An LGBT activist holds a rainbow flag at a court hearing in Nairobi on February 20. (SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images) The High Court in Kenya has ruled not to decriminalise gay sex in a disappointing decision for LGBT+ activists hoping to repeal sections of the country’s penal code.
Three judges made the judgement on Friday (May 24).
Justice Aburili opened the reading and Justice Chacha Mwita then read his judgement, followed by Justice John Mativo .
It has been three years and one month since queer activist Eric Gitari first filed a discrimination lawsuit challenging the constitutional validity of two sections of Kenya’s colonial-era penal code.
The ruling means that Sections 162 (a) and (c), 163 and 165 of Kenya’s penal code remain in place and homosexual relations are still criminalised.
These parts of the penal code – introduced by the British Empire in 1930 – criminalise sodomy, and make sexual acts “against the order of nature,” interpreted as including same-sex sexual relations, currently punishable by 14 years’ imprisonment.
LGBT+ activists in Kenya had been “cautiously optimistic” ahead of Friday’s ruling, Mercy Njueh of the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (NGLHRC) in Kenya told PinkNews their hopes are now shattered.
“A positive ruling would have allowed LGBTIQ+ persons to enjoy their basic human rights, and be able to live as equal Kenyans,” she said.
The High Court was supposed to issue its verdict in February, but postponed it at the last minute.
Téa Braun, director of the Human Dignity Trust, told PinkNews that the judgment is “very significant for Africa, as it will be worldwide.”
“This would have been the first court decision on the continent since South Africa in 1994 to rule on the issue of LGBT criminalisation, and could have signalled the beginning of the wider dismantling of these archaic and discriminatory laws,” Braun said.
“The trend across the Commonwealth and the world is already clear: these laws have no place in a constitutional democracy and they must go. At the Human Dignity Trust, we hope that other Commonwealth governments will save litigants and taxpayers the time and expense of going to court and just repeal these laws,” she said. Trying to repeal sections of Kenya penal code was about “human rights”
Njueh, a communications assistant at NGLHRC, previously told PinkNews that Friday’s (May 24) court ruling was about human rights.
Activists argue that under the penal code any private sexual acts beyond penetrative vaginal sex between a man and a woman is illegal—including anal and oral sex, regardless of the gender of those involved.
“Even heterosexual people, if the law was followed to the very end, would be persecuted,” Njueh told PinkNews.
“What we’re fighting for is not just about gender and sexual minorities. It’s about human rights. We are pushing for Kenyans, who are recognised by the constitution, to be allowed to enjoy their human rights, without having to fear.”
Altogether, four human rights group petitioned in the lawsuit: NGLHRC, the Gay And Lesbian Coalition Of Kenya (GALCK), Nyanza, Rift Valley and Western Kenya Network (NYARWEK) and the Kenya Human Rights Commission.
It was hoped that today’s verdict would open the floodgates for the repeal of similar legislation in other countries in Africa, where homosexuality is still illegal in 32 out of the continent’s 54 nations.
In particular, it was hoped that a positive ruling would have a strong impact on countries in the eastern African region, including Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and South Sudan.
That is no longer the case.
“Attitudes do not change overnight. Education and awareness are key. LGBTQ+ people being able to speak out and be themselves is key, so that people can see that they are just like everyone else, but for who they choose to love,” says Braun.
Michael D. Cohen attends Nickelodeon’s 2019 Kids’ Choice Awards. (Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images) Michael D. Cohen, who plays Schwoz Schwartz on Henry Danger , Nickelodeon’s longest-running live-action sitcom, has opened up for the first time about his transition.
In an interview with TIME , Cohen revealed that he transitioned from female to male almost 20 years ago.
Cohen said he was “misgendered at birth” and his “core being” has always been male.
“I identify as male, and I am proud that I have had a transgender experience — a transgender journey,” he said.
The 43-year-old actor, who has also appeared on Modern Family and 2 Broke Girls , said he was coming out about his transition as he had noticed an increase in transgender characters on television, such as Pose and Transparent .
“In my experience, I was born male,” Cohen said. “What my body said about it was irrelevant. No matter how hard I tried, it was not up for negotiation. Believe me, it would have been so convenient if I was actually a woman.” Michael D. Cohen says misunderstanding of trans issues is “so destructive”
Cohen said that while he doesn’t like using the ‘transgender’ word to describe himself, as he believes it doesn’t exactly define who he is, he still views himself as part of the community that accepts that term. “These are my people. I belong to this group.”
The actor said he was also inspired to open up about his journey due to the way transgender people are being treated in the media and by the American government .
“This crazy backlash and oppression of rights is happening right in front of me,” Cohen said.
“I can’t stay silent. The level of — let’s be polite — misunderstanding around trans issues is so profound and so destructive. When you disempower one population, you disempower everybody. Michael D. Cohen with the cast of Henry Danger (Neilson Barnard/Getty) “These are my people. I belong to this group.”
Cohen said his fellow cast mates on the Nickelodeon sitcom are already aware of his transition.
Cohen’s character, Schwoz, had been a recurring character since it launched in 2014 and became a series regular last year for the latest season.
