Study: Georgia second for occurrence of LGBT workplace discrimination

Study: Georgia second for occurrence of LGBT workplace discrimination

The rainbow gay PRIDE flag is carried down Peachtree Street during the 2007 PRIDE parade in Atlanta. (ELISSA EUBANKS/AJC staff) Georgia employers saw the second-highest rate of complaints of workplace discrimination from LGBT employees in the nation, according to a recent study.

The report, compiled by InsuranceQuotes.com , a website that allows users to compare coverage prices online, found there were 4.2 charges made per 100,000 residents between 2014 and 2017. LGBT employees filed 432 charges of discrimination during those years.

The study analyzed statistics from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, looking at complaints related to gender identity and sexual orientation.

Washington, D.C., had the highest occurrence of complaints with 10.2 per 100,000 residents.

Georgia is one of three states that does not have an explicit anti-discrimination law that protects members of the LGBT community. There is no federal law banning discrimination against sexual orientation or gender identity, but there are protections for people based on things such as race, color, sex, age and disability.

Jeff Graham, the executive director of the LGBT-rights organization Georgia Equality, said the lack of state-specific protections is a problem.

“Atlanta is home to so many large companies that offer employment protections, including sexual orientation and gender identity,” he said. “But we’re in a state that has such little protections for any group of people.”

Graham said many members of the LGBT community in Georgia find that they’re accepted by friends, family and co-workers but may be discriminated against by a supervisor, passed over for a promotion or terminated because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Employees will file a grievance with the EEOC,” he said, “and that’s when they find out there are no explicit (state) protections.”

Stay on top of what’s happening in Georgia government and politics at ajc.com/politics .

Mr Gay World event falls victim of China’s LGBT clampdown

Mr Gay World event falls victim of China’s LGBT clampdown

Mr Gay World 2018 winner Jordan Bruno (Mr Gay World/Facebook) Mr Gay World 2019 will no longer take place in Hong Kong as previously announced, the event’s organising committee announced on Sunday.

The annual competition was scheduled to take place between April 28 and May 4 in Hong Kong, as announced in July. Marketing for the event had already begun, with social media posts from the official Mr Gay World account encouraging fans to plan their trips to China’s special administrative region.

Plans have however had to change after the local hosting company, located in mainland China, said they cannot organise the event in line with Chinese authorities’ clampdown on LGBT+ events and campaigns, Mr Gay World president and founder Eric Butter announced in a statement .

“It is with great disappointment that I’ve been informed that Mr Gay World will not be able to go ahead in Hong Kong due to the struggles that our Chinese colleagues and their families are facing in their homeland,” Butter said.

“The safety of our delegates and their families is of utmost importance,” he added.

When Hong Kong was announced as the host city of the 2019 competition, the local organising committee president Charles Sun expressed excitement, but also mentioned the challenges ahead. Mr Gay World 2019 will now take place in Cape Town, South Africa (Handout) “We have many challenges in our country, especially when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights. But we are hoping that our government will see the financial benefits events like these have on our economy,” he was quoted as saying in the Mr Gay World statement issued at the time, adding: “We can’t wait to welcome gays and their supporters to Hong Kong next year. We are ready!”

The event will now take place in Cape Town instead. South Africa is thus hosting the competition for the second year in a row and overall for the third time in Mr Gay World’s 10-year old history.

Jordan Bruno, the Australian chef who was crowned Mr Gay World 2018 in May in the city of Knysna, in South Africa’s Western Cape Province, expressed disappointment with the Chinese authorities’ anti-LGBT attitude.

“Their stance demonstrates why Mr Gay World is still such a relevant and important competition,” he said, quoted in the Mr Gay World statement on the issue. Jordan Bruno, Mr Gay World 2018, holds his trophy following his coronation (Jordan Bruno/Facebook) Bruno is nonetheless looking forward to returning to South Africa. “The spirit and inclusion of the country is strongly reflected in the values of Mr Gay World, and I can’t help but feel it is the perfect country to once again host the competition,” he said.

