Asia’s LGBT people migrate to escape violence at home

Bangkok (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Long before Joe Wong surgically removed his breasts and uterus, he was Joleen, who once used an entire roll of brown duct tape to flatten her chest in an effort to look less feminine at her new secondary school in Singapore. A close relative, angered by her clumsy and obvious… Read more »

Blackmail and abuse: Gay sex ban in India stirs violence

New Delhi (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – When Rajan was followed by two men into a public toilet in Mumbai and forced to perform oral sex on them, the 31-year-old gay marketing professional realized this was the beginning of the end of his short-lived sexual freedom. “They knew I was gay. They were watching me and… Read more »

South Korean teachers banned from talking about LGBT issues

New sex education guidelines outlaw teaching about sexual minorities. The guidelines, issued to schools and teachers this week state that “sex education is not intended to be an opportunity for teachers to share their views on sexuality” and “teaching about homosexuality is not permitted.” It also orders teachers to remove any references to LGBT issues… Read more »

Tokyo Ward Shibuya To Recognize Marriages Of Gay Couples

The assembly of Tokyo, Japan’s Shibuya ward on Tuesday approved a plan to recognize the relationships of gay and lesbian couples as the “equivalent of a marriage.” According to the AP, a majority of the ward’s 34 legislators favored the proposal, which only applies to Shibuya – a dense district known as a fashion center… Read more »

Indonesia Anti-Gay Fatwa Ignites Debates

Jakarta – A new fatwa by the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) that criminalizes homosexuality in the world’s most populous Muslim state, has drawn mixed reactions, with rights activists seeing it “discriminatory”. “The fatwa combines molestation, which is a crime in the penal code system in Indonesia, with sexual orientation, which is not regarded as a… Read more »

India votes against gay rights for UN employees

India supported a Russian-drafted resolution that opposed benefits for same-sex partners of UN staff, but the resolution failed to pass in the General Assembly committee. The move comes in the wake of a growing debate in the country about decriminalising gay sex. New Delhi, however, justified its move to vote in favour of the resolution… Read more »

Indonesian activists reject Muslim clerics’ anti-gay fatwa

Criticism greeted a harsh proposal from Indonesia’s top Islamic clerical group, which called for the country to enact a law against same-sex intimacy and to impose the death penalty. The proposal was contained in an edict, or fatwa, from the Indonesian Council of Ulema, which is known as the MUI, from its Indonesian name, Majelis… Read more »

Costa Rica Seeks Same-Sex Civil Union Law

San Jose, Costa Rica (Reuters) – Costa Rica will this week put forward a plan to allow same-sex civil unions based on previous initiatives to change the law in the Central American nation, a government official said on Wednesday. Costa Rica follows Chile, which in January became the most recent Latin American country to recognize… Read more »

Armenia: HIV/AIDS Patients Struggle with Rampant Discrimination

If you are an HIV/AIDS patient looking to visit a dentist, attend school or have your hair cut in the South Caucasus country of Armenia, you might well find that your options are limited. Despite years of public-awareness campaigns, discrimination against Armenians with either Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is widespread,… Read more »

Transgender sweetness beats Muslim intolerance

By day they wear normal workers’ uniforms. At night they dress up in lipstick, stilettos and bright clothes. This is daily life for thousands of transvestites and transgender people in Pakistan. But they’re a minority that conservative Muslims find it hard to tolerate. The rest of Pakistan’s population, however, seek them out for their own… Read more »

Online activists spur change in Middle East, China, world

Online LGBT activism and community-building are the focus of this week’s video in the “Quorum” series of 11 discussions of international LGBTI issues. Moderator for the latest discussion is Andre Banks, executive director of, the U.S.-based advocacy organization that has enlisted 2 million people worldwide to take action online for LGBTI rights. Panelists /… Read more »

Junta to pass law banning homosexuals from monkhood

The junta cabinet has approved a bill on religion which can be used to prosecute, with jail terms, people who propagate ‘incorrect’ versions of Buddhist doctrines or cause harm to Buddhism. The bill also posts jail terms specifically for homosexual monks. In recent decades, although Theravada Buddhism, the prominent Buddhist sect in mainland Southeast Asia,… Read more »

World’s First Three-Way Gay Marriage Takes Place In Thailand

Valentine’s Day 2015 will be infamous for more than the release of the film version of 50 Shades of Grey. It also witnessed the world’s first recorded polygamous gay marriage, as Joke, 29, Bell, 21 and Art, 26 tied the knot. Watchers of The Hangover Part 2 will not be surprised to learn that the… Read more »

