Showing posts with label Gay Men. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gay Men. Show all posts

August 27, 2018

Denmark Will Permit Gay and Bisexual Men to Donate Blood in 2019








However, if the man is single they must have been celibate for four months prior to donating.

Denmark has announced that is lifting the ban on gay men donating blood. Men who are single still face some obstacles however, as they must have been celibate for four months before doing so. However, men who are in relationships will be allowed to donate regardless of when they last had sex.
Speaking to the CPH Online, Danish Health Minister Ellen Trane Nørby said: “The authority [patient safety] has found a model we feel is safe and we will therefore incorporate it into Denmark.
“All safety mechanisms in our blood donation system are built on trust and we have some very advanced tests that screen the blood.”
CPH Online reported that it was strange that the ban hadn’t been lifted beforehand, as there has been political support for the idea for many years. A date for the ban to be lifted has not yet been announced, but it is expected to take place at some point in 2019.
Bans on gay and bisexual men donating blood are slowly being removed. Earlier this year, Israel announced that it would allow gay and bisexual men to donate blood.
However, the process would still be more difficult than it would be for a straight man. Patients will have their blood checked for infectious diseases, and will have to wait four months while their plasma is separated and frozen.
Donors will then have to donate a second time, and if the results for HIV – and other diseases – comes back as negative, then their blood will be authorised for use.
And last year, the UK government announced that it was removing the 12-month ban on celibacy and replacing it with a three-month ban.
“We’re pleased the Government recognises there is still more to be done to ensure all lesbian, gay, bi and trans people are accepted without exception,” said Stonewall’s CEO Ruth Hunt.
“Change to the blood donation rules are welcome. However, while this is an important move, it’s vital that this is a stepping stone to a system that doesn’t automatically exclude most gay and bi men.
“We would like to see individualised risk assessment, and are encouraged that the Government and NHS Blood and Transplant Service are committed to exploring how to do this.”

August 15, 2018

There Are Out Gay Men In All Aspects of Australian Society Except Sports





By Corbin Middlemas


Australian rules football has always been a big part of my life, but from an early age, I knew I had a conflict with the game.
Corbin Middlemas at the AFL grand final at the MCG in 2017.My earliest childhood memories revolve around footy, from playing in the backyard or going to Subiaco Oval with my family.

I'm privileged enough to broadcast the AFL for ABC Grandstand each week, something I've done since I was a teenager. I work closely with current and former players, as well as other stakeholders in the game.

I'm a big guy with a deep voice that wears a lot of sports tees. I like rap music and having a beer with my mates.
In the most part, I'm your typical sports junkie in their mid-20s.
Except I'm gay
'I never wanted my sexuality to be the first thing people knew'

I have a close group of friends, dating back through high school, work or even our fantasy football league. We share a lot of common interests, except this.
I always dreamed of being a sports broadcaster. As long as I can remember I wanted
 to call play-by-play.

As a high school student, I volunteered my weekends at my local community radio 
station and by 19, I was working full-time with the ABC in my home city.
Interviewing Essendon's Zac Merrett last year … Corbin says he always dreamed of being a sports broadcaster. 

I never wanted my sexuality to be the first thing people knew about me. Having moved cities twice in as many years, the same applied wherever I went.
It's a confusing weight to carry around. It affected my mood and relationships significantly.
I'd regularly go through moments wanting to tell friends, but not wanting to take an awkward detour in conversation.

It took me 24 years to tell my best friend, and less than a year to tell a dozen more people after that, including my family.

By that point, I think most of them suspected as much and were just waiting for me to tell them.
I'm incredibly fortunate to have such a support network.
It's because of that I feel a sense of obligation to tell my story.
'Being gay doesn't make you any less masculine' 

I have a platform to tell young men who don't fit into the norm that's perfectly normal.
Being gay doesn't make you any less masculine.

The discourse around our game matters and it has been unwelcoming to gay people for generations.
Homophobic slurs are commonplace at many sporting clubs around the country. It's a hangover from a bygone era. These slurs are no longer tolerated at workplaces or heard in most social settings.
The suicide rate for gay youths is astronomically high. LGBTI young people aged 16 to 27 are five times more likely to attempt suicide than the broader population.
Dampening the hysteria

Today we see openly gay men in every aspect of Australian life, except on the sporting field.
In 2014, American journalist Jason Whitlock penned a column about the NFL's first openly gay draftee, Michael Sam.

Michael Sam, the first publicly gay player drafted into the NFL, signs autographs.
Michael Sam (right) is "riding a wave, not creating one", American journalist Jason Whitlock said in 2014. 

He wrote: "The sports world no longer promotes change; it reflects it.
"Sam is riding a wave, not creating one."
The premise of Whitlock's article was not to soften the importance of Sam's announcement, but to "dampen the hysteria".

Most people have gay friends, colleagues or family members. Just last year, the country settled its debate on marriage equality.
There has never been a better time for gay people in Australia than today.
But the sports world is playing catch-up to the real world. The trail has already been blazed in other areas of Australian life.

The idea of a gay footballer isn't that big a deal to many people detached from the sports world.
A retired AFL footballer told me last year he suspects those in the locker room don't have an issue with openly gay players, but it's the circus outside that stops players from coming out.
What does that say about us, as the sports media, and as footy fans more broadly?
Corbin Middlemas is a broadcaster for ABC Grandstand.



