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Thousands Run For Same-Sex Marriage And Gay Rights In Taiwan

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An estimated 3,500 people took part in a rainbow run in Taiwan last Saturday in support of same-sex marriage and gay rights, reports GayNZ.com

The 15 kilometer run aimed “to bring attention to social issues related to gender diversity, anti-discrimination and changing the family system to better understand and in support of gay marriage and equal rights.”

The event was organized by the founders of skincare company Abrazo K, who said in a statement:

“We now can feel how much meaning this event had.

“In the face of love, everyone is the same. Everyone longs to love and to be loved, so why should that differentiate between genders?

“I, myself, am a heterosexual, but I really have experienced the feeling of longing to be loved. It is also for this reason that we stand out and embrace love with everyone today.”

In October, an estimated 70,000 people took part in Taiwan Pride, the biggest pride event in Asia.


Austin Takes Major Steps Forward On Transgender Rights

Stabler

Austin on Thursday became the first city in Texas — and the 43rd in the nation — to add transgender-inclusive health benefits for employees.

The City Council unanimously approved a resolution adding trans-inclusive benefits — including primary care, hormone therapy, mental health care and surgical care — beginning in 2015. 

The council also voted to require business owners to install signage indicating that single-stall restrooms are gender-neutral, and approved a resolution on pregnancy guidelines that specifically includes transmen.

From trans activist and HRC board member Meghan Stabler (above), who lives in Austin: 

BREAKING: Today, the Austin City Council unanimously approved a resolution directing the City Manager to incorporate transgender-inclusive benefits as part of the City employee benefits package in the Fiscal Year 2015-2016 proposed budget. Specifically the City Council approved three trans* friendly items:

Ordinance — single occupancy gender neutral restroom signage now required.

Resolutions:
— Directs city manager to incorporate Trans-inclusive health benefits for city employees as part of Fiscal year 2015-16 proposed budget
— Directs city manager to examine workforce practices in other cities regarding personnel policies for **pregnancy-capable** employees & develop recommendations for implementation to council May 1st 2015. – note that the resolution specifically includes transmen.

Express thanks go out to CCM Mike Martinez and Chris Riley for steering this through for the vote. There were several local advocates involved in this for months, well done.

The trans-inclusive benefits were opposed by the Travis County Taxpayers Association, and gender-neutral restrooms faced opposition from the anti-LGBT group Texas Values and its President Jonathan Saenz, according to a recent report from KTBC-TV

“Legally, politically and financially, this is not a smart move by the city of Austin,” Saenz said. "There are major privacy issues and safety issues when we deal with these type of transgender bathroom issues and we’ve seen them come up in Houston and San Antonio, where women are concerned about sharing or having to use a restroom where maybe a man’s gonna come in before or after them, you have small children and little girls.”

Jimmy Flannigan, an openly gay City Council candidate, has also come under attack from his opponent for supporting the gender-neutral restroom proposal. 

But Thursday's actions by the City Council only further solidify Austin's reputation as the queerest city in Texas. 

Next up? Rainbow crosswalks

Crosswalks


Houston Gay Pride Organizers Agree To Reschedule Parade To Avoid 'Juneteenth' Conflict: VIDEO

Houston

Under intense pressure from African-American LGBT leaders and others, Pride Houston Inc. agreed Thursday night to reschedule the 2015 parade to avoid a conflict with Juneteenth, a nationally recognized holiday that commemorates the end of slavery in the US.

As Towleroad reported Thursday, Pride Houston board members initially refused to reschedule the parade in a letter to African-American LGBT activists earlier this week. But pressure continued to build, and even the statewide group Equality Texas issued a statement Thursday calling for the parade to be rescheduled. 

Houston's parade has traditionally been held on the last weekend of June to mark the anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion. However, this year the Pride Houston board decided to move the parade to the third weekend in June — to avoid any conflict with the Fourth of July holiday and to allow people from Houston to attend other Pride celebrations around the country.

But the new date, June 20, fell on the same weekend as Juneteenth (June 19), and black LGBT activists said the decision threatened to drive a wedge between the African-American and LGBT communities at a time when the city may soon vote on an Equal Rights Ordinance.

At a packed open forum Thursday night, speakers included black former City Councilwoman Jolanda Jones, an LGBT ally. From KPRC-TV:

Jones"It's really important because civil rights for all of us are trying to be set back," Jones said. "We need to stick together."

After a lot of pressure, the board of directors for Houston Pride Inc. announced the date of the Pride Parade will be switched back to June 27th.

"I'm satisfied with the date change," said [black LGBT activist] Ashton Woods. "That was the ultimate goal."

"We believe everyone here will be happy with that and look forward to moving forward," said Houston Pride Inc. President. Frankie Quinjano.

Despite the decision, reports suggest lingering tensions between Pride Houston leadership and some members of the LGBT community. Pride Houston board members were already under fire for their decision to move the parade downtown and out of the Montrose gayborhood. Black trans blogger Monica Roberts, who was a driving force behind the push to reschedule the parade, reacted to Thursday's decision

Now was that so hard? It wouldn't have been if you'd listened to the Black LGBT community and our allies when we first told you about the problematic date conflict to begin with. instead of blowing us off. ... We'll be watching to make sure you follow through on what you told that packed meeting room you'd do.

As it turns out, some Pride Houston board members had not even been aware of Juneteenth, which led Woods to tell KTRK-TV, "(The board) needs cultural sensitivity training."

