December 31, 2018

2018⇒ !5 Lies A Day ☞ Name ⇒ Donald Trump ⇒Would His Lies Increase in 2019? Same? More?

We know all politicians lies or to be more polite they overpromise knowing full well it will be impossible to keep certain promises. I know local politicians that have put their job and reputation on the line to keep a promise that all of a sudden turned not so popular as it was when the promise was made. 

Same-sex marriage in the State of New York comes to mind. A promise made by the two previous  Governors were thrown in the trash saying they won't put it for a vote because there was not enough backing. On the case of Mario Cuomo (jr.) If all the Dems voted for it  He needed (app) at least 4 votes from the GOP side and those politicians were from districts that were Catholic or Jewish and both constituencies were against the Gay marriage. But He did by standing tall and making deals letting everybody know this was a promise he was going to keep. And so New York State had same-sex marriage about two years before the nation did by the Supreme Court decision. In New York State it was made law by the Senate and Legislature with the signature of the Governor. I was elated to see a man stand by his word!

Across the river, you had a Governor who enjoy getting the gay vote but sang the same song of not having enough backing. If everybody would have said that we would not have our Constitution or even gone to the moon.

Since January of 2017, we have a man in the most important office on the planet because many decisions there can affect most nations under or above the table that people see. But we have a man whose lies come out of his mouth following the old communist Stalinist idea that if you say a lie loud enough and often enough a lie will become truth. Only a man missing something inside the brain electrical functions can believe and put into action such dishonest plan. Does it work? Sadly enough it does but not the majority of the times. People for the sake of not arguing let it pass but when the odor hits the fan things change very rapidly and not on the liers side.

At the end of this year and beginning of the next, I invite you to read and see how this man does this. 
The Smell is hitting the fan already, all it needs is for some prosecutor or Congress to turn it on and then you will see a big percentage of his people run away from his smelly side.

Can anyone do a better job of reinforcing today what  Sarah Sanders said yesterday which contradicts today?       ☞ Adam Gonzalez                                               Alt_SeanSpicer'sMic🎙🤦🏻‍♀️🎙 (@Alt_Spicerlies) | Twitter

President Trump’s year of lies, false statements and misleading claims started with some morning tweets.

Over a couple of hours on Jan. 2, Trump made false claims about three of his favorite targets — Iran, the New York Times and Hillary Clinton. He also took credit for the “best and safest year on record” for commercial aviation, even though there had been no commercial plane crashes in the United States since 2009 and, in any case, the president has little to do with ensuring the safety of commercial aviation.

The fusillade of tweets was the start of a year of unprecedented deception during which Trump became increasingly unmoored from the truth. When 2018 began, the president had made 1,989 false and misleading claims, according to The Fact Checker’s database, which tracks every suspect statement uttered by the president. By the end of the year, Trump had accumulated more than 7,600 untruths during his presidency — averaging more than 15 erroneous claims a day during 2018, almost triple the rate from the year before.

Even as Trump’s fact-free statements proliferate, there is growing evidence that his approach is failing.

Fewer than 3 in 10 Americans believe many of his most-common false statements, according to a Fact Checker poll conducted this month. Only among a pool of strong Trump approvers — about 1 in 6 adults in the survey — did large majorities accept several, though not all, of his falsehoods as true.

Similarly, a November Quinnipiac poll found 58 percent of voters saying Trump wasn’t honest, compared with just 36 percent who said he was honest. The same poll found 50 percent saying he is “less honest” than most previous presidents, tying his own record for the highest share of registered voters saying so in Quinnipiac polling.

“When before have we seen a president so indifferent to the distinction between truth and falsehood, or so eager to blur that distinction?” presidential historian Michael R. Beschloss said of Trump in 2018.

Beschloss noted that the U.S. Constitution set very few guidelines in this regard because the expectation was that the first president would be George Washington and he would set the tone for the office. “What is it that schoolchildren are taught about George Washington? That he never told a lie,” the historian said. “That is a bedrock expectation of a president by Americans.”

