Dance lessons for the lonely – on the NHS

Dance lessons for the lonely - on the NHS

GPs in England are being given permission to prescribe patients "social" activities, such as dance classes, to tackle loneliness.

The strategy, announced by Prime Minister Theresa May, will also see postal delivery workers checking in on isolated people during their rounds.

The government says about 200,000 older people have not had a conversation with a friend or relative in over a month.

And many GPs see between one and five people a day suffering with loneliness. Art spaces

As part of the long-term plan, funding will be provided to connect NHS patients in England to a variety of activities, such as cookery classes, walking clubs and art groups, by 2023.

Announcing an extra £1.8m for community projects, such as creating new community cafes, art spaces or gardens, Mrs May said social prescriptions would reduce demand on the NHS and improve patients’ quality of life.

The government will also partner with the Royal Mail on a new scheme in Liverpool, New Malden and Whitby to give postal workers a front-line role in tackling loneliness.

And a network of businesses – including Sainsbury’s, Transport for London, the Co-op, British Red Cross, National Grid and Civil Service – have pledged to take further action to support their employees’ health and social wellbeing. Mrs Cox was MP for Batley and Spen from 2015 until her murder the following year Launching the first loneliness strategy, Mrs May said: "This strategy is only the beginning of delivering a long and far reaching social change in our country – but it is a vital first step in a national mission to end loneliness in our lifetimes." Great comfort

She paid tribute to murdered Labour MP Jo Cox, who had campaigned to end loneliness before her death: "Jo Cox was absolutely right to highlight the critical importance of this growing social injustice which sits alongside childhood obesity and mental wellbeing as one of the greatest public health challenges of our time.

"I was pleased to be able to support the Loneliness Commission set up in Jo’s name and I am determined to do everything possible to take forward its recommendations."

Kim Leadbeater, Ms Cox’s sister, on behalf of the Jo Cox Foundation, said: "The important thing now is to turn the dialogue and strategy into action.

"That is undoubtedly what Jo would want and for every life that is made less lonely as a result of the work she started and that we have all continued, we will take great comfort.

"I look forward to this happening in the coming months and years."

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Ten percent of LGBTI Australians at risk of damaging ‘conversion therapy’

Ten percent of LGBTI Australians at risk of damaging 'conversion therapy'

A new report urges a ban on conversion therapy for young people (Photo: Pixabay) Up to 10 per cent of LGBTI Australians are at risk of damaging faith-based ‘conversion therapy’.

At its most extreme, therapies to change LGBTI Australians’ sexuality or gender identity can amount to torture.

Conversion or cure ‘therapies’ attempt to change LGBTI people’s sexuality or gender identity. They often use therapy, prayer, and even torture or violence to fix the persons perceived ‘brokenness’.

A landmark study details the abuse suffered and urges Australia’s lawmakers to urgently legislate to prevent health practitioners, social workers and teachers from engaging in the practice.

Worryingly, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has previously said conversion therapy ‘is not an issue’ for him.

‘Preventing Harm, Promoting Justice: Responding to LGBT conversion therapy in Australia’ was published Monday (15 October) by La Trobe University and the Human Rights Law Centre.

‘The conversion movement’s activities are proven to be ineffective and harmful’, said Anna Brown, director of legal advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre.

‘Telling someone they are broken or sick because of who they are is profoundly psychologically damaging’. Ice baths and electrodes

Monday’s report reveals the struggles of 15 LGBTI Australians who underwent therapy.

Shockingly, there are at least ten organisations publicly advertising therapies in Australia and New Zealand.

The practice emerged in Australian conservative Christian communities in the 1970s but continues to be promoted in churches, mosques and synagogues.

One respondent, who is referred to as Mary, underwent conversion therapy in the 1980s.

She reported being forced to take ice baths while she was prayed over. She was also chained to her bed while electrodes were placed on her labia.

Mary’s story is dramatic and horrific. But for most conversion therapy survivors ‘it was the insidious and unrelenting ex-gay messaging that ate away at their wellbeing and self-worth’, according to the report.

For example, one respondent ‘prayed the gay away’ for 15 years. When they finally realized nothing would change, they said: ‘It put me in the darkest place that I’ve ever been … withdrawing completely, crying myself to sleep a lot at night’.

Australian Greens senator, Janet Rice, welcomed the report. ‘Gay and trans conversion practices are grounded in homophobia and transphobia’, she said.

‘LGBTI+ people don’t need to change, society needs to change. No LGBTI+ person should be made to feel shame or fear on account of their sexual or gender identity’. Legislation

Debate is raging over religious freedom in Australia since details of a government report suggesting religious schools should be exempt from anti-discrimination legislation emerged.