Li Huanwu and Heng Yirui announced their wedding in Cape Town. (@Hengyirui/Instagram) Li Huanwu, the nephew of current Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, has married his partner in Cape Town, South Africa.
Huanwu, who is also the grandson of Singapore’s first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, and his partner Heng Yirui shared the news of their marriage earlier today (May 24).
Posting on Instagram , Dr. Yirui, who works as a veterinarian, wrote: “Today I marry my soul mate. Looking forward to a lifetime of moments like this with @hero.unit.”
The pair were photographed alongside a lavish display in Cape Town, with an elephant in the background. Today I marry my soul mate. Looking forward to a lifetime of moments like this with @hero.unit Huanwu also took to social media to share news of the ceremony, alongside snaps of the pair enjoying their time in Cape Town.
The photos, which featured the couple with their arms around each other and another of a dog balancing two wedding rings on its nose, were posted on Facebook with the caption: “Safari before our big day. #lovewins”
Yirui also posted on Facebook to say: “Today I marry my soul mate. The journey has been a great one with the love and support of friends and family.
“Here’s to a lifetime of loving companionship and good cheer!” Li Huanwu and his husband Heng Yirui at Mana Pools National Park in Cape Town. (Li Huanwu/Facebook) Li Huanwu: “there is more to life than the darkness of the closet”
Huanwu came out in July last year, during an LGBT exhibition which coincided with Singapore’s Pink Dot Pride event.
“For the LGBT community, it is but a dream to share in the same human dignities as you, to live full and proper lives,” he posted on Facebook after the event.
“If you’re a closeted member of the LGBT community, I also urge you to come. I hope that you will look past the security barricades and ID checks and see – if only for an afternoon – that there is more to life than the darkness of the closet, that there are people out there who care.
“Finally, if you’re an out member of the LGBT community, you have a moral responsibility to come. If you do not stand up yourself, you cannot expect others to fight for you. This is your moral duty.”
Gay sex is still illegal in Singapore, under its Penal Code Section 377A.
Singapore-based LGBT+ activist Rachel Yeo previously told PinkNews that “it definitely takes a thick skin” to be LGBT+ in the country.
Activists hope that the recent decriminalisation of a similar Penal Code in India will spur Singapore on to follow suit.
Vikings: Free Online Game Play this for 1 minute and see why everyone is addicted
The inquiry is looking at why 4,800 people with haemophilia were infected with hepatitis C or HIV A woman has given a harrowing account of her devastation at telling her sons their father was going to die.
Sharon Lowry was giving evidence at the Infected Blood Inquiry into what has been called "the worst treatment scandal" in NHS history.
On the final day of witness hearings in Belfast, she spoke of the deterioration of Richard Lowry’s health.
He was told he had contracted Hepatitis C in 1991. He died in 2011 from chronic renal failure with cirrhosis.
Mrs Lowry described how, at the end of his life, he was "a skeleton with skin on".
"That’s the only way I can describe him," she said. "He had no flesh. He had no muscle." Blood victim’s ‘life of fear and anger’
Lives have been ruined, say victims
Blood inquiry seeks answers at last
Tainted love: One woman’s story
The inquiry is looking at why 4,800 people with haemophilia were infected with hepatitis C or HIV in the 1970s and 1980s.
With allegations of a cover-up, no-one in government or the NHS has been held to account.
Some people have waited 30 years for a full public inquiry. ‘He begged me to kill him’
At times breaking down, Mrs Lowry said towards the end of his life, her husband became depressed, his personality changed and he "shut down".
"He had just given up completely," she said.
"He was so low looking and there was no fight in him."
"He begged me to kill him. He just wanted to die."
Mrs Lowry said she hoped the government would "accept responsibility and liability for what should never, ever have happened".
"Sadly, I feel as if I am having to prove that my husband’s life was important enough to matter."
There have been complaints that victims in England and Scotland are receiving more financial help than those in Wales and Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley has written to one victim, saying any decision about financial support for victims was a matter for Northern Ireland’s assembly .
Northern Ireland has been without a devolved power-sharing government for more than two-and-a-half years , after the DUP and Sinn Féin split in a bitter row.
Mrs Lowry told BBC News NI she was angry at Mrs Bradley’s intervention, describing it as "unhelpful". What is the scandal about?
About 5,000 people with haemophilia and other bleeding disorders are believed to have been infected with HIV and hepatitis viruses over a period of more than 20 years.
That was because they were injected with blood products used to help their blood clot.
It was a treatment introduced in the early 1970s. Before then, patients faced lengthy stays in hospital to have transfusions, even for minor injuries.
The UK was struggling to keep up with demand for the treatment – known as clotting agent Factor VIII – and so supplies were imported from the US.
But much of the human blood plasma used to make the product came from donors such as prison inmates, who sold their blood. Factor VIII was imported from the US in the 1970s and 1980s The blood products were made by pooling plasma from up to 40,000 donors and concentrating it.
People who had blood transfusions after an operation or childbirth were also exposed to the contaminated blood – as many as 30,000 people may have been infected.
By the mid-1980s, the products started to be heat treated to kill the viruses.
But questions remain about how much was known before that and why some contaminated products remained in circulation.