 President Trump speaks at a roundtable in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Dec. 18, 2018 in Washington. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Trump began 2018 on a similar pace as last year. Through May, he generally averaged about 200 to 250 false claims a month. But his rate suddenly exploded in June, when he topped 500 falsehoods, as he appeared to shift to campaign mode. He uttered almost 500 more in both July and August, almost 600 in September, more than 1,200 in October and almost 900 in November. In December, Trump drifted back to the mid-200s.

Trump’s midsummer acceleration came as the White House stopped having regular press briefings and the primary voice in the administration was Trump, who met repeatedly with reporters, held events, staged rallies and tweeted constantly.

Trump is among the more loquacious of recent presidents, according to Martha Kumar, professor emerita at Towson University, who has kept track of every presidential interaction with the media, dating to Ronald Reagan. Through Dec. 20, Trump held 323 short question-and-answer sessions with reporters, second only to Bill Clinton through the first 23 months, and granted 196 interviews, second to Barack Obama.

More than a quarter of Trump’s claims were made during campaign rallies. On Nov. 5, the day before the midterm elections, for instance, Trump held three rallies, yielding a total of 139 false or misleading claims. A review of every statement made by Trump at two of his earlier 2018 rallies found that he exaggerated or made up at least 70 percent of his assertions.

Almost as many false claims came during remarks at press events, and about 17 percent were the result of his itchy Twitter finger.

The president misled Americans about issues big and small. He told lies about payments that his now-convicted attorney says Trump authorized to silence women alleging affairs with him. He routinely exaggerates his accomplishments, such as claiming that he passed the biggest tax cut ever, presided over the best economy in history, scored massive deals for jobs with Saudi Arabia and all but solved the North Korea nuclear crisis.

He attacks his perceived enemies with abandon, falsely accusing Clinton of colluding with the Russians, former FBI Director James B. Comey of leaking classified information and Democrats of seeking to let undocumented immigrants swamp the U.S. borders.

The president often makes statements that are disconnected from his policies. He said his administration did not have a family separation policy on the border when it did. Then he said the policy was required because of existing laws when it was not.

The president also simply invents faux facts. He repeatedly said U.S. Steel is building six to eight new steel plants, but that’s not true. He said that as president, Obama gave citizenship to 2,500 Iranians during the nuclear-deal negotiations, but that’s false. Over and over, Trump claimed that the Uzbekistan-born man who in 2017 was accused of killing eight people with a pickup truck in New York brought two dozen relatives to the United States through “chain migration.” The real number is zero.

In one of his more preposterous statements of 2018, Trump labeled the Palm Beach Post as “fake news” for blaming him for traffic jams across the nation — when an article about the effect of low gas prices on driving habits never mentioned his name.

Sometimes, Trump simply attempts to create his own reality.

When leaders attending the U.N. General Assembly burst into laughter when Trump uttered a favorite false claim — that his administration had accomplished more in less than two years than “almost any administration in the history of our country” — the president was visibly startled and remarked that he “didn’t expect that reaction.” But then he later falsely insisted to reporters that the boast “was meant to get some laughter.”

In an October interview with the Wall Street Journal, Trump emphatically denied he had imposed many tariffs. “I mean, other than some tariffs on steel — which is actually small, what do we have? . . . Where do we have tariffs? We don’t have tariffs anywhere,” he insisted. The newspaper responded by printing a list of $305 billion worth of tariffs on many types of U.S. imports.

Trump exaggerates when the facts are on his side.

He routinely touts a job-growth number that dates from his election, not when he took office, thus inflating it by 600,000 jobs. And although there’s no question Trump can draw supporters to his rallies by the thousands, he often claims pumped-up numbers that have no basis in fact. At a Tampa rally, he declared that “thousands of people” who could not get in were watching outside on a “tremendous movie screen.” Neither a crowd of that size nor the movie screen existed.

The president even includes references to The Fact Checker in his dubious remarks.

On Oct. 18, in Missoula, Mont., Trump falsely said that no one challenges his description of the Democrats as the party of crime. “Democrats have become the party of crime. It’s true. Who would believe you could say that and nobody even challenges it. Nobody’s ever challenged it,” he said.

But then he had an unusual moment of doubt. “Maybe they have. Who knows? I have to always say that, because then they’ll say they did actually challenge it, and they’ll put like — then they’ll say he gets a Pinocchio.”