How to protest Russia-style anti-gay bill in Kyrgyzstan

LGBTI rights activists are seeking international support for their attempts to block a proposed Kyrgyz law that would be even harsher than Russia’s anti-“gay propaganda” law. Unlike the Russian law, the Kyrgyz proposal would provide for imprisonment for mentioning homosexuality or advocating LGBTI rights. Labrys, the LGBTI group in Kyrgyzstan, would be outlawed if the… Read more »

China’s “homowives” are becoming unlikely champions for gay rights

After her marriage was over, just looking at a wedding photo would make Qiu Xuan feel awful. The 29-year-old, a video editor at a communications company in Guangzhou, could tell by the picture that she wasn’t half of a happy couple that day, even though she was the one wearing a white veil. The photo… Read more »

Families must end LGBTI violence and improve rights in Asia

Bangkok (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Some of those most guilty of violence and discrimination against gays, lesbians and transgender people in Asia are their families, which must instead play a key role in improving LGBTI rights, activists from the region said. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people (LGBTI) in Asia face the threat of… Read more »

Committee urges Nepal to legalise equal marriage

A committee in Nepal has urged the country to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples. The recommendation was made in the wake of a 2007 ruling by the Nepalese Supreme Court, stating that the government must provide legal protections to LGBT Nepalese citizens and amend laws that discriminated against them. As part of the ruling,… Read more »

LGBT students may be ready to come out, but are Japan’s schools ready to accept them?

When university student Osamu Inoue, 19, came out openly in high school two years ago and admitted he was gay, he had hoped that at least his school would have adopted a more positive attitude toward sexual minorities. That wasn’t the case, however. “Nothing was done at the school to mend the situation in which… Read more »

What happens to gay people in North Korea?

Defectors reveal what life is like for LGBTI people in the hermit kingdom Are there gay people in North Korea? That was the question posed to four defectors on the NK News website, perhaps prompted by a CCTV photo released last month of two male soldiers kissing upward of the DMZ. All four unidentified defectors… Read more »

ICAAP meet touted as a game changer for HIV/AIDS patients in Bangladesh

The upcoming international conference on AIDS in Dhaka has raised hopes that people living with HIV/AIDS in Bangladesh will finally be freed from social stigma. “This year is critical for us for raising public awareness, building political commitment and strengthening our network and knowledge,” Habiba Akhter, Executive Director of the Ashar Alo Society that works… Read more »

Ending AIDS

Far West, with the greatest proportions of seasonal migrants, needs special focus Fourteen-year-old Kali Bogati was born in Doti’s Kadamadu VDC with HIV, passed down by her infected mother. The virus claimed her within a year of Kali’s birth and within the next three years, her father had succumbed too, leaving her without any loving… Read more »

And if so, what happens to them when other people find out?

Are there gay people in North Korea?Every week we ask a North Korean your questions, giving you the chance to learn more about the country we know so little about. This week Michael from Phnom Penh asks: I’m just curious as to gay and lesbian life and culture in North Korea. Is there in fact… Read more »

Philippines: Vigan City bans anti-gay hate

Historic city passes the country’s broadest anti-discrimination ordinance yet Historic Vigan has become the lastest city in the Philippines to ban anti-gay hate. The anti-discrimination ordinance (ADO) covering sexual orientation and gender identity was passed in November but was embargoed until last week pending further study. Like similar laws in other parts of the southeast… Read more »

Singapore blogger found guilty of contempt for post criticizing anti-gay law

Prominent LGBTI rights activist could face jail time Singaporean LGBTI rights activist and blogger Alex Au has been found guilty for a post critical of the city’s anti-gay law. The High Court yesterday (22 January) ruled that the article published in October 2013 posed ‘a real threat of undermining public confidence in the administration of… Read more »

North Korea soldiers spotted sharing gay kiss on CCTV

Netizens worry about the safety of the two men Two North Korean soldiers have been spotted sharing a gay kiss on South Korean CCTV. The images were widely shared on Korean media this week leading netizens to worry for the safety of the two men. ‘I’m pretty sure they’ll be killed if they’re caught,’ one… Read more »

The bitter truth behind Thailand’s gay-friendly image

Deutsche Presse-Agentur – The latest research suggests more than half of us believe homosexuality is morally wrong – a prejudice that’s reflected in the law In Bangkok’s lively Silom district, customers pile into a small, noisy gay bar on a busy Saturday night. Chakgai Jermkwan and his partner Sean L’Estrange co-own the popular venue, which… Read more »

Lesbian couple first to ‘adopt’ child in indigenous ceremony

The adoption ceremony held in traditional in Rukai culture is not known to have been held for a same-sex couple before. A lesbian couple belonging to a rural community in Taiwan has became the first aboriginal couple there to adopt a child even though current national laws forbid marriage between same-sex couples and bar the… Read more »

