KPMG is celebrating intersectionality by bringing their BAME and LGBT networks together

KPMG is celebrating intersectionality by bringing their BAME and LGBT networks together

All of this week, Big Four firm KPMG have been celebrating intersectionality in the workplace. Intersectionality simply refers to the interconnected nature of personal characteristics such as race, class, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and religion, and how one individual can identify as being in multiple identifying groups. The issue is that if someone does fall into more than one group, a part of their identity is forgotten by the world around them.

Accountancy Age spoke to head of the KPMG LGBT network, David Pearson and KPMG’s I&D senior lead Edleen John about the importance of intersectionality and supporting a diverse culture in the workplace. 1. What is intersectionality awareness week at KPMG?

Edleen: Our intersectionality awareness week is really about raising awareness among our employees and partners about the fact that characteristics don’t operate in a vacuum. They intersect with one another and we must proactively recognise this. It’s really about making our colleagues aware of it. We often stereotype or think of certain individuals as having certain characteristics and it’s about saying actually individuals might be gay, BAME, trans, or something else and these elements might make up parts of who we are and we are all individuals.

David: For me, people’s identity looks more like a jigsaw or mosaic, it’s not a sculpture with one material used to create one entire piece. It’s different bits and pieces that come together. So intersectionality week is about celebrating diversity within people as well as diversity across the firm. Coming from the LGBT community myself, the intersectionality that Edline described isn’t always well understood within the wider community but even in distinct diversity communities. For example, LGBT people don’t always realise the importance of being BAME to someone who is from an African-Caribbean background. Intersectionality is about realising the different elements that make up people. We often just lump people into one group – we say ‘women’ but that’s roughly half the population and they’re assumed to be all identical but women could be disabled, BAME, LGBT, have a faith background, and so on, or all of the above.

start=”2″> What activities and education pieces are you doing this week at KPMG to raise awareness of intersectionality?

David: The first thing we have done is collaborate between KPMG’s LGBT network, Breathe, and our African-Caribbean network to create this week-long initiative. It might even be unique across the profession to have a specific week to focus on intersectionality between LGBT and BAME. We have invited those who are BAME or those who identify as LGBT or as an ally to share their stories and advice. We’re collating those stories and sharing them on our staff intranet and via email through the firm’s diversity networks, which we have 16 of, and the internal comms team support this, so it will also be shared with other news outlets too.

Edleen: our plan will broadly use the various communications we have with specific populations, so for example we will let partners and directors know, and a weekly newsroom that goes out to all our employees to be able to publicise the stories and people’s experiences, and share and enhance this awareness across the organisation so even individuals that aren’t part of our official diversity networks can still learn and understand about the experiences of some of our intersectional colleagues.

David: As part of Breathe network’s resources we have produced micro-learnings. We have ones around trans, bisexuality and asexuality and we are currently producing one around intersectionality. These stories and case studies and the practical tips and advice that come out of it will be integrated into the mirco-learning, which will be made available to all a staff. Again I’m not aware of any other organisation that is, through its LGBT network, creating a series of learning resources through its training sessions.

start=”3″> What key issues are there around intersectionality in the work place and how can businesses overcome these?

Edleen: As organisations looking at diversity, we often tend to think about things in buckets and consider what we are doing to support our gender agenda, LGBT agenda, or BAME agenda and I think KPMG is quite lucky that we are trying to look at it with a broader lens. While we have specific focuses we also recognise that one person’s experience as an LGBT individual might be very different to if you are an LGBT person with a Muslim background, which might be different to an LGBT individual from a Muslim background from a Caribbean family, so we try to help our organisation and the business community recognise it. While buckets are helpful in starting the diversity conversation it’s far more complex than that. To do it successfully you need to recognise that all of these things interact with one another so as an organisation we have a business responsibility to support those intersections and create awareness, recruitment, retention and everything else we do across those diversity lines.

David: The default assumption is that sometimes, when you speak about LGBT people, they are white, gay, middle class males and that simply isn’t true so we need to break down this stereotyping and bucketing up of a whole group of very diverse people into one label. Overlooking those multiple aspects of a person’s identity in the workplace can distort those identities and have an impact on how included people feel. If all the programs we design lump people together into these different groups it doesn’t produce the sort of inclusion we want to foster in our organisation. Picking up from what Edline said if you are LGBT and have a Muslim background, and the Breathe network is providing opportunities that feature alcohol then you might not feel comfortable going and so you would not feel included. It means when we design events in the network we must put some on that are at breakfast and lunchtime, or in the evening but don’t feature alcohol. There are also issues around making sure people have a voice and will attend events and have a platform, and making sure this isn’t always the same white, middle class, male.

start=”4″> How do you plan to encourage everyone to speak about intersectionality?

