in April struck down provisions of a law that criminalized consensual same-sex sexual relations. German lawmakers the same month approved a statute that will make it easier for transgender and nonbinary people to legally change their name and gender.

The U.N. has faced criticism over its response to Hamas’s surprise attack against Israel on Oct. 7. The Washington Blade, which attended Tuesday’s reception, saw at least one person wearing a keffiyah, a symbol of Palestinian solidarity.

“Since day one, the Biden administration has made it a priority to prevent and combat discrimination, hatred and violence on the basis of sexual orientation, and gender identity,” said Thomas-Greenfield. “I’m proud of the many, many ways … that U.S. U.N. has led on this front.”

Thomas-Greenfield in 2023 chaired a meeting that examined ways the U.N. Security Council can integrate LGBTQ+ and intersex rights into its work. 

The U.S. is among the dozens of countries that are members of the LGBTI Core Group, a group of U.N. countries that have pledged to support LGBTQ+ and intersex rights.

Thomas-Greenfield on Tuesday noted the U.S. continues to work with the U.N. Economic and Social Council to include LGBTQ+-specific language in resolutions that focus on elections and democracy. She also referenced the group of activists who gathered in Dag Hammerskjöld Plaza, which is across the street from the U.N., in April 1965 to “protest the treatment of gay individuals at home and abroad.”

“We’re following in the footsteps of those marchers outside in Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza all those years ago,” she said.

Jessica Stern, the special U.S. envoy for the promotion of LGBTQ+ and intersex rights abroad, also spoke at the reception. The New York City Gay Men’s Chorus and the West Point Benny Havens Band performed.

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Southeast Asia

Thai marriage equality bill receives final approval

Country third jurisdiction in Asia to allow same-sex marriages

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(Photo public domain)

BANGKOK — The Thai Senate on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a bill that will extend marriage rights to same-sex couples.

The measure passed by a 152-130 vote margin with four senators voting against it and 18 abstaining. The Thai House of Representatives in April approved the marriage equality bill, with 400 of 415 lawmakers who participated in the vote backing it.

Taiwan and Nepal are the two other Asian jurisdictions that allow same-sex couples to legally marry.

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United Nations

UN Women calls gender-criticals an extremist anti-rights movement

The UN has an important role to play to combat international disinformation regarding LGBTQ+ people, especially transgender individuals

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The United Nations headquarters buildings in New York City. (Washington Blade/Michael K. Lavers)

By Erin Reed | NEW YORK – In an announcement for Pride Month, UN Women—the United Nations entity responsible for global women’s issues—announced that anti-rights movements are on the rise across the world with respect to LGBTQ+ people.

The organization highlighted steps being taken in several countries to target transgender people, women, and LGBTQ+ people with overtly discriminatory policies and restrictions. UN Women also explicitly called out several movements as “anti-rights,” including the “gender-critical” movement, which frames women’s rights as being in opposition to transgender people.

On June 11th, UN Women took to social media to sound the alarm on the surge of anti-LGBTQ+ movements, which have been fueled by a 50% funding increase over the past decade. The UN’s arm for global women’s issues highlighted how these anti-rights movements are gaining traction worldwide, notably those trying to pit trans rights against women’s rights. “Some try to frame the human rights of transgender people as being at odds with women’s rights, for instance, asserting that trans women pose a threat to the rights, spaces, and safety of cisgender women,” the announcement stated.

However, such assertions have no factual basis; transgender people are often the most at risk in such spaces, and hate-fueled rhetoric from these movements can increase that risk.

Security Council Open Debate: “Women, Peace and Security: Towards the 25th Anniversary of 1325.” (Photo Credit: UN Women/Ryan Brown)

Perhaps most impactful, though, is the full report released alongside the announcement. In the report, UN Women explicitly calls out the “gender-critical” movement, which has infamous adherents such as J.K. Rowling, as being an extremist “anti-rights” movement similar to “men’s rights activism” in rhetoric:

There is a long tradition in which anti-rights movements frame equality for women and LGBTIQ+ people as a threat to so-called “traditional” family values. Movements encompassing “anti-gender”, “gender-critical”, and “men’s rights” have taken this to new extremes, tapping into wider fears about the future of society and accusing feminist and LGBTIQ+ movements of threatening civilization itself

Anti-rights movements have pushed for overtly discriminatory policies and restrictions on essential services, and even for the criminalization of people based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.”