Special jails for transgender and gay prisoners proposed in Vietnam

According to an official report, gay and transgender prisoners face the highest risk of sexual harassment from other inmates in prison. Vietnam may be considering housing transgender and gay prisoners in jails separate from those currently in use so as to protect them from sexual harassment. This plan has been proposed by the Social, Economic… Read more »

Japan’s gay community highly stratified by body type and age

Japanese gay media have promoted a gay identity linked to youth, masculinity and highly gym-trained bodies as being highly desirable, says a social researcher. Gay men’s identity in Japan are subject to stereotypical categories based upon media created ideas of an idealized depiction of youth, body type and modes of consumption, says a social researcher… Read more »

Japan’s gay community highly stratified by body type and age

Japanese gay media have promoted a gay identity linked to youth, masculinity and highly gym-trained bodies as being highly desirable, says a social researcher. Gay men’s identity in Japan are subject to stereotypical categories based upon media created ideas of an idealized depiction of youth, body type and modes of consumption, says a social researcher… Read more »

Koreans go gaga over ‘drag queen’ musicals

Recent musicals have included very popular drag queen characters in one of the lead roles, lending to a new trend and successfully drawing out a curious audience. Broadway musicals featuring drag queens are becoming immensely popular among Koreans and setting a trend for the music scene in South Korea. “Recent musicals have included very popular… Read more »

Thai Constitution’s Draft Would Protect LGBT Rights

Bangkok (AP) — Gay rights activists are welcoming a clause in a draft of Thailand’s new constitution that is aimed at protecting the rights of gay and transgender people. The Constitution Drafting Committee, a group hand-picked by the military junta to draft a new charter after last year’s coup, this week added the wording that… Read more »

European Parliament urges Kyrgyzstan to drop anti-gay bill

Kyrgyzstan has been urged by the European Parliament to drop an anti-gay bill. The bill is similar to one introduced in Russia law last year, banning the “promotion of non-traditional sexual relationships”. The Kyrgyz bill outlaws the dissemination of information “aimed at forming positive attitudes toward non-traditional sexual relations.” Persons found guilty under this law… Read more »

Thailand to recognize ‘third gender’ in new constitution: panel

Bangkok (Reuters) – Thailand’s constitution will include the term “third gender” for the first time, a member of a panel drafting a new charter said on Thursday, in a move to empower transgender and gay communities and ensure them fairer legal treatment. Thailand has a large gay community, but remains largely conservative, although homosexual, transgender… Read more »

New HIV prevention strategy to target injecting drug users, gay men, sex workers

The Health Protection Agency’s (HPA) new national strategy on HIV prevention will scale up prevention programmes in key affected populations of injecting drug users, sex workers, men who have sex with men. By 2016, the HPA aims to reach at least 60 percent of injecting drug users to promote the safe use of injecting equipment… Read more »

Arrests for ‘unnatural sex’ soar. So do cases of gay people being blackmailed

Six hundred people were arrested for under section 377 in 2014. However, the government did not say how many of those arrests were for consensual sex. Weeks after the Ministry of Home Affairs released figures saying that nearly 600 people had been arrested in 2014 under Section 377 in 2014, India’s queer community is cautious… Read more »

Vietnam Abolishes Same-Sex Marriage Ban, Taking Lead in Gay Rights

Vietnam taking the lead in gay rights in Southeast Asia by abolishing a ban on same-sex marriage has medical doctor Thuan Nguyen planning a wedding ceremony with his boyfriend of two years. “I am ready to have a wedding,” he said. “Many, many young people in love are optimistic about the acceptance of gay weddings.”… Read more »

Nepal to allow third gender on passports

The Nepalese government is to issue passports with a third gender option for citizens who do not identify as male or female. The country join neighbour India as one of the few countries that allow for a gender other than male or female to be listed in identity documents. Australia and New Zealand also allow… Read more »

Meet India’s first ever out transgender mayor

For the first time a transgender candidate has won a mayoral election in India. Madhu Kinnar, an independent candidate, won the election in the Chhattisgarh’s Raigarh Municipal Corporation by 4357 votes on 4 January. She beat the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Mahaveer Guruji, and was named the mayor of Raigarh. 35-year-old Kinnar previously worked as a… Read more »

600 homosexuals arrested in 2014

At least 750 cases were registered and 600 people arrested under Section 377 of Indian Penal Code in 2014 after Supreme Court struck down 2009 Delhi High Court verdict which decriminalised homosexuality. According to Home Ministry statistics, the country witnessed registration of 778 cases and 587 arrests under Section 377 until October. However, these numbers… Read more »