Canada: House Of Commons Advances Transgender Nondiscrimination Protections
Canada has once again taken a step forward for LGBT equality ahead of the United States. In a vote of 149-137, the Canadian House of Commons approved a bill (C-279) that would make it illegal to discriminate against people who are transgender, and it would also add hate crime protections for transgender people. The bill would not have passed without 16 votes from conservatives, despite arguments from opponents that it was a “bathroom bill” and would somehow endanger children. It’s unclear how the legislation will fare in the Senate.
A public display of affection between a couple shouldn’t usually elicit a reaction from people. But what if those engaging in that passionate smooch are a same-sex couple? The Quebec government has launched a unique advertising campaign designed to get the province thinking about just how open-minded it really is when it comes to homosexuality. The TV, radio and web campaign shows routine, everyday scenes in which the viewer has no idea until the end that the ad is about sexual orientation.
With 1,150 votes to Sandra Pupatello’s 866 votes on the third ballot at the Ontario Liberal leadership convention on Saturday, Kathleen Wynne was elected to lead the party and becomes Ontario’s first female premier — and Canada’s first out LGBT premier. Wynne, 59, is married to Jane Rounthwaite, and the party’s new leader said she believed her sexual orientation would not be an issue in the race or going forward. “The province has changed, our party has changed,” she said earlier in the balloting. “I do not believe that the people of Ontario … hold that prejudice in their hearts.” After the third balloting, Wynne said, “It is a remarkable night for all of us.”
Ontario is by far Canada’s most populous province. Provincial premiers are the US equivalent of a state governor. There has not yet been an openly gay state governor in America, unless you count New Jersey’s Jim McGreevey, who resigned halfway through his term in 2004 after confessing to cheating on his wife with a man.
CANADA: Supreme Court Rules Failure Do Disclose HIV Is Not Always A Crime
CTV News reports:
The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled it is not always a crime for people with HIV to not disclose their HIV status to their sex partners — as long as they have a low level of the virus and wear a condom. The ruling still leaves open the possibility that charges could still be laid against those who are reckless and who fail to take steps to avoid transmitting the potentially fatal virus. In deciding two cases — one in Manitoba and one in Quebec — the court clarified a ruling it made in 1998 on the issue of HIV disclosure. Under that ruling, those who failed to disclose their HIV status could be charged with sexual assault or aggravated sexual assault if there was “a significant risk of bodily harm.” But the court said Friday there have been huge advances in HIV management since then. Those advances include antiretroviral medications that can keep levels of the virus so low, they are almost undetectable. The court said as long as the HIV carrier has a “low load” of the virus and wears a condom, they are not legally obligated to inform their sex partners of their status. It said convictions would be warranted only if there were “a realistic possibility” of transmission. “On the evidence before us, a realistic possibility of transmission is negated by evidence that the accused’s viral load was low at the time of intercourse and that condom protection was used,” Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin wrote on behalf of the court. The court left open the possibility of further refinements to the law in the future. “However, the general proposition that a low viral load combined with condom use negates a realistic possibility of transmission of HIV does not preclude the common law from adapting to future advances in treatment and to circumstances where risk factors other than those considered in the present case are at play.” Prosecutors from both provinces wanted the court to rule that all HIV carriers should be legally compelled to inform their partners — regardless of the risk of passing on the virus. Both sides of the debate agreed that the 1998 ruling has been interpreted in wildly different ways by judges across the country, and wanted the court to offer guidance on courts should proceed with such offences. The cases before the court In Friday’s ruling, the Court acquitted a Quebec woman of aggravated assault after she had sex with her former spouse while her viral load was undetectable. The court agreed with a lower appeal court ruling, which said she had not exposed the man to “a significant risk of serious harm.” But the court restored four aggravated sexual assault convictions against a Manitoba man named Clato Mabio, who had sex with four women and girls because although his viral load was thought to be low, he didn’t wear a condom in many of the sexual encounters. “Here, the four complainants all consented to sexual intercourse with M, and testified that they would not have had sex with him had they known he was HIV positive,” the court noted. But it dismissed the charges laid involving a fifth woman, because in her case, he did wear a condom. None of the women and girls contracted HIV. HIV advocates disappointed by ruling Richard Elliott, the executive director of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Action Network says the ruling is not good news for those living with HIV. “The court on the one hand is saying we’re not going to use the criminal law to criminalize every single risk, however small. But in effect, that is what they have done,” Elliott told CTV News Channel after the ruling. Elliott says the risk of a man transmitting HIV to a woman during unprotected vaginal sex is estimated at 0.08 per cent. Those on antiretroviral medications have only a one in 100,000 per cent risk, or 0.00001 per cent, he says. “Should we be using aggravated sexual assault — this is the law of rape – when we’re talking about a risk that is somewhere in the order of one in 100,000?” he wondered. He added that it should not be left to police and the courts to try to prevent the spread of HIV. “Let’s look at the evidence that shows that having this kind of overly broad use of the criminal law actually doesn’t lead to safer sex… it doesn’t lead to disclosure,” he said. The only things that do work, Elliott said, are practising safer sex and having a lower viral load. “We can’t expect after-the-fact criminal prosecutions are going to protect people. People have to take a certain amount of personal responsibility here,” he said.