Currently, the “gender-critical” movement is most active in the United Kingdom. Recently, Conservative Women and Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch revealed that members of the movement were put in key health positions to produce the Cass Review, a report that resulted in broad-scale attacks on transgender youth and their medical care in the country. Similarly, the U.K. is currently grappling with attempts to promote conversion therapy of transgender youth, ban trans people from bathrooms that align with their gender identity, and exclude trans women from women’s hospital wards.

In the United States, Republican candidates and legislators have latched onto similar language, passing “Women’s Bills of Rights” that contain little regarding women’s rights but instead target transgender women’s access to bathrooms and seek to end legal recognition of transgender people altogether. Notably, these legislators and the organizations that push the bills often oppose many other women’s rights issues, such as reproductive healthcare access, abortion rights, and generous paid family leave.

The move to declare “gender-criticals” an anti-rights movement is a notable one. In recent years, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Reem Alsalem, has supported “gender-critical” issues and been praised by supporters of the movement for doing so.

Notable actions taken by Alsalem include opposing Biden’s Title IX policies for transgender youth in the U.S. and the World Health Organization’s support for self-determined gender identity. In these policies, Alsalem explicitly frames women’s rights and the safety of women’s spaces as being in competition with transgender inclusion.

Alsalem has also historically shared content from far-right, anti-LGBTQ+ organizations like the Alliance Defending Freedom International, which has promoted anti-LGBTQ+ policies globally.

The United Nations has an important role to play in the coming years to combat international disinformation regarding LGBTQ+ people, especially transgender individuals. SPLC-designated hate organizations such as the Society for Evidence in Gender Medicine and Genspect have gained power and operate in multiple countries to oppose transgender rights. Victories obtained in one country are then used as justification to get other countries to follow suit.

In the U.S., they are likewise used in court fights and legislative hearings over transgender rights. The UN’s move signals that such international attacks on transgender people may be beginning to be recognized by one of the world’s most important international organizations, and that recognition could be the most crucial step toward combating further attacks.

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Erin Reed is a transgender woman (she/her pronouns) and researcher who tracks anti-LGBTQ+ legislation around the world and helps people become better advocates for their queer family, friends, colleagues, and community. Reed also is a social media consultant and public speaker.

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The preceding article was first published at Erin In The Morning and is republished with permission.

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World

Out in the World: LGBTQ+ news from Europe & Asia

LGBTQ+ news stories from around the globe including Georgia, Poland, Lithuania, Greece, France, Pakistan & Singapore

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GEORGIA

The co-director of Tbilisi Pride, Anna Subeliani. (Photo Credit: Tbilisi Pride/Facebook)

TBILISI, Georgia – The organization that holds Pride events in the Georgian capital Tbilisi has announced it is cancelling all physical Pride festivities this year, in light of an increasingly hostile environment promoted by the Georgian government ahead of elections this fall. 

Tbilisi Pride says in a statement posted to Facebook that they will focus their efforts instead on reaching hearts and minds, with a hope of defeating the government and ending restrictive legislation in the October election.

“We anticipated that the summer before the 2024 parliamentary elections would be filled with physical violence encouraged by the government and rhetoric filled with hate and hostility,” the statement says.

“Now, after ‘Georgian Dream’ adopted the Russian-style law on ‘foreign agents’ and announced a hate-based anti-LGBTQ legislative package alongside constitutional changes, we are even more confident in our decision. We are demonstrating the highest civic responsibility and recognize that the fight for queer rights today is inseparable from the broader people’s struggle against the Russian-style regime. This fight will inevitably end in favor of the people on October 26!

“We will use the coming months to bring the message of queer people to more hearts than ever before! We will explain to everyone that homophobia is a Russian political weapon against Georgian society, against the statehood of Georgia! We are patriots of this country and will always and everywhere be where our homeland calls us!”