June 29, 2018

After 3yr Probe Australia Find 27 Men Were Killed Because They were Gay


 🌈

Police in Sydney have admitted that an “ugly”  wave of gay-hate violence led to the murder or suspected murder of 27 men between 1976 and 2000, including some who were thrown off cliffs or slain in parks that were well-known gay beats. 
A three-year investigation into 88 suspicious deaths exposed a dark episode in Sydney’s history, in which the police and judiciary were accused of failing to properly report or investigate the bashing and killing of gay men, whose deaths were sometimes recorded as suicides. 
The horrific violence towards homosexuals peaked during the “moral panic” around the HIV epidemic in the 1980s and 1990s, when up to 20 assaults were occurring daily. Admitting they can “learn from the past”, police in New South Wales investigated 88 deaths and concluded that eight of the men were murdered by homophobic killers and 19 were suspected of links to gay hatred.
The motives for a further 25 killings remain unknown. 
Of the remaining deaths, 34 cases had no evidence of gay-hate bias  and two were removed from the investigation, one due to a lack of records and one because it occurred outside the state of the New South Wales.
Police said they will consider issuing a formal apology to the victims and their families. Some of the killers responsible are believed to be alive and at large. 
“We accept that there were mistakes made,” said Assistant Commissioner Tony Crandell. 
“We accept that we can learn from the past and we can do better. We believe that the community expectation of police today and always is to conduct thorough investigations when it comes to the death of somebody.”
He added: “It’s an ugly part of our history.”
Many of the assaults and deaths occurred at well-known gay beats such as popular beaches and parks, mainly targeting gay men and transgender women. Some of the murder victims were chased or thrown off coastal cliffs. 
Alan Rosendale was attacked in Sydney in 1989
Alan Rosendale was attacked in Sydney in 1989
Recalling being pursued  down a busy Sydney street after being spotted at an inner-city gay beat in 1989, Alan Rosendale said he heard someone shout “there’s one, let’s get him” before a group of men began chasing him. He tripped and was caught by the men: his next memory was waking in hospital.
“I had a broken nose, broken teeth, they bashed me around the head a lot,’ he told Gay Star News.
Mr Rosendale said police made numerous errors in their report, including incorrectly recording his name and birthdate and claiming he was attacked by “skinheads”.
“I was punched and kicked to the ground in an area frequented by homosexuals was all the [police] report said,” he said.
“We all knew they were murders, but they were being reported as suicide. I just thought it would never happen to me."  

March 12, 2018

#Love Wins Concert Cancelled in Toronto Due to The Mourning For All The Gay Men Killed


Toronto Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch 
TORONTO — A critic of an event billed as “part vigil, part celebration” in the wake of the arrest of alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur said she’s relieved that the event is being postponed.
Sara Malabar said it was a “good step” for organizers to reconsider the event, which was presented as an uplifting alternative to a number of somber vigils held by Toronto’s LGBTQ community, though some said it was too soon for a celebration.
The free concert called #LoveWins was set to take place on March 29 with a lineup that included Carole Pope and members of the Barenaked Ladies.
The poster advertising the event did not mention McArthur by name, but referenced “the series of killings that have rocked Toronto’s LGBTQ community.” The 66-year-old landscaper is charged with first-degree murder in the deaths and disappearances of six men with links to the city’s gay community.

 Accused serial Bruce McArthur

On Saturday, a statement on Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam’s website announced that the event would be postponed so organizers could address concerns raised by community members, who called the event tone-deaf.

 “Our intention was to bring the city together in love and healing after hearing from many people who wanted to come together in unity and strength,” read the statement.
“Unfortunately, the event created an unintentional division at a historic time in the LGBTQ2S community.”
Malabar, who started a “Stop #LoveWins Concert” page on Facebook, said the announcement was appreciated by members of the community who thought it was inappropriate to have a celebration while police are still finding more alleged victims of McArthur.
“I’m taking it as good news that they’re reconsidering the approach,” said Malabar, who previously produced the opening and closing ceremonies of WorldPride, an event that promotes LGBTQ issues.
She also offered to help in creating a more appropriate event.
“The fact that the organizers are willing to postpone the event and speak with the community and create the event they originally intended to create is a good step.”
Malabar said the event should still focus primarily on healing, adding that city staff should use the opportunity to offer much needed mental health support for Toronto’s LGBTQ community.
She said she hopes that the majority of the performers at the event will be LGBTQ themselves.
The statement on Wong-Tam’s website said organizers welcome any dialogue and apologized to people involved in planning the event who might be disappointed.
“For the many who expressed support and enthusiasm for the concert, and gave freely of their time and talent to its organizing, we sincerely apologize for this disappointment,” read the statement.
Malabar said she’ll be meeting with Wong-Tam and event organizers soon to discuss changes to the event.

January 21, 2018

Arrest of Murder Suspects of Gay Men at Gay Village Bring The Police Role into Question



 GayVillage, Toronto



 By Friday morning, McArthur's Facebook page had been removed.The man charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the disappearances of two men from Toronto’s gay village made his first appearance in a Toronto courtroom Friday morning. Bruce McArthur, a 66-year-old landscaper, will remain in custody until his next court appearance on February 14. 

There is a publication ban on evidence presented in court.

The Toronto Police announced on Thursday that McArthur had been arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Andrew Kinsman and Selim Esen who went missing last summer from Toronto’s gay village at Church and Wellesley streets.

The Toronto Police said an investigation into other possible victims is ongoing. It has fuelled longstanding fears in Toronto’s gay community that a serial killer was targeting men in the village.

A number of Kinsman’s friends and those he worked with as a volunteer at the Toronto People With AIDS Foundation were present at the hearing.

“Everyone is traumatized,” John Allan, an acquaintance of Kinsman’s, said at the courthouse.

“I hope that [McArthur] talks and tells what he did,” said Alphonso King, who also knew Kinsman.

Kinsman’s sister, Patricia, told reporters she plans to be at every one of McArthur’s hearings. She told CBC News that she had never heard of McArthur prior to his arrest.


While the police have so far refused to release a photo and confirm the identity of McArthur, images from his Facebook page were widely circulated by media outlets Thursday evening.