Meg Kelly and Salvador Rizzo contributed to this report.

Happy New Year and Wishing Peace on Earth

 Would this year take us or run us over?

 It's sexy when she tells it the way it is, seldom happens

 Would She Drown this year?

 Would the fat lady sing?

He is Muslim, Kurd and Gay in Canada and The Journey Does Not Ends There

 Yusuf Celik, 31, didn’t come to Canada as a refugee, but immigrated from Turkey to escape the often violent discrimination that followed him most of his life because he’s gay. JULIE OLIVER /  POSTMEDIA

Yusuf Celik did not arrive in Canada as a refugee. But he did come here to escape the stream of discrimination that had followed him for most of his life.

The now 31-year-old man, who has worked on contract for the federal government in Ottawa, was born in Kâhta, a small mainly Kurdish town in the southeastern Turkish province of Adiyaman, and spent his first two decades dealing with blowback based on who he was.

As a young boy, Celik (pronounced Che-lik) would secretly wear his sister’s clothes and play a game with a young neighbor in which Celik was “mom” and the other lad was “dad.” At 14, he had his first sexual experience with another male teen.

In response, Celik’s devoutly Muslim parents sent him, the second-youngest of seven children, to a madrasa — an Islamic religious school — with the not-so-subtle message that his sexual orientation was to be curbed. News of honor killings of gay Turkish men added fear to the discouragement Celik was feeling. At the age of 16, he says, he tried to commit suicide.

Prejudice toward him turned to ethnic lines when he pursued his education, which included one year of fine arts studies in ceramics and glass at Istanbul University. Celik was regularly reminded that, as a Kurd, he was an outsider (although he points out that a DNA test he took revealed that his ancestry is 72 percent Armenian).

In 2009, he left Turkey for the West Coast of the United States, where he would live with one of his brothers in Portland, Ore., and, he hoped, begin a new life. 

Life in Ottawa beyond the shadows of Syria

Celik enrolled at a community college to fine-tune his English-language skills and prepare for university studies. He got involved in student politics. He was with family.

But before Celik had the chance to complete his college program, his brother noticed something on a shared data-plan they had for their cellphones. Celik was visiting gay websites.

“He kicked me out of the house and threatened to send me back to Turkey,” says Celik, who found refuge at a friend’s house and jobs working in room service at a Westin hotel (for which he got paid) and chopping vegetables at a Syrian restaurant kitchen (for which he received food) to survive.

He earned enough money to afford a one-room apartment and attend Portland State University, from which he obtained an undergraduate degree in Middle East studies and political science.

Celik, who embraced social activism during his university days in Istanbul, openly expressed his views on LGBTQ rights — much to the horror of his brother, who threatened to kill him.

Yusuf Celik, 31, didn’t come to Canada as a refugee but immigrated from Turkey to escape the often violent discrimination that followed him most of his life because he’s gay. JULIE OLIVER / POSTMEDIA

It was time for Celik to move on again, and this time he eyed Ottawa, where lived a gay man he had met and befriended in Istanbul in 2008 and with whom he had stayed in touch.

In 2011, Celik came to visit his friend in Ottawa for three months. The following year they got married, and Celik formally immigrated to Canada in 2013. (The couple recently divorced.)

In Ottawa, Celik added to his academic credentials, earning a master’s degree from Carleton University’s Norman Paterson School of International Affairs in 2016 when he landed his first full-time job as a program assistant — on contract — screening applications from prospective immigrants at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

Last year, he was on a six-month contract with the non-profit Institute on Governance working on fiscal federalism, decentralization and resiliency-building project in Iraq, which involved traveling there to meet with officials from both the Iraqi and Kurdistan regional governments.

Celik, who recently worked as a policy and research analyst for Fisheries and Oceans Canada and, as of January, will work as a research analyst for Public Services and Procurement Canada. This past spring, Celik also acquired Canadian citizenship and has also been involved in fundraising for Syrian refugees.

Based on his personal experience as an immigrant who had to find a new life in Canada, he says he believes the system here can favor over other newcomers.

