Showing posts with label Gay Rights International. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gay Rights International. Show all posts

February 5, 2017

LGBT Global Criminalization



The date on this visualization is 2015. I noticed that of all the nations that show negativity for the Gay Community only Vietnam and Cambodia are showing very encouraging signs of change. Also China is seen a steady movement to recognize gay couples,  still a long way to go but in 2015 there was not any good news coming from there. In the USA we have gay marriage and many rights accorded by the government but some of those are without legislation that makes it a law and more difficult for a change when the government changes (which happens every 4-8 years) to take some away by enacting some other executive action which will invalidate some of the rights or freedoms.

 For instance it is illegal to discriminate against gays in unemployment and for services(like selling a wedding cake) but there could be a presidential decision called an executive order in which it might make a religious right to discriminate on faith anyone they wanted by saying it’s offending their faith.  That would tend to neutralize some of the gay rights because all a President had to do was to sign that order. Up to now Presidents used to keep most previous president’s executive orders in place.  However with the current president that is changed. This situation almost came to be last week in which President Trump who is very friendly to anti gay forces including the extra religious right. He almost signed an executive order like the one I just described. Many gays still don’t know yet how close they (we) came to not dodging that bullet because President Trump was going to do just that but was convinced otherwise by his daughter Ivanka and her husband Mr. Kushner which are LGBT backers.
adamfoxie blog

November 28, 2016

Trump-Pence Will No Longer Pursue International LGBT Rights

Gays hiding their faces in an Egypt jail for no other reason but for being accused of being gay