The U.S. government slapped visa restrictions on members of the Georgian government in response to actions taken to undermine democracy in the post-Soviet nation, just as the government announced a sweeping package of anti-LGBTQ legislation it intends to pass ahead of fall elections.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told a June 6 press conference in Washington, DC that the government had slapped sanctions on “between two and three dozen” individuals who were “responsible for or complicit in undermining democracy in Georgia, such as by undermining freedoms of peaceful assembly and association, violently attacking peaceful protestors, intimidating civil society representatives, and deliberately spreading disinformation at the direction of the Georgian Government.”

Citing U.S. privacy law, Miller refused to name any individuals who had been sanctioned. He added that this was considered a “first tranche” of sanctions.

Georgia has been rocked with protests for weeks in response to the “foreign agents” law, which requires media and civil society groups to registers as agents of a foreign power if they receive funding from abroad. 

The law was passed by the ruling Georgian Dream Party, vetoed by the President who is a member of the opposition, and then passed with a veto override on May 28.

Modelled after a similar law in Russia, the law is meant to undermine the credibility and actions of bodies that are critical of the government and has drawn fierce criticism from Georgia’s allies in the US and European Union.

Georgia was recognized as a candidate country from EU membership this year, but EU leaders have warned that the law undermines European values and threatens membership negotiations.

At the same time, the Georgian government has introduced a package of anti-LGBTQ legislation also modelled after Russian laws, which it is hoping will fire up its base and divide the opposition ahead of fall elections.

Under the package of laws, the state would be forbidden from recognizing any relationship other than heterosexual relationships, restrict adoption to married heterosexual couples and heterosexual individuals, ban any medical treatment to change a person’s gender and require that the government only recognize gender based on a person’s genetic information, and ban any expression or organization promoting same-sex relationships or gender change.

The bills are meant to be introduced in parliament before the end of the summer session in July, and the government plans to hold a vote on it ahead of elections scheduled for October.

POLAND & LITHUANIA

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk. (Photo Credit: Government of Poland)

WARSAW, Poland – Bitter fights are emerging over civil union legislation in the governing coalitions that run Poland and Lithuania, with left-leaning parties insisting on improving the legal rights of LGBTQ couples and families, while more conservative parties want to maintain the status quo.

In Poland, that’s led to protracted negotiations to get a draft civil unions bill introduced, long after Prime Minister Donald Tusk’s original promise to have the law in place within his first hundred days in office. Tusk was sworn in as prime minister in December.

Tusk’s coalition includes his own centrist Civic Platform party, as well as the left-leaning Left party, and the more conservative Poland 2050 and Polish People’s Party (PSL), the latter of which mostly opposes recognizing same-sex couples. The coalition agreement left out any mention of civil unions.

The ambitious civil union bill aims to be an ‘all-but-marriage’ type of union, complete with adoption rights, which has drawn the ire of the PSL. Negotiations within the coalition have focused on finding a way to get the PSL on board but have so far proved fruitless.

The opposition parties are even more hostile to LGBT rights and are not expected to support the bill in any form.

Regardless, Equalities Minister Katarzyna Kotula, who comes from the Left party and has been spearheading the bill, has given the coalition a deadline of the end of June to come to agreement. Failing that, she says she’ll introduce the bill without government support, although that will likely doom it to fail.

A last-ditch negotiation among the coalition partners is expected to take place June 17.

Tusk has struggled to introduce other promised social reforms since taking office. A promised hate crimes and hate speech bill has yet to be introduced. In March, the president, who comes from the conservative opposition Law and Justice Party, vetoed a bill to legalize the morning-after contraception pill.

President Duda has not yet revealed if he will veto a civil union bill. The coalition does not have a+ three-fifths majority in parliament to override a veto. 

Lithuanian MP Tomas Vytautas Raskevičius, is a Lithuanian liberal politician, Member of the Seimas, and LGBTQ+ rights activist
(Photo courtesy of Lithuanian MP Tomas Vytautas Raskevičius)

In neighboring Lithuania, tensions over a long-stalled civil union bill erupted into a dispute between coalition partners this week.

The left-leaning Freedom Party has threatened not to support the nomination of Minister of Foreign Affairs Gabrielias Landsbergis to the post of European Commissioner, given his party’s lack of support for the civil union bill that awaits a third a final vote in parliament.