Bruce McArthur also appears on silverdaddies.com, a gay dating website. The description on that site matches the details on McArthur released by police, including his age and that McArthur owned a landscaping business. 

Some Facebook photos show him as a mall, Santa Claus. In others, he’s shown with family, friends, and at a Toronto Pride celebration among York Regional Police officers.

McArthur is shown in a number of photos with an Iranian man from 2014 to 2017. It's unclear what their relationship was, however they appeared to have traveled together, and he was also featured in family photos. After news of McArthur's arrest, a number of Facebook users questioned the current whereabouts of the man — who had listed Morneau Shepell as his employer on his own Facebook page. That detail had been removed from his Facebook page by Friday morning.

A spokesperson for Morneau Shepell confirmed to VICE News on Friday that the man had given the company permission to the confirmation that he worked there. The man did not immediately respond to messages from VICE News on Facebook or by email.

By Friday morning, McArthur's Facebook page had been taken down.

Police are investigating five properties in Ontario they say are “associated with” McArthur, including four in Toronto and one in Madoc, a town between Toronto and Ottawa. Local news reported late Thursday night that Ontario Provincial Police officers were searching a property in Madoc, however, the Toronto Police said they would not confirm this, and that “investigators have nothing new to add today and will not be commenting or confirming any details that have been reported in the media.” 

Esen and Kinsman are just two of a series of disappearances that have taken place in Toronto’s Gay Village since 2010.

In October, Toronto police formed a task force called project called Project Prism to investigate cases of people who have gone missing from the community, including Esen and Kinsmen. Project Prism followed an 18-month-long probe called Project Houston, which investigated the disappearances of three other gay men from 2010 to 2012 but failed to find out what happened to them.