“Immigrants also bring the luggage of trauma with them – and I find that we sometimes treat citizens worse than refugees in this country. The federal government has to treat all immigrants and refugees equally.”

His opinions point to the layers and nuance between different communities, including among newcomers in this country.

Given his life’s journey, it is perhaps not surprising that Celik is an activist in many ways. A practicing Muslim, he says Canada needs to take more of a leadership role in defending the rights of LGBTQ people — refugees or not – and particularly, gay Muslim men, whom he says are the “most oppressed” group around the world.

To empower gay Muslims, promote their rights and help create safe spaces for them, Celik started Gay Muslims United, earlier this year — an organization he hopes will have an international reach, but still a focus close to home. For instance, he would like the LGBTQ community in Canada to include more Muslims in committee and paid work.

While outspoken, he is also vocal about his admiration for his new home country.

In a YouTube video about his journey to Canada, Celik says it is the only country where he “could live proudly gay as well as proudly Muslim.”

December 30, 2018

John Kelly Confirms Everything on The Anonymous Op-ed About Trump was True

By Aaron Blake
Washington Post

A few months ago, a senior Trump administration official wrote a controversial anonymous op-ed in the New York Times that said forces within the administration were working to rein in President Trump’s potentially damaging whims.
In a recent interview, Trump’s departing chief of staff basically confirmed that’s exactly what has happened for the past two years.
In the phone interview Friday, Kelly defended his rocky tenure, arguing that it is best measured by what the president did not do when Kelly was at his side.
Kelly admits he wasn’t consulted much before Trump, shortly after he was inaugurated, banned travel from several majority-Muslim nations. At the time, Kelly was the secretary of homeland security — the department in charge of instituting the ban that turned chaotic.
“I had very little opportunity to look at” the orders before they were issued, Kelly said. “Obviously, it brought down a greater deal of thunder on the president.”  
Kelly suggested he and others stopped Trump from withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan. (A partial pullout from Afghanistan appears likely, however, following a decision by the president this month, though senior U.S. military officers have said they have received no orders.)
“When I first took over, he was inclined to want to withdraw from Afghanistan,” Kelly said, adding: “He was frustrated. It was a huge decision to make . . . and frankly there was no system at all for a lot of reasons — palace intrigue and the rest of it — when I got there.” 
Kelly also defended those serving Trump as delivering him the right information, even if it might be disregarded.
“It’s never been: The president just wants to make a decision based on no knowledge and ignorance,” Kelly said. “You may not like his decision, but at least he was fully informed on the impact.”  
Kelly’s words are not exactly a ringing endorsement of Trump’s decisions; they’re covering for Trump making decisions that officials didn’t like. He’s basically saying, “We tried to tell him!” 
Kelly also distanced himself from the separation of families at the U.S.-Mexico border, blaming then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions for a zero-tolerance border policy that resulted in the separations — a policy marked by the deaths of two children who were in U.S. custody. As with the travel ban, Kelly suggests he was blindsided.
“What happened was Jeff Sessions — he was the one that instituted the zero-tolerance process on the border that resulted in both people being detained and the family separation,” Kelly said. “He surprised us.” 
Kelly is perhaps more diplomatic than the anonymous senior administration official. He was also more subtle than former secretary of state Rex Tillerson, who a few weeks ago said Trump was “undisciplined, doesn’t like to read” and tried to do illegal things but was often thwarted by those around him
But at the core of Kelly’s comments was the same thing: a top Trump administration official suggesting that the political novice in the White House makes decisions with his gut and without much regard for the information that the smart people around him try to give him. The idea that Kelly regards his biggest success as standing in Trump’s way is a pretty strong indictment of Trump as a person and of his presidency. It is also perhaps a warning of what’s to come as Trump is increasingly surrounded by yes-men and -women.
All of these are the comments of a man who knows his legacy will be tied to Trump — and who isn’t entirely comfortable with that. The Times asked him about exactly that in its ending:
Asked why he stayed 18 months in the White House, despite policy differences, personality clashes, the punishing schedule, and a likely lasting association with some of Trump’s controversies, he said simply: duty.
“Military people,” he said, “don’t walk away.”

