Ireland: Gay pop star Ryan Dolan’s message of support – UTV Live News

Co Tyrone pop singer Ryan Dolan has used his experiences as a young gay man growing up in the town of Strabane to help others who may find themselves in similar situations.


Ryan Dolan

Ryan, who represented Ireland in the Eurovision Song Contest, has earned worldwide acclaim for his song ‘Start Again’.

The video on YouTube has reached over 600,000 views and America’s top chat show host Ellen DeGeneres is hoping Ryan can go on her show to tell his story.

For Ryan, though, he just wanted to give his experience of his troubled teenager years trying to keep his sexuality a secret from his friends and family.

Ryan’s song tells the story of two teenage boys who are in love with each other but unable to say so with tragic consequences.

It deals with issues of confused sexuality, bullying and suicide.

Ryan hopes the message will help save lives, he said: “I struggled to come to terms with myself and suicide did cross my mind a lot – particularly when I was very young.

“Suicide is becoming more common for younger people and what I went through could be a reason for it.

“When I came out my whole family were completely accepting and really supportive and I just thought I spent all those years worrying about their reaction and shouldn’t have.

“I had built it up in my head so much and it just got worse and worse and now I wish I had told my family years ago.

“For anyone in the same position today, my advice would be to talk to somebody.”

Today Strabane is a much changed town from Ryan’s youth.

It was the first town in Ireland to open a gay bar and recently it held its first gay pride festival.

Ryan added: “It’s hard to believe it’s where I grew up. In the last five years Strabane has really come a long way.”

Read more and watch interview here:

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Australia: Discrimination against Gay Youth at Christian camp in Victoria says Court of Appeals


A Christian camp found to have discriminated against a gay youth support group for refusing to take their booking has lost an appeal against the decision.

But the manager of the camp, Mark Rowe, had his appeal upheld.

Lawyers for Christian Youth Camps (CYC) had argued that Mr Rowe did not refuse the group because their members were gay, but because a message would be promoted that it was okay to have sex outside marriage.

The Victorian Court of Appeal on Wednesday found Mr Rowe was acting under the authority of CYC.

Mr Rowe in 2007 denied a booking at the Phillip Island Adventure Resort to WayOut, a suicide prevention youth group that works with same-sex-attracted people from regional Victoria.

WayOut took the matter to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), which in 2010 upheld the complaint against the Christian Brethren-run business.

CYC appealed the decision, arguing it did not discriminate against homosexuals.

Judge Robert Redlich said Mr Rowe was covered by the religious belief exemption of the Equal Opportunity Act, which applies to discrimination by a person which is necessary in order to comply with the person’s genuine religious beliefs or principles.

This exemption did not apply to the organisation as CYC was not a body established for religious purposes, the court found.

Anne McLennan, CEO of Cobaw Community Health Services which runs WayOut, said justice had been done.

The young people who felt discriminated against have been vindicated, she said outside court.

Read more here:

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Queer Story of The Day & Headlines – India’s Top Court Recognizes Third Gender + Headlines From Huffington Post Gay Voices


Today’s feature story concerns a victory for Indian Transgender population known as hijra, (there are several other names used as well). Following that are today’s Huffington Post Gay Voices headlines.

India’s Top Court Recognizes Third Gender Category


By NIRMALA GEORGE — The Associated Press

NEW DELHI (AP) — India’s top court on Tuesday issued a landmark verdict recognizing transgender rights as human rights, saying people can identify themselves as a third gender on official documents.

The Supreme Court directed the federal and state governments to include transgendered people in all welfare programs for the poor, including education, health care and jobs to help them overcome social and economic challenges. Previously, transgendered Indians could only identify themselves as male or female in all official documents.

The decision was praised as giving relief to the estimated 3 million Indians who are transgender.

The court noted that it was the right of every human being to choose their gender while granting rights to those who identify themselves as neither male nor female.

“All documents will now have a third category marked ‘transgender.’ This verdict has come as a great relief for all of us. Today I am proud to be an Indian,” said Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, a transgender activist who, along with a legal agency, had petitioned the court.

The court’s decision would apply to individuals who have acquired the physical characteristics of the opposite sex or present themselves in a way that does not correspond with their sex at birth.

“The spirit of the (Indian) Constitution is to provide equal opportunity to every citizen to grow and attain their potential, irrespective of caste, religion or gender,” the court said in its order.

The Supreme Court specified its ruling would only apply to transgender people but not to gays, lesbians or bisexuals. India’s LGBT communities have been protesting the court’s recent decision to reinstate a colonial-era law banning gay sex, which they say will make them vulnerable to police harassment.

The court also ordered the government to put in place public awareness campaigns to lessen the social stigma against transgender people.

Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan told the court that the “recognition of transgender (people) as a third gender is not a social or medical issue but a human rights issue.”

“Transgenders are citizens of this country and are entitled to education and all other rights,” he said.

The court ruled that transgender people would have the same right to adopt children as other Indians.

The court said any person who underwent surgery to change his or her sex would be entitled to be legally recognized as belonging to the gender of their choice.

The apex court also ordered state governments to construct separate public toilets for transgender people and create health departments to take care of their medical problems.

Recently, India’s Election Commission for the first time allowed a third gender choice — “other” — on voter registration forms. The change was made in time for the national elections being held in phases through May 12.

Some 28,000 voters registered themselves in that category.

Many transgender men in India earn a living by singing and dancing at weddings and births, but others must resort to begging or prostitution.

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Queer News Roundup – Gay Star News – April 15, 2014

Queer news, entertainment and commentary for April 15, 2014 from the good folks at Gay Star News:


Gay Star News – LGBTQ News Stories


40% of straight women have had a gay experience

Around one in 10 women surveyed said they had fantasies about sex with another woman, but had not acted upon them

Brunei will stone you if you have gay sex from next week

United Nations has appealed to Brunei to delay the penal code that will introduce death by stoning for several crimes including homosexuality

First country in Europe protects trans people in constitution

Malta parliament also voted to give same-sex couples civil unions and adoption

US pundit angry new film Noah didn’t blame flood on gay people

Anti-gay spokesman believes the ‘left’ is using religion to further causes, such as climate change and homosexuality

Spain opens first gay retirement home

In an effort to stop LGBTI elderly people ‘returning to the closet’, Spain is building a special retirement home

Obama chooses gay bishop to lead Easter prayer

Gene Robinson, who made history back in 2003 when he became the first openly gay Anglican bishop in the US, was part of the fifth annual Easter Prayer Breakfast Monday

Ohio man sentenced to 2 ½ years for trying to beat the gay out of disabled brother

A man who was responsible for caring for his younger disabled brother has been sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison after threatening to castrate him and trying to work and beat the gay out of him

Anti-gay activist Peter LaBarbera arrested in Canada

Americans For Truth About Homosexuality president Peter LaBarbera has been arrested along with a Canadian anti-gay activist after they refused to leave a university where they were staging a protest

Russia lawmaker wants gay bars, social media shut down

Co-creator of gay propaganda laws, Vitaly Milonov, says he will help Crimea to rid their region of ‘evil’ like he did in Russia

US married gay couples file joint federal tax returns for the first time

Married same-sex couples in the United States are celebrating this year’s tax filing deadline as the first time they can file joint tax returns – and they can even refile for past years when they were denied benefits

Gay erotic artist Tom of Finland recognized on Finnish postal stamps

Iconic gay erotic artist Tom of Finland has been recognized by his homeland in a series of commemorative postal stamps baring his art

India Supreme Court recognizes transgender people as third gender

The Indian Supreme Court has instructed the Indian Government to create a legal third gender category to recognize transgender people and also that they should be classed as a marginalized group to receive affirmative action in jobs and education

Michigan sued by civil rights group for not recognizing gay marriages

American Civil Liberties Union wants state to recognize the 300-plus same-sex marriages that took place last month

Federal judge officially strikes down Ohio’s gay marriage ban in out of state marriage case

It is 10th consecutive ruling by a federal judge invalidating state bans since US Supreme Court ruling on Doma last June

Malta passes civil unions for gay couples, celebrations start

Three years ago Malta legalized divorce, and now same-sex couples will have the same legal rights as married straight unions

Click here to View all the news stories at Gay Star News

Gay Star News: Entertainment


With The Normal Heart set to air on HBO, Barbra Streisand reflects on her futile efforts to get it made

She rejects author Larry Kramer’s claim that she lacked the burning passion to get the heavy-hitting AIDS drama made

Debby Boone opens up about how she has reconciled her Christian beliefs with being pro-gay

‘I am one of the people that has made the transition from an old way of thinking to a new one’

Click here for more entertainment news from Gay Star News


As America cleans up its anti-gay language, what words should we use?

Words like ‘homo’ and ‘maricones’ are now frowned on but even ‘gay’ and ‘homophobia’ have been debated by some

Is Africa on the road to a gay genocide?

As Rwanda reflects on 20 years since the death of a million of its citizens, a tide of anti-LGBTI hate is engulfing Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, DRC, South Africa and beyond

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LGBT Parents’ Custody Battles Are Rife With Heterosexual Bias In The Courts

An important subject addressed by Justin Caba writing for the medical news service Medical Daily


Court decisions in a custody battle tend to be biased against LGBT parents. Photo courtesy of Lev Radin/Shutterstock

There is currently no social scientific research to support the notion that heterosexual couples make better parents than members of the LGBT community. However, it seems the latter may have a hard time proving that in court. A review out of Drexel University has revealed that court decisions over a custody battle tend to favor heterosexual parents compared to their gay and lesbian counterparts due to an unfair bias perpetuated by discriminatory legislation and court systems.