Morrison this weekend, however, said the anti-discrimination legislation would be updated to protect the rights of LGBTI students.

Preventing Harm, Promoting Justice says adults seeking faith-based guidance over sexuality and gender identity should be allowed to do so.

However, the report suggests banning healthcare professionals and others from conversion practices against adults.

Importantly, it says conversion therapy in any form should be banned for children. Furthermore, the report suggests withdrawing funding from schools that perform conversions.

The report also suggests raising awareness in religious communities of the damage the practices cause. Australia’s Senate last month passed a motion to tackle the rise in LGBTI conversion therapy in the country.

The motion condemned all forms of gender and sexual orientation change efforts and called on the federal government to encourage Australia’s states and territories to ban conversion therapy.

‘We urge governments across the country to respond to this harm, particularly the acute vulnerability of children and young people subjected to conversion practices without consent,’ Brown said.

Why Muslim groups in north India want the government to re-criminalize gay sex

Why Muslim groups in north India want the government to re-criminalize gay sex

Polish city of Lubin hosts first Pride march amid violent counter-protests Muslim groups urge India’s government to challenge the end of India’s gay sex ban (Photo: YouTube) A prominent Muslim group in north India has spoken out against the Supreme Court of India’s decision to end the country’s gay sex ban.

Anjuman-e-Imamia’s Jammu chapter told a press conference on Sunday (14 October) gay sex was against nature.

Vice President, Syed Afaq Kazmi, said it went against the rich cultural traditions of India.

India’s estimated LGBTI population of 78 million celebrated last month’s ruling that Section 377 of the Penal Code was unconstitutional.

Kazmi, however, appealed to India’s government to challenge the decision. ‘There are strong objections from various sections of the society,” Kazmi said, according to the Tribune.

A Muslim cleric, also present at the press conference, Maulana Sheikh Mohammad Ali Mohammadi, said the top court verdict was a threat to age-old social and ethical values of Indian culture.

Showqat Gujjar, of the Gujjar Federation, reportedly said: ‘Ours is not a European society. No doubt women should be given equal rights, but this is something which is unacceptable.’ ‘Self-destruction’

India’s 1861 Penal Code criminalized ‘carnal intercourse against the order of nature’. The law applied to anal and oral sex, with LGBTI advocates arguing it criminalizes homosexuality. People convicted under the law faced up to 10 years in jail.

‘We have to vanquish prejudice, embrace inclusion, and ensure equal rights,’ said Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra in his judgment on 7 September.

The judges, therefore, enshrined LGBT equality. It was largely welcomed by the ruling party and some religious organizations.

In recent weeks, the judiciary has shown it is keen to uphold the ruling in LGBTI cases. Judges in Kerala and Delhi ruled in favor of same-sex couples who were being harassed by their families.

Leading English language Islamic paper Milli Gazette, however, labelled the repeal of India’s gay sex ban a ‘step toward self-destruction’.

Rami Malek says taking Freddie Mercury role in Bohemian Rhapsody was ‘gun-to-the-head moment’

Rami Malek says taking Freddie Mercury role in Bohemian Rhapsody was 'gun-to-the-head moment'

Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody | Photo: 20th Century Fox Bohemian Rhapsody star Rami Malek had described accepting the role of Freddie Mercury in the upcoming Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody as a ‘gun-to-the-head’ moment.

The 37-year-old was previously best known for a TV role on Mr Robot, and followed Sacha Baron Cohen and Ben Whishaw, who were previously touted for the role. ‘I must do this’

‘What do you do?’ he told The Guardian of the moment he was offered the part. ‘And I like to think if it’s a fight or flight situation, I’m going to fight .

‘The scariest endeavours that I’ve chosen to take in my life have been the most fulfilling and rewarding. And this has proven to defend that equation.’

He furthermore added that he instinctively felt ‘I must do this’ after the opportunity came up.

Freddie, who was bisexual, died of AIDS-related complications in 1991. With Queen, he sold between 150-300 million records. The band is of course known for hits such as I’ve Got To Break Free and Who Wants To Live Forever.

Their signature song Bohemian Rhapsody became one of the best-selling singles of all time, selling over six million copies worldwide. ‘What’s the nature of celebrating a life?’

Sceptics have questioned how Freddie’s sexuality and the circumstances of his death will be depicted in the movie, given its 12A rating in the UK PG-13 rating in the US.