Hong Kong is still due to host the 2022 Gay Games , an event in which China took part in 2018 for the first time.

Áurea Vázquez Rijos: Beauty queen on trial for husband’s murder

Áurea Vázquez Rijos: Beauty queen on trial for husband's murder

Áurea Vázquez Rijos in custody in Puerto Rico When a onetime beauty queen walks into a courtroom in Puerto Rico this week, it will bring to an end a long wait endured by relatives of her wealthy former husband, who was stabbed to death in the street.

Áurea Vázquez Rijos and Adam Joel Anhang’s romance was short-lived and ill-starred.

Now, almost 13 years after Anhang’s murder, a US federal court will finally decide whether the former beauty queen from Puerto Rico had her Canadian online gaming tycoon husband killed after just six months of marriage.

The trial, due to start on 21 August, only takes place after an extraordinary legal battle as Ms Vázquez fought extradition from both Italy and Spain.

It was the father of her late husband who used private detectives to track Ms Vázquez down in Italy after an innocent man had been jailed for the murder and later released.

"It took us five years and a lot of effort and energy to track her, since no sooner did we locate her, she got wind of it and moved on," Abe Anhang old the BBC from his home in Winnipeg, Canada.

Anhang, a 32-year-old real estate and gaming software multimillionaire, was brutally beaten and stabbed to death one September evening in 2005 on a street in the historical quarter of the Puerto Rican capital, San Juan.

At first glance, the attack appeared to be a robbery gone wrong in which Ms Vázquez Rijos was also injured by the male assailant.

But, according to prosecutors, Anhang was duped into believing that he was meeting his wife in a San Juan restaurant that evening to discuss the terms of their divorce, when in fact he was being lured into a fatal trap.

Ms Vázquez Rijos, the accusation holds, knew that divorce would deprive her of access to much of her husband’s estate, estimated to be worth $24m (£19m), due to a pre-nuptial agreement the pair had signed. The marriage was short-lived Two years later, Jonathan Román Rivera, a kitchen worker from a nearby restaurant, was convicted of murdering Anhang in an opportunistic robbery.

That conviction was later overturned when a witness came forward, telling a US federal grand jury how she saw the killer hit Anhang with a street cobble stone and knife him several times.

He then spoke with Ms Vázquez briefly before striking her with moderate force, the witness added.

In 2008, a federal grand jury indicted Ms Vázquez on two murder-for-hire related counts after the man suspected of being the street assailant confessed to the killing.

In a statement read out before a court in San Juan, Alex "El Loco" Pabón Colón said that Ms Vázquez had agreed to pay him $3m when they discussed her husband’s killing at Vázquez’s Pink Skirt nightclub and restaurant, a business bought for her as a wedding present by Anhang.

"Áurea communicated with Alex to tell him to park his car in the San Justo street lot. Alex would do what he had to do," the signed confession reads.

But Ms Vázquez was no longer in US jurisdiction, having abandoned Puerto Rico some time in 2006, according to the prosecutors. She chose to settle in Italy, a country whose laws have sometimes been used by fugitives to make their extradition difficult.

Ms Vázquez met a Florence taxi driver and they had twin daughters together before he read about her being wanted in Puerto Rico in the newspaper Corriere de la Serra. The couple separated and the Italian, eventually, gained custody of the two girls.

In the meantime, according to information supplied to Abe Anhang by private detectives he hired in Italy, Ms Vázquez had approached the Florentine Jewish community. "She was embraced by the Jewish community as a widow with two children." Anhang was well travelled Mr Anhang Sr explains that the prenuptial agreement his son and Ms Vázquez signed included a pledge by her to study and take up the Jewish faith within two years.