Edleen: it’s one of the broader aims of our I&D strategy generally. We are an organisation that wants to create equal opportunities for our people irrespective of what their background is or what their sexual orientation or ethnicity is, actually it’s about us working together to create a fairer future for all of us. So we have broader plans for what we will execute in the next financial year. It’s about saying ‘this journey is not just for the Breathe network or the ACM network to focus on, but it’s about every single one of us as individuals in this organisation working together to create a more inclusive culture and a fairer organisation more broadly’.

David: there is also a practical outcome which is that in early October the LGBT and African Caribbean networks are collaborating on an event which again will feature intersectionality. This week is for us to focus on this internally in the firm, but the event in October is for our clients to attend as well which will showcase some success stories of BAME and LGBT people and what they have achieved in the business world and outside it.

start=”5″> How do you at KPMG encourage people from any background and diversity to apply to work at your firm?

Edleen: we do a huge push from a branding and marketing perspective to make sure we are showcasing our diverse employees and we want to have people who are the most talented, irrespective of anything else. So we do a lot on social media, we do a lot with PR, and then we challenge our recruitment companies, saying we want diverse people to come into our organisation. On the student and grad front we look to go out to a broad base of universities and schools, working not only with careers coaches and tutors but working with student societies with diverse members across the industry more broadly. We organise, for instance, work experience to give people a chance to come and experience life here.

David: we actually run an LGBT-focused careers event called Authenticity, with other City firms. LGBT students from around the country come for half a day to experience and learn career-related skills to market themselves, gain knowledge of the organisations, and understand what it’s like to be LGBT in these organisations.

Edleen : from the BAME side we held a black heritage week where we had 30 undergraduate students from a plethora of universities coming to learn about all the different departments here, meet junior and senior role models, some of black heritage, and then there was a panel where they could ask what it was like to be black within KPMG.

start=”6″> What can individuals do who are allies or people who want to educate themselves within the workplace to support intersectionality?

Edleen: one of the first phases is about upskilling yourself and having an awareness. Leverage the resources available – like David mentioned micro-learnings, intranet sites, avenues to ask questions, and engage with the network – our networks are not just for employees who are in those groups. Then think about how to proactively do this on a daily basis. If you are a manager are you creating an inclusive environment for employees and if not why not? We all have unconscious biases and that’s part of being human but to overcome them you have to challenge yourself and call other people out for not being appropriate too.

David: Challenge your own assumptions. A lot of the issues that arise around intersectionality is because people make assumptions. Assumptions about who someone is, about what their identify is made up of, what’s important to them, how they see themselves, about their stories and their journeys. These can get in the way. In the accountancy profession like many others, the skills we need to work under time pressure to get things done and take an analytical approach makes us successful in the work we do but can get in the way of creating inclusion. So it’s about stepping back and making sure this doesn’t happen.

start=”7″> Why do you both do what you?

Edleen: what drives us is supporting the creation of equal opportunities for everybody. It’s my responsibility to help drive that forward and everyone else’s. There’s no point moaning that I think no one understands my background or people don’t truly understand what it’s like to be female or from a black heritage family – actually I need to go out there and tell people. Part of […]

Marina chides Wan Azizah over LGBT ‘haram’ remarks

Marina chides Wan Azizah over LGBT 'haram' remarks

PETALING JAYA: Social activist Marina Mahathir has chided Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail’s remarks on those who support the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.

The eldest daughter of Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad took to Twitter when the Women, Family and Community Development Minister had said in an interview with radio station BFM that she would not condone the LGBT community lifestyle, adding that it was haram (forbidden).

Marina tweeted, "Dear @drwanazizah, did you just call a lot of people including me who have shown the slightest bit of compassion towards marginalized people in our society haram??"

She also posted on Twitter a link to Nikkei Asian Review ‘s article which featured PKR-elect president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, quoting him as saying: “Malaysian society must live with different beliefs and ways of life and must respect people who are different, including gays, bisexuals and those who identify as transgender.”

"How now @drwanazizah?" Marina asked.

Marina had previously hit out at Dr Wan Azizah when the latter said no criminal action can be taken against a 41-year-old man over his marriage with a 11-year-old girl in Kelantan.

"How much more watertight evidence do we need? This 41 year old man has been interested in her since she was 7 and married her at 11….that’s all the evidence you need!!!" Marina wrote in her Facebook account.

LGBT people seek apology from lawmaker who called them unproductive

LGBT people seek apology from lawmaker who called them unproductive

Sexual minorities demanded Friday an apology from a ruling party lawmaker who claimed in a magazine article that the government should not support LGBT couples because they cannot bear offspring and thus are unproductive.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their families submitted about 26,000 signatures to the headquarters of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party in Tokyo, requesting that lawmaker Mio Sugita hold a press conference to apologize.

The signatures were collected online for about a month to demand the LDP remove Sugita, a 51-year-old House of Representatives member who has a daughter, if her attitude does not change, and enact a law to ban discrimination against sexual minorities.

