Nigeria: 47 men plead 'not gay' to avoid prison

In Nigeria on Wednesday, 47 men told a state court they are innocent of the charges of public displays of affection with members of the same gender. Being gay is a crime in Nigeria, with an up to 10-year jail sentence. Read the rest

Review: "Liebestrasse" is a frighteningly relevant LGBTQ graphic novel set in the Weimar Republic

Liebestrasse is a new original digital graphic novel from Comixology, but it follows more in the European tradition of small, character-focused slice-of-life stories than the bombastic speculative fiction that's made the American graphic novel field so popular. In less than 100 pages, it tells the story of an American businessman named Sam who takes a job in Berlin during the Weimar Republic, where he meets and falls in love with an art dealer named Phillip.

Of course, the dramatic irony abounds. As readers, we know what Germany's immediate future holds—and soon enough, that other shoe does indeed drop. But also as readers, it's easy to get wrapped in the simple tenderness of burgeoning romance and ignore the warning signs that lurk in the shadows—just like Sam and Phillip.

The rapport between the two lovers is charming and realistic, with Phillip's witty flamboyance playing perfectly off of Sam's strong silent Americanisms. Artist Tim Fish does tremendous work with the subtleties of facial expressions; though the style is slightly more cartoonish than what most American readers might expect, I found myself consciously commenting on the acting as I read through the pages, as if these were actual people rather than drawings. I read a lot of comics, and that's something rare and unique, at least in the American market. The color palette by Hector Barros also gives the story a very classical comic vibe that fits the time period. Though the pigments are digital, the simple, solid color patterns evoke a more innocent era. Read the rest

Church under investigation after worshiper pinned down to ‘pray the gay away’

A young gay Christian man in Oklahoma says his fellow church-goers tackled him, pinned him down, punched him in the face, and tried to ‘pray the gay away,’ because he and his boyfriend are “guilty of homosexuality, an “abomination of a sin.” Read the rest

Taiwan legalizes same-sex marriage

Two years ago, a Taiwan court ruled that its laws forbidding same-sex marriage were unconstitutional. Now legislators there voted to make it the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage. The law goes into effect May 24.

Although the island has a large gay community and its annual gay pride parade is the biggest in Asia, the issue of marriage equality has bitterly divided Taiwanese society. In a controversial referendum in November last year, 67% voted to reject same-sex marriage. In recent months conservative groups have campaigned against same-sex marriage reform, pushing for a law that would see gay marriages redefined as something closer to same-sex unions.

Read the rest

Gays who were charged under discriminatory laws in New Zealand will have records cleaned

Great news from New Zealand this morning. According to the BBC, the nation's government has passed legislation that will allow individuals who were charged under the country's old laws against homosexuality to have their records wiped clean.

Homosexuality was illegal in New Zealand up until 1986. Up until that time, it was possible for men who wanted nothing more than to express their love or to enjoy one another to be slapped with charges with names such as "sodomy, indecency between males and keeping a place of resort for homosexual acts." Anyone charged with these offense before 1986 still has the charge on their official police records. According to the BBC, around 1,000 individuals will have the option to scrub these bullshit charges from their records next year:

Justice Minister Andrew Little said the legislation "sends a clear signal that discrimination against gay people is no longer acceptable, and we are committed to putting right wrongs from the past".

"I would like to apologize again to all the men and members of the rainbow community who have been affected by the prejudice, stigma and other negative effects caused by convictions for historical homosexual offenses," Mr Little said.

In instances where an individual charged under the old laws has passed away, the New Zealand government is making it possible for the families of the deceased to apply to have their charges expunged as well.

Given that New Zealand passed laws banning discrimination against homosexuals in 1993, the official apology from the government and the olive branch of purging the records of those charged under the country's old discriminatory laws has been a long time coming. Read the rest

Boy Scouts lift gay leadership ban

The Week: "Boy Scouts of America unanimously voted to end its ban on gay scout leaders. The new rule is effective immediately." Read the rest

Onion: "Only 47,000 social justice milestones to go"

“This is a watershed moment for civil rights that finally brings the dream of living in an equitable society one tiny fraction of a step closer to reality,” said civil rights lawyer Helene Najjar, adding that the country could now turn its attention to closing the income gap, ending racial discrimination in law enforcement, and providing equal educational opportunities for all children, among tens of thousands of other issues." Read the rest

How Alec Mapa used Kickstarter to joke about gay adoption

The star and producer of a timely new series have words of wisdom for those who want to create social change through the media.

J.K. Rowling delivers fabulous smackdown to Westboro Baptist Church

After the Irish voted in favor of recognizing same-sex marriage, the Harry Potter author gleefully posted a "Dumbledore/Gandalf" slash meme with the text "now they can get married in Ireland!", replete with rainbow and clover emojis galore.