Addressing the subject, Rami said: ‘What’s the nature of celebrating a life? Definitely not avoiding his death in any way, or what caused his death, which is the AIDS virus. But I think if you don’t celebrate his life, and his struggles, and how complicated he was, and how transformative he was – and wallow instead in the sadness of what he endured and his ultimate death – then that could be a disservice to the profound, vibrant, radiant nature of such an indelible human being.’

Bohemian Rhapsody is out on 24 October in UK cinemas and 2 November in the US.

Romania’s Referendum Proves LGBT Citizens’ Rights are Far from Protected

Romania’s Referendum Proves LGBT Citizens’ Rights are Far from Protected

A member of the LGBT community holds a rainbow flag while waiting for the results of the referendum. Photo: Daniel Mihailescu, AFP Do you want to change the definition of marriage as a legal union “between a man and a woman” instead of the current gender-neutral definition “between spouses?” Romanians were asked this question a week ago, during a referendum on a constitutional change that could rule out same-sex marriage . While the turnout with just over 20 percent was too low for the referendum to be valid, it shows the increasing polarization in one of the youngest E.U. member states.

Regrettably, while E.U. anti-discrimination legislation is one of the most extensive in the world, it does not provide legal mechanisms to ensure that all of its members guarantee and protect equal human rights. Same-sex marriage is legal or about to be legal in almost half of the E.U. member states, while some others allow same-sex civil unions or other forms of recognition of same-sex couples.

At the same time, E.U. countries like Poland, Latvia, and Lithuania witness increasing conservatism, the promotion of “morality” and “traditional values,” and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and identity. Sadly, Romania’s referendum demonstrates that the country is following a similar path.

However, conservative and anti-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi, and transgender) sentiments are not new to Romania. For example, in the 1990s, Romanian conservative and religious groups pleaded the government not to repeal the sodomy law , one of the requirements to join the European Union. Changing the Constitution

Would citizens have voted in favor of the constitutional change, it would not only have complicated the recognition of same-sex unions in the future but made it close to impossible. Changing the constitution is a particularly difficult and long affair compared to the standard legislative process. Were the constitutional definition of marriage changed, it would have been very problematic to change it back and, even more so, to achieve the legalization of same-sex unions. VIDEO: Romanians voted in a referendum on whether to alter the constitution to define marriage as explicitly between a man and a woman, in a move critics say will block same-sex marriage in the future — AFP news agency (@AFP) October 6, 2018 Currently, Romania does not recognize same-sex partnership or marriage, nor does it offer legal protection to same-sex couples. The sodomy law was abolished only in 2001, much later than in most Eastern European states. Anti-LGBT Sentiments

The referendum of last weekend originated in a 2016 petition signed by three million Romanian citizens – more than enough to propose a constitutional change. It sharply demonstrates the anti-LGBT sentiments existing in the country.

The petition was introduced by the Coalition for the Family , a group of conservative non-governmental organizations with a goal of “promoting traditional family” and blocking the potential legalization of same-sex marriage. Romania is a religiously conservative country. Over 85 percent of the population is Orthodox and the role of the Orthodox Church in the political and social sphere is very significant. The latest initiative was strongly backed by the church.

In addition, the initiative could count on the support of politicians across the political spectrum. The Romanian debate is similar to the conservative discourse adopted in Russia that promotes “traditional values” and aims to prevent “ propaganda of non-traditional sexual behavior ” to children.

In an effort to gather votes in favor of the change, the Romanian government spent over $35 million on the referendum, opened ballots for two instead of one day, dropped the required participation from 50 to 30 percent, and relaxed anti-fraud monitoring. This demonstrates a strong bias of the Romanian government and politicians towards conservatism and against LGBT rights. Homophobic referendum in #Romania failed. Good! But outrageous that there was a referendum in the first place on curtailing rights of minorities. @RainbowRose_PES #LGBTI #ReferendumRomania — Kati Piri (@KatiPiri) October 7, 2018 The idea of changing the constitutional definition of family is not novel for Romania. In 2008, the Romanian parliament voted for changes in the Civil Code to redefine the definition of marriage to the legal union “between a man and a woman.” Since all domestic laws must comply with the Constitution, the Code clarifies the constitutional term “spouses” to mean “a man and a woman.”

Such legislative initiatives present a risk of instigating further discrimination and homophobia in the country . The LGBT rights organization ILGA-Europe ranked Romania 25th out of 28 E.U. countries for discriminatory legislation and hate speech against LGBT people, with only Lithuania, Poland, and Latvia ranking worse.