Screening of blood products began in 1991.
By the late 1990s, synthetic treatments for haemophilia became available, removing the infection risk.
Conservative MPs will be throwing their hats into the ring to become the next Tory leader and prime minister after Theresa May announced she would be stepping down on 7 June.
Here are a list of possible contenders – some of whom have already announced their intention to stand. Possible candidates for Tory leadership
Backbencher @BorisJohnson The former mayor of London has long coveted the top job. He announced he would be standing, saying “Of course I’m going to go for it.”
Mr Johnson, the face of the Vote Leave campaign, quit as foreign secretary last year in protest at Theresa May’s Brexit plans and has been a loud and prominent critic of her and her policies ever since.
He is popular figure with Conservative members, but has fewer fans in Parliament. His main task will be to convince enough Tory MPs to vote for him to get on to the ballot of party members.
He stepped back from the 2016 leadership fight after fellow Brexiteer Michael Gove launched his own campaign for a run at the top job.
Former Leader of the House @andrealeadsom A prominent Brexiteer, the former Commons leader decisively quit the cabinet as Mrs May tried to win last gasp support for her withdrawal bill. She said she no longer believed the government’s approach would deliver Brexit.
She had to abandon a leadership bid in 2016 after widely criticised comments about rival Theresa May.
But she still has support on the right of the party and could fancy another go.
Backbencher @DominicRaab A former lawyer and staunch Brexiteer who was calling for Britain to leave the EU long before the referendum, Mr Raab has been tipped for high office since being elected as an MP in 2010.
He was appointed as a justice minister in 2015 but was sacked by Theresa May when she became prime minister the following year.
After David Davis’s resignation as Brexit secretary in July 2018 , Mr Raab was appointed his successor, only to resign himself in opposition to Theresa May’s EU deal which he said he couldn’t "in good conscience" support.
Environment Secretary @michaelgove The former journalist, who has been MP for Surrey Heath since 2005, was a key ally of then Prime Minister David Cameron before throwing his weight behind the Vote Leave campaign in the 2016 EU referendum.
He made his name as a radical education secretary, his term characterised by battles with the teaching unions.
He famously scuppered the leadership hopes of his friend and fellow Brexiteer Boris Johnson in the aftermath of the referendum, by announcing his own candidature on the morning Mr Johnson was due to launch his campaign, saying he did not think Mr Johnson was up to it. He was soundly defeated.
He has stayed in the cabinet, as environment secretary, to fight for Mrs May’s EU deal, rather than following other Brexiteers out of the door.
Foreign Secretary @Jeremy_Hunt After six years at the Department of Health, Jeremy Hunt was moved to the Foreign Office following Boris Johnson’s resignation.
He campaigned to remain in the EU during the 2016 referendum, but has since been reborn as a Brexiteer, even suggesting, to widespread criticism, that the EU was like the Soviet Union.
An MP since 2005, he was made culture secretary under the coalition government in 2010 and moved to health after overseeing the 2012 London Olympics.
Mr Hunt confirmed he would be standing during a speech at the Haslemere Festival on Friday.
Home Secretary @sajidjavid The home secretary is a second-generation migrant whose parents came from Pakistan. He backed Remain in the Brexit referendum but with a "heavy heart and no enthusiasm" and has never hidden his Eurosceptism.
Born in Rochdale, his father was a bus driver who reputedly arrived in the UK with £1 in his pocket. Mr Javid worked as a credit trader at Deutsche Bank before entering politics.
A former protege of George Osborne at the Treasury, he has been an MP since 2010 and has previously served as business secretary, culture secretary and communities and local government secretary.
International Development Secretary @RoryStewartUK The former prisons minister was appointed international development secretary in early May, in a reshuffle that followed Gavin Williamson’s sacking.
Although once a Remain supporter, he said he accepted Brexit but wanted "to reach out to Remain voters as well to bring this country together again".
"The only way I can do that is by moving beyond my brief and beginning to lay out, whether it’s on climate change or any of these other issues, what I think it would mean to be a country we can be proud of," he told the BBC’s Political Thinking With Nick Robinson podcast.
Chief Secretary to the Treasury @trussliz A Brexit-friendly right-winger, the chief secretary to the Treasury has been making thinly veiled leadership speeches for some time.
The MP for South West Norfolk was the first woman justice secretary.
She caused a stir on social media in her earlier role of environment secretary when she told the Tory party conference in a dramatic voice that "we import two-thirds of our cheese. That. Is. A. Disgrace”.
Work and Pensions Secretary @AmberRuddHR A leading cabinet Remainer, Amber Rudd resigned as home secretary in April last year over the Windrush scandal, after many people from Commonwealth countries who had legally lived in Britain for decades were wrongly classed as illegal immigrants and deported.
She returned six months later, replacing Esther McVey as work and pensions secretary, after an investigation blamed officials for the debacle.
She spearheads a 60-strong bloc of Tories called the One Nation Conservative Caucus, a group opposing a no-deal Brexit.
"The Conservative Party is entering a new phase and we here in this room are determined to shape that phase. Sometimes our voices aren’t heard quite as vocally as they should be," she told the launch.