The dispute has spilled a lot of ink in Lithuanian press, with the coalition partners debating whether or not the threat was appropriate in the circumstances.

Lithuania heads to the polls in October for parliamentary elections. 

GREECE

Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis speaking to reporters at an EU press conference in early 2024. (Photo Credit: Office of the Greek prime minister/Greek government)

ATHENS, Greece – After his party took a drubbing in EU elections last weekend, Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis says he is going to pause pushing forward new LGBTQ rights legislation, suggesting the new priority is changing minds rather than laws. 

Mitsotakis announced his surprise support for same-sex marriage and adoption rights last year after clinching reelection, and his government passed a marriage bill in February.

But in last week’s EU elections, his party’s support dropped nearly 5 percentage points, while the more radical far-right Greek Solution and the anti-LGBT conservative NIKI party collectively gained about 10 percentage points. 

Mitsotakis himself speculated to Bloomberg TV that the new same-sex marriage and adoption law passed this year alienated his party’s traditionally conservative base.

Greece is already one of the highest-scoring countries on ILGA-Europe’s Rainbow Map Index, thanks in large part to reforms that Mitsotakis himself ushered in. In addition to same-sex marriage and adoption, his government has banned conversion therapy, banned unnecessary surgeries on intersex children, and set up a National Strategy for the Equality of LGBTQI+ People.

Queer activists in Greece were still calling on the government to facilitate legal surrogacy and automatic parental recognition for same-sex couples, and a simplified process for trans people to update their legal gender.

FRANCE

Pope Francis is greeted by the President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron.
(Photo Credit: Office of the President of France/French government)

PARIS, France – The far-right National Rally party is campaigning on restricting LGBTQ rights in snap parliamentary elections, with prime minister candidate Jordan Bardella supporting restrictions on surrogacy and IVF for same-sex couples.

French President Emmanuel Macron announced snap parliamentary elections after his party’s poor showing in the European Parliamentary elections last weekend. National Rally won the most votes in that election and is polling strongly ahead of the June 30 first-round vote. However, French elections are run in a two-round system, and National Rally often fails to win second-round votes as voters coalesce around a less unappealing compromise candidate to block them.

In the past, National Rally has campaigned strongly against LGBTQ rights, especially same-sex marriage, but they appear to have conceded that marriage equality is settled law.

While campaigning ahead of the EU elections, Bardella appeared on the French television show Le Grand Oral, where he reiterated his opposition to surrogacy. 

Bardella also bitterly opposed Macron’s 2019 law which finally allowed lesbians to have access to in-vitro fertilization. 

He told local television at the time, “There is no right to having children. Children have a right to have a father and a mother and this law creates children without fathers.”

National Rally’s opposition to same-sex parenting mirrors that of Italy’s far-right Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, under whose watch the Italian government has stripped parental recognition from same-sex couples and imposed criminal penalties on Italians who conceive children via surrogacy.

The first week of the truncated election has taken a number of surprising turns. The mainstream right-wing party, The Republicans, has been in turmoil since its president announced his party would consider a coalition with the National Rally, which led party members to oust him and an embarrassing schism where he barricaded himself in the party headquarters and took over the party’s social media.

And in a bit of news that may be a little on-the-nose, the National Rally has nominated a man named Guillaume Bigot as their candidate in Belfort in northeastern France.

PAKISTAN

Atheist Republic/Los Angeles Blade graphic

ABBOTTABAD, Pakistan – A Pakistani man was apparently committed to a mental hospital after he attempted to open a gay bar in Abbottabad, Pakistan this month.

The man, whose identity has not been disclosed, had apparently hoped to open the country’s first gay bar in the city of 250,000 people, about 75 miles north of Islamabad. 

Abbottabad is best known in the west as the city where Osama bin Laden was found and killed by US Forces in 2011.

According to The Telegraph newspaper, the man had applied to open “Lorenzo Gay Club,” which he described in his application to civic authorities for a “No Objection Certificate” as a “great convenience and resource for many homosexual, bisexual and even some heterosexual people residing in Abbottabad in particular, and in other parts of the country in general.”