During the Obama administration, U.S. diplomatic pressure advanced LGBT human rights around the world quite a bit. The administration of President-elect Donald Trump is likely to reverse that. In many countries, this could seriously harm those whose gender identity and sexual orientation vary from the mainstream, as I will explain below.
Over the past seven years, the United States has thrown its weight globally behind LGBT rights
In 2009, Congress passed — and President Obama signed — a billinstructing the State Department to appoint “an independent officer to track violence [and] criminalization” in foreign countries on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The instruction went further, directing “diplomatic and consular missions to encourage foreign governments to reform or repeal laws” where consensual homosexual conduct was being prosecuted.
The United States was soon joined by the U.N. Human Rights Council in June 2011. That’s when, after considerable debate and lobbying, the UNHRC passed its first resolution condemning violence and persecution based on sexual orientation and gender identity, bringing LGBT people a step closer to protection under international law and the Universal Human Rights framework.
Then in December 2011, the Obama administration similarly linked LGBT rights to human rights with a presidential memorandum directing federal agencies operating overseas to promote and protect the “human rights of LGBT persons.” The next day, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reiterated this idea in a speech to the U.N. General Assembly in Geneva.
All these were powerful signals that the United States and the United Nations would throw their considerable power behind the rights of gender-nonconforming individuals, those in consensual, same-sex adult relationships, and the resulting identities. That’s a very big deal. It aligned the United States with a number of South American countries, South Africa and the European Union (which protects “sexual orientation” in its Charter of Fundamental Rights).
Not surprisingly, many nations and leaders resist recognizing those rights, often fiercely. The reason varies by nation, culture and religion. Some deny that any such subgroups exist or are in danger. Others claim a cultural right to repress or revile, if not prosecute or persecute, identities and behaviors that don’t fit the reproductive “traditional family,” however variably defined. The Trump administration may switch sides in this international effort
A Trump presidency will almost certainly change the game. Trump said at the Republican National Convention, a little more than a month after the June 2016 mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, that he would protect LGBTQ Americans “from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology.” (Although the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the massacre, no link has been found between the terrorist group and the shooter. Muslim-majority nations around the world condemned the shooting, even those who actively oppose LGBTQ rights.)
And yet Trump selected Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his vice-presidential nominee — and Pence’s stance on LGBT rights is similar to those of antigay countries such as Russia and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s member states. 
Consider, for instance, that in 2009 as a member of the House, Pence proposed an amendment to Section 333 of congressional bill H.R. 2410. He wanted to remove all references to homosexuality — essentially gutting its meaning and force. Pence expressly said he did not oppose decriminalizing homosexuality internationally — but he did oppose identifying LGBT people as a legitimate group, and having the United States advocate for them internationally.
Pence, Putin and the OIC use the same reasoning against LGBT rights 
In Congress, Pence said that “in embracing the advocacy of changes in laws regarding homosexuality around the world, [this legislation] advocates a set of values that are at odds with the majority of the American people.” Several years later, in December 2013, here’s how Russian President Vladimir Putin criticized advocates for international LGBT rights:
The destruction of traditional values from above … is essentially anti-democratic, since it is carried out on the basis of abstract, speculative ideas, contrary to the will of the majority. … More and more people in the world … support our position on defending traditional values that have made up the spiritual and moral foundation of civilization in every nation for thousands of years.
Here’s how Pence’s ideas are like Putin’s
Putin’s comments came after Russia’s “gay and pedophilia propaganda”law was implemented earlier that year. Ostensibly, the law bans discussing or promoting “Information Advocating for a Denial of Traditional Family Values” in the presence of children. However, it also suppresses other possibilities for LGBT life, activism and advocacy, because public protest or visibility violates that law, and because gay parents can lose their children
In a number of interviews since the law was passed, Putin has emphasized that homosexuality is neither illegal nor prosecuted in Russia and that lesbians and gay men are not discriminated against in any way. All the law does, he insists, is protect children from being exposed to ideas contrary to his definition of the traditional family.
The law treats same-sex relations and pedophilia as equivalent. Although these laws are regionally rather than centrally enforced, LGBT activists nationwide report bolder anti-gay sentiment and threats.
Both Pence and Putin say that although individual gay people should be left alone, they should not be recognized as a politically organized subgroup that can advocate for protection. Putin considers such advocacy to be propaganda.
Either these leaders do not know, or do not mind, that violence is threatened against the many people who are gender nonconforming or attracted to others of the same sex (or both). If Putin or Pence acknowledged such persecution, they might have to support mandates to protect that minority.
Here’s how Pence’s positions are like those of the Islamic states
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation takes a similar position.
Consider the OIC’s response to the most recent U.N. Human Rights Council resolution condemning violence and persecution on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, passed in June, mandating the appointment of an independent expert to monitor and advise on LGBT human rights violations. 
Egypt’s permanent delegate to the United Nations, Omar Ramadan, wrote that the OIC’s member states (except Albania) would boycott the mandate and would not “cooperate with it in any form or format.” Ramadan further wrote that, clearly, the new mandate wouldn’t be “restricted to combating violence and discrimination,” addressed by previous resolutions. 
Therefore, he said, “it is crystal clear that this resolution and the mandate emanating from it are designed for codifying new and distinct set of rights and protection for a specific group of individuals.” If Trump enables Pence’s attitudes toward sexuality and gender identity to prevail in U.S. foreign policy, it will shift the already precarious balance of power in the United Nations. The internationalization of LGBT rights will slow if not halt.
Samar Habib
Samar Habib is a writer, researcher and scholar who lives in California.

November 22, 2016

Putin,Arabs Tried Killing LGBT Rights Investigator’s Office-Putin Lost


African states failed on Monday to halt the work of the first U.N. independent investigator appointed to help protect gay and transgender people worldwide from violence and discrimination.

The 47-member U.N. Human Rights Council, based in Geneva, created the position in June and in September appointed Vitit Muntarbhorn of Thailand, who has a three-year mandate to investigate abuses against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people.

In an unusual move, African states put forward a draft resolution in the 193-member U.N. General Assembly third committee, which deals with human rights, calling for consultations on the legality of the creation of the mandate. They said the work of the investigator should be suspended.

However, Latin American countries, supported by Western nations, successfully proposed an amendment that gutted the African group draft resolution. The amendment was adopted in the third committee on Monday with 84 votes in favor, 77 against and 17 abstentions.

The amended draft resolution, which makes no change to the work of the gay rights investigator, was then adopted by the third committee with 94 votes in favor, three against and 80 abstentions.