Among messages posted on the website soliciting signatures, one person said, "Ms. Sugita should be responsible for her remark, admit her fault and apologize."

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The mother of a transgender fourth grader said in her post, "It is really terrible. Ms. Sugita, what you are doing is bullying."

Titled "Support for LGBT is too much," the article contributed by Sugita to the conservative magazine Shincho 45 on July 18, said: "Can spending taxpayers’ money for LGBT couples gain approval? They don’t make children. In other words, they lack ‘productivity.’"

In early August, the LDP asserted in a statement it is against Sugita’s view. But the party’s initial response apparently tolerating her stance had fueled public anger.

The party’s No. 2 figure, Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai, said at a press conference on July 24 that the LDP "is a gathering of wide-ranging people from right to left. Each (LDP politician) has his or her own political position and life philosophy." (Mio Sugita)

Anti-gay Vice President Mike Pence ‘thinks God wants him to be President’

Anti-gay Vice President Mike Pence ‘thinks God wants him to be President’

Vice President Mike Pence (Sara D. Davis/Getty) A Pulitzer Prize-winning political author has said that Vice President Mike Pence is manoeuvring to take over as President.

Pence, who is on record supporting gay ‘conversion’ therapy despite trying to rewrite history in 2016 , would become the leader of the free world if Donald Trump were impeached.

And the former Governor of Indiana, who signed the state’s law allowing religious people and businesses to cite their conscience as a defence in legal disputes, apparently believes he has a God-given right to the presidency. Pence is on the record supporting gay ‘cure’ therapy (Chip Somodevilla/Getty) Michael D’Antonio, who co-authored The Shadow President: The Truth About Mike Pence after writing books on Presidents Donald Trump and Barack Obama, revealed on CNN what he had found out while researching the divisive figure.

“Absolutely everything that Mike Pence does is oriented towards him becoming President…by the time he left high school, he had decided he was going to be President of the United States,” said D’Antonio.

“And as he rose through life, becoming a member of Congress and then Governor of Indiana, he actually sort of heard in his being God’s direction.” Michael D’Antonio ( The author explained that Pence “thought that God was calling him to now be Vice President and function as a President-in-waiting.

“So we see Donald Trump in this huge crisis, this rolling chaos, and I think with every day, Mike Pence imagines he’s one day closer to the Oval Office.”

The writer agreed with the interviewer that Pence was manoeuvring to get the top job at Trump’s expense, adding: “I think he’s positioning himself to be ‘the normal guy’ – the guy you can trust. “His infrastructure for running for office is complete” (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty) “And he is out across the country, continuously now, promoting the president’s agenda but really promoting the development of his own network.

“He established a PAC before any Vice President ever did. His infrastructure for running for office is complete.

“So should Trump stumble, should he decide not to run again, Pence 2020 would be an automatic thing.” As proof that Pence is thinking in this way, D’Antonio offered up the fact that Pence has stayed silent during reports of Trump’s alleged affairs and vocal support of disgraced former judge Roy Moore . Pence stayed silent about Alabama’s Republican nominee for the Senate last year, Roy Moore (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty) Pence once said that a President who lies to the American public and covers up an adulterous affair should resign or be impeached.

In his book, D’Antonio also branded the Vice President “the most successful Christian supremacist in American history.”

He explained: “Mike Pence goes around saying: ‘I’m a Christian, I’m a conservative, and I’m a Republican, in that order.’ He doesn’t say: ‘I’m an American.’ “He would like to impose a religiously inspired politics on our country” (Alex Wong/Getty) “I think he’s a very divisive figure. He would like to impose a religiously inspired politics on our country.

“That means rolling back marriage equality, that means a ban on abortion, a whole host of policies that are religiously driven, and he’s very upfront about it.”

Earlier this year, the Human Rights Campaign launched a project publicising the record of Pence , who has been linked to a string of anti-LGBT actions taken by the Trump administration, called “The Real Mike Pence.”

PinkNews also released an article fact-checking Pence and his approach to LGBT+ rights earlier this year.

Watch the full interview here:

Why were there so many serial killers in the 1980s?

Why were there so many serial killers in the 1980s?

A woman views photographs set up as a memorial for victims of the serial killer dubbed the ‘Grim Sleeper’ Over three decades in the late 20th century, there was a rise in serial homicides in North America. One historian asks whether the ravages of World War Two were a factor.

Peter Vronsky’s fascination with serial killers began when, at 23, he bumped into one in a lift.

It was 1979, and the Canadian historian was in New York City for work.

He was impatiently waiting for the lift, which was stalled on the fourth floor of the seedy Travel Inn Motor Hotel, and shot a dirty look at the man who bumped his shoulder as he left the elevator that had finally arrived in the lobby.

"He kind of just saw through me," says Vronsky. "He looked like a guy in a daze. It’s as if I wasn’t there."