Since the Coalition for the Family had started their campaign in 2015, Romania already saw an increase in violence and harassment on the basis of sexual orientation and identity, according to Romanian LGBT organizations. It is hard to estimate exact numbers since the police often do not report these incidents as hate crimes. Opportunity for LGBT Community

At the same time, when there is the possibility of repression, citizens might mobilize and fight back. This can be observed in Romania where the potential ban of same-sex marriage provided an opportunity for the LGBT community. They organized more demonstration events with a higher number of protesters and gained extra support for the legalization of same-sex civil partnership.

The mobilization of LGBT Romanians could also prove useful in further developing the LGBT community and creating an increasingly LGBT-friendly environment. It may stimulate the creation of more LGBT groups and organizations. It is also helpful in providing extra safe spaces for socialization on the basis of these groups and organizations.

The referendum attracted public, domestic and international media attention to Romania. This level of attention offers LGBT Romanians a good opportunity to speak up about the state of LGBT rights, discrimination, and homophobia in their country and campaign for better legal recognition and protection of their rights. In addition, media exposure may help create more social acceptance of LGBT people.

The increased visibility could also help LGBT activists to establish connections with potential political allies to counter conservative forces present in the government. That would be expedient in improving LGBT rights through legislative initiatives and lobbying in the country that has far to go when it comes to LGBT rights.

Online Extra: Political Notes: LGBT seniors back call for CA aging master plan

Online Extra: Political Notes: LGBT seniors back call for CA aging master plan

State Senator Scott Wiener, left, speaks at an October 11 informational panel backing a statewide master plan for aging, where he was joined by Sarah S. Steenhausen, the SCAN Foundation’s senior policy adviser; Openhouse Executive Director Karyn Skultety, Ph.D.; and Tom Nolan, manager of special projects at the San Francisco Department of Aging and Adult Services. Photo: Rick Gerharter LGBT senior advocates are backing a campaign calling on California’s next governor to develop a statewide plan addressing the myriad issues confronting the state’s rapidly aging residents.

The SCAN Foundation and West Health, a San Diego-based nonprofit health care provider and advocacy group for seniors, are leading the drive to see state officials create a Master Plan For Aging. Earlier this year they launched the We Stand With Seniors … Will You? campaign to lobby lawmakers and policymakers in the Golden State on the various issues confronting older adults, their caregivers, and families.

About 50 people attended an informational session about the campaign last Thursday morning at the LGBT Community Center in San Francisco. The event was co-sponsored by Openhouse, the LGBT services agency based in the city that helps oversee an affordable housing development aimed at LGBT seniors a block away from the LGBT center.

"We can’t just talk about supporting seniors," said gay state Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), "we have to do it."

Both gubernatorial candidates Democrat Gavin Newsom, the state’s lieutenant governor and a former mayor of San Francisco, and Republican businessman John Cox have pledged their support. Whoever is elected in November will be pressed to follow through on their commitment to create a statewide aging master plan.

"You are going to have a champion if I can win this governor’s race," said Newsom in a taped message. He agreed that there is a growing "aging and graying population in the state of California that needs to be celebrated, that needs to be invested in, that needs a plan to address the long-term aging needs of this state."

Added Cox in his own videotaped statement, "Help is on the way. The seniors of this state are the backbone of our society. They deserve nothing less than our best efforts and attention."

California has the most people age 60 and older of any state in the country with 8.22 million as of 2018. It also has the fastest-growing senior population, with an additional 2.1 million residents expected to turn 65 or older by 2026, according to projections by the state Department of Finance.

A study released in August by the Williams Institute, an LGBT think tank at the UCLA School of Law, found that roughly 3.5 percent of adults in California age 50 and older identify as LGB. The study, using data from the 2015-2016 California Health Interview Survey, found there were 268,800 older adults in the state who identify as lesbian or gay and 163,000 as bisexual. (There is no statewide data for the transgender senior population.)

"We have a growing LGBT senior population," noted Wiener. "We have not done what we need to to plan for it."

While the UCLA researchers found that the LGB older adults were as healthy as their straight counterparts, a departure from previous studies, they did discern that bisexuals and Hispanics/Latinos exhibit poorer health and well-being than their lesbian and gay and non-Hispanic peers.

"We really need to hear from the seniors. They need to have a seat at the table," said Cecilia Chung, a transgender woman who is a health commissioner in San Francisco, at last week’s forum.

CJ Peoples, who attended the event with his dog, Mister, is a single, 64-year-old gay man who lives alone in the city’s TenderNob area between the Tenderloin and Nob Hill neighborhoods.

"The one thing that scares me is being alone when I die," said Peoples, who is retired. "What is this grand plan going to do for me?"