Russia and Egypt, speaking on behalf of the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, said they would not recognize the mandate of the gay rights investigator and would not cooperate with Muntarbhorn. Britain urged all countries to cooperate with the investigator.

Being gay is a crime in at least 73 countries, the U.N. has said. The issue of gay rights consistently sparks heated debate at the United Nations.

In 2014, U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon said the U.N. would recognize all same-sex marriages of its staff, allowing them to receive U.N. benefits. Russia unsuccessfully tried to overturn it last year, with Saudi Arabia, China, Iran, India, Egypt, Pakistan, and Syria among 43 states that supported Moscow.

In February the African Group, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the 25-member "Group of Friends of the Family," led by Egypt, Belarus and Qatar, protested the launch of six U.N. stamps promoting LGBT equality.

Then a group of 51 Muslim states blocked 11 gay and transgender organizations from officially attending a high-level U.N. meeting in June on ending AIDS, sparking a protest by the United States, Canada and the European Union. (Reporting by Michelle Nichols; editing by Grant McCool)

October 29, 2016

Pres.Obama Has Been Quietly Exporting LGBT Rights Overseas

While the world was watching America's gay rights transformation, the Obama administration was pursuing a quieter mission to export the same freedoms overseas to places like sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and eastern Europe.  The U.S. has deployed its diplomats and spent tens of millions of dollars to try to block anti-gay laws, punish countries that enacted them, and tie financial assistance to respect for LGBTQ rights. It was a mission animated in part by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's declaration that "gay rights are human rights." 
Yet the U.S. encountered occasional backlash, including from some rights groups that said public pressure by the West made things worse. 
"I walked into a very backward environment in 2009," said Susan Rice, President Barack Obama's national security adviser and former U.N. ambassador. In an Associated Press interview, Rice said both the U.N. and U.S. had avoided taking on the issue. 
She argued that despite a cascade of pressing global crises, the White House had tried to "deal with the urgent and deal with the important, and even if the important is, some might say, optional, it's important."  In its latest push to use dollars as leverage, the Obama administration announced Wednesday it is enacting a rule prohibiting U.S. Agency for International Development contracts from going to groups that discriminate in delivery of services. That means a clinic, food program or shelter can't refuse services to a gay or transgender person. 
Yet even in countries where legal protections have improved, like Brazil and Argentina, it's difficult to draw a straight line between U.S. advocacy and progress, and in Latin America, those changes have been accompanied by increasing violence against LGBTQ people. In Uganda, a court eventually invalidated an anti-gay law the U.S. had emphatically opposed. But in Gambia, anti-gay rhetoric has escalated despite a U.S. decision to revoke the country's preferential trade status following an LGBTQ crackdown. 
The growing focus on gay rights in diplomacy mirrored the shift in attitudes in the U.S. toward LGBTQ people, illustrated by seismic changes like gay marriage and gays serving openly in the military. As with its domestic efforts, the Obama administration faced objections from social conservatives and some religious groups at home and abroad who called it an inappropriate use of government to infringe on others' cultural beliefs. 
 A 2011 memorandum signed by Obama directed the government for the first time to use diplomacy and foreign aid to "promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons." U.S. embassies started taking part in pride celebrations, with outposts in socially liberal capitals like Tel Aviv and London raising rainbow flags. 