Health Secretary @MattHancock The ambitious MP for West Suffolk was promoted to health secretary after only a few months as culture secretary, when Jeremy Hunt became foreign secretary after Boris Johnson’s resignation.
He campaigned for Remain in the EU referendum but is now seen as an ally by Brexiteer ministers, recently urging MPs to back the Withdrawal Agreement Bill.
The former Bank of England economist likes to see himself as one of the most technology-savvy politicians at Westminster and was the first MP to have his own smartphone app. Priti Patel Backbencher @patel4witham Elected as MP for Witham in May 2010, she served as a minister in the Treasury and Department of Work and Pensions before being appointed international development secretary.She resigned from the cabinet in 2017 after disclosures she had held a series of unofficial meetings with senior Israeli figures.But she is admired on the right of the party for her strong pro-Brexit stance. Esther McVey Backbencher @EstherMcVey1 A Brexit supporter and former TV presenter, Esther McVey quit as work and pensions secretary last November in protest at Mrs May’s withdrawal agreement with the EU.Asked on Talk Radio whether she would run for leader, the MP for Tatton, in Cheshire, said: "I’ve always said quite clearly that if I got enough support from colleagues then, yes, I would, and now people have come forward and I have that support." Penny Mordaunt Defence Secretary @PennyMordaunt Penny Mordaunt became the UK’s first female defence secretary in May this year after Gavin Williamson was sackedWith a background as a naval reservist, and having served as an armed forces minister under David Cameron, Ms Mordaunt seemed well prepared for the role.The former international development secretary was a high-profile campaigner for the Leave campaign during the 2016 EU referendum and underlined her pro-Brexit credentials by backing Andrea Leadsom in the subsequent Conservative leadership contest. This time around, she is touted as a contender in her own right. Sir Graham Brady Backbencher The long-standing chairman of the Conservative backbench 1922 Committee resigned his position shortly after Mrs May’s announcement and said he was considering running."I have been urged by a number of colleagues from across the party from inside Parliament, and outside, asking me to put myself forward as a candidate," he told the BBC. "Therefore, I have made the decision to stand down as chair of the 1922 Committee in order to ensure a fair and transparent election process.”Sir Graham, knighted in the 2018 New Year Honours, has been a Conservative MP since 1997, chairing the 1922 Committee since 2010. Possible candidates for Tory leadership Boris Johnson Backbencher @BorisJohnson The former mayor of London has long coveted the top job. He announced he would be standing, saying “Of course I’m going to go for it.”Mr Johnson, the face of the Vote Leave campaign, quit as foreign secretary last year in protest at Theresa May’s Brexit plans and has been a loud and prominent critic of her and her policies ever since.He is popular figure with Conservative members, but has fewer fans in Parliament. His main task will be to convince enough Tory MPs to vote for him to get on to the ballot of party members.He stepped back from the 2016 leadership fight after fellow Brexiteer Michael Gove launched his own campaign for a run at the top job. Andrea Leadsom Former Leader of the House @andrealeadsom A prominent Brexiteer, the former Commons leader decisively quit the cabinet as Mrs May tried to win last gasp support for her withdrawal bill. She said she no longer believed the government’s approach would deliver Brexit.She had to abandon a leadership bid in 2016 after widely criticised comments about rival Theresa May.But she still has support on the right of the party and could fancy another go. Dominic Raab Backbencher @DominicRaab A former lawyer and staunch Brexiteer who was calling for Britain to leave the EU long before the referendum, Mr Raab has been tipped for high office since being elected as an MP in 2010.He was appointed as a justice minister in 2015 but was sacked by Theresa May when she became prime minister the following year.After David Davis’s resignation as Brexit secretary in July 2018 , Mr Raab was appointed his successor, only to resign himself in opposition to Theresa May’s EU deal which he said he couldn’t "in good conscience" support. Michael Gove Environment Secretary @michaelgove The former journalist, who has been MP for Surrey Heath since 2005, was a key ally of then Prime Minister David Cameron before throwing his weight behind the Vote Leave campaign in the 2016 EU referendum.He made his name as a radical education secretary, his term characterised by battles with the teaching unions.He famously scuppered the leadership hopes of his friend and fellow Brexiteer Boris Johnson in the aftermath of the referendum, by announcing his […]
Della and Ryan are excited about their imminent arrival When Della McGill entered a competition in her favourite magazine last year, she crossed her fingers and hoped for the best.
But the competition prize was not your average offering.
The prize was not a holiday, a car or even a lump sum of cash. But it was everything Della wanted.
Della, 36, and her partner Ryan Cunningham, 39, had been trying for a baby for several years.
She became pregnant in 2016, but suffered an ectopic pregnancy resulting in surgery to remove one of her fallopian tubes.
Another pregnancy in 2017 sadly resulted in a second ectopic pregnancy. ‘Ended in disappointment’
The couple then made the decision to try IVF.
Della, from Broxburn in West Lothian, has lived in Northern Ireland with Ryan for four years. The NHS there offers one fresh and one frozen embryo transfer. In Scotland, every eligible patient is offered three rounds.
