Maltese trans wins right to be recognized as male
A transgender man in Malta has won the right to have his birth certificate changed to male.
The 26-year-old, who is not being named for legal reasons, was born female but said he had always felt and acted like a man. He has had gender-reassignment surgery abroad.
Malta insists that trans men and women must have “irreversible” surgery in order to change gender.
Justice Joseph Azzopardi granted his request to change his birth certificate and his name and ordered the public registry to make the changes.
The case follows a transgender woman’s struggle to be allowed to marry.
Joanne Cassar has won and lost her battle at various levels of the Maltese court system since 2004.
The Director of Public Registry has denied her requests and claims that gender-identity laws were created to protect trans people’s privacy, rather than giving them state recognition.
Northern Ireland school gets first GSA
A school in Northern Ireland is the first in the country to form a student gay-straight alliance.
Teachers at Shimna Integrated College in Newcastle, County Down, hope the initiative will help tackle antigay bullying.
Kevin Lambe, principal at Shimna Integrated College, said that while other bullying had mostly disappeared, homophobic bullying remains common.
“Most bullying, most racism has been publicly gotten rid of,” he said. “Words that you are called because of your religion, because of your skin color, most of that has disappeared. But homophobic bullying, I’m sorry to say, is quite common. As the form of bullying which most induces young people to harm themselves or even kill themselves, surely we can’t turn away from that and say, ‘Oh, that’s a delicate type of bullying, we can’t really deal with that.’”
Lambe added that no parents had complained about the alliance.
“I haven’t had a single parent say a negative word about it,” he said. “I’ve had positive words about it, but no negativity at all. Let’s be honest, homophobic bullying happens openly, therefore I really believe you have to react to it and deal with it openly.”
The school has been praised by Northern Ireland LGBT group Rainbow Project.
“Homophobic bullying is a serious and prevalent problem across schools in Northern Ireland,” said Gavin Boyd, education equality officer. “It is not frequently discussed in schools and many teachers are unsure of how or even if they should intervene when they witness homophobic bullying. There are young people, teachers and principals in schools all over Northern Ireland who want to make sure that their school is a safe and welcoming place for everyone, but perhaps they don’t know how to achieve this or if they will have support in tackling homophobic bullying.”
Australian man pleads guilty to asphyxia murder
An Australian gay man has pleaded guilty to the murder of a lover halfway through his trial.
David Richard Fraser, of Adelaide, admits strangling 28-year-old Luke Noonan during a sex act involving erotic asphyxia in September 2009.
Fraser, 36, initially denied murdering Noonan, but changed his plea March 28.
The South Australian Supreme Court heard that he had wrapped a belt around Noonan’s neck during sex.
At the time of the younger man’s death, Fraser was on parole following a conviction for the manslaughter of another man during a sex game.
In 2005, he killed Shaine Moore during a consensual sex act. Fraser had tied a shoelace around Moore’s neck.
Pleading guilty to manslaughter, he claimed that Moore unexpectedly lost consciousness and died.
The Supreme Court was told about the 2005 case after prosecutors argued that it showed Fraser was aware of the risks of erotic asphyxiation.
The jury was dismissed after Fraser’s guilty plea. He will return to court in April.
Out rugby star to attend royal wedding
Gay rugby star Gareth Thomas will be attending the upcoming royal wedding.
The athlete was recently in London to be fitted for a suit for Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding.
“I’m a friend of William through rugby,” he said. “I’m just going to the service. I’m not nervous about it. It will be good.”
Thomas, who came out in 2009, is now a gay-rights advocate and has spoken out against bullying in sports.
The star is to be the subject of a Mickey Rourke film about his life.
Suffolk Pride canceled
Suffolk Pride has been cancelled because organizers have not been able to raise the funds to hold it.
The event, which began in 2009, was to be held on June 18.
Chairman Rod Flory said last year’s festival cost $22,387 to stage, but that the money could not be found this year.
“Most of the funds for last year came from public grants but they’re just not available this year,” Flory said. “The money’s not there anymore. We’re not blaming anyone. It’s just the way things are right now. We decided last week to cancel it and concentrate almost immediately on next year’s event.”
He said organizers would be looking to the private sector for support for 2012’s event, although he conceded that Suffolk has few gay businesses, compared to areas like Brighton and London.
Flory rejected suggestions that Suffolk Pride could charge visitors an entry fee, like Brighton Pride plans to.
There will be no event to replace Suffolk Pride, although Norwich Pride is still set to go ahead.
“Last year’s event was very successful,” Flory said. “We don’t want to do something mediocre this year. We want to leave them on a high from last year and come back in 2012 to hit them with a really strong event.”
Gates ends HIV funding for India
Microsoft founder Bill Gates has announced that his foundation will no longer fund a plan to decrease rates of HIV in India.
The Avahan initiative, which helped 80,000 gay and bisexual men, will be pulled after 2012.
“The Avahan initiative has been a phenomenal success,” Gates said. “I should note, though, that the government of India has been together on this every step of the way. In fact, in the years ahead, most of the ongoing work on prevention would be funded by the government.”
Gates committed almost $338 million to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic in India.
The work will be taken over by the National AIDS Control Organization after Gates relinquishes his duties.
— compiled by Larry Nichols