The next morning, Vronsky read about an horrific double murder and mutilation that had taken place in the hotel the previous day.

It was a year later, seeing newspaper coverage on the arrest and trial of Richard Cottingham, that he finally realised that the "Butcher of Times Square" and the man in the lift were one and the same.

It made him wonder: "Where did these monsters come from? What are these things?" Canadian historian Peter Vronsky researches serial killings Vronsky’s encounter with Cottingham came during a serial killing peak in North America over a three-decade period.

Data compiled by various researchers suggest a rise in serial killings starting in the late 1960s, peaking in the 80s – when there were at least 200 such murderers operating in the United States alone – and a subsequent downward trend over the next two decades.

Criminologist James Alan Fox, with Northeastern University in Boston, said that the rise in serial killings in that era – the time of when the likes of Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, and John Wayne Gacy were stalking the streets in the US – likely had several roots.

First, that period coincided with a general increase in violent crime in the US and Canada. A police reward poster shows photofit pictures of the suspect Society at the time was undergoing major changes – people were moving more and were less likely to know their neighbours. Hitchhiking was more common, making it easier to for killers to find vulnerable victims.

Crime tracking , highways, and lead exposure

"It just created an environment which was ideal for certain killers to pray on victims," Fox says.

Crime detection also lagged behind.

Police lacked large-scale computerised databases and investigative data banks that could help them link similar crimes. DNA wasn’t used until the mid-1980s for forensic purposes, making it harder to track killers. Authorities said Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, was identified by DNA as the Golden State Killer The use of familial DNA recently led to the arrest of Joseph DeAngelo, 72, suspected of being the so-called Golden State Killer, blamed for a spate of murders and rapes in the 1970s and 1980s. Why I failed to catch Canada’s worst serial killer

The Yorkshire Ripper and the unsolved Swedish murders

The 40-year hunt for a killer

Canadian criminologist Michael Arntfield says police at the time were out of their depth when it came to tackling the rising number of serial killings, and research around these types of homicides – committed by calculating killers – was in its infancy. The term "serial killer" was only coined in the early 1980s.

"The offenders certainly had a head start," he says.

Other factors theorised to have contributed include the media and public fascination with serial murder creating a snowball effect; the development of an interstate highway system , which gave some killers a wider geography to roam and kill; and, related to the overall increase in crime, lead exposure from petrol. The FBI has monitored crime patterns along the Interstate Highway System in the US Vronsky has another hypothesis to add to the list: he believes the rise of the North American serial killer in the late 20th century can be traced to the ravages of World War Two, which lasted from 1939 to 1945, and the children of men returning from battlefields in Europe and the Pacific.

It’s an idea he put forward in his newly published book Sons of Cain: A History of Serial Killers.

Searching for reasons behind the glut of serial murders over three decades, Vronsky looked at the killers and their childhoods.

"Serial killers come from among us – they come out of our society," he said.

"These are not aliens that arrive from another planet. They’re children who grow up to become these serial offenders." Jeffrey Lionel Dahmer murdered 17 men and boys between 1978 and 1991 He realised that many were children during World War Two and the ensuing post-war era – a time when the psychological impact of the global conflict and its savagery was not being discussed.

It was a war that "was far more vicious and primitive than we have been able to acknowledge", Vronsky says.

Many of the killers from that period have not spoken on the record about their fathers, he said, but those that have often referred to them coming back from the war in a traumatised state.

He said there was a less pronounced but noticeable increase in serial killings from 1935 to 1950, following World War One, and hopes sociologists and criminologists look more closely at the war experiences of the fathers of these killers, and their paternal relationships. The FBI was one of the law enforcement agencies to look into the causes of serial killing Vronsky also pointed to popular culture of the post-war era as a contributing factor, specifically the pulp fiction and true crime magazines that were widely sold across North America with covers that often depicted violent sexualised imagery.

"At the core of it is trauma, familial breakdown, and then a cultural scripting of the fantasy [they later act out]," he said. Living in the shadow of an unsolved murder

The mystery of Toronto’s gay village killings

It’s a plausible theory, says Arntfield, noting there was a "major upheaval going on in society" in the post-war decades.

"The surge in suburbs and the complete makeover of the demography of the country lead to a lot of transience, a lot of mobility, a lot of broken families, which is where many of these people came from," he said. ‘Biblical evil’

Arntfield, like Vronsky, believe there are similar trends in this century – social upheaval, the 2008 financial meltdown, wars and terrorism – that might spur a similar phenomena in following decades. The sister of Green River Killer victim Debra Estes, speaks in court during the sentencing of Gary Ridgway "We are living in the throes of an equally tumultuous and polarising time. And that immediately gave way to the ‘golden age’ of the serial killer," Arntfield says.