The couple did not have a frozen embryo, and decided if their one round ended in disappointment, they would go down the private route.
The couple worked out a package which would cost them £15,000. Friends and family pledged to help them pay for the treatment. Della has campaigned for better IVF treatment in Northern Ireland During her IVF journey, Della joined social media support groups and read everything she could about the process.
She entered a competition run by an online fertility magazine to win a free round of IVF treatment.
Just after she learned her NHS treatment had not worked, she re-read the competition details and realised the rules were one entry per person, not per couple, so encouraged Ryan to enter too.
Della told BBC Radio Scotland’s Mornings with Stephen Jardine what happened next. Private consultation
She said: "It was a competition to mark 40 years of IVF. You could win the treatment at one of 15 clinics across the world. They were offering one round of IVF as a prize.
"I entered and then, when our cycle failed, on the last day of the competition, my partner entered.
"While we were waiting on an appointment for a private consultation, we found out Ryan had won the competition.
"We were offered a free cycle of IVF at the GCRM clinic in Glasgow, including all the necessary medication. It was worth about £6,000-£7,000. There were 6,000 entrants. We couldn’t believe it." The big day – Ryan and Ella during the IVF process Della went home to Scotland to start the treatment last October.
She said: "There were no guarantees, but I had been through counselling after the second ectopic pregnancy and I was trying to be upbeat.
"I felt like things had fallen into place and I had been given an opportunity before having to turn to family and friends for help." ‘Sneaky test’
After going through the IVF process, Della was due to visit the clinic to see if it had been successful, but she already had an inkling.
She said: "I was feeling nauseous and thought I had some pregnancy symptoms. I didn’t tell anyone and I sneakily did a test – which they don’t advise. It was positive. I did another and the lines were even darker."
Ryan had gone back to Northern Ireland for work and Della wanted to surprise him.
"I had seen so many women online sharing their amazing news with their partners.
"I wanted to be able to do that and have that surprise. I booked an early ferry to come home and tell him face-to face. Della’s baby scan photo shows that everything is perfect "On the ferry I got a gift box and put the pregnancy test in it. I handed him the box and it was just pure disbelief that it had finally worked."
After two heartbreaking ectopic pregnancies, the couple were still anxious that something could go wrong. There was still a risk of ectopic pregnancy.
But all is well.
Della said: "The baby is due on 26 July – but it’s a big baby and I may be induced sooner. Like its dad, it could be a rugby player in the making."
The couple do not know the sex of their baby, but cannot wait to meet their little miracle.
Della said: "We have waited this long – hanging on another few months for that surprise is nothing."
Several gay Kenyans have been prosecuted in the past few years Kenya’s High Court has ruled against campaigners seeking to overturn a law banning gay sex.
The judges rejected claims that the colonial-era law violated the new constitution, which guarantees equality, dignity and privacy.
The penal code criminalises "carnal knowledge against the order of nature" – widely understood to refer to anal intercourse between men.
Gay sex is punishable by up to 14 years in prison.
Kenya’s National Gay And Lesbian Human Rights Commission says it has dealt with 15 prosecutions under the penal codes in 2018, with no convictions.
But it had argued for the law to be scrapped because it gives rise to a climate of homophobia. Latest updates on BBC Africa Live
Gay Ugandans regret fleeing to Kenya
Where is it illegal to be gay?
In 2016, LGBT rights activists filed a case with Kenya’s High Court saying that homosexual relations should be decriminalised.
They argued that the state has no business regulating matters of intimacy.
The case wasn’t heard until February 2018 and a verdict was initially expected in February 2019 – but delayed until Friday. What’s the gay scene like in Nairobi?
Megha Mohan, BBC Gender and Identity reporter There are unofficial gay clubs and advertised events in Kenya’s cities. "The LGBT community in Kenya have created an amazing tribe and culture for themselves," says Brian Macharia, an activist for the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya.
"There is a ballroom scene, a drag scene – vibrant bisexual community, a lesbian scene. Young people are driving the community forward through social media."
Gay men also use dating apps – although users with international roaming do get a warning about the legal status when logging in while in Kenya. The judges ruled that while they respected changes to laws banning gay sex in other countries, it was the court’s duty to respect prevailing Kenyan values.
Many Christian and Muslim groups support the current law, and the Kenyan attorney-general had argued against decriminalisation.
Many African countries still enforce strict laws governing homosexuality, in most cases a legacy of laws imposed by the colonial rulers.
‘I carry my heart in a rucksack’ An Oxford University student who had to carry an artificial heart in a rucksack after her own was removed has been awarded her masters degree posthumously.
Rebecca Henderson, 24, from Bicester, Oxfordshire, died in February from transplant complications.
She was one of only two people in the UK with an artificial heart.
Mum Linda Henderson said she cried when she heard Rebecca had been awarded the degree. Rebecca Henderson had her heart removed due to cancer in 2017 Ms Henderson said she was "really happy" as Rebecca was "so brilliant academically and I saw all of the hard work she put in".
She said: "It depends how much work a student has completed as to whether or not [the university] will award a degree, and sometimes it’s only a certificate.
"Rebecca had got about two thirds of the way through and it had to go all the way to the education committee where they were able to waive some of the criteria that she needed to fill.