Roma Guy, a lesbian who formerly served on the city’s health commission and now advocates for prison reform, pointed out that many aging services are only eligible to people 62 or older when the age limit needs to be lowered to 50 or 55 years of age. Many people of color and LGBT people who have experienced discrimination or trauma in their lives confront aging issues earlier than others, noted Guy.

"If we do another strategic plan and the age eligibility for services is 65, those people will not come because they know they are not a part of it," she said.

The U.S. Administration on Aging requires that the California Department of Aging every four years create a new State Plan on Aging. The latest report, which covers 2017 through 2021, mentions LGBT seniors 11 times within its 104 pages.

"Lifelong fears or experiences of discrimination have caused some of these older adults to remain invisible, preferring to go without much-needed social, health, and mental health services," states the report.

Noting how difficult it is to accurately count LGBTQI older adults, the report nonetheless estimated there are approximately 380,282 to 760,565 older LGBTQI Californians. And it predicted that, by 2030, that number would nearly double.

The plan promised that the state aging department would "better serve" LGBTQI older adults "through more culturally competent outreach and services."

A more comprehensive plan, however, is needed that addresses the varied issues seniors in California are struggling with, said Sarah S. Steenhausen, the SCAN Foundation’s senior policy adviser.

"We are hopeful a master plan can start to address these needs but only if it is done comprehensively," she said at last week’s forum. "Many reports have been written in the past but there has been no action to follow it up. They just sit on shelves."

Clair Farley, a transgender woman who is the director of San Francisco’s Office of Transgender Initiatives, echoed other panelists at the forum in suggesting the aging master plan be modeled after the report the city’s LGBT Aging Policy Task Force issued four years ago. It was completed within two years and set out a list of policies that city leaders could implement in order to address the needs of San Francisco’s aging LGBT residents.

All but two of the recommendations in the report have since been enacted, with city leaders working to address the remaining suggestions ahead of the five-year anniversary of the report next spring.

State leaders have taken a number of steps already to address the needs of LGBT seniors as well as straight older adults. In 2014 the state Assembly Committee on Aging and Long-Term Care created a one-inch thick report detailing the needs of the state’s minority senior populations, including LGBT older adults.

As the Bay Area Reporter noted in a story — — about the report, called "Faces of Aging," it did not call for any specific legislation. Instead, it was meant to serve as a resource for lawmakers interested in pursuing bills aimed at addressing senior needs.

Since its release, state lawmakers enacted legislation that went into effect this summer requiring a number of state agencies to collect sexual orientation and gender identity, or SOGI for short, demographic data on the LGBT people they serve. It mirrored local legislation passed by San Francisco leaders that also requires city agencies, as well as providers of aging services funded by the city, to ask SOGI questions of the people they serve.

The state also enacted a law that required continuing medical education curriculum to include a discussion of LGBT-specific issues. More recently, Wiener pushed through a "senior’s bill of rights" for those LGBT people and others living in assisted living facilities to ensure they were not discriminated against due to their being LGBT. Again, it was modeled after a law he helped pass while on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

But much more needs to be done, contend senior advocates, particularly to assist those seniors who want to age in place at home. The issues they want to see included in a statewide aging master plan run the gamut from affordable housing and assisting homeless seniors to ensuring access to affordable health care and better pay for home health care workers.

One step Wiener said voters could take to assist seniors and others who are struggling to remain housed is to support Proposition 1, the $4 billion bond for affordable housing on the November ballot.

What is driving the campaign for the comprehensive aging plan is "we really want our seniors to successfully age in place," said Bill Earley, the chief operating officer and general counsel of West Health who is a member of the California Commission on Aging. "How can we build the coalitions we need to go to Sacramento so the new administration hears us and hears us clearly?"

Because, noted Earley, "senior issues have not been at the forefront of our political debate, with a few exceptions."

To learn more about the campaign for the master aging plan, visit its website at

Keep abreast of the latest LGBT political news by following the Political Notebook on Twitter @
Got a tip on LGBT politics? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 829-8836 or e-mail .

Storm Callum: Flood defence review after Wales battered

Storm Callum: Flood defence review after Wales battered

Some of the most striking images from the Storm Callum floods Communities will want new flood defences after many Welsh rivers burst their banks during Storm Callum, Wales’ environment agency has warned.

Parts of Wales saw the worst flooding for 30 years with towns and villages hit along the rivers Towy, Teifi, Taff, Cynon, Neath and Usk.

Natural Resources Wales confirmed it would review the "flooding issues".

Some roads and rail services are still affected on Monday morning and there are flood warnings in place .