VICE

~~~~~~~~~~~~CBC~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~`(Below)





Andrew Kinsman, left, and Selim Esen, right, have both gone missing in recent months, prompting community concern and the allocation of dedicated police resources. (Toronto Police Service)

The arrest and first-degree murder charges of a suspect in the case of two men who disappeared from downtown Toronto have provided some sense of relief in the city's Gay Village but raised questions and criticisms about how police handled the investigation.

"I sort of feel like the police department has egg on their face because we told them a while ago that we felt that it was a serial killer and we also felt as though there was a connection between the people who were missing," Alphonso King, a community resident, and friend of victim Andrew Kinsman, told CBC News.
"I think it's important that they understand that when a community speaks up and says 'We think that something is going on here' — listen." 
Police established Project Prism to investigate the disappearances of Kinsman and Selim Esen. Kinsman, 49, went missing from Toronto's Cabbagetown neighborhood in June, while Esen, 44, was last seen in the Yonge and Bloor area last April. Both areas are close to the predominantly gay neighborhood of Church and Wellesley.
Project Prism was also created to share information with Project Houston, another task force looking into the 2012 disappearances of three other men in the Church and Wellesley area. 

'Never saw any police'

But King suggested the community felt abandoned by police, that they were more concerned about photo ops than actually "looking after our community and making sure that we're safe."
"I didn't notice any more presence in the village after we expressed concerns. You would have thought that there would have been more people on patrol and more people walking about. But I never saw any police," he said.
On Thursday, Toronto police announced they had a suspect in custody,  Bruce McArthur, 66, of Toronto, who they allege was responsible for the deaths of Kinsman and Esen.  
However, police also indicated that McArthur was tied to other victims who have yet to be identified.


Jesse Calleya said he believes the police were taking the investigation seriously, but that they weren't keeping the community updated on its progress. (Mark Gollom/CBC News)
It seemed like an about-face for the police, who last December held a news conference in which they attempted to assuage any fears that a serial killer may be loose in the community.
On Thursday, when asked about the previous comments denying the presence of a serial killer, Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders said: "In policing, what we do is we follow the evidence, and what I said at the time ... was accurate at that time." 
Those comments though provided little comfort to community activists like Nicki Ward, who said they had pushed police to acknowledge the missing person status of those who had disappeared. 
"We are validated in our concerns but there's no joy to be had in that," said Ward, director of the Church-Wellesley Neighbourhood Association. "Why weren't we listened to earlier? Perhaps some lives could have been saved if that was the case."
The disappearances had rattled many members of the Gay Village, who were told by community leaders to be cautious when going out. Posters about the missing men have been plastered all over the neighborhood, while community members launched social media sites to keep a focus on the issue.

'A lot of tension'

"There was a lot of tension, a lot of people looking over their shoulder," said Jesse Calleya, a barber at The Men's Room. "Everybody would walk home together or take an Uber together just because you never knew. A lot of people were just buddying up.
"And now they have somebody in custody. I feel there's been a lot of weight lifted off the shoulders of people in the community."


Community resident Raj Kalang praised police for their efforts in the case/ (Mark Gollom/CBC News)
Calleya said he believes police were taking the investigation seriously, but that they weren't keeping the community updated on its progress.
"The people in the community felt like they were being abandoned and felt like nothing was happening."
However, community resident Raj Kalang had nothing but praise for the police.
"It's not easy to track down all these things. I think they did the best."

'A great job'

Michael Sunley, who also lives in the neighborhood, said police "have done a great job.


Sunley's partner, Paul Hyde, left and Mike Sunley, right, said they were confident in the police's abilities to arrest a suspect. (Mark Gollom/CBC)
"I acknowledge and recognize when police are doing their job, they can't tell you everything," he said. "Because if you compromise the investigation, that's a bigger problem than sharing everything with the public."
Sunley's partner, Paul Hyde, agreed.
"Ultimately we always felt confident someone would get caught."


December 27, 2017

Naked 2018 Calendar Only Offers Ordinary Men Bodies This Year




 This is adamfoxie*s own idea of ordinary bodies not included in the original article






What does it mean to be sexy? Contrary to what you might see in adverts or the pages of magazines, there isn’t one rigid, narrow definition – and it’s not just super sculpted abs and perky bums. That restrictive view of sex appeal is particularly pervasive in gay culture, in which gay men are pressured to meet specific ideals. One calendar is fighting back.

 The Meat Naked Calendar by Meatzine is a calendar made up of twelve nude portraits of twelve ‘ordinary’ men – meaning men of all shapes, sizes, ages, backgrounds, and professions. 

The guys were asked to strip off and lie in the bed of Meat founder and editor, Adrian Lourie, the pose for the 2018 calendar, all to ‘defy the body shaming that goes on in the gay community.’ ‘Photographing naked men is a great way to celebrate the bodies of “ordinary” gay men,’ says Adrian. The calendar’s cover star, an accountant named Fernando, admits that it wasn’t an easy decision to pose entirely naked for the magazine’s calendar, but he’s really pleased he did. Fernando, an accountant. 

‘I’m absolutely proud of myself for doing it,’ says Fernando. ‘I thought I would never be picked because of my body shape and I wanted to prove that you can be hairy and have a belly and it can be sexy.’ Another man who appears in the calendar, performer Dwayne, says he’s glad to see all kinds of men portrayed in a sexy, fun way. ‘I think it’s always interesting to see a broader representation of guys as pin-ups,’ says Dwayne. ‘I think everyone should be photographed for Meat: not to make you be someone you’re not, but to take what you are and show how amazing and beautiful that is.’  

 Another of the calendar’s stars, Warren, agrees: ‘So many of us have issues with our bodies; we think we’re too fat, too skinny, too pale, our dicks are too small, our bums not pert enough or were too hairy. ‘We are constantly comparing ourselves to others, but we need to take a moment to learn to be with happy with what we’ve got and seen that there’s no such thing as the perfect body.  

 ‘I’m not toned, I’m ginger, hairy, I don’t go to the gym and don’t have big muscles, I’m pale as snow and my bum jiggles but I now love being naked again.

METRO


October 19, 2017

World Medical Body Condemns Forced Men Anal Exams As Unscientific and Unethical






A medical report filled out by a doctor in Kampala, Uganda, after conducting a forced anal examination on a man suspected of consensual same-sex conduct. 
A medical report filled out by a doctor in Kampala, Uganda, after conducting a forced anal examination on a man suspected of consensual same-sex conduct.
 
© 2016 Neela Ghoshal/Human Rights Watch

(Nairobi, October 17, 2017) – Doctors, medical professionals, and national medical associations should heed the World Medical Association’s October 2017 resolution to end forced anal examinations on people accused of homosexual conduct, Human Rights Watch said today. The General Assembly of the World Medical Association (WMA), an international organization consisting of national medical associations from 111 countries, condemned the use of forced anal examinations to seek evidence of consensual homosexual conduct.