"Becca had actually booked her graduation slot before she went into hospital, so we’re still going on the same day and we will pick up her masters degree on her behalf."
She added the family were "going to plant a shrub or a tree in the quad at St Anne’s next to the library and scatter some of Becca’s ashes there". Rebecca relied on this artificial heart to pump blood around her body Rebecca had her heart removed due to cancer in 2017. In October, she returned to study at St Anne’s College and brought the 7kg artificial heart with her.
At the time she said: "At no point did it ever occur to me to give up.
"No matter how hard it is for me, even if it is hard for me, it will then be easier for the next person."
@PhotogReno I describe myself as the country’s highest-earning worker in the world’s oldest profession, by which I mean I make more than any other sex worker at any legal brothel in the U.S.
Cue the raised eyebrows, contemptuous stares and not-so-subtle judgment. Bring on the intense curiosity, too ― because I am a novelty. Everyone has their preconceived notions of what a sex worker looks, sounds and acts like, but I don’t fit any of those stereotypes. I’m a petite Irish lady standing just 4 feet, 8 inches tall. I’m well-educated and well-spoken. I’m not the victim of tragic circumstance. I had options and I chose to be a legal sex worker . Yes, on purpose! Despite sex work being so highly stigmatized, I love my job because I get to help people rediscover personal connections and intimacy.
I didn’t grow up wanting to be a lady of the night. I tried many different career paths — including a brief stint as a horse jockey! — but I struggled to find work that combined my love for human interaction with something that made me feel passion. Nothing ever felt as fulfilling as working in a legal brothel. It fits me perfectly.
As a sapiosexual, I learned early on that I am attracted to the minds of the people I’m around with no concern for their physical bodies. I feel no shame about my sexuality, trying new things or being attracted to more than one person at a time. It also helps that I am able to sexually enjoy multiple relationships at once. So three years ago I went to the world-famous Moonlite Bunny Ranch (Cathouse on HBO, anyone?) just outside Carson City, Nevada. At first, I only planned to stay for a couple of months. I never left.
Legal brothels in Nevada have their own vocabulary. Folks can come in, see a lineup and have a brothel party . Some courtesans, like myself, are only available by appointment. All ladies work as independent contractors, which means we’re able to choose which services to offer, set our own rates and say no at any time for any reason. According to Nevada law, it is only legal to agree upon activities and prices in person. The brothel then handles all payments and takes 50% of whatever we book.
Due to the demands on my schedule, my bookings typically start around $2,000. It might surprise you to know that I work an average of 60 to 80 hours per week; this is because I’m also a sex educator. I write sexual education articles , post sex toy reviews on my YouTube channel, publish an intimacy podcast and more.
Why do I keep so busy? Based on the three years that I’ve been doing this work, I believe Americans are facing an intimacy crisis, and I believe loneliness to be America’s fastest-growing public health epidemic. Research shows that loneliness can be as detrimental to your health as smoking 15 cigarettes per day. It’s tearing apart our social fabric. People rarely spend time nurturing and fostering intimacy in their relationships. Even as our digitised world lets us connect through the click of a button, our human bodies and minds still crave human touch. It’s so essential that being deprived of it can stunt healthy emotional, mental and spiritual growth.
Imagine that you are an adult dealing with the crushing social shame of virginity. Or recovering from the devastating loss of a longtime spouse. Or learning how to deal with a medical condition or disability like erectile dysfunction, breast cancer or the loss of a limb. I specialise in therapeutic sexual services that can help build sexual confidence, provide an opportunity to practice building connections and teach sexual techniques to work around physical limitations. If you’re a man terrified of talking to women, it can be intimidating to get out there. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a dinner date with a girl whom you can not only be romantic with but also ask for dating pointers to boost your confidence? Having someone on your side, cheering you on, can make a big difference.
While I offer these individual services, I’m considered an expert at couples’ encounters. In my teen years, I witnessed my parents’ marriage falling apart. As they were entangled in their divorce, my family was torn up and I felt helpless. I struggled to understand it back then, but as I grew older, it dawned on me that their divorce was due, in huge part, to a lack of intimacy and romance.
Spouses in America commonly work eight- to nine-hour days, each waking up to their own blaring alarms, jumping out of bed and rushing out the door. They’re buried behind their screens rather than having face-to-face conversations. This was part of what made my own parents’ marriage deteriorate — a simple lack of genuine communication and connection. I’ve since used their example as a source of empowerment for other couples struggling with similar issues.
Couples frequently seek my services to rediscover intimacy, improve bedroom communication, explore safely and fulfil fantasies. I believe seeing a legal sex worker when your relationship needs fine-tuning is just the same as going to a mechanic when your car needs repairs. I love working with couples because of the special chemistry that already exists between them. It challenges me to see where I can fit into their equation and work around their dynamic to help enhance it. It gives me pleasure to know that they have entrusted me with one another and have honoured me with the privilege of helping them improve their relationship.