Of course, many veterans returning from war became great fathers, children of men traumatised from battle grew into emotionally healthy adults, as did many children from broken homes.

"We’re not entirely sure when and why that switch gets thrown," Arntfield says.

A report from the FBI’s behavioural unit notes that "there is no single identifiable cause or factor that leads to the development of a serial killer. Rather, there are a multitude of factors that contribute to their development.

"The most significant factor is the serial killer’s personal decision in choosing to pursue their crimes".

The FBI estimates that less than 1% of all murders in a given year are committed by serial killers.

"It’s a cocktail of things, it’s never one thing," Vronsky says, of what in the end, spurs these killers to commit homicide.

"That’s why I think it’s even too early to write off old-fashioned Biblical evil, whatever that might be."

‘My robot makes me feel like I haven’t been forgotten’

'My robot makes me feel like I haven't been forgotten'

Zoe Johnson can take part in lessons and chat to friends through her remote robot Internet-connected robots that can stream audio and video are increasingly helping housebound sick children and elderly people keep in touch with teachers, family and friends, combating the scourge of isolation and loneliness.

Zoe Johnson, 16, hasn’t been to school since she was 12.

She went to the doctor in 2014 "with a bit of a sore throat", and "somehow that became A&E [accident and emergency]," says her mother, Rachel Johnson.

The doctors diagnosed myalgic encephalomyelitis, ME for short, also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – a debilitating illness affecting the nervous and immune systems.

Zoe missed a lot of school but was able to continue with her studies with the help of an online tutor. The AV1 robot acts as the child’s eyes and ears in class But "over the years her real-world friendships disappeared because she’s not well enough to see anybody," says Ms Johnson.

For the last three months, though, she has been taking classes alongside her former classmates using a "telepresence" robot called AV1. Robots ‘could solve social care crisis’

Will robots help combat loneliness?

The small, cute-looking robot, made my Oslo-based start-up No Isolation, sits in the classroom and live streams video and audio back to Zoe’s tablet or smartphone at home. She can speak through the robot and take part in lessons, also controlling where AV1 is looking.

When she wants to ask a question the robot’s head starts blinking on and off to alert the teacher. And when she’s too tired or sick to participate she can turn AV1’s head blue as a signal.

"It makes my life a lot more exciting and makes me feel like I haven’t been forgotten," Zoe says.

With the robot’s help she was able to take five GCSE exams this year.

"We’re celebrating because she did so much better than we ever dared hope," says Ms Johnson. No Isolation founder Karen Dolva says her AV1 robot can help sick kids participate Zoe is going on to study History A-level and is looking forward to doing so "with my friends, rather than on my own at home".

Karen Dolva, the 27-year old Norwegian co-founder of No Isolation, says a friend working as a nurse in a children’s ward "mentioned these kids were miserable and only seeing their families," she says.

She and two friends – all three with a background in engineering and technology – talked to the children and discovered that smartphones and messaging apps weren’t enough to address their feelings of isolation.

"We realised the kids needed to have a presence somewhere they weren’t," says Ms Dolva.

But the children also said they felt "more comfortable when they didn’t have to be on display". So although AV1 enables children to see and hear what’s going on in the classroom, other children can only hear her voice through the robot’s speaker.

Other telepresence robots feature two-way video. Growing market

While many once-deadly conditions are now treatable, it has meant more people living with chronic illnesses, often feeling isolated as a result.

In 1960, 1.8% of children in the US had a health condition severe enough to interfere with their usual daily activities. By 2010, this was more than 8%, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

So telepresence robots are growing rapidly in popularity, with No Isolation, the makers of AV1, being joined by the likes of Ohmnilabs, Giraff Technologies, Double Robotics, and Vecna. The mobile Ohmni robot enables users to feel present at get togethers Robot market analyst Lian Jye Su, at ABI Research, believes the market for telepresence robots will grow from $164m (£126m) to $237m by 2023.

But they’re not cheap – AV1 costs £2,200 or £167 a month to rent, while Ohmnilabs’ Ohmni robot costs from £1,150.

"You can’t cure absence except through presence," says Megan Gilmour, a mother of three in Canberra, Australia, who has been campaigning for the introduction of such robots in schools. Megan Gilmour has been campaigning in Australia for the greater use of these robots in schools In 2010, her son Darcy was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder necessitating a bone marrow transplant. He missed two years of school.

So in 2012, she started an organisation called Missing School, with two other Australian mothers whose sons had critical illnesses.

"If you ask children what they think of the robots, every single time they say it helps them see their friends," says Ms Gilmour. A friend indeed?

Telepresence robots are also helping combat the loneliness and isolation often felt by older people living alone or stuck in hospital.