The application, dated May 8, also insisted that “”there would be no gay (or non-gay) sex (other than kissing)” and that a notice would be posted on the wall to warn against “sex on premises.” 

The applicant describes the club as “a matter of the basic human right of free association, as established in the constitution.”

Gay sex is illegal in Pakistan, which is an officially Islamic republic. A conviction would carry up to two years in prison, but the law is rarely applied as it is difficult for anyone to be openly gay in the strictly conservative country.

The application sparked considerable debate online, after a copy of the application was released to the local media. The application seen in the Pakistan Observer is signed by a Preetum Giani, but it is not clear if that is the applicant or a representative.

According to The Telegraph, the man was committed to the Sarhad Hospital for Psychiatric Diseases in Peshawar on May 9, and friends have been unable to reach him since. Friends who spoke to the newspaper say they are worried about his safety, but also worried for their own safety if they speak out.

The Telegraph also reports that far-right politicians in Pakistan had threatened violence and arson against the club if it had been allowed to open. 

The applicant had previously told the paper that he believed it was important to stand for human rights, and that he would defend the right to open the club in the courts, in hopes that Pakistan’s courts would follow neighboring India’s lead, where gay sex was decriminalized in 2018. 

SINGAPORE

Singaporean LGBTQ+ rights activist Rev. Miak Siew, with Judy & Dennis Shepard in Singapore, May 2024. (Photo Credit: Rev. Miak Siew/Facebook)

SINGAPORE – A new Ipsos poll has revealed a slight majority of Singaporeans support laws banning anti-LGBTQ discrimination, and support legal recognition of same-sex couples and adoption. 

The poll found that 54 percent of respondents agreed that same-sex couples should have the right to marry, and 57 percent agree they should have the right to adopt, compared to only 25 percent who oppose same-sex marriage and 30 percent who oppose same-sex couple adoption rights.

On both questions, a large number of respondents were unsure or had no opinion. 

An even larger number of respondents supported anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people. Nearly three-quarters of respondents said that LGBTQ people should have discrimination protections in employment and housing, although only 40 percent supported legislation to that effect, while 20 percent opposed it, and another 40 percent were unsure. 

There are no specific anti-discrimination laws protecting LGBTQ people in Singapore.

The poll found strongest support for LGBTQ rights among younger respondents as compared to older generations.  

Two years ago, Singapore repealed a colonial-era law that criminalized gay sex. But at the same-time, parliament also amended the constitution to require parliamentary approval for same-sex marriage. 

These poll numbers may indicate that eventual legalization could be possible.

Global LGBTQ+ news gathering & reporting by Rob Salerno 

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Australia

Australian & New Zealand medical org rejects anti-trans review

The Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists is the latest rejections of Cass Review’s findings by medical orgs worldwide

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Photo Credit: Trans Justice Project Australia/Facebook

By Erin Reed | MELBOURNE, Australia Two months ago, the Cass Review was released in the United Kingdom. This review, guided and advised by individuals with ties to SPLC-designated hate groups and who met with Governor Ron DeSantis’ medical board—handpicked to ban care in Florida—has led to severe restrictions in the U.K., including criminalizing the possession of puberty blockers.

The response outside the U.K. has been much more critical, with numerous medical organizations and doctors worldwide rejecting its recommendations. The latest major medical body to speak out is the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP), the leading organization for training psychiatrists in both countries.

The Cass Review, a highly criticized evaluation of transgender care, was developed in the United Kingdom by Dr. Hillary Cass, a pediatrician without direct experience in transgender care.

Although it was presented as an unbiased and neutral review, intentionally excluding transgender individuals from the decision-making process, it was later revealed that advisors with ties to the Society for Evidence-Based Gender Medicine, an SPLC-designated hate group, were involved.

Dr. Cass has since controversially blamed being trans on pornography and labeled the American Academy of Pediatrics as a “left-leaning organization” due to its support for the medical care of transgender youth.

Last month, a handful of members of the RANZCP, some of which are notable figures in anti-trans activism in the country, wrote a letter to the organization stating that they had “serious concerns” about gender affirming care for transgender youth.