However, consent between partners must be clearly established before we do anything. It means that the parties have mutually agreed, and are equally invested, in the process. This creates a safe space to work through intimacy issues where partners can avoid jealousy and other conflicting feelings. Many find relief in knowing that a legal sex worker will not try to “steal” their spouse. (Just like a child care provider returns your child every day, legal sex workers have no intent or desire to “keep” your spouse!) The kinds of interactions that will occur are negotiated ahead of time. There is total transparency with set limits and boundaries. People have the freedom to explore in a comfortable, safe and controlled environment.
When working with couples, I talk about sex in ways that they may never have done with each other. We address uncomfortable topics and face tough questions. Is each partner getting their sexual needs met and, if not, how can those needs be met? What are their deepest fantasies? What positions feel best? It’s about helping couples find answers to what is missing. The goal is to build new communication skills that can be used to improve the quality of their relationship.
I also teach techniques for better sex. Many couples use my services to learn about new positions, how to employ different sex toys, how to work around height and other body differences, and more. One of my key objectives is to help people learn how to better please themselves and their partners.
A common fantasy among married couples is the threesome experience, but few actually pursue it, often out of fear. Likewise, many couples are interested in kink and BDSM but don’t attempt it because they lack the knowledge, tools and expertise. This kind of experimentation can have high stakes — a negative experience may diminish a partner’s willingness to explore. Legal sex workers can take the fear out of trying new things. Having an expert like me show you how to engage in flogging, spanking, roping, role-play, domination and more can bring a new thrill to your sex life.
I also teach the best practices to prevent cross-contamination and handle the technical side of things so you can focus on what’s important. Similar to professionals in many other fields of work, legal sex workers follow protocols to ensure safety and hygiene. We get tested regularly for sexually transmitted diseases to ensure that no one is put at risk.
Some couples simply want to receive a completely sex-free, education-focused service. Let’s face it: America’s sex ed system leaves a lot to be desired. More than half of the states either provide abstinence-only sexual education or don’t teach sex ed at all in public schools. This is where a legal sex worker like me can fill in the gaps.
As a professional, your comfort is always my top priority. My goal is to equip you with the right tools and education to enhance your intimacy. I can be in the room to facilitate mutual pleasure between partners or I can leave the room and return to debrief the encounter after you interact. Either way, enlisting the aid of a professional can help couples gain new perspective on the issues they struggle with.
At the crux of my work is helping couples enhance their own open communication. It’s an area that most struggle with regardless of how long they’ve been together. In my experience, the couples who are unable to communicate openly are at greatest risk of being “wrecked.” If a marriage is on the rocks, both people need to be willing to ask for help and to put in the work. Even the suggestion of seeing a legal sex worker can help a couple embark on that communication journey toward greater intimacy and meeting each other’s sexual needs.
Some find meeting with a legal sex worker difficult and scary while others are anxiously excited. Regardless, it’s my job to support and enhance healthy, open communication. It’s the foundation for the positive change that can help to save a troubled marriage or improve one that is already thriving. I chose this profession because I wanted to help people connect in meaningful ways. I stayed because I love changing the world’s intimacy habits, one person at a time.
This blog first appeared on HuffPost Personal, and can be read here I’m A Millennial Who’s Never Used A Dating App. Here’s What I’ve Learned.
I’m A Black Woman Living In Asia. This Is What It’s Like To Date.
After three years of grappling with the behemoth that is Brexit, Theresa May has has finally revealed that she will step down as party leader on June 7.
There was applause when May entered Downing St on July 13, 2016, pledging to end “burning injustices” and help the “just about managing”.
But despite the promises, her tenure inevitably ended up being utterly dominated by Britain’s exit from the EU.
So – other than Brexit – what has the May administration actually achieved? And what promises did the outgoing PM fail to deliver on? What has the government done?
The infected blood inquiry
During the 1970s and 80s, contaminated blood in the NHS led to the deaths of at least 2,400 people, while thousands more were exposed to Hepatitis C and HIV.
Just days after the state opening of parliament in 2017, May announced a full public inquiry into the scandal, calling it “an appalling tragedy which should simply never have happened”.
The news was welcomed by victims and campaigners. She has since announced £29m extra for victims.
Free tampons in schools
Young girls had been skipping school because they were unable to afford sanitary products and concern was mounting over the scale of period poverty in the UK.
In Philip Hammond’s spring statement, the Chancellor announced the government would fund free sanitary products for secondary schools . It was later announced this would be extended to primary schools.
Firms to publish their gender pay gap
Theresa May shone a light on the disparity between men and women’s pay by forcing companies to publish their gender pay gap once a year.
Though some have said May should have gone further, the legal requirement for firms with 250 employees or more has underlined pay injustice.
Introduced a plastic tax
The UK is on course to introduce a tax on all single use plastic packaging that does not include at least 30% recycled material by 2022.
This followed the BBC’s heart-breaking documentary Blue Planet, fronted by David Attenborough, which showed the impact plastic use was having on marine life.
The Grenfell Tower fire inquiry
May’s response in the days after the North Kensington tower block blaze, in which 72 people die was slated as cold, inadequate and slow to adapt.
She was also criticised by survivors for appointing establishment figure Sir Martin Moore-Bick to chair the inquiry into the fire, which will not deliver its first report until October.