Dor Skuler, chief executive of Intuition Robotics in Tel Aviv, has developed a robot designed to be a stimulating companion for older people. The ElliQ robot is designed as a "sidekick" for older people ElliQ is an artificially intelligent robot Mr Skuler describes as "a sidekick of sorts that suggests things for you to do: ‘Hey, it’s really nice out, why don’t you stop watching television and go for a walk? Or listen to an opera together, or watch a TED talk’," he says.

The ability to surprise users is key, Mr Skuler believes.

"Once you believe this thing is a little bit alive, then the minute it starts acting like a machine, that magic is broken."

No Isolation has also designed a device for older people called Komp. It helps family members send pictures, text and video messages to older relatives. Kentaro Yoshifuji has built his Orihime robot to help combat loneliness The fact that three-quarters of people aged 75 or over are not on the internet is "quite insane", says Ms Dolva.

With just one button and a TV-sized screen Komp is easy to operate and doesn’t require usernames or passwords. Family members use an app to share content which is uploaded as soon as the machine is switched on.

But a key challenge for these telepresence robots is connectivity, says Veronica Ahumada Newhart, who studies them for her doctorate at the University of California at Irvine.

Schools are built of durable materials, bricks and cinder blocks, which tend to block wi-fi and mobile signals. Veronica Newhart says internet connectivity is the biggest challenge for telepresence robots Users often complain about losing the connection during a lesson.

"They’re in the class, doing their stuff, and they get disconnected – then they aren’t really there, because class is going on without you," says Ms Newhart.

Ms Dolva says her company is working to prioritise sound over pictures, if the bandwidth drops or fades out. More Technology of Business

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"You need to hear what’s being said more than a really crisp image at any given second," she says.

The robots also seem to work best in small classes and rural schools, where students have close bonds with a missing pupil, Ms Newhart adds.

For chronically ill children like Zoe, they seem to be making a big difference. Follow Technology of Business editor Matthew Wall on Twitter and Facebook

Click here for more Technology of Business features

Four gay and bi people take a DNA test and find out where they’re actually from

Four gay and bi people take a DNA test and find out where they're actually from

Here We Go Again: Mamma Mia! The Party is coming to London – for real this time These are the best LGBTI movies at this year’s Venice Film Festival Duluth-Superior Pride brings the rainbow festivities to these US Twin Ports Who needs to call their parents? Where do you come from? Does your DNA affect how you look, how you act, who you are?

As LGBTI people, the question of ‘who do you think you are?’ comes up a lot.

So four of us on the Gay Star News team decided to take a MyHeritage DNA test. For free shipping, use the order code GSN .

When you receive the kit, you sign up for an account online. You do a cheek swab, swirling a swab around your mouth for 45 seconds, and then send it off in the post. A few weeks later, you’re notified of your results. It’s super easy, quick and happily involves no spit or blood.

Once it’s in the lab, technicians process each sample individually. They then extract the DNA and translate the biological information into raw data. The algorithms then calculate the ethnicity estimate, determining which segments of DNA originate from different regions in the world. You can even find family members comparing similar DNA. Joe: ‘Do I have anything more to me than just English DNA?’

I have tanned skin and naturally black hair, so I’m not exactly the most English-looking guy.

But as far as I know, my family records are all in England and Wales. My ancestors were farmers and weavers, not adventurers.

But a question is definitely there.

I once had a waiter in London come up to me and start speaking to me in Portuguese. When I was confused, he said I look like the spitting image of his nephew. Others have wondered if I’m Spanish, Italian, or even Romanian.

So is there something more in my DNA? Alex: ‘Where’s my mother from?’

Alex, our account manager, has always thought there was ‘more to the puzzle’.

‘I know I’m British and I’m Greek but there must be more to it,’ he said. The Greek comes from his dad’s site. Both of his dad’s parents are from Cyprus.

But his mum doesn’t know where she’s from.

‘I’d be interested to see what that mix is because her looks are more dominant in me,’ he said.

‘My mum’s darker than me. I have no idea where that’s from.’

Alex thinks it’s going to ‘scratch an itch’.

‘I think it’ll help me feel more connected with my mum’s side of the family,’ he said. ‘But I’ll always be that Greek-British boy.’ Charlie: ‘Can I solve this family mystery?’

Charlie, who works on the social media team and leads on our bisexual coverage, is trying to solve a family mystery.

One of her grandmas was into family history. Charlie found out both of her dad’s parents were adopted. They met because they were adopted kids, and never knew their biological parents.

‘There’s always been this one avenue. What went on here?’ she said.

‘Beyond them, it’s a complete mystery’.

She expects the results to be fairly typical.

‘Knowing what I do already, I would imagine it’s 98% English. But for all I know, I could be anything!

‘I’m just looking forward to the answer.’ Michael: ‘Where does the black side of me come from?’

Michael, who works with creative partnerships at GSN, is of mixed heritage.

He has a great understanding of one side of him, the white side.

‘My mum is English. We’ve been told that on her side, my nan originates from France and my grandad originates from Spain. On my dad’s side, it’s Jamaica. I don’t know where else he comes from.’