CANADA: Toronto Blue Rays’ Yunel Escobar Returns To Play By Accepting First Pitch From Gay Athlete
Last night Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar “drew some boos” when his name was announced before the team’s first home game since he was suspended for writing “You’re a faggot” in his eye-black. In a show of contrition, Escobar then took the field to receive the ceremonial first pitch from an openly gay soccer player.
Escobar caught the ceremonial first pitch from David Testo, a former MLS soccer player who is openly gay. Testo is now a board member for You Can Play, an advocacy group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender athletes. Before the game, Escobar sat down with Jose Estevez, an openly gay distance runner from Boston College, and Patrick Burke, the founder of You Can Play. Escobar’s lost salary during his three-game ban — about $82,000 — was to be directed to You Can Play and the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. Burke said the 45-minute meeting was helpful for all parties. “I think it put a face on the issue for Yunel,” Burke said. “I think it humanized the issue of gay athletes for Yunel and I think Jose did a great job today.” “After meeting with him, I like Yunel,” Burke said. “I think he did a stupid thing but I think he has learned from it.”
The Blue Jays’ manager says Escobar may continue to hear some boos: “He understands whatever comes his way is part of the process. He made a terrible mistake and is going to have to be accountable.”
Canada: Toronto Blue Jays’ Yunel Escobar Is A Homophobe “Pendejo”
The National Post reports:
Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar has sparked an online furor and an investigation by Major League Baseball after he wore eye-black tape inscribed with a homophobic slur during Saturday’s game at the Rogers Centre. A close-up photoposted on Twitter by Toronto resident James Greenhalgh shows the words “TU ERE MARICON” — Spanish for “You’re a faggot” — printed in white on the black tape Escobar was wearing below his eyes. The phrase was also visible in a photo that moved to media outlets on Saturday by Getty Images’ wire service. MLB spokesman Pat Courtney told The Canadian Press the commissioner’s office is investigating. The Blue Jays issued a statement saying they do not “condone” Escobar’s message and will address the issue at a news conference Tuesday afternoon in New York, where the team opens a three-game series that night. “The Toronto Blue Jays do not support discrimination of any kind nor condone the message displayed by Yunel Escobar during Saturday’s game,” the statement read. “The club takes this situation seriously and is investigating the matter.” The statement said general manager Alex Anthopoulos, manager John Farrell and Escobar will attend the news conference, along with coach Luis Rivera, who often serves as translator for the club’s Spanish-speaking players. Several messages seeking comment from Anthopoulos were not immediately returned. Greenhalgh made the photo public on his Twitter feed (@james_in_to) on Monday. He linked to a close-up shot he had posted on his Flickr page along with a commentary in which he said Escobar is one of his favourite Blue Jays and he initially felt “conflicted” about making the photo public. But he concluded that the photo needed to be circulated and that Escobar needed to learn a lesson from the fallout. “This is something Escobar wore on the field,” Greenhalgh wrote. “He knew the possibility that a member of the Red Sox noticed it and commented on it, or even the umpiring crew. This is a bad word. It’s a homophobic slur. It may have made a closeted Blue Jay/Red Sox very upset inside. There are a million insults he could have used that would have been funny, this was not one of them … This was a mistake I hope he learns and he will never make again.” The photo generated a flurry of responses on Twitter, mostly critical of Escobar, some urging that he be suspended for the rest of the season, some urging fans to reserve judgment until “context” became available. Others speculated that he had been pulled from Sunday’s lineup as a disciplinary measure.Escobar, 29, was originally in Sunday’s starting lineup, but then scratched before game time. A club spokesman said he had the flu. Greenhalgh, who posts many photos of Blue Jays, wrote on his Flickr page that he has “a privileged seat near the Blue Jays dugout [that] allows me a close-up of some pretty awesome moments. This one, however, is really disappointing.” Saturday’s game was televised nationally on Sportsnet, although no one seemed to notice Escobar’s eye-black message until the still photos were published.
TheToronto Blue Jays do not support discrimination of any kind nor condone the message displayed by Yunel Escobar during Saturday’s game. The club takes this situation seriously and is investigating the matter. Alex Anthopoulos, Sr. VP Baseball Operations and General Manager will be available to the media tomorrow afternoon at Yankee Stadium and we expect him to be joined by Yunel Escobar, Manager John Farrell and Coach Luis Rivera. Details and location for the media availability will be announced tomorrow.