A 21-year-old man was killed after a landslip and many homes and businesses were flooded as Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and south Powys bore the brunt of the storm. Man killed in Cwmduad landslide

Water recedes as fatal storm passes

The most striking Storm Callum pictures

North the dog overlooks Crickhowell in Powys as the River Usk burst its banks The River Conwy burst its banks in Llanwrst In the Towy Valley, 93-year-old Dilys Pugh had to be carried from her flooded home at Pontargothi after she woke to find the floodwater around her first floor bed as high as the mattress, according to her son, Clive.

Carmarthen was a no-go area on Saturday night as the River Towy reached critical levels after breaching its flood defences, while the River Teifi reached record levels – more than 15ft (4.5m) on Saturday – which flooded towns like Newcastle Emlyn, Lampeter and Llandysul.

Alun Lenny, county councillor for Camarthen Town South and planning committee chairman, said 100-year storms were happening more frequently and the latest was a "wake-up call" that action needed to be taken. Aberdulais, near Neath, was put on evacuation alert as the swollen River Neath threatened nearby homes while a Valleys Line train was evacuated at Penrhiwceiber, near Mountain Ash, after it got stuck in floodwater on the Friday evening commute. Stranded horses rescued from flood water in Monmouthshire "There will be a large review about the flooding issues and flood protection," confirmed NRW operations manager Huwel Manley.

"There will be a lot of towns and communities calling for new flood defences who at the moment don’t have that.

"There is certainly a lot of work to for us, the Welsh Government and local authorities to undertake over the coming months." 30 people had to be evacuated to safety as this Valleys Line train was submerged near Mountain Ash on Friday Report One of the main streets in Llanybydder, Carmarthenshire, was hit by flooding The A4042 between Abergavenny and Pontypool is shut in both directions at Llanellen in Monmouthshire after the River Usk flooded.

The A484 between Carmarthen and Cardigan is also blocked in several places – at Cenarth, Llechryd, Cynwyl Elfed and Newcastle Emlyn – after the River Teifi burst its banks.

Bus services are replacing trains services between Blaenau Ffestiniog and Llandudno Junction and Craven Arms and Llanelli. The Riverside Cafe at Newcastle Emlyn in Ceredigion was overwhelmed as the River Teifi burst its banks Flooded fields in Carmarthen on Saturday morning Valley Line services into Cardiff and trains on the Aberystwyth to Shrewsbury Cambrian Line are expected to run as usual after the tracks were cleared of floodwater.

But buses will replace trains on the Heart of Wales line between Swansea and Shrewsbury until Tuesday due to flooding in the Llandeilo area. Cows wade through flood water near Llandeilo Transport for Wales (TfW), which took over running services in Wales from Arriva Trains Wales on Sunday, have warned passengers services could be altered or run at reduced capacity on their first morning commute.

TfW said this was because "several trains have sustained significant damage during this storm due to striking trees and running through flood water" and passengers are advised to check before travelling .

Coleg Sir Gar in Carmarthenshire said its Gelli Aur campus is closed on Monday, also affecting its open evening, due to flooding in the surrounding area.

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#UninstallGoJek trends online after executive voices support for LGBT inclusivity

#UninstallGoJek trends online after executive voices support for LGBT inclusivity

#UninstallGoJek has started trending online after a post written by one of its executives supporting LGBT diversity and inclusion made its rounds online, according to media reports online.

The executive, who is GO-JEK’s vice president of operations and business development spoke of how the company had launched an internal campaign called #GOingALLin, which was launched in light of Coming Out Day, The Jakarta Post reported. According to the publication, the executive said he was proud the company was taking a “non-discrimination policy toward the underrepresented group” such as the LGBT community.

Since the saga, GO-JEK has also released a statement on Twitter saying that the post was a “personal opinion and interpretation” of one of its employees about an internal event with the theme of diversity. According to The Jakarta Post , the company also said it respected diversity but also “respected Indonesian values and culture”. GO-JEK menjunjung tinggi keberagaman yang menciptakan persatuan dan keharmonisan, sejalan dengan nilai-nilai dan budaya Indonesia, yang ber-Bhinneka Tunggal Ika. — GO-JEK (@gojekindonesia) October 13, 2018 The #UninstallGoJek hashtag, trending on Twitter since Saturday night, drew mixed reactions. GO-JEK users were seen posting screenshots of uninstalling their apps, while others came to GO-JEK’s defence pointing out similar LGBT stances taken by other technology companies which also produce widely used apps and services such as Facebook, Google, Twitter and more.