Forced anal examinations, based on long-discredited 19th century science, often involve doctors or other medical personnel forcibly inserting their fingers, and sometimes other objects, into a person’s anus to attempt to determine whether that person has engaged in anal intercourse. The exams, relied upon as “evidence” in prosecutions for consensual same-sex conduct in some countries, have no scientific basis, violate medical ethics, and constitute cruel, degrading, and inhuman treatment that can rise to the level of torture.
“The jury is no longer out. There is no excuse for governments to continue conducting forced anal exams on people accused of homosexuality,” said Neela Ghoshal, senior researcher on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights at Human Rights Watch. “The World Medical Association has added its voice to an overwhelming consensus that forced anal exams are unethical, unscientific, and unjustifiable on any grounds.”
The World Medical Association resolution calls on doctors to stop conducting the exams. It calls on national medical associations to issue written communications prohibiting their members from participating in them, and to educate doctors and health workers about “the unscientific and futile nature of forced anal exams and the fact that they are a form of torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.” It also calls on the World Health Organization to make an official statement opposing forced anal exams as unscientific and in violation of medical ethics, which would build on an existing reference that condemns the practice.
The resolution, proposed by the South African Medical Association with the support of Human Rights Watch, has been through a year-long review and feedback process, allowing all members to comment in advance of adoption. It passed unanimously, with two abstentions.
At the General Assembly session, the association also adopted a revised “Physician’s Pledge,” which calls on doctors to refrain from discrimination on a number of grounds, including sexual orientation.
Several countries that have not yet eradicated forced anal examinations have made recent progress toward ending them, Human Rights Watch said. Governments in Lebanon and Tunisia have taken steps toward banning forced anal exams. Tunisia recently accepted a recommendation to end the exams during its Universal Periodic Review at the United Nations Human Rights Council, although it remains to be seen whether Tunisia will rigorously enforce the ban. In both cases, national medical associations played a key role in shifting their governments’ positions. The Kenya Medical Association, in September, became the latest medical association to condemn the use of forced anal examinations, although the Attorney General’s Office has attempted to defend their use.
Other countries lag behind. In Egypt, men and transgender women arrested on charges of “debauchery” are systematically referred to the Forensic Medicine Authority, a branch of the Justice Ministry, for forced anal examinations, and the results are regularly used in court to put people behind bars on the grounds of their presumed sexual orientation. Since late September, according to Egyptian human rights activists, at least five Egyptians have been subjected to forced anal exams as part of a vicious crackdown after several young people waved rainbow flags at a concert.
And in Tanzania in late 2016, police resorted to forced anal examinations to seek “proof” of homosexual conduct for the first time, as far as Human Rights Watch has been able to determine, as part of a broader campaign against LGBT people and their allies. Neither the Egyptian Medical Association nor the Medical Association of Tanzania, both members of the WMA, have publicly condemned the exams.
Other countries in which Human Rights Watch has documented the use of forced anal exams between 2010 and 2015 include Cameroon, Turkmenistan, Uganda, and Zambia. Human Rights Watch has received reports of government authorities ordering forced anal exams on people accused of homosexual conduct in Syria and the United Arab Emirates, but has not been able to independently verify these allegations.
“Doctors play a critical role in upholding ethical standards and are often part of the moral compass of society,” Ghoshal said. “In Egypt, in Tanzania, and in all countries in which people are being subjected to forced anal examinations, doctors should take the lead in ending these horrific abuses.”

Human Rights Watch "HRW"         



July 24, 2017

UK Government Changes Rules for Gay Men Giving Blood



 Rules Changed from a year to three months after having sex. The virus can be detected rather quickly.  The waiting time is way more than needed as a safety window. A year it would seem to this blog was more political than scientific, which is the way the US and some other countries are opting for. Meanwhile, the need for blood increases not diminishes.




Gay men will be allowed to donate blood three months after having sex rather than a year, under equalities reforms announced by the Government. 

Transgender people will also be able to choose their legal sex more easily as part of the shake-up announced by Education Secretary Justine Greening.

Fears over infections being passed on through donations from gay men led to an outright ban at the height of the Aids epidemic, but that was cut to 12 months in 2011. 

Government set to make it easier for gay men to give blood

The new guidelines, which campaign groups have been calling for, are in line with improved NHS testing measures, which can establish whether someone has a blood infection such as HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C or syphilis within three months.

LGBT rights activists, who want to get rid of the blanket deferral period entirely, have hailed the shift in policy as a major step towards a fair and equal system.

Ms. Greening, who is also equalities minister, said the Government was building on the progress on tackling prejudice made in the 50 years since the partial decriminalization of homosexuality. 
“This Government is committed to building an inclusive society that works for everyone, no matter what their gender or sexuality and today we’re taking the next step forward,” she said.

“We will build on the significant progress we have made over the past 50 years, tackling some of the historic prejudices that still persist in our laws and giving LGBT people a real say on the issues affecting them.” 
Government set to make it easier for gay men to give blood

Reforms making it easier for transgender people to choose their sex legally by removing the need for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria and speeding up the bureaucratic process will be consulted on in the autumn.

Ms. Greening said she wanted to cut the stigma faced by trans people, who have to provide evidence that they have been in transition for at least two years before they can apply to legally change their gender.

It comes after Prime Minister Theresa May earlier this week indicated she was preparing to reform the Gender Recognition Act, saying that “when it comes to rights and protections for trans people, there is still a long way to go”. 

Suzanna Hopwood, a member of the Stonewall trans advisory group, said: “Reform is one of the key priorities in our vision for removing the huge inequalities that trans people face in the UK. The current system is demeaning and broken.

“It’s vital that this reform removes the requirements for medical evidence and an intrusive interview panel, and finally allows all trans people to have their gender legally recognized through a simple administrative process. That’s what we’ll be calling for during this consultation, and I’m looking forward to seeing the law change soon after."

The Government accepted the recommendations of the advisory committee on the safety of blood, tissues, and organs (SaBTO) on changing the deferral periods for blood donations from gay men. 

Ethan Spibey, the founder of the FreedomToDonate group that has campaigned for reform, said: "Today’s announcement from the Government marks a world-leading blood donation policy for gay and bisexual men and the other groups previously restricted. 