To their credit, Pride Houston board members reportedly plan to establish a cultural diversity committee.

Watch reports from KPRC and KTRK, AFTER THE JUMP ...

Continue reading "Houston Gay Pride Organizers Agree To Reschedule Parade To Avoid 'Juneteenth' Conflict: VIDEO" »


Houston, We Have A Pride Problem

PrideHouston

It's always a shame when a celebration that's supposed to bring the LGBT community together — Pride — ends up dividing us. Or perhaps it's just that Pride has a tendency to expose existing divisions, especially given that major corporate dollars are involved.

In any case, it's now happened in several of Texas' major cities over the last few years: in Austin, prior to the formation of QueerBomb in 2010; in Dallas, during a dress-code flap last year; and now in Houston, where black LGBT activists are outraged that next year's Pride parade is scheduled for the weekend of Juneteenth — a nationally recognized holiday that commemorates the end of slavery in the US.

Last Month, when Pride Houston Inc. announced it was moving Texas' largest gay Pride parade downtown, saying it had outgrown the city's Montrose gayborhood, organizers were criticized for not soliciting community input prior to the decision.

Now, Pride Houston is facing an arguably much bigger PR problem: In addition to moving the parade downtown, they moved the parade up a week and away from the anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion to eliminate any conflict with the July 4 holiday. But the new schedule also means that the Pride parade, set for Saturday, June 20, will directly conflict with Juneteenth, officially on June 19 but celebrated throughout the weekend.

Houston black transgender blogger Monica Roberts [pictured below] writes at TransGriot that Pride Houston's decision threatens to drive a wedge between the city's African-American and LGBT communities, whose relationship has already been strained by an ongoing fight over the city's Equal Rights Ordinance.

Monica robertsThey will see this as another slap in the face to the Houston Black community and I predict it will be spun by the haters as an attempt by the gay community to "hijack Juneteenth."
With this boneheaded decision, which is a sadly predictable one from an organizational board that is predominately mono-racial and insular in its thinking, PRIDE Houston has just unnecessarily set off some drama that will only inflame the homophobic animus elements of the Houston Black community have for the LGBT community.
It is an animus that Dave Welch, the sellout pastors of the Baptist Ministers Assn. of Houston and Vicinity will eagerly pour gasoline on as the Black LGBT community shakes its head and gets out of the middle of the coming public relations nightmare between these two groups.
Meanwhile the Texas Republican Party and conservative movement foot soldiers will be smiling as they observe their plan working to drive a wedge between key members of the Houston liberal progressive coalition in the African-American and LGBT communities.

Black LGBT leaders reportedly met with Pride Houston representatives on Oct. 22 to discuss the issue. This week, Pride Houston sent the black LGBT leaders a letter notifying them that the board had voted 6-2 to keep the June 20 date.

"There have been previous instances where the Houston LGBT Pride Celebration has fallen on the third weekend in June around the 20th of the month and similar requests were not made during those instances," Pride Houston President and CEO Frankie Quijano wrote in the letter. "Furthermore, a substantial amount has already been invested into the Houston LGBT Pride Celebration for its current date that would un-recoupable which can be crucial for any non-profit organization."

In a follow-up post, Roberts responds that Houston's Pride has never been held so close to Juneteenth, and she lists the dates of the parade going back to 1994. According to Roberts' post, the closest to Juneteenth the Pride parade has been held is June 23 — on three occasions.

Black LGBT activists and others are expected to again air their concerns during an open forum hosted by Houston Pride tonight starting at 7pm CT.

Here's hoping they can work it out.

[photo via twitter]


UK Reporter Responds to One Direction's Louis Tomlinson After 'Gay' Apple T-Shirt Squabble

Tomlinson

Jenn Selby, a reporter for the UK newspaper The Independent, has responded to One Direction's Louis Tomlinson after he lashed out at her over a recent story that was misinterpreted as implying he's gay. 

Earlier this week, Tomlinson was spotted wearing a t-shirt bearing Apple's "rainbow logo" and Selby wrote:

Days after Harry Styles’ comment about gender and sexuality became a viral talking point, his bandmate Louis Tomlinson seemingly showed his support for the recently out Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Tomlinson proceeded to fire off a series of angry tweets disputing the story and clarifying that he's "in fact straight."

Here's Selby's response, in part: 

Head over to Selby's Twitter page to read the full response. 

[photo via Instagram]


Anti-Gay Extremists Absent from Montenegro's Third LGBT Pride Parade: VIDEO

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More than 100 activists and allies in the conservative capital of Podgorica, Montenegro held the nation's third LGBT pride march on Sunday, which was the first to take place peacefully. The country's first two marches, held in Podgorica and the coastal town of Budva last year, were both marred by violence from anti-gay and religious extremists.

PoliceThe procession took place adjacent to the government's main buildings.

AFP reports:

Human Rights Minister Suad Numanovic and Podgorica Mayor Slavoljub Stijepanovic joined the parade along with ambassadors of several member states of the European Union, which Montenegro is in talks to join.

Mitja Drobnic, the head of the EU delegation in Montenegro, also took part, telling reporters: "Human rights make part of the rule of law. Without results achieved in the area of the rule of law there is no progress towards EU membership."

He urged Montenegro to "prove through this part of the fight (for human rights) that it meets criteria for membership" in the 28-nation bloc.

Watch footage of the march, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Anti-Gay Extremists Absent from Montenegro's Third LGBT Pride Parade: VIDEO" »


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