May 17th, 2014 is the 9th annual International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia, the biggest LGBTI solidarity event in the world. May 17 actions are set to take place in over 120 countries today. At the start of the Day worldwide, various top global figures have already come out in support for May 17 around the world, from US President Barack Obama, to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
Today, 2.8 billion people worldwide live in one of the 81 countries, which still criminalize same-sex acts. 4.9 billion people – 2/3 of the world’s population – have their right to information or expression around sexual and gender diversity systematically censored by states. Yet today’s global May 17th commemorations are set to send a clear signal that human rights for all are shared values for billions of people worldwide.
When Jenna Talackova was disqualified from the Miss Universe Canada for being born male, her story made headlines all over the world. But since successfully fighting the rules to re-enter the competition, the 25-year-old has pushed even farther to pursue a career in modelling and acting.
Her journey to follow through on her ambitions, without being pigeonholed, has been documented in a new E! series that premieres this Sunday: “Brave New Girls”. Talackova discusses the media firestorm than surrounded her in 2012, why she doesn’t want her transgender identity to be seen as a gimmick, and why she’s decided to share her story, on different terms, today.
“I love telling my story to people as long as they approach me in a respectful manner,” she said. ‘I had no role models who were transgender, and I want to be that kind of girl.”
The Supreme Court of Canada has struck down the country’s major prostitution laws, saying that bans on street soliciting, brothels and people living off the avails of prostitution create severe dangers for vulnerable women and therefore violate Canadians’ basic values.
Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, writing for a unanimous court, stressed that the ruling is not about whether prostitution should be legal or not, but about whether Parliament’s means of controlling it infringe the constitutional rights of prostitutes.
A small group of Muslims in Halifax want to start a unity mosque — a space where openly gay and transgender Muslims can be themselves while they pray and women would be allowed to lead followers in prayer.
However, several imams in Halifax said everyone is welcome in the city’s five mosques regardless of their sexual orientation. They told CBC News they have not heard of or met a gay or transgender Muslim in the city.
“All mosques, everybody is welcome in the mosque regardless of race, colour, gender, whatever,” said Imam Ibrahim Alshanti, of the United Muslims of Halifax. “To open a new mosque specially for these people, maybe it’s not necessary.”
Since it’s inception in 1999, this day is a call for bisexual people and their families, friends and supporters to recognize and celebrate bisexuality, bisexual history, bisexual community and culture, and the bisexual people in their lives.
This celebration of bisexuality in particular, as opposed to general LGBT events, was conceived as a response to the prejudice and marginalization of the bisexual persons by some in both the straight and greater LGBT communities.
Sex box drive-ins open in Zurich, but will anyone come?
In an attempt to reduce open street prostitution and to improve security for sex workers, Switzerland’s largest city, Zurich, has launched “sex drive-ins”.
“Prostitution has escalated in the city,” said Michael Herzig, from the Zurich social services department. “It was done out in the open on the street and men harassed passers-by. It was noisy and dirty because men took the prostitutes to a side street and left used condoms on the streets. The drive-ins are more discreet and safer.”
The nine garage-style structures, located in Sihlquai, a former industrial zone in the city, are equipped with alarm buttons and guarded by security personnel to ensure the safety of the prostitutes. Customers are not allowed to leave the area with the sex workers.
There are also showers, toilets, a kitchen and washing machines for the sex workers to use, as well as an advice center where they can seek help from social workers. A gynecologist comes in once a week to offer health checkups for the women.
The city’s social services department is running the whole operation and also offers crash courses in German and self-defense courses for the women on site. “All of this will enhance the sex workers’ living and working conditions,” Herzig said