According to US prosecutors, Ms Vázquez was helped by her brother, Charbel Vázquez Rijos, her sister, Marcia and her mother, who provided false paperwork to successfully dupe the Firenzebraica Jewish organisation in Florence into certifying in June 2012 that Áurea and her daughters were of Jewish descent, enabling her to move to Israel.

But, according to Mr Anhang Sr, Ms Vázquez did move around Europe, using "false names and several ID cards". His team of private detectives said they had traced her movements in Gibraltar, Spain, France and England.

According to prosecutors, in August 2012, Charbel Vázquez Rijos incorporated Glatt Kosher Traveller’s Inc. in the Puerto Rico State Department, the plan apparently being to give his sister a means of earning money in Italy. But the travel company aimed at Jewish tourists was to prove Ms Vázquez’s downfall.

The FBI and Spanish authorities set up a sting operation, inviting Ms Vázquez to Madrid to work as a guide to a fictitious tour group. She took the bait.

Arrested at Madrid’s airport and imprisoned, Ms Vázquez began a new fight against extradition in Spain’s courts.

Ms Vázquez became pregnant behind bars and had a baby. Spanish police sources have told the BBC that the father of the child was a small-time Italian crook, serving time in Spain for a drugs offence. She was allowed to marry the father in jail, asking a Madrid judge not to extradite her as the mother of a Spanish citizen. Finally, she was flown across the Atlantic in a private FBI jet in 2015, her month-old baby taken from her arms and sent into care after she landed in her native Puerto Rico.

Further legal delays and then Hurricane Maria led to several postponements of the trial, in which Ms Vázquez’s brother, sister and the latter’s partner will also face charges in the US federal court in San Juan.

Prosecutors have signed a sworn affidavit to Spanish authorities that they will not ask for the death sentence in the case, a condition of the final extradition agreement.

Mr Anhang Sr is optimistic that justice will finally be done for his son, but finds it ironic that his daughter-in-law’s refusal to face trial may end up counting in her favour.

"Áurea is likely to get the lightest sentence of all the accused because she fled and waited to be extradited from a country which placed conditions on her transfer back to the United States to face justice.

"In essence, she will be getting rewarded with the same sentence as if she were caught and sentenced in Spain. At the same time her co-accused will get longer sentences, despite having much less involvement in the crime."

The BBC contacted Ms Vázquez’s lawyer, Lydia Lizarribar, but she declined the invitation to comment on her client’s defence strategy ahead of the trial.

Paris Jackson apologises over Harper’s Bazaar Singapore cover

Paris Jackson apologises over Harper's Bazaar Singapore cover

Jackson said her support for her "community comes first" Paris Jackson has apologised for appearing on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar Singapore.

It comes after an article criticised the model for appearing on the title in a country where gay sex is illegal.

The star took down an Instagram post of the cover, saying: "I don’t want to be hypocritical or hurt anyone."

The daughter of the late Michael Jackson confirmed to her fans last month she is bisexual.

The 20-year-old’s appearance on the September issue of Harper’s Bazaar in Singapore saw her labelled "hypocritical" in an op-ed by Gay Star News’ entertainment editor. In the piece , Jamie Tabberer points out that homosexuality in Singapore is still illegal and punishable by up to two years in prison.

He also took issue with the fact Jackson appeared not to address this in her interview with the magazine.

"As a member of the [LGBT] community, her decision is all the more disappointing," Tabberer wrote.

"On the one hand, I consider her possible immaturity… On the other, I respect her enough to hold her accountable for her decisions.

"She may be a very young woman with a lot to learn, but she’s also, definitely, an adult."

The Gay Star News tweeted Jackson with a link to the article saying: "C’mon Paris Jackson."

Paris replied saying she had been "grateful" for the opportunity to appear on the cover but that she had not known about the gay rights in the country.

She added that her support for her "fellow LGBTQ+ community comes first before my love for fashion."

Report In follow up tweets, however, Jackson defended her decision to appear on the cover, saying it should be "celebrated" as a step forwards in a country with such conservative views.