“There’s been a sea-change within the past five to 10 years — several states are currently going through the process of legalizing same-sex marriage — and a by-product of that change is that there are more people in same-sex relationships that have been legitimized by society,” said Dr. Kirk Heilbrun, professor of psychology at Drexel University’s College of Arts and Sciences, in a statement. “This means that there are also more children involved in custody disputes where one parent is in a same-sex relationship. This has become an increasingly relevant issue and one that needs to be addressed.”

Heilbrun and his colleague from the university, Emily Haney-Caron, J.D./Ph.D. candidate, conducted a thorough review of existing research on gay and lesbian parenting as well as the current laws surrounding child custody for gay and lesbian parents. This subject was first presented to Heilbrun in a paper Haney-Caron wrote for the professor’s forensic assessment course. The research team was surprised to learn how many states still consider sexual orientation to be a deciding factor in custody lawsuits.

Parents who come out as gay or lesbian following the end of a heterosexual relationship are often denied custody of their child and even face some visitation restrictions. When same-sex couples with children decide to end their relationship, it can become difficult to establish parental rights for both parents, seeing as one of the partners is not recognized as a legal parent in the eyes of the state. Heilbrun and Haney-Caron hope their findings will help guide judges in making informed decisions regarding custody and parental rights by taking the child’s best interest into account.

“As our views as a society change, we want our courts to reflect that,” Haney-Caron explained. “Our legal system should reflect the values and the realities that we hold. By allowing the research to influence legal decision-making in this area, our society can help ensure that the best interest of the children whose custody is at issue will be served. This is a prime example of the kind of work we do in the JD/PhD program. It brings together two disciplines — law and psychology — and creates scholarship in the space between them.”

The research team at Drexel also offered recommendations for any interested party who may be involved in a custody battle with an LGBT parent. Psychologists are asked to consider how laws and research pertaining to the matter could influence the court’s decision and what is needed to safeguard against personal biases. Judges should take into account social scientific research involving the effectiveness of gay and lesbian parenting when making a decision that could affect an entire family. Lastly, a change in legislation should be considered to restrict judges from making a custody decision based on sexual orientation. Legislation should also be amended so that legal bonds between LGBT parents and their children are easier to establish.

Source: Haney-Caron E, Heilbrun K. Lesbian and Gay Parents and Determination of Child Custody: The Changing Legal Landscape and Implications for Policy and Practice. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity. 2014. 

Read the original article here:

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Baltimore, Maryland: Police Commissioner Batts says ‘culture change’ needed to improve interactions with LGBT community

Kevin Rector, writing for The Baltimore Sun looks at a community meeting to provide more awareness of LGBTQ issues in the police department and make the streets safer for the community. These issues seem to be true of many large cities. A lot of work needs to be done to build trust so the LGBTQ communities see police as allies not enemies…

Monica Yorkman has been harassed by police more times than she can count, she says — and it’s always been about her identity.

As a black transgender woman, cops in Baltimore constantly and unfairly peg her as a prostitute, she said.

“There’s a lot of mistrust between police and transgender women,” the 60-year-old activist said Monday to Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts, during a police forum held specifically for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

“Isn’t there?” Batts responded.

Although complaints of police misconduct are down, the way some officers speak to LGBT residents remains “horrendous,” Batts said — which is why he has ramped up police academy trainings to educate new officers on LGBT issues.

Older, established officers will also get training, he said, as part of a department-wide “cultural shift” that focuses on the “three Cs,” he said: crime, community and credibility.

“We’re going to build a Constitutional police department that cares about all parts of our community,” Batts told Yorkman — a founding member of the organization Sisters of the T — and the two dozen other community activists, gay residents and LGBT leaders who gathered at the evening event at the Northwest District Community Action Center.

“You have somebody who stands in front of you ready to work,” Batts said, before calling himself a “reformer” who will “call balls and strikes” when assessing his department’s performance.

The event was the second LGBT forum Batts has held since taking over the department in 2012, following another in Mount Vernon in October. After the beating last year of an East Baltimore gay man in an attack that some believed was a hate crime, Batts promised to improve his department’s relationship with the LGBT community.

“I realized we may have an organization that doesn’t have the sensitivity to the LGBT community that it should,” Batts said.

The department put new effort into recruiting LGBT officers, started developing new trainings and formed a LGBT advisory council, whose members were in attendance Monday night.