A Gay Man on Staff At A Catholic Parish Then The Church Began Blaming Their Sexual Crisis on Gays

By Laurie Goodstein

[SAN DIEGO] When Antonio Aaron Bianco arrived for work at his Roman Catholic church office on a recent Monday morning, he was rattled to discover that someone had broken into the conference room and spray-painted a message in large yellow letters on the wall. It said “No Fags.”

 Antonio Aaron Bianco, an openly gay man, worked as a pastoral associate at a Catholic church in San Diego. He has faced threats and harassment.CreditCreditSam Hodgson for The New York Times
For Mr. Bianco, a gay layman in charge of managing St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, the break-in was just another terrifying omen. Two weeks earlier, someone tried to set the sanctuary doors on fire before the early Sunday Mass. Before that, a stranger swung a punch at Mr. Bianco after Mass one day. For months he had received anonymous phone calls and letters with messages like “Sodomites not welcome in the church.”

Located in the heart of San Diego’s largest gay neighborhood, St. John the Evangelist is one of about 300 Catholic parishes around the country that quietly welcome gay Catholics. Although the Catholic church teaches that same-sex relationships are sinful, growing pockets of the church have accepted openly gay parishioners, staff members, and even priests.

But after this summer, when the church faced renewed allegations of clergy sexual abuse, some bishops and conservative Catholic media outlets immediately blamed the crisis on homosexuality. That set off a backlash, fueling a campaign to purge the church of gay clergy members and church workers. 

More than 1,700 people signed a petition started in August demanding that the archbishop of Atlanta “remove priests who promote the L.G.B.T. agenda from public ministry” and stop supporting parishes known to welcome gay people. In Chicago, a priest burned a rainbow flag and led parishioners in a “prayer of exorcism.” For the first time, protesters showed up outside an annual spiritual retreat of gay priests in Wisconsin in October. In November, bishops attending a conference in Baltimore were greeted by Catholics holding signs saying “All Homosexual Cardinals, Bishops, and Priests MUST RESIGN!”

As the church struggles to respond to the growing crisis over sex abuse — with investigations looming nationwide — gay priests and church workers have become scapegoats, even though most experts who have studied the problem in the church have found no links between sexual orientation and a propensity for abuse. At stake is whether the nascent efforts around the country to welcome gay people into the church will continue, or diminish under pressure from conservative critics.

In San Diego, at St. John the Evangelist, the pressure boiled over, with serious consequences.

Mr. Bianco, who is married to a man, spent years working to revive the dwindling church. When he started, about two and a half years ago, there were only about 40 people at a weekend Mass, said the pastor at the time, John P. Dolan, who is now an auxiliary bishop in San Diego. Many of the congregants were elderly. There were no weddings or baptisms scheduled and no religious education classes. 

St. John the Evangelist is one of a few hundred Catholic churches that have quietly been extending a welcome to gay Catholics.
Sam Hodgson for The New York Times

St. John the Evangelist is one of a few hundred Catholic churches that have quietly been extending a welcome to gay Catholics.CreditSam Hodgson for The New York Times
Working at the church was in some ways the perfect challenge for Mr. Bianco, who had studied for the priesthood in Rome for six years, but reconsidered after Pope John Paul II said that gay men should not b,e priests.

Instead Mr. Bianco took positions open to laypeople: director of religious education, Catholic school teacher, parish administrator. He briefly worked for Call to Action, a church reform group, on a project to help people fired from their jobs as Catholic school teachers, music directors, and pastoral associates because they are gay. At St. John’s, Mr. Bianco became the parish’s pastoral associate, arriving just as the church was being encouraged by Bishop Robert W. McElroy of San Diego to start a ministry for L.G.B.T. people. 

Bishop McElroy said in a recent interview that the effort was guided by Pope Francis’ vision. “What the pope wants us to do,” Bishop McElroy said, “is build that person’s relationship to God, with love and mercy and compassion.”

Pope Francis has veered between sounding accepting and critical of L.G.B.T. people, supplying the church’s opposing flanks with plenty of ammunition.

Bishop McElroy said that the pope was steering the church toward a “middle course” between liberals who want the church “to dismantle” its teachings against homosexuality, and conservatives who want to make opposition to homosexuality “a litmus test for what makes one a faithful Catholic.”