“I’m so proud that the work of FreedomToDonate and our supporters will help ensure more people than ever before are allowed to safely donate blood.

“I began this campaign because I wanted to repay the donor who saved my granddad’s life after a major operation and this announcement means I’m closer than ever to doing that, with the invaluable help of our team of volunteers, and the charities and organizations FreedomToDonate represents.” 

Ruth Hunt, Chief Executive of Stonewall, said the changes were “welcome” but that it was merely a “stepping stone” on the path to a more inclusive system.

“Changes to the blood donation rules are welcome. However, while this is an important move, it’s vital that this is a stepping stone to a system that doesn’t automatically exclude most gay and bi men,” she said.

“We would like to see individualized risk assessment, and are encouraged that the Government and NHS Blood and Transplant Service are committed to exploring how to do this.”

Stewart McDonald MP, who co-chairs the all party parliamentary group on blood donation that led on the Parliamentary Inquiry said: “I am delighted at this monumental change in blood donation policy, which will ensure more people than ever before can donate blood and increase blood stock whilst always maintaining its safety and integrity."







  •  

June 27, 2017

The Gay Men Who Escaped Chechnya





 Gay men in Chechnya were rounded off like livestock at the farm




In late February or early March, Ali was in his apartment in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, when he got a phone call from a local police officer. “Get dressed, we have to take you in,” the man said. Ali took the sim card out of his cell phone, inserted it into a spare, blank phone, and hid his regular handset. By the time he was done, two police officers were knocking on the door. They put him in a car and drove to a nearby street, where two cars were waiting. The men put him in the back seat of one of the vehicles and got in with him.

“They pushed my head down so I wouldn’t see where we were going,” Ali, who is around thirty years old, told me. Soon, the car pulled up to an unmarked building. Ali saw two men he knew standing in front: “Their faces were all swollen from beatings. One of them said, ‘I told them everything.’ ” 

Ali was taken into a room. “Their boss is sitting there, sprawled out,” he continued. “He says, ‘You take it up the ass.’ I start denying everything.” The boss asked Ali about another man, whom Ali knew to be gay. That morning, the man had called Ali and suggested that they meet. “I knew that if they tortured him he’d break and give everyone up,” Ali told me. He said to the police that he knew the man only as a business client. “They started beating me. I kept saying that I don’t know anything, I’ve never even heard that there were gays here in Chechnya.”

The men took him down to a basement, where there was a large central room, with cells and small chambers around the perimeter. In one chamber, officers dunked prisoners’ heads in a vat of ice water; in another, they attached clothespin-like clips wired to a large battery to earlobes or extremities. The cells held men and women, who screamed as they were beaten with fists and batons.
The jailers tortured Ali and then brought him back upstairs to face the boss, then back to the basement for more torture, then back up. Each time Ali was interrogated, the boss demanded that he admit that he was homosexual and give him the names of other gay men. Each time, Ali denied everything. He knew that his phone would yield no information.
 
Ali lost track of time. Eventually, he was thrown into a cell and left there without food. Ali counted the days by the number of times he was allowed to perform his ablutions, then to drink the dirty water. He had seven drinks of water in all, which means that his captivity lasted more than a week.
Then Ali was released, and instructed not to turn off his phone; his jailers told him to expect a call.

It wasn’t the first time Ali had been attacked because of his sexuality. On three occasions, he had been entrapped, beaten, and robbed. Most of the gay Chechen men I have interviewed have stories of being entrapped—usually, by someone, they met online—and beaten, sometimes raped, and later often blackmailed.

What occurred in Chechnya in late winter went beyond beatings and blackmail. Ali appears to have been one of the first men to be swept up in the recent wave of detentions of gay men, carried out on orders from the top of the Chechen government. Those who were brought in and later released issued dire warnings on Russian social networks, in closed groups for Chechen gay men.

On April 1st, Novaya Gazeta, a Moscow newspaper with a long and distinguished track record of reporting from Chechnya, published an article claiming that it had been able to confirm more than a hundred arrests and three deaths resulting from this sweep. A report by Human Rights Watch, issued in late May, suggests that the raids began in the last week of February when a young man was arrested for using drugs. The police found photographs of men on his phone, along with social-media posts and messages that led them to identify him as gay.

Under torture, the man reportedly gave up the names of others, and the police began arresting them. Some media reports have claimed that Chechnya has confined gay men to “concentration camps,” but survivors’ testimony points to the existence of half a dozen detention facilities, where men are held for as long as a couple of weeks. In many cases, they are tortured. Some have been released, but others have been handed over to their relatives, who, according to survivors, are expected to kill gay family members. Following media reports of the purges, the leader of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, declared that gay Chechens did not exist. Kremlin spokespeople have for the most part dismissed or laughed off questions about the violence. One spokesperson from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs suggested to a Finnish journalist that Kadyrov might organize a tour so that he could see for himself whether gays existed in Chechnya—an offer that sounded like a threat.

Chechnya is one of the eighty-five constituent regions of the Russian Federation and is ostensibly a secular state. In reality, it is a state within a state, run by Kadyrov, who is supported by Vladimir Putin. Kadyrov’s Chechnya is a more extreme version of Russia: a mafia state that uses religious rhetoric to enforce control over its citizens. Putin draws some of his authority from a close relationship to the Russian Orthodox Church; Kadyrov relies on a crude homespun version of Islam. Behavior including drinking (which is technically legal), drug use (which is not), women dressing immodestly, women smoking, contact of any sort between unmarried women and men, and open sexual expression is policed by law enforcement and by extended families.

Islam has served as Chechnya’s cultural glue for the past two decades. In the early nineteen-nineties, Chechens overwhelmingly supported a secular movement to secede from Russia. Moscow responded by waging war, which, between 1994 and 1996, decimated the region. The next wave of resistance coalesced around the mosques. When Russia launched its second offensive on Chechnya, in 1999, it faced men who identified as Islamic fighters. The pro-Moscow government that was finally installed in the aughts has harnessed much of the religious rhetoric to fortify its own power, while also persecuting anyone who identifies with strands of Islam that it deems radical. While many Chechens have only the most superficial familiarity with the Quran, their daily lives have been profoundly transformed: virtually all women now cover themselves, drinking has been severely restricted, and any hint of sexual expression has been banished.

L.G.B.T. people have been a prime target of Kremlin propaganda since 2012. That year, Putin returned to the Presidency for a third term, amid mass protests. In response, the Kremlin started queer-baiting the protesters. A succession of cities and, eventually, the federal parliament passed bills banning “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations among minors.” Television presenters raged against imaginary homosexual recruiters of Russian children. (At the time, I was living in Russia and was active in protests against the regime and the anti-gay legislation.) Anti-gay violence became so pervasive that a café in central Moscow posted a notice saying that attacks would not be tolerated on the premises.