The funeral-picketing proprietors of GodHatesFags.com took exception to this, promising to turn up to any such thing and ruin it.

J.K. had fast replies: both for the church…

… and for the ever-present criers of "don't feed the trolls."

Read the rest

Ireland votes on same-sex marriage

In conservative Ireland, homosexuality remained illegal until 1993. Even divorce only became an option in 1997. But times have changed. The first major international plebiscite on gay marriage is poised to deliver an overwhelming vote in favor of extending the institution to same-sex couples.

"If the Irish can vote “Yes,” the thought goes, anyone can," writes Amy Davidson in The New Yorker. "If they can see how a conservative belief in the institution of marriage and in the unity of families, and an atavistic desire to be present at the wedding of one’s own children, translate into support for same-sex marriage so can, say, Mississippians."

The campaigns, for and against, served to illustrate the broader divisions in Irish society. The No campaign, in particular, made sharp use of fear as a motif, identifying wholesome Catholics as the real victims of intolerance. But the church has paid a high price for its longtime abuses: polls have support for gay marriage at about 70%, though there is some question about the accuracy of polling.

Even if it's close, the pace of change in Ireland has been remarkable. A 2013 International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association map of local support for same-sex relationships put Ireland at only 36%, though it took into account factors other than public opinion.

Here's a "Yes campaign" video:

At least 17 counties, and several U.S. states, have institutionalized same-sex marriage. In the U.S., the Supreme Court recently heart arguments in a case that may effectively settle the matter there. Read the rest

GOP presidential contender says prisons prove homosexuality is a choice

Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon, who is likely going to run for president as a Republican, says "a lot of people who go into prison, go into prison straight and when the come out they're gay." And this proves that being gay is "absolutely" a choice. Read the rest

Young Republicans demand legal weed

63% of Millennial age Republicans support legal weed, according to the latest PewResearch poll. 58% favor same-sex marriage, too. Most of the older members of their party are in disagreement. Read the rest

Gay activism in the 1970s

Rebecca J. Rosen recalls "the transformative decade between Stonewall and AIDS", an age of activism whose "improbable unveiling" began with a riot sparked by drag queens.

At its core, that transformation was about visibility. During those years, there was the first gay television movie; a sexy on-screen kiss between two men in Sunday, Blood Sunday; and the release of Cabaret, which has been hailed as the first movie that "really celebrated homosexuality." There were gains in politics too: Edward Koch, then serving in Congress, "became one of the first elected officials to publicly lobby on behalf of the homosexuals of Greenwich Village," Kaiser writes. Gay Pride Week was established. Perhaps most significantly: In December of 1973, the board of the American Psychological Association voted 13-0 "to remove homosexuality from its list of psychiatric disorders."

Read the rest

Bigot Fired

Technically, A&E merely "suspended indefinitely" Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson, following his remarks about gay people. But they know there'll be hell to pay should he be permitted to return.

Interesting, mind you, that they're more afraid of progressive-led criticism than the backlash they're going to get now instead from the bigot community. Progress! Entertainment Weekly's James Hibberd:

The network issued the following statement to EW: “We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series Duck Dynasty. His personal views in no way reflect those of A+E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community. The network has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely.”

This is where some Christian conservatives do that thing where the First Amendment is held to guarantee Freedom of Reality Show, isn't it?

P.S. This reminds me that Ender's Game really did end up bombing hard despite the promising opening weekend. Data points! Read the rest

Gay adoption in America

My journalism school classmate Clay Wirestone has a fantastic series at the Concord Monitor, describing the stories and struggles of gay and lesbian parents as they adopt and raise children. It starts with the story of his own adoption, with his husband Max, of their now 2-year-old son Baxter. Other entries in the series examine how the legal landscape of gay parenting has changed in the last 20 years; the issues of language, word choice, and gender that GLBT families deal with; and the diverse stories of other families. Read the rest

"Ain’t No Homos Gonna Make it to Heaven," sings toddler in church

In a video made viral by our pals at Dangerous Minds, a child sings:

"I know the Bible’s right, somebody’s wrong / I know the Bible’s right, somebody’s wrong / Ain't no homos going to make it to heaven."

Then, a crowd of adults cheers and gives a standing ovation.

You can watch the video at Dangerous Minds. Read the rest

Where it is best to be LGBT in the United States (infographic)

The Guardian (UK) has published a nifty information graphic breaking down gay rights in the US, state by state. Issues like marriage, adoption, employment discrimination protection, hate crime laws, and whether schools have regulations to ban harassment based on gender and sexual orientation. Is the rainbow color scheme of this blatantly pro-homosexual infographic a coincidence? I think not. (via @janinegibson) Read the rest

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