She also said that the cover was not just intended for Singapore but for "several" different countries.

Report Jackson’s fans were quick to defend her, with Wilson Philips singer Carnie Wilson among those to tweet in support.

Report

Report

Report

Gay rights in Singapore is a fraught issue and recent years have seen courts upholding a law criminalising sex between adult men. Same-sex kiss cut from Singapore’s Les Miserables

Jackson opened up about her sexuality during an Instagram Q&A last month after a fan asked if she was bisexual.

"That’s what you guys call it so I guess but who needs labels?" she replied.

Following coverage of the story, she later elaborated she had been out since she was 14, commenting on Twitter that she didn’t understand why it was newsworthy.

"I’ve been apart [sic] of the community for years," she wrote. "This is not news." Follow us on Facebook , on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts , or on Instagram at bbcnewsents . If you have a story suggestion email entertainment.news@bbc.co.uk.

Mystery photographs found in car-boot sale box

Mystery photographs found in car-boot sale box

Greg Pack is trying to trace who the people are in the photographs When Greg Pack picked up an old wooden box at a car-boot sale, he had no idea what he was about to find.

A row of 18 glass pieces with smudged colours and ink were slotted into a wooden rack. They were photograph plates. He paid £4 for the box.

Before they went out of fashion in the early 20th Century, these glass plates were how photographers made negatives.

When Greg held the plates up to the light, their ghostly subjects appeared, decades after they posed.

"I realised I was looking at pictures than no-one has looked at for probably over 100 years," Greg, 70, of Canvey Island, Essex, told BBC News. Greg Pack picked up the box at a car-boot sale As a former printer and someone who likes to repair antique objects, Greg had the skills to coax the images from the plates.

After trying to scan the plates using his printer, he eventually used his iPhone to photograph them. Using photo-editing software on his computer, he reverted the colours and managed to "digitally develop" the images.

"It was a bit nerve-wracking. I was thinking, ‘I don’t want to drop this plate, it’s really old,"" he said.

What had been other-worldly figures suddenly transformed into men, women and children happily posing, unaware they would be rediscovered by a stranger more than a century later.

In one, six girls stand innocently looking at the camera, dressed in long white skirts and dresses. Another photo strikes a different tone. Elegant ladies sit with furs around around their necks and extravagant headgear. On the far right, an elderly woman looks severely into the distance. A family portrait: The identity of the people posing is currently unknown Standing in the same garden, a man wearing military uniform places his hand on a young woman’s shoulder.

Greg explained that because it wasn’t immediately clear which side of the plate to develop the picture from, some of the pictures were "back-to-front".

"It’s hard to tell which side of the plate is the emulsion side, so the solider’s uniform is actually the wrong way round." Siblings, or possibly a young couple, pose in a garden In another, a young girl laughs and plays with a man – her dad? Or could it be her brother? Developing the mysterious photographs has produced more questions than it has answered. The names of the people in the pictures are currently lost to history. It’s not clear when the photographs were taken.

The clothes and accessories probably date to the early 20th Century, when glass plates were still used in photography.

A paper list of descriptions pasted on the inside of the box lid gives some clues: "Old fisherman"

"Pigeons being let off."

"Balloon being inflated."

"Public washhouse"

"Old houses around Honfleur"

Honfleur – a picturesque port town in north-western France – has been a popular seaside resort for more than 100 years. Was this the family’s holiday album?

Number four reads: "Henri Mabile" – a family friend? A relative? A list of the photographs in the box After Greg’s son posted the pictures on Twitter, on Monday, numerous theories have been advanced, including that the soldier’s uniform matches one worn between 1901-1910. A lady smiles shyly for the camera "There’s a very good chance that someone will be able to track down their identity," Greg says.

He is thinking about taking them to the National Portrait Gallery in London, where experts can help with photo identification.

But for now, the family remains an enigma, glancing at the camera through time.