Two days before I interviewed Ali, a Russian businessman named German Sterligov opened his fifth gourmet food shop in Moscow; he also has four in St. Petersburg. All display a sign that says “No fags allowed.” Russian media have generally paid more attention to the stores’ high prices than to the signs at their entrances, but, on the occasion of the latest opening, a popular online magazine based in Moscow published a column calling the sign out as a poor attempt at a joke. The piece, signed by a well-known book critic, a straight married woman, closed with the words “Sorry to go all humorless on you, faggots.”

Vigilante groups that entrap gay men online and then humiliate and torture them on camera now operate with impunity in many cities. According to Immigration Equality, an American organization that helps L.G.B.T. asylum seekers, Russia has consistently been among the top five countries from which their clients flee; hundreds of people have sought asylum in the United States and in Western Europe.

After Ali was released, he went home to his wife, who was pregnant, and their two small children. On the way, he spent the money he had in his pocket—six hundred rubles, a little more than ten dollars—on a bag of candy. When he got home, his four-year-old daughter, whose usual greeting was “What have you brought me?,” didn’t even look at it. “We just spent two hours sitting there holding each other and crying,” Ali told me, and cried again. He told his wife that the police had detained him because they were looking for someone they thought he might know. The story was true, as far as it went.

Many of the men caught up in the sweep are married. There is no blueprint for being gay in Chechnya—most of the men I interviewed talked about times when they were convinced that there were no other gay men in their land—and the pressure to marry and have children is immense. Ali had always wanted children. After his first wife discovered that she was infertile, she left him. In his second marriage, he told me, “Allah gave me children.” Ali hoped that having a family “would make me a man.” He even thought that it had worked, because he had no trouble having sex with his wife. But when he tried to test his manliness by having affairs with other women he found himself unable to perform. “What do you think this means?” he asked me. “Why don’t I have a problem sleeping with my wife?”

Ali was careful to protect his family. “I only ever hooked up,” he told me. “I never had a relationship, even though I really wanted to. Because I knew that then there would be text messages and all that. There was this time when this man sat on a bench in front of my apartment building for days on end, waiting for me to come to him, and I so wanted to, but I knew I couldn’t.” Ali was protecting himself, too: “Many of my relatives are in law enforcement. My brother would have slaughtered me like a chicken.”

Ali didn’t consider leaving Chechnya. He and his family moved to a new apartment—the move was planned—and he returned to work. A few weeks later, a neighbor from their old apartment building called to say that law enforcement had come looking for Ali. Then he got a phone call from a gay friend, Nokhcho, who said that a mutual friend had been apprehended, and had given up Ali’s name and address. Nokhcho said, “You have to get out of here.”

Ali told his wife that he had to go to work. Then he drove two and a half hours to the neighboring region of Dagestan, where the chances of being detained by Chechen law enforcement are lower. “But I couldn’t pretend to be at work for days on end,” he said. He started coming home for quick meals before leaving again for Dagestan or North Ossetia, another nearby region. “Often, I didn’t spend the night at home,” he said. “And, when I was home, I was afraid to go out to the store, and afraid not to, because how was I going to explain it to my wife? It was clear that they’d get me.”

Nokhcho is twenty-eight, university-educated, and uncommonly well spoken. Like Ali, he has a dark trimmed beard and light eyes. Unlike Ali, who has a paunch and came to our meeting wearing track pants, Nokhcho has a gym body and wore a tight T-shirt and jeans that looked made for a dance floor in Chelsea.

Nokhcho has managed to maintain a relationship with a man. His partner of five years is a distant relative—though, in Chechnya, no relative is really distant. Families have vast networks across cities and countries; they take care of one another, fostering orphaned children, providing shelter to relations for virtually any reason, and forming businesses together. The system of mutual interdependence has insured the survival of the Chechen people in spite of the violence of the past. Family has always been central to Nokhcho’s life. “I love all those family dinners, all those weekends with the family,” he said. “Because my partner and I are related, we are treated like we are brothers, so during all the holidays and family occasions we get to be together.” They even shared the responsibility for an elderly grandmother—technically, she was the grandmother of only one of them, but in the family structure, she belonged to both.

But families also act as enforcers of ever more brutally interpreted traditional law. Family members carry out so-called honor killings of women who are perceived to have transgressed by having inappropriate contact with men, and they will murder men who have brought shame upon the clan. Nokhcho told me, “If my family found out . . . And I’m not just talking about men—I mean, there are women in my family who would kill me.”
Nokhcho was detained in late March. He managed to talk his way out of captivity, but he was sure that it was a temporary reprieve. As a precaution, he cut off contact with all his gay friends—his “girlfriends,” he calls them—except for Ali.

In early April, Nokhcho got a call from an old “girlfriend” who had moved to Western Europe. He told Nokhcho to call the Russian L.G.B.T. Network, a St. Petersburg-based organization whose small staff coördinates the work of several dozen even smaller groups around the country. The Network has set up a hotline and an evacuation plan for gay Chechens. Nokhcho said, “I’m, like, ‘Is this a setup?’ ”

Nokhcho called the number and was told that the group could help him leave Chechnya, shelter him in Moscow, and eventually get him out of Russia. Nokhcho called Ali. The two men had been close friends for years, long enough to continue confiding in each other even as their acquaintances disappeared, each presumably given up by someone he had once trusted. Nokhcho told Ali about the L.G.B.T. Network. Ali said, “This is a setup.” But they had no other options.

The two men sent the L.G.B.T. Network their personal information, and the group bought them airplane tickets to Moscow. Ali told his wife that he had a job in a large Russian city. Nokhcho’s partner stayed behind to continue caring for their grandmother.

In May, a group of Russian activists who work with the L.G.B.T. Network introduced me to a number of men who are in hiding in Moscow; eight of them sat down for interviews with me. As anti-gay violence has spread across the country, the Network has tried not only to document the situation but also to provide some limited services to victims. Staffers set up a hotline for reporting attacks and on two occasions organized what they call “evacuations,” in which they help people threatened by anti-gay violence to move to larger, and theoretically safer, cities in Russia. But they had little experience working with any of the predominantly Muslim republics of the North Caucasus, which the activists, like most Russians, perceive as a strange and separate world.

When activists heard about the purges in Chechnya, the Network set up an e-mail address and a phone number for Chechens to call. “These middle-of-the-night calls started pouring in,” the person who answers the calls told me. The staffer, who asked not to be identified, had never been to Chechnya and knew little about it before the nighttime calls began. The conversations went on for hours, “because people are trying to figure out if they can trust me.”