Still, some at the forum said tensions have remained, and that the attention Batts has paid to building a positive relationship with the community hasn’t translated into on-the-ground improvements with beat cops and other officers who respond to incidents involving LGBT residents.

Kurt Ragin, 25, a member of the University of Maryland’s Star Track program, which offers care for HIV-positive and at-risk youth in Baltimore, said LGBT youth in Baltimore are often made to feel “a lot smaller than your average Baltimore City citizen” by police.

The effect, Ragin said, is LGBT youth, often vulnerable to attack, feel unprotected and turn to defending themselves any way they can — even if that means shoving a few “bricks in a sock.”

The Rev. Meredith Moise, 40, asked where the department was in multiple murder investigations in which transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals were killed, including Kelly Young and Desean Bowman. (They’re unsolved.)

“It’s dangerous out there, particularly for transgender folks and folks who are gender variant,” Moise said after the meeting. “We want more information so people can be aware and protect themselves.”

Saida Agostini, 32, of Free State Legal, which provides legal advice to low-income LGBT residents, said police sometimes lack an understanding of basic concepts, like the fact that it is not always the partner with “the more masculine gender presentation” who is the aggressor in domestic violence.

Jacqueline Robarge, of Power Inside, a social justice organization that combats gender-based violence, said she has witnessed a Baltimore police officer tell a man trying to report domestic violence that he should “man up.”

Robarge and others said police respond to routine ambulance calls for mentally ill patients, and are generally gruff and insensitive. When they report these officers, they get “dismissive” internal affairs officers who are not helpful, either, they said.

Repeatedly, Batts skirted around specific questions, returning to his well-oiled talking points of shifting the department’s culture, providing officers with more “tools” and making progress. He also repeatedly told members in the audience affiliated with specific groups that he’d like them to meet directly with his staff, which he said would be more helpful than him trying to “field these fast balls coming in at my head.”

On some of the questions, Batts was backed up by other members of the force, including Sgt. Sarah Avery, a lesbian who leads the department’s LGBT trainings, and Lt. Eric Kowalczyk, a department spokesman who is gay.

At one point, Kowalczyk spoke compellingly, and to an eventual round of applause from the crowd, of seeing progress after coming up in the department as an openly gay man and being told by other officers that none of them wanted to work with the “little faggot,” and that he shouldn’t be in police work because it is for “real men.”

Today, things are vastly different, the department is openly recruiting LGBT officers, and Batts has made it clear that discrimination won’t be tolerated, he said.

“We are building progress slowly,” Kowalczyk said.

After the meeting, several attendees said they’d like to see that translated onto the streets.

“There is a lot of police harrassment,” Yorkman said. “It just seems like they have it out for us.”

Read more here:

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Tax Day 2014 Has a Special Meaning for New Mexico Families

From Equality New Mexico:


Tax Day 2014 Has a Special Meaning for
New Mexico Families


ALBUQUERQUE – Tax season is taking on a new meaning for many New Mexico families this year, as 2013 was the first year that same-sex marriage is legally recognized in the state. Last year, the Supreme Court struck down parts of DOMA, ensuring that the IRS and Federal government would recognize all legal same-sex marriages. In late 2013, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled in favor of the freedom to marry for all New Mexico families. All couples married before December 31, 2013 can jointly file this year.

Robert and Raymond Sierra-Lopez, a recently married New Mexico couple, expressed what this year’s tax season means to them:  “Usually, tax season is not something to look forward to, but this year is different for me,” said Raymond. “I’m very excited to be able to file as a married couple for the first time, to have the same recognition as every other married couple in the state.” 

“While tax season is usually seen as a time of stress, number-crunching, and other not so pleasant activities, many families in New Mexico—including my own—are celebrating the opportunity to file jointly,” added Robert Sierra-Lopez. “This year, tax season is about love, family, and equality, and that is a wonderful reason to celebrate.”

“Whether couples owe money or get a great refund, this year’s tax season is a joyous time for same-gender couples whose commitment through marriage is now legally recognized,” added Amber Royster of EQNM. “We wish all same-gender couples in New Mexico a Happy Tax Day—a day of equality under the law. We hope that all will take a moment today to acknowledge how far we have come in our state—and to look ahead at the journey we must continue toward equality and justice.”

Equality New Mexico (EQNM) and ACLU of New Mexico, in conjunction with national partners ACLU, Freedom to Marry, and National Center for Lesbian Rights, have joined together to form “Why Marriage Matters New Mexico.”  Although the State Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is legal in New Mexico, Why Marriage Matters recognizes that the work is not done. The project is a public education effort to expand majority support for the freedom to marry in New Mexico and build acceptance throughout the state for same-sex couples and their families. 


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