                                                                            A speech by Clinton to the U.N. in Geneva that year thrust the issue to the forefront, at least for a moment, when she said that "gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights," in an echo of her famous 1995 speech in Beijing equating women's rights and human rights. Mira Patel, a former State Department adviser now working on Clinton's presidential campaign, said she was shocked when the secretary first used the line publicly at a pride reception for U.S. diplomats. 
"I never expected these issues could be elevated so fast and at such a high level," Patel said. 
The U.S. in 2010 started issuing passports to transgender people that reflected their current gender identity, and the White House started sending openly gay athletes as part of its delegation to Olympics ceremonies — including the 2014 Winter Games in Russia. At the United Nations, Rice and other diplomats secured language in several resolutions opposing discrimination or condemning extrajudicial killings of LGBTQ people. 
For Obama, who only came around to fully embracing gay rights while in office, the campaign came to a head last year in Nairobi, Kenya. Warned in no uncertain terms ahead of his visits to keep quiet about gay rights, Obama called for equal legal treatment for gays while standing next to President Uhuru Kenyatta, who brushed it off and insisted it was "not really an issue."  
Bisi Alimi, a Nigerian gay rights activist, said that advocacy was critical to helping dissolve what for many Africans has been a persuasive argument against gay rights: that the U.S. and other rich nations are engaging in paternalism and cultural colonialism. 
"We should not forget that Obama's father is Kenyan," Alimi said by phone from London, where he fled after being physically attacked in Nigeria. "There was no better place for him to say that than in a place where his nationality wouldn't be questioned, where he wouldn't be seen as a Westerner telling us how to live our lives." 
Yet not infrequently, LGBTQ activists in other countries have urged the U.S. to pull back — or at least to stop making the case publicly. 
In Uganda, the U.S. in 2014 cut off visas for senior Ugandan officials, canceled aid and nixed a joint military exercise to punish Uganda for legislation that became known as the "Kill the Gays" bill. But activists said heavy-handed U.S. advocacy had given gay rights opponents the evidence they needed to argue that a native rights movement was being orchestrated by Washington.  Two years earlier, stolen diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks showed Ugandan activists had insisted to U.S. diplomats that "they preferred quiet diplomacy — not public statements." 
"What we've seen in the last eight years has been 99 percent great and 1 percent horrible backlash," said Jay Michaelson, an American author and LGBTQ activist who's written extensively on the subject. 
Rice said the key was to tailor efforts to each country's circumstances, limiting advocacy to behind-the-scenes meetings when a public push might cause more harm. 
“What we don't want to do to the extent we can avoid it is expose individuals who aren't wanting to be exposed and to put individuals at risk," Rice said.


July 8, 2016

Azerbaijan The Worse Place in Hell to Be Born Gay but Born we Did

Azeri LGBTI activist Javid Nabiyev in 2012. Photograph: Nefes LGBT Azerbaijan Alliance 

Azerbaijan has been ranked the worst place in Europe to live as an LGBTI citizen, after meeting only 5% of a leading rights organisation’s criteria for legal equality.
The ILGA-Europe Rainbow Index, released today, ranks 49 European countries according to the laws, policies and practices that affect LGBTI communities.
The countries with the three lowest scores are all post-Soviet: Armenia, Russia and Azerbaijan. The countries leading the index – Malta, Belgium and the UK – all scored above 80%.
Although homosexuality is legal in Azerbaijan, the 2016 index draws attention to the country’s failure to protect its LGBTI community from hate crime and discrimination. The review links the low score to the high number of homophobic and transphobic violent attacks, as well as discriminatory remarks made by political figures.
“Of all the social groups that are victims of violence and hatred, we are the ones that struggle most,” says gay Azerbaijani activist, Javid Nabiyev.
“Each year, hundreds of LGBTI people are exposed to physical, psychological and economic violence by their family members and the people around them. They are killed, forced to live a double life, commit suicide or leave the country.”

East v west

Today, Nabiyev sits in a small box-room in a German refugee shelter, the bare white walls are decorated only with the rainbow LGBTI flag and the national flag of Azerbaijan. Despite everything that happened to him there, he says: “It’s my homeland and I miss it.”

Nabiyev’s life in Azerbaijan became unbearable after he proposed to his boyfriend in 2014, and the pair became targets of a national hate campaign. Pictures of their engagement ceremony posted to Facebook found their way onto mainstream news. The couple’s personal details were published online and Nabiyev’s neighbours became threatening, he says.

The couple fled to Turkey before the pressure of persecution finally tore them apart. They returned to Azerbaijan separately, and Nabiyev continued with his activism.

But his work for Nefes LGBT Azerbaijan Alliance – the organisation he founded – made him a fresh target for the authorities. He can no longer count the number of times he’s been beaten by police and in the media, he was accused of being a western spy. Worried he could be detained more permanently, he fled to Germany.