By Georgina Rannard, UGC & Social News

Hong Kong leader accused of snubbing LGBTI issues in live Q&A

Hong Kong leader accused of snubbing LGBTI issues in live Q&A

Check out these colorful pictures from Montreal Pride 2018 Major Pride parade postponed due to killer floods in India Hong Kong at night | Photo: Pixabay/skeeze Hong Kong’s leader has been accused of ignoring LGBTI issues in a live question-and-answer session.

LGBTI groups released a statement expressing disappointment at Carrie Lam for ignoring their questions and messages on Facebook Live.

The city’s Chief Executive, Lam took 30 questions from the public for 48-minutes on Facebook Live last week. She is the first Hong Kong leader to do so.

Over 470 LGBTI-themed messages were posted during the session.

Despite LGBTI issues being one of the most popular points of discussion, Lam did not address any LGBTI-related topics.

‘Many people hoped the chief executive would respond to [calls for an] anti-discrimination law on sexual orientation and gender identity,’ Billy Leung, convenor of Hong Kong Equality Project, told the South China Morning Post .

‘However, the hosts repeatedly avoided raising questions about the issue.’

Leung also questioned whether Lam deliberately ignored LGBTI-themed messages. Growing support

Public support for LGBTI rights in Hong Kong has grown at a rapid pace in recent years.

A study released last month showed that 50% of Hong Kongers thought same-sex couples should be allowed to marry. This is an increase from 38% in 2013.

A similar statistic showed that 78% of those polled thought that same-sex couples should have the same basic rights as straight couples. 69% also said that Hong Kong should have laws to protect against LGBTI discrimination.

However, problems for the city’s LGBTI community still persist.

In a huge blow to Hong Kong’s LGBTI rights movement, an appeals court overturned a decision to give same-sex couples the same recognition as heterosexual couples earlier this year.

There are also influential conservative elements of Hong Kong society which oppose LGBTI rights.

In June, a group called Sexual Orientation Ordinance Concern Group successfully lobbied to have LGBTI themed children’s books removed from shelves in public libraries . LGBTI rights groups and their supporters took to the streets protests the move .

Keep LGBTI ‘practices’ behind closed doors, says Malaysia’s deputy PM

Keep LGBTI 'practices' behind closed doors, says Malaysia's deputy PM

Check out these colorful pictures from Montreal Pride 2018 Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail | Photo: YouTube/The Star Online Malaysia’s deputy prime minister has said that the country’s LGBTI community should be tolerated – as long their ‘practices’ are kept behind closed doors.

Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail also advised the LGBTI people against ‘glamourizing’ their private lives.

‘LGBTs have the right to practice whatever [it is] they do in private,’ Wan Azizah told the Malay Mail . Laws against homosexuality

Wan Azizah also spoke about the laws prohibiting homosexuality in Malaysia, and invoked Islam as the ‘official religion’ of the country.

‘Islam is the official religion [of Malaysia], whereby you have certain practices and it is there in black and white. As a Muslim, I have my preferences as to their rights it is the same [rights] as the people who do not believe in Islam.’

‘Homosexuality, there are laws [against it],’ she said.

Wan Azizah was referencing Section 377A, a statute from the British colonial-era which criminalizes homosexuality in Malaysia.

Her husband, former opposition politician Anwar Ibrahim, has been charged and sentenced twice for sodomy under Section 377A. He has always protested his innocence and claims that his sentencing was politically motivated under the previous government.

Since the shock victory of Pakatan Harapan in the May general election, Anwar has been widely tipped to be the next prime minister once the incumbent premier, Mahathir Mohammed, leaves office. Hot-button issue

LGBTI rights have become a hot-button issue in Malaysia in recent weeks.

The debate was brought into the spotlight after the minister for religious affairs, Mujahid Yusof Rawa, removed portraits of two LGBTI activists holding the Malaysian national flag from an art exhibition in the George Town Festival in Penang.