For five months, Mr. Bianco and then-Father Dolan met with community and church members to create an outreach strategy. They left fliers on doors, and invited new members to form choirs and sing at Mass. Young families joined. Many of the new members were straight, and many Hispanic.

“L.G.B.T. people started to trickle in, but with reservations,” said Richard Peterson, a gay parishioner who leads the L.G.B.T. ministry at the church. “People older than me had been very hurt, but they began to take a chance on the church. And they told their friends.”

The changes did not sit well with some of the older members, especially a handful of traditionalists who prayed the rosary there daily, according to interviews with parishioners and staff members. In a piece on the conservative website Church Militant, two people who claimed to be parishioners — but who did not reveal their names — accused Mr. Bianco of locking out the rosary group, which he denies. The website called Mr. Bianco, Bishops McElroy and Dolan and Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles part of a “homosexualist cabal” that was persecuting Catholic traditionalists. Commenters called Mr. Bianco a pederast.
Several parishioners known to be opposed to the L.G.B.T. ministry and to Mr. Bianco did not respond to requests for interviews. 

In the summer of 2017, the friction became worse when Father Dolan was made an auxiliary bishop, leaving Mr. Bianco in charge of the parish.

That’s when Mr. Bianco says he began receiving threatening phone calls at the church about every other day, from blocked numbers. There were angry notes left on his car, and one day he came out to find every tire had been punctured. A security camera captured a man with dark hair, but few other details.

“They keep on saying that I have an agenda, but the only agenda I had was to bring people to Christ,” said Mr. Bianco in an interview. “I know that sounds kind of hokey, but that’s why I started this work. I do believe that everyone is welcome.”

Mr. Bianco’s work began to show. In October 2017, the pews were packed with people attending a special Mass for gay Catholics and their friends and families. It was held to commemorate the 20th anniversary of “Always Our Children,” a pastoral message by a committee of American bishops that many regard as their most accepting statement ever about gay people.

Local politicians and dignitaries came. Bishop McElroy issued an apology for how the church had treated L.G.B.T. people.

“There were tears all over the place,” said Tom Kirkman, a participant in the L.G.B.T. ministry, who wrote an account of the Mass for a local gay newspaper. “I was very pleased, because I had graduated from a Catholic school, I taught the faith for 18 years, and I felt unwanted. So it was a very welcoming feeling.” 

Protesters also attended the Mass, but soon after, the threats gradually died down. Mr. Bianco said, “I believed they were leaving me alone.”

St. John the Evangelist is in the heart of San Diego’s largest gay neighborhood.
Sam Hodgson for The New York Times 

St. John the Evangelist is in the heart of San Diego’s largest gay neighborhood.CreditSam Hodgson for The New York Times
But everything changed after this past summer, when a Pennsylvania grand jury issued a report documenting sexual abuse by hundreds of priests. That followed allegations that the former cardinal of Washington had sexually abused boys and adult men studying to be priests.

In the fall, Bishop McElroy held “listening sessions” in parishes about the abuse scandal. Some in attendance shouted at him to fire Mr. Bianco and to pledge not to ordain gay priests. The bishop said he had responded that all priests have to remain celibate, adding, “I’m not going to discriminate against men who are homosexual in orientation.”

At St. John’s, the pace of the threats increased, church staff members said. After the attempted arson and the break-in, the church installed security doors. The San Diego Police Department confirmed that there have been at least five police reports made about incidents at St. John’s, and they are investigating two, including the attempt to punch Mr. Bianco, as hate crimes.

Mr. Bianco said F.B.I. agents have met with him and appear to be investigating the incidents. The local F.B.I. field office in San Diego declined to comment.

Articles showing pictures of Mr. Bianco, with his husband and his late mother, appeared in articles in Church Militant and another website read by conservatives called Lifesite News.

When they published his home address, that was the last straw for Mr. Bianco. Fearing for his safety, he submitted his resignation to Bishop McElroy. Mr. Bianco said that while the people who run the websites likely did not perpetrate the attacks, “their unfounded rhetoric and lies about me” may have incited others.