But she nonetheless ordered an independent inquiry and highlighted the move in her resignation speech.
Matt Wrack, the general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, gave his reaction after Theresa May announced her departure.
He said: “The inquiry she launched has kicked scrutiny of corporate and government interests into the long-grass, denying families and survivors justice, while allowing business as usual to continue for the wealthy. For the outgoing Prime Minister to suggest that her awful response to Grenfell is a proud part of her legacy is, frankly, disgraceful.”
Gave domestic abuse victims more support
The Domestic Abuse Bill, finally passed in January, introduced a series of measures that will protect victims.
They include: A legal definition of domestic abuse which includes economic abuse
A Domestic Abuse Commissioner to represent victims
Prohibiting perpetrators cross-examining their victims in family courts,
Making domestic abuse offenders subject to polygraph testing as a condition of their release from custody
Put £20bn into the NHS
Ambulance waiting times, an increase in baby deaths and a hospital beds crisis were among the headlines which were causing major concern for the health of the NHS.
May announced in 2018 that the NHS will receive a funding increase totalling £20.5 billion in real terms by 2023/24.
Labour and medics have said that this is not enough but it is nonetheless the biggest increase in funding the NHS has ever seen.
Abolished stamp duty for first-time buyers
The housing crisis has been a constant of May’s period in office with working people often complaining they are unable to get on the housing ladder.
Chancellor Philip Hammond announced in 2018 that stamp duty will be abolished immediately for first-time buyers buying a home of up to £500,000.
£2bn for social housing
Homelessness has doubled since 2010, figures have shown.
Charities have repeatedly underlined that more social housing is key to solving both the housing crisis and rough sleeping.
In September 2018, May announced an extra £2bn in longer-term funding for social housing developments, and called for an end to the “stigma” attached to living in a council home. The announcement was welcomed by housing associations and charities.
Racial disparity audit
May’s government carried out the first ever race disparity audit.
Among some of the more shocking statistics the study highlighted were that black men were nearly three times more likely to be arrested than white men, and black children three times more likely to be excluded from school.
It shone a light on Britain’s race problem in the wake of the Brexit vote. Theresa May, in happier times Introduced the ‘Amazon tax’
May’s chancellor announced that internet giants such as Amazon and Google will be subject to a ‘digital services tax’.
It comes amid widespread concern, in the UK and elsewhere, that the multi-billion pound technology firms are avoiding tax.While the OBR estimated the tax could bring in as [relatively] little as £30m, others have welcomed the tax as world-leading. Introduced T-Levels While Theresa May’s election manifesto pledge to create more grammar schools was dropped when the Tories lost their majority, she made good on her promise to make technical education more prestigious with T-Levels.Designed to be on an academic par with A-Levels, the first batch was due to include construction, digital skills, education and childcare qualifications.T-Levels have, however, been beset by delays. What did her government fail to do? Reform the Home Office The department May led for six years before becoming PM has lurched from crisis to crisis throughout her time in power.Its “hostile environment” policies led to the Windrush scandal, which saw at least 83 people wrongly detained, denied legal rights or threatened with deportation.The Home Affairs Select Committee has also repeatedly criticised detention centres’ treatment of vulnerable adults.Knife crime reached record levels in 2018, while the number of police jobs has fallen by up to 22,000 since 2010.Despite all this, and much more, May’s government declined to bring forward meaningful reforms of the Home Office. Introduce social care reforms The so-called ‘dementia tax’ outlined in the Tory manifesto is believed to have lost her party a majority at the 2017 general election, and did not make it into her programme for government.Throughout her three years in office, May has failed to introduce any reforms to social care, despite the sector struggling and costing the public purse billions.The social care green paper which she was supposed to bring forward this month has not materialised. It was supposed to explore a more generous means-test, a cap on lifetime social care charges, an insurance and contribution model, a care ISA; and the possibility of tax-free withdrawals from pension pots. End austerity Theresa May said in her conference speech last year that “people need to know austerity is over” and that “their hard work has paid off” after swingeing cuts to welfare and public services.But Hammond used his Spring Statement in 2019 to confirm the fourth and final year of the benefits freeze – which started in April – will go ahead as planned.The freeze, which applies to Universal Credit, child benefit, tax credits, housing benefits, income support and some disability benefits, was created by former chancellor George Osborne and came into force in 2016.The House of Commons Library said typical parents in work with two children would be £1,845 better off in 2019/20 if it were not for the policy. Put workers on boards In a speech launching her Conservative Party leadership, the prime minister said she wanted to see “changes in the way that big business is governed”.She advocated putting workers on company boards and making companies hold annual votes on executive pay.May was later accused of backtracking and watering the plans down, confirming to the CBI that she was scrapping the plans in August 2017. Liberalise abortion/gay marriage law in Northern Ireland The Stormont assembly has not been sitting since power-sharing talks between Sinn Fein and the government’s supply-and-confidence partners the DUP broke down in January 2017.In the region, abortion remains illegal and same sex marriage is banned despite reforms across the rest of the UK and Ireland. Despite repeated calls for the PM to use Westminster legislation to make reforms in Stormont’s absence, she has refused.