Since then there have been numerous high-profile verbal sparring matches between religious leaders and LGBTI rights activists in the Southeast Asian country. In response, government ministers have been given confusing or vague statements, which have left neither side appeased.

Homosexuality remains a socially and politically divisive issue in Malaysia. A 2013 Pew Research survey found that 86% of Malaysians believed that homosexuality should not be socially accepted, with only 9% believing it should.

Yelp review gives restaurant one-star because of an LGBTI Pride flag

Yelp review gives restaurant one-star because of an LGBTI Pride flag

Check out these colorful pictures from Montreal Pride 2018 A Yelp reviewer gave the Zia Gianna a one-star review because of the small LGBTI pride flag in the restaurant’s window | Photo: Twitter/@ksullivannews A Yelp reviewer gave a restaurant one-star because it had an LGBTI pride flag on display.

The reviewer focussed on the small rainbow flag which was hanging in the window of Caffe Zia Gianna in Boston.

The owner, Nino Barbalace, received an outpouring of support after he posted a screenshot of the review online.

The post has since been deleted. A Dorchester cafe owner got a one-star review on Yelp for something hanging in the window. His response to the negative post on @boston25 at 5:15. pic.twitter.com/WVajieMICG — Kelly Sullivan (@ksullivannews) August 17, 2018 The review began with: ‘After seeing the rainbow flag in the window, I’ve had it with this place and have thrown in the towel…

‘Well, that flag says all and when you delve deeper to see the real customer base here, it’s clearly geared and catered ONLY to those who rally behind the rainbow flag.

‘This should be considered treason against our Nation and our Italian Heritage and against nature and should be punishable as a crime.’

The reviewer continues to chide the restaurant as ‘absolutely disgusting and unacceptable,’ for ‘abandoning the sound family unit and structure.’

The review includes only a short mention of the establishment’s food: ‘Is the food here decent? Sure but portions are small and pricey considering what you get….

‘Now maybe I could deal with that…. But after learning what I learned now, I can no longer accept patronizing this establishment.’ ‘It was personal’

Barbalace said he noticed the contents of the review when he checked why the restaurant had received only one star.

‘I saw one star and I said, “wow, what happened?”‘ Barbalace told Boston 25 .

‘It was personal,’ the restaurant owner said. ‘If you go to a place and you’re not happy with the food or the service, I understand that if I made a mistake because we all make mistakes. This is a restaurant, not politics.’

In his Facebook post, Barbalace wrote ‘All are welcome at Zia Gianna, even this gentleman. We’d love to show him some kindness from the LGBTQ community because love always wins.’

A 2017 study of the world’s 100 best LGBTI cities ranked Boston at number 52 .

Gay star’s wish to dance with man on Strictly Come Dancing shot down by BBC

Gay star’s wish to dance with man on Strictly Come Dancing shot down by BBC

Major Pride parade postponed due to killer floods in India Dr Ranj Singh will appear on the new season of BBC show Strictly Come Dancing (Photo: @DrRanj | Twitter) British broadcaster BBC has again reiterated its desire to only feature mixed-sex couples on Strictly Come Dancing. The prime-time show was the precursor to Dancing With The Stars in the US. Syndicated versions now screen in many countries around the world.

The new season of the show is expected to start in September. A final date has not yet been announced. The names of some of the contestants have been revealed. These include Faye Tozer of Steps and YouTube star Joe Sugg.

Another confirmed contestant is Dr Ranj Singh, a doctor well known for his appearances on This Morning where he discusses medical issues. Dr Ranj Singh is the seventh celebrity contestant confirmed for #Strictly pic.twitter.com/u4SToRvCQ6 — BBC Strictly Press (@bbcstrictlyPR) August 16, 2018 Singh is also gay. He is not the first LGBTI contestant to feature on the show. Lesbian comedian Susan Calman previously faced criticism from some fans for being paired with a man. The Rev. Richard Coles and Robert Rinder, both gay, have also competed with female partners, despite indicating they would have been open to same-sex pairings. ‘I would love to dance with a same-sex partner’ on Strictly Come Dancing

Singh has expressed the same desire.