The Moscow operation is run by a small team, including two lesbians, Olga Baranova and Tatiana Vinnichenko. At the time I visited, they had helped thirty-five people leave Chechnya. Another ten had left independently and asked for help once they had done so. That number continued to grow after I left Moscow. There were also four people with whom the activists had lost contact after buying their tickets.

They didn’t have much of a plan for what they would do with the Chechens after they arrived because it was assumed that they would quickly leave Russia. They did not realize that, even under the best of circumstances, refugee visas to safe countries would take months to process. More than forty Chechens are now living in temporary housing arranged by Russian activists.

Baranova is a thirty-nine-year-old former advertising executive who went freelance six years ago when she had a baby. A year later, she decided that she wanted to spend time with other same-sex families with children. The Kremlin’s anti-gay campaign was getting under way, so Baranova started an L.G.B.T. community center in Moscow.

The center, which opened in late 2015, occupies three plain rooms along with a single hallway in a dilapidated office building in central Moscow. There are film screenings, support groups, and two choirs, one for transgender women learning to reach the higher registers and one for casual singers. Now the center also serves as the Moscow headquarters for the Chechen rescue-and-shelter operation. The team includes an administrative assistant, who dispenses aid money raised by people all over the world; a psychotherapist, who works with the escapees; a psychologist, who takes down detailed testimony that will, it is hoped, someday be used to prosecute those responsible for the violence; and a medical coördinator. The escapees’ medical needs are vast. Some require care for injuries sustained in captivity; one man arrived with a shattered jaw, which had to be wired shut. Others were unable to seek routine care in Chechnya, for fear of being outed. Baranova said that a number of the Chechens are infected with H.I.V. Most of them have learned their status only since arriving in Moscow.

Baranova has short brown hair and a round face. She uses a kick scooter and a motorized scooter to visit the Chechens, who live in rented apartments within roughly two miles of one another. She comes across as a no-nonsense lesbian den mother. She arrives, greets the men with hugs and kisses and a tender “Privet, moy khoroshiy”—roughly, “Hello, my darling”—and quickly proceeds to go through a long checklist. Are the men taking their meds? Are they following the safety and security protocols? The Chechen survivors fear that Kadyrov’s forces—Kadyrovtsy, as they call them—will track them down. Baranova strongly encourages the men to discard their old phones and use only sim cards and handsets issued to them in Moscow. She sets up V.P.N. Internet connections, to insure that their online communications are not traceable.

Once the team realized that they would be sheltering Chechen survivors indefinitely, they established a system that includes what they call “quarantine.” A new arrival from Chechnya has housed alone in an apartment. The staff assesses the man’s mental state, physical condition, and, especially, his trustworthiness, by checking his story against those of others. Sometimes they also try to determine whether the man has sexual connections to any others in their care—the most direct way of confirming that someone is gay. Still, no one uses his real name. The men are instructed to call one another and the activists by nicknames. (As an extra precaution, the names used to identify the men in this article are different from these nicknames.) Face-to-face contact is limited to no more than half a dozen people. When I talked to the men’s therapist, he complained that he has to work with the survivors individually, even though group therapy would be his preferred method for addressing their trauma.

Some of the safety measures are hard won. In May, Baranova was helping a lesbian who came to Moscow with her husband, a gay man. Marrying another gay person has long been a way for queers in Chechnya to create a life. But the relationship was strained, and once they left Chechnya they planned to separate. The woman was terrified that her family would pursue her, so Baranova arranged for her to leave Russia. A few hours before Baranova was scheduled to pick the woman up to go to the airport, she got a voice message from her. She still has it stored on her phone, and I got the impression that she had listened to it repeatedly. It began with ambient noise. “See, it sounds like she is on her way somewhere,” Baranova said.

“I’m going to try to get rid of this number,” the woman said. “But, if you get any calls from it, please don’t take them. Goodbye.”
Baranova went to the meeting place that she and the woman had arranged and waited for several hours. The woman never showed up. In mid-June, news came that the woman had died in Chechnya, apparently from kidney failure. Her friends assume that she was poisoned by her family.

Human-rights activists say that women have not been targeted in the purge. But, as one activist pointed out to me, this in itself is a measure of men’s freedom when compared with women’s. Women cannot simply decide to travel outside Chechnya, for work or for leisure. When women are targeted for their sexuality, usually they are unable to escape, even if help is available for them elsewhere.

Vinnichenko, the chair of the Russian L.G.B.T. Network, is forty-four. She has curly red hair and wears wire-rimmed glasses. Until a couple of years ago, she was an associate professor of Russian at the Northern (Arctic) Federal University, in the city of Arkhangelsk, where she also ran the local L.G.B.T. organization, Rakurs, or Viewpoint. In 2012, when the political crackdown began, Vinnichenko was dragged into court on charges of failing to register Rakurs as a “foreign agent.” She was also the subject of stories in the local media which alleged that the head of the university, a woman, was intimately involved with Vinnichenko and provided cover for “gay propaganda.” After a gay male colleague was fired, Vinnichenko quit and moved to Moscow to live with her longtime partner, a crane operator.

In an upbeat way, Vinnichenko told me about her heart breaking over and over again since she started working with the Chechen men, when she heard their stories, witnessed their tears, and cried her own—and also about experiencing intense shame. “The first guy I was supposed to help, we met in the street, and he comes wearing a hoodie, the hood pulled over his face so that all I can see is the beard,” she said. “It’s one of those beards—no mustache, but bushy around the chin.” Vinnichenko circled her own jaw with her hand. “And we get in the elevator, the doors close, I’m looking at his beard and thinking, It would only take a second for him to stab me to death, and no one would ever know. That’s how strong my own Islamophobia was. And, of course, he turned out to be the sweetest kid.”

“And every time Elmo laughs we drink.”

The embassies of Western countries, including the United States and members of the European Union, are among Russian L.G.B.T. organizations’ greatest sources of support, both rhetorical and financial. “We are always working with the embassies—they are constantly calling and inquiring about our work,” Vinnichenko told me. “So I was sure that when this happened, practically a genocide—well, it’s not a genocide precisely but a crime against humanity—we would get humanitarian visas right away.” The activists had only a vague awareness of the West’s crisis of empathy toward refugees, especially Muslim ones. Most embassy representatives said immediately that their countries would be unable to help.

 The New Yorker

The complete article appears in other versions of the July 3, 2017, issue, with the headline “Forbidden Lives” on the newyorker.com


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