Comparisons to competitor Grab were also drawn in the saga, with many netizens questioning why #UninstallGoJek was trending when competitor Grab was also getting flak for its recent handling of a sexual harassment and misconduct matter surrounding one of its drivers. Grab is having an endless unsolved sexual misconduct by their driver and people go silent over THAT while gojek is here supporting LGBT community and suddenly #UninstallGojek is a trending topic in Indonesia. This is beyond my logic, people cannot be allowed to be this stupid. — dinda (@pierrotlefoe) October 13, 2018 Marketing Interactive has reached out to GO-JEK for comment.

Most recently, GO-JEK entered the advertising business through its acquisition of Promogo, an advertisement provider company. The deal will also culminate in GO-JEK providing full support for the cost incurred for the production of advertising material, while driver partners receive net income from every advertisement placed.

Read also:
GO-JEK reportedly plans to raise US$2bn for its expansion funding
GO-JEK invests in Kumparan amidst content push
GO-JEK CMO Piotr Jakubowski steps down
GO-JEK pays homage to local brands in grand OOH flower display for independence day
GO-JEK and Telkomsel strike mobile data partnership for drivers

Trans people like me are under attack in the UK – but you can help us

Trans people like me are under attack in the UK - but you can help us

Photo: Paul Grace Headed to friends for dinner in London on Wednesday evening, my wife Hannah, a decorated Captain in the British Army, froze as she saw a full page spread in the Metro from anti-trans group Fair Play For Women.

The garish, sensationalized ad, placed by this small, vicious and particularly vocal group, implied that Hannah, and indeed all trans women, were predatory, opportunistic and in fact not women at all. The aim of the ad was to instil fear and suspicion for trans women, painting them as villains.

There was no basis whatsoever in fact. It’s the most blatant and dangerous form of scaremongering.

We sat reeling and stunned that such overt transphobia should be allowed to appear in such a widely distributed free newspaper, yet worryingly unsurprised. Although widely criticised across social media, the damage has already been done. We feared it could lead to another of the frequent spikes in transphobic abuse and attacks. Another blow to the community

The advert was another blow to an already hurt minority. 2018 is an unpredictably difficult year for the UK’s transgender community. With promises of long overdue reforms to the once groundbreaking Gender Recognition Act circulating, the anti-trans lobbyists rallied the troops and began an unrelenting outpouring of hate that shows no signs of slowing.

A disproportionate level of bile has been directed at the trans female community. Some accusations are so wildly absurd as to quickly become laughable, yet gain high levels of support from much of the mainstream Press.

Any opportunity to vilify us was leapt upon, and daily life became rather wearing. For those of us who have lived as trans for much of our adult lives it’s difficult. For those people at the start of their transitions, witnessing the current onslaught must be truly terrifying. It’s always harder for the younger ones

I transitioned at 26, having spent much of my late teens and twenties in an alcoholic, self-medicated haze fuelled by the knowledge that I was in a body that didn’t align with my gender. Things didn’t of course change overnight, but from the first psychologist’s appointment where I was immediately diagnosed as ‘gender dysphoric’, life began to brighten.

I began my lifelong prescription of fortnightly testosterone injections, soon followed by top surgery to flatten my chest. I finally walked tall for the first time since I was twelve and the future looked hopeful. My decision to apply for my Gender Recognition Certificate was an easy one, the process much harder.

Proving to a board of faceless, cisgender people whom I would never meet that I was ‘man enough’ to be legally confirmed as such rankled, but with no trans connections at the time I just took the advice of my doctor and went ahead.

Having known since I was two that I was male, being forced to gather ‘proof’ to that effect felt demeaning. The considerable financial cost and the knowledge that if I ‘failed’ there was no appeal process made the experience unpleasant, stressful and time consuming. That was 10 years ago, and as neighboring countries embrace the right to self identify as trans, the UK is falling behind in terms of transgender rights and needs an update. People are just trying to live their lives

Despite the current unrest, most of my friends within the community are quietly getting on with their lives, finding love, happiness, stability – and giving much needed hope to our younger generation. Growing up in London some 30 years ago, I had no points of reference for what I was, let alone positive role models.

Now, they are everywhere: writers, actors, directors, police, military officers and beyond are all visible for our young folk. The UK transgender community arguably has some of the best legislative protections in the world, but change still needs to happen.

When Hannah transitioned some 4 years ago, she made a conscious decision not to apply for her GRC, and as such is not legally recognised as a woman. As an Army officer who has served her country for nearly a decade, it seems unjust that our laws currently prevent her from determining who she is without verification and validation.

She is awaiting the reform with hope that soon she too will be able to have her identity recognised and her birth certificate reflect her female gender. What can you do now?

The Gender Recognition Act consultation needs to be completed by the 19 October.