Bjorn van Roozendaal, programme director of ILGA-Europe, sees the tension between east and west as key in the struggle for LGBTI rights. “We’ve seen a lot of backlash in the region. One common denominator is that Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia all want to distance themselves from the west and the LGBTI struggle has been at the centre of that,” he explains.

“LGBTI rights are seen as a modern western value that the west is trying to impose and this mindset really comes at the cost of the LGBTI community.”

Azerbaijan is a member of the Council of Europe, which describes itself as “the continent’s leading human rights organisation.” All CoE members have signed the European Convention of Human Rights, in which article 14 prohibits discrimination “on any ground such as sex, gender”.

LGBTI rights are seen as a western value that the west is trying to impose
Bjorn van Roozendaal
In September 2015, the EU Parliament passed a resolution on Azerbaijan, condemning its treatment of human rights defenders and said it was “extremely concerned over the situation of LGBTI people”.

But van Roozendaal is not optimistic about the resolution’s power. “I don’t think that a country like Azerbaijan really cares what the EU think. I don’t think they want to be seen to be promoting LGBTI rights,” he says. “Change is not going to happen in top down way, it’s going to come from bottom up – from activists on the ground.”

He can’t speak openly about the work ILGA-Europe is doing in Azerbaijan because “any kind of visibility that we give to the work we do, puts people at risk. This work is made extremely difficult by the government, which is very sad.”

He can say that they are working to support the LGBTI communities to educate them on how to avoid risk and document hate crime. But it’s not easy to support grassroots groups. “There are strict controls on any kind of money that goes into the country, so it’s difficult to fund even awareness campaigns,” he says.
 Nabiyev’s is just one of many tales to have leaked out of the country in the past few years.

One of the most high-profile was the death of Isa Shakhmarli in 2014, a leading LGBTI activist who killed himself draped in the rainbow flag. He left behind a video in which he said: “I tried to explain that love is love as much as I could but my family and friends never understood.”

After his death, his friend Lala Mahmudova took over his role at the LGBTI organisation, AZAD. Mahmudova, who is straight and currently studying in Chicago, says she is often criticised for supporting LGBTI equality.

“On Facebook, a lot of my relatives and friends have blocked me because I support LGBTI people. They say, ‘You are going against our society’s values’.”

  Mahmudova sees violence and abuse at the hands of family members as a serious problem. “I know a lot of transgender people who are beaten by their fathers, sisters and mothers. It starts with their family,” she says. But with no LGBTI shelters in Azerbaijan and a largely unsympathetic police force, there is little Mahmudova or AZAD can do to help people in this situation.

Given the risks, for many people coming out to family and friends is too dangerous. Ahmad – not his real name – a 21-year-old student living in the capital, Baku, explains: “If my brother and my uncle find out [I’m gay], they will get very angry and I don’t know what could happen.”

Ahmad doesn’t feel like he has a family, and says he could never approach the authorities for help. “As a nation, we have no trust for our police or our government,” he says. “I have always felt I have no one but myself to lean on.”

Morgan Meaker
The Guardian

June 4, 2016

Being Gay is Illegal in these Countries,How Would you BehaveThere?

Map courtesy of ILGA (
This is a 2012 map. How has it changed? The most important and noticeable change is that
beige in our hemisphere is now dark green for recognition and the beige in the Western hemisphere
is now red for persecution. Even tough you have gay marriage in the US, Gay sex is prohibited in 17 states.US Supreme Court has ruled those laws unconstitutional but still they are kept on the books.

 Globalisation has seen companies hop borders like never before. Iran, in from the cold after agreeing to limit its nuclear programme, has become the new hotspot for businesses sharking for frontier-market funds. Fine, but you really do not want to be gay in downtown Tehran.

Most companies will find an apartment for you, but I fell in love with Georgia. And, almost 10 years on from when I was asked to leave — after a Georgian MP called me the Lord Haw-Haw of the Caucasus — I am now considering buying a flat overlooking the Black Sea coast.
Now that the legal snarls thrown up when the dictator fled to Moscow with a large chunk of the state budget have been ironed out, my main concern is the level of homophobia in Georgia. Do I want to buy a flat in a country where I could be a target?