He added: ‘[The test] will give me a greater understanding of my black history. It’d be good to know where I came from.

‘In black life you’re either African or Caribbean. Lots of people associate themselves with the Caribbean, but then if you go deeper we are from Africa as well. It’d just be nice to know where they originate from. With me, depending on what my hair looks like, I get Brazilian or Middle Eastern or Caribbean. I’ve even had Indian before. It depends on how big my beard is. ‘

But could there be a surprise?

‘I’ve got such a connection with South America. I’m a trained Latin dancer. It goes through my body,’ he said.

‘I really feel like there’s a South American connection.’

And now let’s see the results… Joe: ‘Wow’

Wow. It turns out I’m a little more mixed than I thought.

I’m only 19.5% English. I’m 37% Welsh (not a huge surprise) and 37% Scandinavian. The real surprise is the Mediterranean influence: I’m 3.6% Italian and 2.6% Iberian.

I suppose it shows that ‘British’, in itself, doesn’t have a genetic marker. A lot of white people originate from Saxons, Romans etc, and it turns out I’ve possibly got a lot of Viking in me. Alternatively, Scandinavians have made the trip to live in Britain for the past thousand years. Who knows where I fit in?

The results feel like a part of me has got validation.

I’ve always adored Sweden, so the third of Scandinavian is particularly great to see. That sliver of Italian is a real surprise.

Amazingly, MyHeritage also connects you with people that share DNA. It turns out I’ve got second and third cousins living all over the world, like in the US, Sweden and New Zealand. Alex: ‘I’m absolutely shook.’

Alex thought of himself as the British-Greek boy. He got a very big surprise.

‘Where’s the UK? What? Oh my god. That’s crazy! What….the hell?’ he said when he saw the results.

‘That’s not what I was expecting at all. The fact I’m not British at all, I don’t know how to feel about that…’

He had 0% British. He only had 3% Greek. There was a mix including French, Spanish, Middle Eastern and a small amount of Nigerian and Algerian.

‘I was expecting a surprise…but that is a surprise!’ he said. ‘I’m absolutely shook. 4% Nigerian?’

He added: ‘ At the end of the day, I knew that I was fairly new to the UK in terms of generations.

‘I’m happy about the mix. But to have no UK at all? That’s crazy.‘It doesn’t change anything. I’m still sat here with a British accent.’ Charlie: ‘This has given me an existential crisis!’ ‘This is really dramatic…’ Charlie said as she opened the results. ‘44% English? Almost a third Scandinavian! That’s crazy.’She found out she was part Baltic, part Finnish, part Iberian and part Italian.‘All this Scandinavian and Finnish probably explains why I’m so pale and why I have blue eyes. The fact that I’m less than 50% English, as a statistic, has given me an existential crisis!’But what about that family mystery? Does it explain more?‘I imagine [the mix] must come from my [biological] grandparents. That’s crazy,’ she said.‘I’ve always felt European, because I have all these interests in different food from around Europe, so I guess it’s nice to have that validation.’ Michael: ‘I’ve got connections!’ Michael learned he was a quarter Celtic, a quarter Scandinavian and half West African.‘So when my family got kidnapped from Africa, they were from Nigeria?’ Michael said as he opened the results. ‘I’ve got connections!’Michael said he finally feels he can pinpoint where his black heritage is from. And not only that, he found family members as well. He had a DNA match with a woman living in Britain, in her 40s, who is his second cousin.‘I feel like I have a connection with Africa now,’ he said.To learn more about your DNA, go to MyHeritage’s website For free shipping, use the offer code GSN .

Man who killed his friend uses ‘gay panic defence’ to have his sentence reduced

Man who killed his friend uses 'gay panic defence' to have his sentence reduced

Here We Go Again: Mamma Mia! The Party is coming to London – for real this time These are the best LGBTI movies at this year’s Venice Film Festival A man used the gay panic defence in India to reduce his sentence. | Photo: Tom Woodward Flickr A man who stabbed his friend to death has had his sentence and charge reduced in a Bombay court thanks to the ‘gay panic’ defence.

The 35-year-old man had already served seven years in jail for his friends’ death. But he appealed to the Bombay High Court to have his sentenced reduced.

Originally convicted for murder and given a life sentence, the court reduced his sentence. The court’s changed the man’s sentence to culpable homicide and released him for time already served.

The man appealed his original sentence saying his friend was trying to have ‘unnatural sex’ with him and that’s why he attacked him.

In their ruling the court Justices said the man’s story seemed ‘plausible’.

‘If a person is asked to indulge in an unnatural sex act and assaulted, it is quite probable such a person in the heat of passion would assault the person demanding such unnatural act,’ the justices said.