The trans community is smaller than the gay or lesbian communities, but we are attacked, bullied and beaten by the same bigots. There is still a lot for us to learn about each other, and much needed understanding needs to grow. Yet we have stood together historically, and ask that you stand with us now.

The transgender community are particularly vulnerable ; our men are practically invisible in society, our children are viciously bullied in schools, non-binary people are wildly misunderstood and our women portrayed as the worst kind of predators.

We are not predators, nor are we asking for anything more than the same rights as anyone else. We want to simply be ourselves. The right to self identify has long been law in Malta, Denmark, Argentina, Portugal and Ireland, with no abuses of those systems. With so many case studies out there, why would the UK be any different?

92% of people have never knowingly met anyone transgender, and 50 years ago most had not met anyone openly gay. Hearts and minds had to open for the gay rights movement to succeed, and all that we ask is the same happen for us.

None of us want to live in fear of attack, judgment and persecution, but for trans people that is currently our daily life. Be on the right side of history. Complete the Gender Recognition Act consultation . Captain Hannah Graf says:

What must be kept in mind is that these adverts and campaigns are largely diversionary tactics designed to scare the general population into believing that reform is a bad thing. The reality is that these reforms will not affect access to spaces, or safeguarding issues which have been governed by the 2004 Equality Act quietly and without issue for over a decade.

The GRA consultation is merely proposing a reform to a dehumanizing and costly process that means trans people’s validity and identity are judged by a faceless panel, before they can be legally recognised as themselves.

As someone who has principally resisted applying for a GRC, the GRA reforms would allow me to be legally recognised as the woman that I have always been. This may not seem like much to other people, but for me it would mean the world. I only ask that you see me for who I am, and respect me as I respect you.

Meet artist Frank Sansone: a lover of Disney, Drag, and Broadway

Meet artist Frank Sansone: a lover of Disney, Drag, and Broadway

Polish city of Lubin hosts first Pride march amid violent counter-protests This is how we have made 2018 the biggest ever year for Pride in the UK 31-year-old gay artist Frank Sansone was recently a vendor at RuPaul’s DragCon in NYC. The Upstate New York native’s booth was covered in his renditions of Drag Race queens as emojis and stunning interpretations of his favorite Disney characters. The Visual Arts

Sansone was always a creative type. ‘If I didn’t have a coloring book, I’d draw on my own,’ he tells GSN of his youth.

‘I’ve been obsessed with Disney since I was an infant,’ he says. ‘It’s in my DNA.’ Some of his favorite Disney films include Beauty & The Beast, Aladdin, and the Little Mermaid.

When Sansone began attending conventions like DragCon and FlameCon , he was inspired to learn more about art for the digital age. This inspired him to try different artistic mediums.

His favorite style to work in is the art nouveau style. In fact, the work he’s most proud of to this day was an art nouveau piece inspired by Rey from Star Wars.

Rey from Star Wars in Frank Sansone’s favorite art nouveau style The Performing Arts

Aside from visual arts, Sansone is also a big fan of the theater. He recalls being a kid and forcing his friends to put on plays with him. In middle school, he began participating in drama clubs.

The musical Hairspray has always been one of his favorites, as it combines the glitz and glam one expects from musical theater with a really strong, heartfelt message.

Sansone eventually went on to attend Marymount Manhattan College where he majored in theater with a concentration in musical theater. His whole life has been at attempt at balancing both his passion for the visual arts as well as his love for theater.

The perfect opportunity for this balance came when Sansone joined a theater company in Colorado. On top of performing in their unique productions, he also designed the posters for their shows.

A theater poster by Frank Sansone Struggles & Identity

When it comes to struggles he’s faced as an artist, Sansone describes them as two-fold. The first being learning to create his own work and make his own value.

‘Artists really struggle with feeling they’re doing something that matters,’ he explains. ‘Some days are more optimistic than others.’

The second is learning to rely on himself. Especially in a big and competitive city like New York, it’s easy to become discouraged. This is exacerbated by the digital age we live in where there’s always a fear of missing out on something fabulous.

‘Everyone has [bad] days,’ he says. ‘Even if it doesn’t seem that way on social media.’

In terms of how his identity is reflected by his art, it wasn’t always. ‘I haven’t always fully been in touch with my own identity,’ Sansone says.

Now, he notes, it’s easier to recognize the importance of saying something with his work. Though he doesn’t immediately think of a message before drawing, this political climate has made it easier to make a statement.

Over the years, Sansone has grown to embrace his identity as a gay man, an artist, and a lover of pop culture.

See more of Frank Sansone’s work on his website .