The world is much smaller if you’re gay. Laws criminalising homosexuality still exist in 78 jurisdictions worldwide, out of a total of 320. In five countries — Mauritania, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Sudan — simply being gay is punishable by death.

Others, such as Uganda, are equally off the property menu. Which is a shame, as the country is particularly lovely at this time of year: a balmy 28C, little rain and clear blue skies. Property is relatively cheap, with an island listed for sale with 134 acres by Lake Victoria for just $2m.
One small snag: Uganda is virulently homophobic, its parliament having attempted to pass a “Kill the Gays” bill in 2013. One brief respite, following a huge international outcry, was that the mooted death penalty was transmuted to life imprisonment. But, either way, it remains illegal to be gay or lesbian in the country.

But Uganda and other homophobic countries are missing a trick. It is a cliché — but one that’s true — that when the gays move in, the neighbourhood applauds, safe in the knowledge that property prices are set to rise. US academic Richard Florida devised the Gay Index, which showed the positive effect of having gay neighbours. “The point is that a gay couple will move in next door and plant flowers,” says Dave Carlos at property advisory company JLL, only slightly tongue in cheek.
Studies have shown that diversity in the workplace — more women on boards and a greater tolerance for sexual identity — can be positive for the corporate bottom line. It can also work for bricks and mortar: you want the gays to move in next door.

But while the world is awash with gay-friendly resorts and even retirement homes, there remain far too many places to avoid if you are LGBT.
Certainly, large swaths of Syria and Iraq, now under the control of the so-called Islamic State, have recently become even less appealing. But even more mainstream countries are increasingly out of bounds.

India recriminalised homosexuality in 2014. Yet, interestingly, it legally recognizes hijras (people whose birth sex is male but who identify as female) as a third gender — one of the very few countries in the world, alongside Pakistan and Bangladesh, to do so.

When I was in and out of Russia in the early noughties, taxi drivers were happy to say which gay club was the best in the city. Now I wouldn’t dare ask
Russia is quite another issue. I’ve long wanted to live in Moscow. Part of the reason behind my move to Georgia was to use it as a springboard to head northwards. Yet LGBT rights in Russia — along with the general attitude of the population towards homosexuality and, indeed, the Eurovision Song Contest — are at an all-time low. When I was in and out of Russia in the early noughties, taxi drivers were happy to say which gay club was the best in the city. Now I wouldn’t dare ask.

The UK, by comparison, has a growing tradition of tolerance. On my way to work in London, I walk past a blue plaque, unveiled in 2013, to mark the former home in Bloomsbury of Ernest Boulton and Frederick Park, better known as Stella and Fanny. Just as it grappled with gay rights in the 1980s and 1990s, the UK is now coming to terms with a greater understanding of the trans community.
In the US, Keep Austin Weird was launched a few years ago to promote local businesses in the Texan city but also to resist the blandification under way in many of America’s larger urban areas. Homeless activist and cross-dresser Leslie Cochran, who died in 2012, was often seen as the personification of the campaign.

Keeping it weird works. The writer James Baldwin always said you can judge a country on the treatment of its minorities — and, indeed, my former dictator was very good at promoting religious tolerance. Just not so good on gay rights.
For many LGBT people, the solution to moving to a homophobic country is still the one I devised 15 years ago: you simply stop being gay.

Hugo Greenhalgh is the FT’s wealth correspondent

May 26, 2016

‘F**Off I’M Gay': Sir Ian McKellen

Image result for ian mckellen patrick stewart kiss

As Sir Ian McKellen’s turns 77 (May 25), what better way to celebrate than to sit back and reflect on the actor’s achievements within the gay rights movement.

Here’s a list of the top 8 times our hero championed our cause:

1) Coming Out

Every story has a beginning, and Sir Ian McKellan’s started in 1988 when he came out as gay on a live BBC radio interview. Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988 (now defunct) had just been passed, prohibiting local authorities from “promoting” homosexuality or gay “pretended family relationships.”

McKellen said this spurred his decision to bring his sexuality into the open, propelling him into a successful mainstream career.