Section 96 to 106 of the Indian Penal Code allow ‘private defence of the person or property’. Section 100 refers to the ‘right of private defense of the body extends to causing death’. It specifies self-defence is justifiable in ‘an assault with the intention of gratifying unnatural lust’.

Homosexual intercourse is illegal in India. Section 377 of the Penal Code outlaws ‘carnal intercourse against the order of nature’. The Supreme Court of India is currently reviewing an appeal to overturn the law. Its decision is expected within a few weeks. Gay panic defence

The controversial ‘gay panic’ defence first surfaced in the US in the 1960s. The defence partially or completely excuse crimes such as murder and assault on the grounds that the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity is to blame for the defendant’s violent reaction.

Many countries around the world have barred using the defence along the ‘trans panic defence’.

In 2013, the American Bar Association’s (ABA) House of Delegates voted to approve a resolution against the use of the defences.

‘The ABA’s adoption of this measure sends a clear message to state legislatures that legal professionals find no validity in the sham defenses mounted by those who seek to perpetuate discrimination and stereotypes as an excuse for violence,’ said then executive director of the National LGBT Bar Association, D’Arcy Kemnitz.

‘Too many people have hidden for far too long behind baseless “panic” defenses – judges, lawmakers and juries must demand that these practices come to an end and juries must be provided with instructions advising juries to make their decisions free of improper bias and prejudice.’

RuPaul shares incredible throwback photo of himself age 24

RuPaul shares incredible throwback photo of himself age 24

These are the best LGBTI movies at this year’s Venice Film Festival RuPaul | Photo: RPDR RuPaul has shared an amazing throwback photo of himself on the streets of New York City aged 24.

It seems Ru’s penchant for make up dates back a long way, as the star wears heavy eyeliner in the black and white image. ‘Ordering a slice of “Sal’s Pizza”‘

The RPDR star captioned the image: ‘Ordering a slice of “Sal’s Pizza” at Ave A. & 7th st. NYC 1984.’ In other RuPaul news, the RPDR judge this week announced that he will soon release his third Christmas album, after 1995’s Ho Ho Ho and 2015’s Slay Belles. The LP will be released in October.

Earlier this year, acting legend Sir Ian McKellen shared a throwback photo of himself, also aged 24.

Benidorm to host a ‘fun, friendly, flirty’ Pride festival in stunning locations

Benidorm to host a ‘fun, friendly, flirty’ Pride festival in stunning locations

Here We Go Again: Mamma Mia! The Party is coming to London – for real this time Duluth-Superior Pride brings the rainbow festivities to these US Twin Ports Brits’ favorite Benidorm is ready to celebrate Pride with a week-long festival, from 3 to 9 September.

Once a fishing village, the city in the Spanish province of Alicante has attracted tourists since the 80s and is now a popular sunny hotspot on the Costa Blanca.

British people seem to be especially fond of its stunning beaches, as the hilarious ITV show Benidorm proved for ten seasons.

Benidorm has also gained a reputation as one of the biggest LGBTI festivals in Spain. Started as a small event, Pride attracted 15,000 revelers in 2017.

Now in its eighth year, Benidorm Pride will celebrate the LGBTI community with seven days of events and parties. Benidorm Pride festival

The fun starts in the gay village. This is nestled in the most picturesque, authentic part of the city, the old town, away from the hotel resorts.

On 3 and 4 September, visitors will have time to hit one of the many sandy beaches by day and explore the old town by night. The LGBTI village has more than 30 bars and restaurants to choose from.

The official opening party is on Wednesday 5 September in the breathtaking location of Mirador del Castillo, a terrace covered with rustic checkered tiles overlooking the bay.

The lineup for the night includes local artists, drag queens, dancers, and DJs.

This stunning setting will be the same as Thursday’s White Party.

The weekend has an early start with the Sandia Pool Party at Discoteca Penelope kicking off at 3pm on Friday 7 September.

By night, wear as little as you want – as long as it’s black! – at the Black Party at the main Pride auditorium. The annual parade

The parade attracted 15,000 people last year. | Photo: Benidorm Seriously

Saturday 8 September is Pride parade day.

Whether you want to take part in a walking group, parade on a local business float or simply watch those marching in your best attire, Benidorm got you covered.

The march will start on Levante beach and then head to the auditorium Julio Iglesias.

After the parade, head to the T Dance Pride Party. This features the very best of Benidorm talent, singers, dancers, tribute artists, drag performers, and DJs.

And then, back to Discoteca Penelope for the big party by Kluster, one of the biggest names in the gay clubbing scene.

Cure the Sunday blues at the Pride Closing Party on Levante beachfront, hosted by another major club promoter Supermarxe. Read more about Prides:

Infamous as a hub of soulless hotel resorts, the real beauty of Benidorm is hidden; in the charming old town, stunning mountaintops and sun kissed evenings the spirit of this 1960’s fishing town is still alive and kicking – and it’s time for a comeback.