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University ends United Methodist affiliation over LGBT bans

A university in Ohio has ended its affiliation with the United Methodist Church over the denomination’s renewed bans on LGBT clergy and same-sex marriage reported The Canton Repository.

The University of Mount Union president says the board of trustees considered the issue for months before voting recently to end the affiliation of more than 150 years.

Kenyan author, LGBT activist Binyavanga Wainaina dies at 48

A colleague and friend of Kenyan author Binyavanga Wainaina says he has died at age 48.

Tom Maliti, the chairman of the Kwani Trust which Wainaina founded, says the author died May 21 at night in Nairobi after an illness.

Wainaina was one of Africa’s best-known authors and will be remembered as a key figure in the artistic community. He won the 2002 Caine Prize for African Writing. His trust has helped produce literary works and promote local writers.

Wainaina also helped to create tolerance for the LGBT community by coming out publicly as gay in a country where laws still criminalize homosexual behavior. He also revealed he was HIV-positive.

Brazil’s supreme court votes to make homophobia a crime

A majority in Brazil’s supreme court has voted to make homophobia and transphobia crimes like racism, a decision coming amid fears the country’s far-right president will roll back LGBT social and legislative gains.

Six of the Supreme Federal Tribunal’s 11 judges have voted in favor of the measure. The five other judges will vote in a court session on June 5, but the result will not be modified. The measure will take effect after all the justices have voted.

Racism was made a crime in Brazil in 1989 with prison sentences of up to five years. The court’s judges ruled that homophobia should be framed within the racism law until the country’s congress approves legislation specifically dealing with LGBT discrimination.

Brazil’s senate is dealing with a bill to criminalize discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender with sentences of up to five years.

“Racism is a crime against flesh and blood, whether it is a member of the LGBT community, a Jew or an Afro-descendant,” justice Luiz Fux said May 23.

The court’s judges said the ruling was to address an omission that had left the LGBT community legally unprotected.

While same-sex marriage is legal in Brazil, it is still a dangerous country for members of the LGBT community and has a large evangelical movement often critical of gay rights. According to the rights group the Grupo Gay da Bahia, 420 LGBT people were killed in Brazil in 2018, while at least 141 have been killed so far this year.

President Jair Bolsonaro, a former army captain who assumed office on Jan. 1, has a history of making offensive comments about LGBTQ folks, the black population, and other minorities, openly acknowledging he is a homophobe. He has said he would rather have a dead son than a gay son.

The ruling “comes at a very good moment, when we have a head of state who is LGBT-phobic,” said Bruna Benevides, president of the Niteroi Diversity group. “The Supreme Court assumed the responsibility to protect us.”

Same-sex couples start registering marriages in Taiwan

Hundreds of same-sex couples in Taiwan rushed to get married on the first day a landmark decision to legalize same-sex marriage took effect.

One household registration office in Taipei was packed May 24 as couples seized the earliest opportunity to tie the knot.

Taiwan became the first place in Asia to allow same-sex marriage recently in a legislative vote, a cause that LGBT rights activists on the island have championed for two decades.

A Taipei resident who identified himself only by a nickname said he and his partner feel lucky that they are able to tell everyone that they have gotten married.

Taiwan’s Ministry of the Interior said about 300 same-sex couples are expected to register May 24.

Kenyan court upholds laws criminalizing same sex relations

A three-judge panel of Kenya’s High Court has upheld sections of the country’s penal code that criminalize same-sex relations.

The judges’ unanimous ruling on May 24 disappointed Kenya’s vibrant gay community, as many had hoped the court would make history by scrapping the colonial-era laws.

Activists argue that the laws criminalizing consensual same-sex relations between adults are in breach of the constitution because they deny basic rights.

The laws prescribe up to 14 years in prison for people convicted of homosexual acts. 

 

Few figures in the Philadelphia LGBTQ community are more evocative of the words “road to Stonewall” than Kiyoshi Kuromiya.

Born in the Heart Mountain Relocation Camp for Japanese Americans in Wyoming in 1943, Kuromiya would later tell gay historian Marc Stein in an interview, “I don’t remember a thing about Heart Mountain, although in 1983 my mother and I visited the site of this concentration camp, which the government called a relocation center for Japanese Americans during World War II, two-thirds of whom were American citizens.”

The Trump Administration has announced that it is planning to roll back an important regulation in the Health Care Rights Law (HCRL), the critical part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that protects transgender people from discrimination in health care and insurance coverage.

 

At 114 cases per 100,000, Philadelphians are living with HIV at five times the national average rate.

Currently, 19,199 residents are living with HIV, according to a Department of Health report on the most recent data. Youth ages 13-24 accounted for more than 26 percent of new diagnoses in 2017.

To help combat the high rate of infection, health services nonprofit Philadelphia FIGHT Community Health Centers will hold the HIV Prevention and Education Summit on June 11 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. The conference, part of the organization’s 25th-annual AIDS Education Month event series, aims to inform people about the disease and issues those living with it experience.

 

Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) attended a roundtable discussion this week with a group of LGBTQ seniors at the John C. Anderson Apartments.

The roundtable, held May 28, was conducted r to receive feedback on issues impacting LGBTQ seniors that could inform the senator’s efforts to pass the recently-introduced Inclusive Aging Act.

 

Healthcare for transgender, gender nonconforming and nonbinary people is increasingly under threat from the Trump Administration. Philadelphia’s Mazzoni Center wants TGNCNB folks to know their Gender Affirming Services program welcomes all TGNCNB people, with services designed to provide both the best care and environment for the TGNCNB community.

Mazzoni Director of Communications Larry Benjamin told PGN the Center’s policy utilized inclusive hiring and staffing practices and focuses on making all members of the LGBTQ-plus community feel welcome.

 

Jonathan Katz’s participation in a gay liberation organization during the 1970s spurred his passion for researching LGBTQ history.

A native of New York City’s Greenwich Village, Katz joined the Gay Activists Alliance in 1971. He then wrote the documentary play “Coming Out!” which was performed the following year at the group’s firehouse.

Katz’s interest fueled his recent discovery at Philadelphia’s Presbyterian Historical Society. There, the LGBTQ historian found new evidence supporting the theory that Rev. Carl Schlegel, a German immigrant to the United States, publicly defended gay rights in New Orleans in 1906-07 — making him the earliest-known gay rights activist in the country, Katz said.

The U.S. Supreme Court this week declined to hear an appeal filed by students at Boyertown Area Senior High School who object to transgender students using restrooms and locker rooms that correspond to their gender identity.

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