They pointed to the Cass Review as justification for their concerns. The top signature on the letter is that of Jillian Spencer, who stated in an interview that she was fired for “being a danger to trans and gender-diverse children.” Now, the college has responded.

In a response posted to the RANZCP website, the college announced that the Cass Review is one of “a number of reviews,” and that it rejects the call for a “government inquiry” into trans care in the countries it represents.

It further states that transgender care should be “patient centered” and individualized to a patient’s needs. Lastly, it expresses a full support for transgender youth and rejects claims that being transgender is a “mental health condition”:

The College is committed to respectful, sensitive and appropriate mental health care being provided to individuals who identify as LGBTIQ+. Being Trans or Gender Diverse is not a mental health condition, and the RANZCP unequivocally supports the rights of trans and gender diverse people to have equal access to safe and effective mental health care that is underpinned by dignity, empathy and respect.

The College emphasises that assessment and treatment should be patient centred, evidence-informed and responsive to and supportive of the child or young person’s needs and that psychiatrists have a responsibility to counter stigma and discrimination directed towards trans and gender diverse people.”

The statement from the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists is the latest in a series of rejections of the Cass Review’s findings by medical organizations worldwide.

Last month, the American Academy of Pediatrics responded to the review, disagreeing with many of its claims and asserting that the organization supports “individualized health care for each patient, in consultation with their family and health care team” when it comes to transgender youth. The Endocrine Society also dismissed the recommendations, stating, “Medical evidence, not politics, should inform treatment decisions.”

In Canada, the Canadian Pediatric Society rejected the Cass Review’s recommendations, announcing that “current evidence shows puberty blockers to be safe when used appropriately, and they remain an option to be considered within a wider view of the patient’s mental and psychosocial health.” Children’s Healthcare Canada, which oversees the country’s children’s hospitals, concurred, stating, “Our position remains unchanged on the topic.”

Evidence continues to support the use of gender affirming care for transgender youth. A Cornell review of more than 51 studies found “gender transition is effective in treating gender dysphoria and can significantly improve the well-being of transgender individuals.” Numerous studies show lower suicidality, with as much as a 73% reduction in suicidality for trans youth who are allowed care.

In a recent article that was not considered by the Cass Review in the Journal of Adolescent Health, puberty blockers reduced depression and anxiety significantly. In Germany, a recent review by over 27 medical organizations has judged that “not providing treatment can do harm” to transgender youth. Due to strong evidence around transgender care, the American Psychological Association released a historic policy resolution condemning bans on gender affirming care. Notably, they are the largest psychological association in the world, with representatives elected to represent 157,000 members.

The lack of credibility given to the Cass Review outside the United Kingdom, especially in the United States, has frustrated its proponents. In a recent article published in The BMJ titled “Gender medicine in the US: how the Cass review failed to land,” anti-trans writer Jennifer Block laments that Erin Reed, the author of this article, highlighted the review’s anti-trans political ties with DeSantis’ picks, which hampered its acceptance.

Although Block incorrectly claims that only a single meeting took place (Cass advisor Dr. Kaltiala attended several meetings and even advocated for the ban as a primary witness), she accurately demonstrates that the document’s political roots have been detrimental to its acceptance among credible scientific organizations.

These political roots were recently confirmed when Conservative Women and Equalities Minister, Kemi Badenoch, admitted that “gender critical” individuals were placed in health roles to facilitate the Cass Review—a mechanism remarkably similar to how Florida’s review led to the banning of care in the state, borrowing from DeSantis’ strategy.

Despite its lack of acceptance abroad, the Cass Review continues to do tremendous damage in places predisposed to targeting transgender healthcare. It has already been cited in the United States to ban care in South Carolina, a Republican-controlled state. In the United Kingdom, it has led to the criminalization of possessing puberty blockers. As more medical organizations reject its findings, politicians will undoubtedly use its conclusions to push forward with bans on gender-affirming care for transgender youth, despite having little evidence to justify such decisions.

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Erin Reed is a transgender woman (she/her pronouns) and researcher who tracks anti-LGBTQ+ legislation around the world and helps people become better advocates for their queer family, friends, colleagues, and community. Reed also is a social media consultant and public speaker.

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The preceding article was first published at Erin In The Morning and is republished with permission.

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