Bishop McElroy said he accepted the resignation with “great regret” because Mr. Bianco had been effective in ministry. In a statement printed on the front of the weekly bulletin at St. John’s, the bishop said, “There is nothing Christian or Catholic about the hateful and vile people whose persecution of Aaron Bianco drove him from his ministry.”

At Sunday Mass the next week, a young, straight Hispanic father whom Mr. Bianco had counseled was baptized a Catholic. Mr. Bianco was gone, but more than two dozen members of the L.G.B.T. ministry he had started were there in the pews.

A version of this article appears in print on Dec. 30, 2018, New York Times

December 29, 2018

Five Advances and Set Backs of The LGBT+ Community

Most gay-friendly countries for digital nomads


By Rachel Savage

LONDON, Dec 20 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Cuba dropped same-sex marriage this week from its new draft constitution in the latest setback in 2018 for LGBT+ rights as more gay couples hope to wed around the world.

But with LGBT+ rights increasingly in the spotlight around the globe, the year also saw some progress.

At the end of 2018, 25 countries recognised same-sex marriage, by International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) data, up from 24 a year ago. Meanwhile, gay sex remains illegal in 70 countries, down from 72 a year earlier, according to ILGA.

Here are five of the advances and the setbacks for LGBT+ rights in the past year:


1. Gay sex was decriminalised in the world's second-most populous country, India, when the Supreme Court struck down a colonial-era ban dating back 157 years on "unnatural offences" in September. The decision sparked celebrations across India, although activists cautioned there was still a long way to go to change socially conservative attitudes.

2. In Costa Rica LGBT+ couples won the right to marry in 2020 after the top court ruled in August that the country's ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.

3. Next year Thai same-sex couples could be able to get civil partnerships, with a bill due to be considered by the country's cabinet before the end of 2018, a government official said last month. If it passes, Thailand would pip Taiwan to the post to become the first Asian country to legally recognise same-sex unions.

4. In September Hong Kong said it would grant dependent visas to spouses in same-sex relationships. The decision came two months after the city's top court ruled in a landmark judgment that a British lesbian should get a spousal visa.

5. Transgender people in Portugal no longer need to get a diagnosis of mental illness to legally change their gender, after a law was passed in April that also banned medically surgery on intersex infants.


1. Cuba in December became the latest country to block same-sex marriage by removing all references from a draft constitution after months of heated debate and opposition from evangelical churches. Same-sex marriage could still be included in Cuba's family code which is due to be updated in 2019.

2. Equal marriage campaigners also experienced a setback in Taiwan when voters endorsed the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman in a referendum in November.

3. President Donald Trump in March announced support for a plan to restrict the military service of transgender people with a condition called gender dysphoria which would ban anyone who needs or has undergone gender transition from joining the military. A succession of judges has so far blocked the policy but the government has appealed to the Supreme Court, which will decide early next year on the next move.

4. In Tanzania the regional commissioner of Dar es Salaam said gay people would be identified and arrested which led to gay and transgender Tanzanians going into hiding. The government of President John Magufuli said this was not official policy but Denmark still withheld $10 million of aid over the comments and the European Union said it was reviewing its relationship with the east African nation.

5. Indonesia's LGBT+ community came under pressure with police breaking up gatherings and stepping up arrests, often using the country's strict anti-pornography laws. In November a city passed a bylaw banning "acts that are considered LGBT". (Reporting by Rachel Savage @rachelmsavage; Editing by Jason Fields and Belinda Goldsmith Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit

Facebook Must Take Responsibility for Its Impact on The Strike Down of International LGBT Rights

                                                    Image result for facebook and strikedown of LGBT

If like me you’re a progressive who believes in the march of global human rights, it’s been a bit of a depressing time since 2016. Vote after vote just hasn’t gone our way. 
We’ve all had to get uncomfortably familiar with bitter disappointment. From Brazil’s far-right crackdown on LGBT+ rights, with their new leader calling himself a “proud homophobe” to Poland’s Supreme Court being attacked for serving “the ideology of homosexual activists.” And most recently it was Taiwan’s turn to cause upset and anguish – its recent referendum on marriage equality after a 2017 court ruling to introduce same-sex marriage ended in a devastating defeat for equality.
The common thread running through so many of these votes is fake news on Facebook.
In Taiwan, the vote itself was organised by Christian groups; organisations that make up only 5 per cent of the country’s population. And by now it’s clear that online campaigning tactics fuelled and funded by Christian organisations and the Chinese disseminated fake news materials across Taiwanese social networks. The aim appeared to be to confuse and convince people ahead of the vote on marriage equality. This material described LGBT+ people as perverted and claimed that Taiwan’s universal healthcare system would become overrun with foreign HIV-positive homosexuals, who would marry Taiwanese men to access HIV/Aids treatment.