Vietnam To Hold First Gay Pride Event With The Sponsorship Of Canada & Sweden
The first gay pride event in Vietnam’s history will take place this weekend in Hanoi.
Viet Pride will run from Aug 3-5 and will feature film screenings, research presentations, music live performances, and a cycle parade through the city center on Sunday morning beginning at My Dinh Stadium and ending at Ly Tu Trong Park. Organised by Nguyen Thanh Tam and a group of volunteers, the event is supported by the Center for Studies and Applied Sciences in Gender, Family, Women and Adolescents (CSAGA) where Tam is casually employed. The 25-year-old self-described “freelance activist”, who has lived in Singapore for the last six years, was inspired to organise Viet Pride after she and other activists were sponsored to attend Stockholm Pride last year. The event is also supported by the Institute for Studies of Society, Economy and Environment (iSEE), and Information Connecting and Sharing (ICS); venue and in-kind sponsors Goethe Institute, Lebox Produktion (Sweden) and Hearst Entertainment (US); and in-cash sponsors Embassy of Sweden and Embassy of Canada.
Props to Sweden and Canada for their support!
RELATED: Earlier this week the Vietnamese government indicated that it was in the early stages of putting forward a marriage equality bill.
Canada: British Columbia Launches Massive Program To Wipe Out HIV-AIDS By Testing Every Sexually Active Person
The Globe And Mail reports:
Saying it is now possible to end HIV/AIDS, medical experts in British Columbia have launched a four-year, $48-million pilot program aimed at detecting and treating the disease faster. The goal is to test everyone in the province who has ever been sexually active. The sweeping approach is an attempt to catch the estimated 1 per cent of people who are unaware they are HIV-positive and aren’t taking advantage of an effective treatment program that is available provincially. A key component of the new project is an HIV antibody test that produces results in about 30 seconds, from a single drop of blood taken from a person’s fingertip. “If you have HIV and don’t know it, you can’t do anything [to get treated],” Reka Gustafson, medical director of communicable disease control for Vancouver Coastal Health, said at a news conference Wednesday. Julio Montaner, director of B.C.’s Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, described the test, which was developed in Vancouver, as “a very important new step” in the fight against AIDS. He said an approach pioneered in B.C., starting in 1996, in which HIV patients are treated with a cocktail of three drugs, has had remarkable results, cutting the transmission rate of the disease by more than 95 per cent. “And if we can stop the transmission, we can stop the disease,” Dr. Montaner said. But he said routine HIV tests now done in hospital ER wards in B.C. have shown that about 1 per cent of those screened are positive. Those results came from people who had no outward signs of infection and no idea they had been exposed, Dr. Montaner said. He said the small number of people who are HIV-positive but don’t know it – estimated at 3,500 in B.C. – continue to fuel the majority of infections in the province. That’s why medical authorities now want everyone to get tested, he said. But he said he does not favour making the HIV test mandatory. “Nothing mandatory works,” Dr. Montaner said. “When you [make] something mandatory you end up driving people underground.” He said he hopes the public will embrace the concept and will join with medical authorities in trying to wipe out AIDS. To encourage public participation, health authorities will launch a major advertising blitz. Dr. Montaner acknowledged the approach means testing a large number of people, just to catch a few who are infected. “By doing the test, 99 per cent are going to be negative [but we will get] the golden 1 per cent,” he said. Dianne Doyle, CEO for Province Health Care, said if the project works it could mark “the beginning of the end” for HIV/AIDS. “The ability to truly change history… is amazing,” she said.
Canada: Toronto Trans Community Pays Tribute To Suicide Victim Kyle Scanlon
Pink News UK reports:
Tributes have been paid to a Canadian transgender community leader who killed himself last week. Kyle Scanlon, who was the education, training, and research coordinator at the 519 Church Street Community Centre in Toronto, died on July 3rd. Reports said he had suffered long-term chronic depression. He was described by friends and colleagues as valued, gifted and selfless, the Torontoist said. His friend Alaina Hardie said: “Kyle knew what needed to be done when it came to social justice, and he did it. “He didn’t seek accolades, and was happy to be either right on the front line or helping quietly in the background, with really no thought given to being recognised. He was selfless to an extent you rarely see. He just wanted to get the work done.” Toronto’s Trans PULSE project said in a statement: “For the past ten years, Kyle worked at The 519 Church Street Community Centre, first as the Trans Programs Coordinator and then as the Education, Training, and Research Coordinator. “In these roles, Kyle trained thousands of service providers around the province to make their services accessible to trans people…He served on countless boards and committees, and despite his many responsibilities, he responded with an open heart to the needs of members of the trans community on a daily basis.”
I had the pleasure of meeting him a couple of times around some of the most unexpected places you migth think you could find such a talented chef. He was talented and really nice. It’s shocking he’s gone at such an early age.
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