Pride rains down in Manilla

Ted Aljibe, AFP | r

There were anti-gay protesters and heavy rain, but Manila Pride March went ahead yesterday. There were around 7,000 marchers who called for the legalisation of same-sex marriage. In the conservative, largely Catholic country, even divorce is illegal.

A few days ago the Phillipines Supreme Court wrapped up hearing oral arguments seeking the legalisation of same-sex marriage.


Making new friends in Moscow

Aaron Chown/PA | r

As you may have heard on the news, Peter Tatchell was detained briefly for making an anti-homophobia protest in Moscow yesterday. ITV reports:

Mr Tatchell was detained near a statue of Marshal Zhukov in a public square busy with football fans ahead of the first match of the World Cup.

He had been holding a poster critical of Russian president Vladimir Putin, which read: “Putin fails to act against Chechnya torture of gay people”.

Several police officers stepped in to detain Mr Tatchell and told him he had broken the law in Russia.

He was released on bail an hour later. The Peter Tatchell Foundation said he had been “treated well”.

Scottish Pardons Bill Passed Unanimously

The Scottish Parliament unanimously passed the Historical Sexual Offences (Pardons and Disregards) Bill, which will pardon thousands of gay and bisexual men convicted of having consensual sex with other men before homosexuality was decriminalised.

Men will also be able to apply to have convictions for same-sex sexual activity that is now legal removed from central criminal conviction records. The Scottish government says it expects about 25 men to do so over the next five years.

Offences that are still illegal, such as rape or having sex with someone under the age of 16, will not be pardoned. The BBC explains:

Before the law changed, men were prosecuted for offences including consensual sexual activity in private, kissing another man in a public place, or just chatting up another man in a public place – which was known as “importuning”.

Such behaviour was legal at the time between a man and a woman, and is legal today between two men.

Time to change, say Northern Ireland gays and friends

Peter Morrison/Press Association | r

Thousands of activists marched through Belfast at the weekend demanding the reform of the petition of concern that has blocked any law change to allow gay marriage. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom which does now allow gay marriage.

They insisted that any deal to restore power-sharing in Stormont must include an end to the ban on gay marriage in Northern Ireland.

Out at work? Oui!

Mounir Mahjoubi | Morocco World News | r

France’s Digital Minister Mounir Mahjoubi has come out as gay, hoping to give gay people more visibility at a time when homophobic acts are on the rise.

He came out yesterday, the International Day Against Homophobia. The 34-year old junior minister in Emmanuel Macron’s government tweeted that homophobia “sometimes forces us to adapt and lie just to avoid hatred and to live our lives. Homophobia is an ill that eats away at society, invades schools, and poisons families and lost friends.”

Mr. Mahjoubi is not the first French politician to come out, but he said his personal experience could inspire those facing prejudice.

Well done Oswestry

I never had Oswestry down as a bastion of lesbian achievement but clearly I was wrong. Congratulations to Councillor Sandy Best who was sworn in as mayor at a ceremony in the Guildhall with her lady mayoress and partner, Marilyn Taylor.

Ms Best, a historian who has now written some history, said it was a huge personal honour to be elected as mayor. The office dates back to 1674, and said she was proud to be the first openly gay mayor in Oswestry and both of them were looking forward to representing the council.

Lebanon’s big moment

Bilal Hussein | Associated Press | r

On Sunday, Lebanon is holding its first elections in nine years. For the first time, electoral candidates are promoting gay rights, marking the most high-level endorsement of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender protection in the Arab world. Nearly 100 candidates have publicly called for the decriminalization of homosexuality.

CNN notes that the elections have seen an influx of candidates from outside the country’s traditional party system. Many of them are civil-society activists who have campaigned on both bread-and-butter issues and improved human rights.

Support for gay rights in Lebanon has also come from an unexpected quarter: the Kataeb party of Lebanon, which is one of the country’s oldest political parties, similar to Italy’s fascists in the 1930s, but which has since been associated with the country’s Christian right wing; it was also one of several militias that participated in Lebanon’s bloody civil war. In recent years Kataeb has tried to modernize its image with more inclusive programs.