These sorts of fear tactics are nothing new in any political election. But as we’ve seen repeated across all recent public votes across the world, votes and referendums seem to now be won where the public are most connected – social media. Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie has claimed that the now defunct political consulting firm could even utilise Facebook data on people's fashion tastes to encourage them to vote for Donald Trump during the 2016 US election.

Only this week we’ve again been reminded of the dangers of fake news on Facebook, with new research suggesting adverts on the platform have ignited anti-refugee attacks in Germany.
The core problem is that, through its algorithm, Facebook separates us from moderating voices or authority figures, and herds us into ever smaller like-minded groups, encouraging us to consume content that engages our base emotions.
It’s in this light that Taiwan’s decision to put marriage equality to a vote could be seen as a big mistake. Although in some cases these types of votes are won – as in Ireland and Australia – the risks now are too great. In an age of fake news and unregulated social media, wherever possible, human rights should not be put to a public vote. Lies and misinformation which used to be on the fringes of political discourse are now too easily seeping into the mainstream.

Arguably any organisation can now open an advertising account on Facebook, and can begin targeting individuals based on salary, job, interest, location and even association with any of these factors. But too many regressive organisations, who would like nothing more than to rollback hard won rights, have absolutely no qualms about abusing – rather than just using – smart social profiling techniques. They seem happy to lie, cheat and misinform to get what they want, posing a real threat to the ongoing move to equal rights and equality across the globe.
During the Out4Marriage campaign that I helped found in 2013 to support changing the law to allow same sex couples to marry, digital profiling didn’t exist in the same detail as today. What won the campaign for us was the power of progressive, personal and positive storytelling – empowering celebrities, MPs and members of the public to create their own short video content and post it online explaining why they we’re “coming out for marriage.” What wins marriage equality campaigns is the same thing which wins any campaign fighting for better human rights: empathy, compassion and relatability – particularly viewable by an audience who disagrees and needs convincing.

But shift forward to 2018, and using Facebook to reach an audience that disagrees with your opinion is near enough impossible. Imagine what could be done now if you add the power of personalisation on social media, adapting the messages to someone’s ambitions, aspirations and desires.
On the issue of gay rights there is still much work to be done. Equal marriage is still the exception around the world. And let’s not forget, it’s still illegal to be gay in 70 countries. In 10 of those countries the punishment is death. And in many cases, progress has not just stalled, it’s going backwards. Campaigners have their work cut out.
It’s time for companies like Facebook to step up and give the LGBT+ community a helping hand. First, they need to start taking misinformation seriously. As the fight for equal rights shows, there are real life impacts to the sort of fake news polluting the platform; from the thousands of gay people in Taiwan who will not be able to get married to the individual gay or trans people attacked in places like Brazil because of Facebook posts that demonise and vilify their identity. 
But they need to change their all-important algorithm. How are campaigners ever going to engage with and change the minds of those who disagree with LGBT+ rights if those people are stuck in an echo chamber that fails to expose them to different views? Without social media which proactively engages us with all different attitudes and points of view, we won’t be able to see the views that we need to change.
This change will require a big overhaul of social media sites’ profit models, but they need to take responsibility for the damage they have caused, and acknowledge the reality that this type of fake news disproportionately attacks LGBT+ people. Given how effective the tactic has been in mobilising the far right in recent elections, we can expect more in the near future. Facebook can either be a dark cloud on the horizon, or a ray of light. This coming year it needs to choose which one it wants to be. 
Mike Buonaiuto is the executive director of Shape History and co-founder of Out4Marriage campaign

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