“Everything in society was against people in my generation coming out because it was against the law to make love,” he said in an interview with Charlie Rose last year.

“So if every time you have sex you remind yourself you’re a criminal, that’s not something you really want to talk about unless you’re a really, really brave person, which I wasn’t.”

We beg to differ, old boy.

2) Gay Pride

Fast-forward nearly 30 years and Sir Ian McKellen has been at the forefront of gay rights activism, most recently leading Manchester’s 2015 Pride celebrations with thorough fanfare. Before this he’s attended (and lead) numerous pride events across the country, and is a patron for both London and Oxford Pride.

In a BBC interview he said: “Onlookers can be impressed by our confidence and determination to be ourselves and gay people, of whatever age, can be comforted by the occasion to take the first steps towards coming out and leaving the closet forever behind.”

3) The X-Men                                      
Image result for ian mckellen x men

“X-Men was a gay man’s delight, because it was full of the most amazing divas,” said McKellen in an interview with The Guardian. The actor joined the X-men franchise in 2000 as metal-bending supervillain Magneto, and frequently drew connections between the movies and his gay rights activism in public.

The parallels were made clear in his interview with BuzzFeed: “Mutants are like gays. They are cast out by society for no good reason.

“And as in all civil rights movements they have to decide if they are going to take the Xavier line, which is to assimilate and stand up for yourself but be proud of what you are and get on with everybody,”

“Or you take the alternative view, which is if necessary to use violence to stand up for your own rights.

“And that’s true – I’ve come across that division within the gay rights movement.”

He used the platform to congratulate co-star Ellen Page, who plays Kitty Pryde in the franchise, on coming out.

4) Bromance

On Celebrity Big Brother, James Hill and Austin Armacost showed the world how straight and gay men can be best buddies. But for a crash course on bromancing we need look no further than Sirs Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart. The X-Men co-stars sent the internet wild these past few years, with adorable pics of them holidaying and just being generally silly. If there’s a positive message to come out of this, it’s that the power of friendship conquers all prejudice.

5) Stone Wall
Taking its name after the Stonewall riots in New York City, Stonewall has evolved into the UK’s  leading LGBT rights charity, lobbying for policy development since 1989.

Sir Ian McKellen became one of the founding members of the group after seeking to lobby against Section 28 of the Local Government Act.

Looking back on Stonewall, McKellen said: “Nothing in life is more important to me than helping young people realise that there are better days ahead of them.

“I’m proud that Stonewall – which I helped create to tackle legalised homophobia – is now leading the fight in those British schools where homophobic bullying ruins far too many young people’s lives.

“It’s a privilege to play a small part in bringing it to an end.”

The actor is still active within Stonewall, having surprised young activists by making an appearance at its Youth Awards this year.

6) ‘Fuck off I’m gay’ 

In an episode of Have I Got News For You, Sir Ian McKellen recalled meeting with Environment Secretary Michael Howard to lobby against Section 28.

Howard declined, but asked the actor to sign an autograph for his children.

The actor obliged and wrote: ‘Fuck off I’m gay’, instead.

That’s a good a middle finger as any.

7) International Affairs

Remember that time Sir Ian McKellen caused a Singaporean news channel to cut off his interview short after he asked where some good gay bars were?

Neither did we. But watch – it’s awesome.
Image result for ian mckellen

8) India

It was only a few days ago that Sir Ian quipped his latest arguments in advancements of gay rights. In a visit to India to attend a film festival, he made the comments that criticised section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, a colonial law that effectively makes sexual relations between gay men illegal.

Ian said during his interview: “India is going through what the UK went through 30 years ago. It is appalling and ironical that India would use a colonial law to oppress its homosexuals.

“India needs to grow up. India needs to realise that it doesn’t need to follow British laws any more. But things are changing on other fronts. Kashish, Mumbai’s LGBT film festival, is a great example of that.”

He will be attending the LGBT-themed Kashish Film Festival tomorrow (May 26).

Like a fine wine Sir Ian McKellen just seems to be getting better with age – many happy returns!

Andrew Headspeath

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