‘I would love to dance with a same-sex partner. I would value a time when same-sex couples could dance on shows like Strictly. It is incredibly important. We are making progress but I think there is still time to go.’ Awww… memories of #Pride in Liverpool recently with @Barclays … Helping to show everyone that #LoveGoesTheDistance ! pic.twitter.com/sN3sJNeUeY — Ranj Singh (@DrRanj) August 9, 2018 However, the a BBC spokesperson clarified yesterday that this would not be happening.

‘Strictly has chosen the long-standing ballroom dancing format of mixed-sex couples and at the moment we have no plans to introduce same-sex couples,’ they told the Mail on Sunday .

Earlier this year, Head judge on the BBC’s show, Shirley Ballas said: ‘I couldn’t think of anything more exciting,’ when asked about same-sex couples competing on the show.

Other versions of Dancing With The Stars have already featured same-sex pairings. Earlier this year, Italy’s Ballando con le Stelle featured a male couple. It united gay fashion stylist and TV celebrity Giovanni Ciacci with straight, male dance professional Raimondo Todaro.

The pair made it to the final of the show but ended up as second runners-up. See also

EXCLUSIVE: Italy’s Giovanni Ciacci’s open up about his unconventional personal life ahead of his participation in the final of Ballando con le Stelle

Strictly Come Dancing’s Kevin Clifton announced on Twitter that being paired with another man wouldn’t be an issue

Finally someone is looking out for Australia’s Aboriginal and LGBTI youth

Finally someone is looking out for Australia's Aboriginal and LGBTI youth

Check out these colorful pictures from Montreal Pride 2018 Young Aboriginal LGBTI people in Australia have some of the highest suicide rates in the country. | Photo: Facebook/Black rainbow Australia’s Aboriginal LGBTI people have asked for support to improve their community’s mental health – especially young people – for years. Now, money is finally going to groups to help improve the mental health of young, Aboriginal LGBTI people.

The National Health and Medical Research Council has won a $716,000 grant to research the emotional wellbeing and mental health needs of LGBTI Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth.

Little to no data exists on the suicide rates of Aboriginal LGBTI people. But anecdotal evidence suggests it is one of the highest rates of any community in Australia.

There is also no data on how many Aboriginal LGBTI people aged between 15-24 there are in Australia. Experts believe there number exceeds 17,000.

Dameyon Bonson founded Australia’s only suicide prevention organization for Aboriginal LGBTI people, called Black Rainbow. He spearheaded the calls for better mental health support and welcomed the grant.

He said that although mental health support should target all ages groups this was a great start.

‘The need for research into Indigenous gay and transgender suicide was first recommended 20 years ago, but the fact this is the first time any kind of nationally funded research will actually happen highlights how much this portion of the population has been ignored,’ Bonson said.

‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who identify as LGBTIQ are vulnerable to homophobia and to racism, and young people are vulnerable by virtue of their youth.’ The most vulnerable

Researchers will carry out the three year project in Western Australia, New South Wales and the Northern Territory.

Dr Ashleigh Lin, head of Mental Health & Youth research at the Institute, received the grant. She will work other Telethon Kids’ researchers, Western Sydney University, the Kulbardi Aboriginal Centre at Murdoch University, and Black Rainbow.

‘We know that being Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, being young, and being LGBTIQ are all risk factors for poor mental health and suicide, but there’s really not very much known about what happens when you are a member of all three of these groups,’ Dr Lin said.

‘The research is almost non-existent. However, anecdotally, these young people are often marginalized from the LGBTIQ community. There are also cultural concerns that can lead to exclusion from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.’

‘This project aims to better understand the social and emotional needs of this vulnerable group and the barriers they face when accessing health services. We will then work with them to co-design appropriate interventions to improve their mental health and wellbeing.’