Photos: Three million people pack the streets for ‘world’s largest Pride’ in São Paulo

Photos: Three million people pack the streets for ‘world’s largest Pride’ in São Paulo

Celebrations during São Paulo’s Pride 2018 (MIGUEL SCHINCARIOL/AFP/Getty) The streets of São Paulo were packed with LGBT people and allies for the city’s Pride celebrations – with organisers claiming more than three million people attended.

The 22nd annual São Paulo Pride festival took place this weekend, with hundreds of thousands of people filling the streets of Brazil’s capital for the parade on Sunday (June 3).

The parade was more political than ever ahead of the country’s October elections, with organisers calling on lawmakers and candidates to voice their support for LGBT equality.

Same-sex marriage has been legal in Brazil since 2013, but the country does not provide LGBT discrimination protections, and attitudes towards LGBT people are still negative in many areas. Brazil has the highest rate of LGBT murders in the world.

The theme for Pride event was ‘Power for LGBTI +: Our Vote, Our Voice.’ Celebrations during São Paulo’s Pride 2018 (MIGUEL SCHINCARIOL/AFP/Getty) Claudia Regina, President of the LGBT Pride Parade Association of São Paulo, reports that more than three million people attended the event, making it the world’s largest Pride celebration.

Regina said ahead of the march: “Talking about the elections during the LGBT Pride Parade in São Paulo is a valuable way of communicating to all LGBT people about the importance of choosing their candidates and candidates.

“Through our struggle, we have already achieved some rights… but we cannot risk losing what we have already achieved simply through political ignorance. Celebrations during São Paulo’s Pride 2018 (MIGUEL SCHINCARIOL/AFP/Getty) “LGBT people from all over Brazil need to pay attention to the 2018 Elections. Together, we can all promote a more tolerant world with respect and less LGBTophobia.”

Check out more photos below: Celebrations during São Paulo’s Pride 2018 (MIGUEL SCHINCARIOL/AFP/Getty) Celebrations during São Paulo’s Pride 2018 (MIGUEL SCHINCARIOL/AFP/Getty) Celebrations during São Paulo’s Pride 2018 (MIGUEL SCHINCARIOL/AFP/Getty) Celebrations during São Paulo’s Pride 2018 (MIGUEL SCHINCARIOL/AFP/Getty) Celebrations during São Paulo’s Pride 2018 (MIGUEL SCHINCARIOL/AFP/Getty) Celebrations during São Paulo’s Pride 2018 (MIGUEL SCHINCARIOL/AFP/Getty) Celebrations during São Paulo’s Pride 2018 (MIGUEL SCHINCARIOL/AFP/Getty) Celebrations during São Paulo’s Pride 2018 (MIGUEL SCHINCARIOL/AFP/Getty) Celebrations during São Paulo’s Pride 2018 (MIGUEL SCHINCARIOL/AFP/Getty) Celebrations during São Paulo’s Pride 2018 (MIGUEL SCHINCARIOL/AFP/Getty)

Teacher charged over spying on male roommate

Teacher charged over spying on male roommate

Jonathan Downing (North Idaho College Gender and Sexuality Alliance/Facebook) A chemistry teacher in the US has been charged with two counts of voyeurism after secretly filming his male roommate in his bathroom.

Jonathan Downing, a professor at North Idaho College, was also charged with surreptitiously videotaping his male roommate’s girlfriend, reports Spokane-based news outlet KXLY.

However, the 35-year-old claimed that he only intended to film his male roommate naked and “inadvertently” filmed the girlfriend.

The 20-year-old victim, an ex-student of Downing the victim, who has known the teacher since he was 15, found the pinhole camera in the bathroom wall after he became suspicious.

The former student then searched their share computer and discovered videos and images of him in the bathroom without clothes on.

He then reported the incident to the police. The 20-year-old said that Downing would make sexual comments towards him, even though he knew he was straight. (HawkKXLY/Twitter) Downing was arrested and questioned by the Coeur d’Alene Police Department. The teacher then admitted to intentionally recording his roommate naked, but said he did not mean to film the woman.

Downing appeared in court on Thursday from jail via video link where his bail bond was set at $35,000, and he was ordered not to contact the victim.

Coeur d’Alene Police Department are now investigating the incident, and are calling on anyone who has lived with Downing in the past few years to contact the force.

Downing was also an adviser for North Idaho College Gender and Sexuality Alliance, a group promoting safe environments for LGBT people, and had written on Facebook about hosting lesbian and gay young people in his house .

The group posted on Facebook, responding to Downing’s charges. (North Idaho College Gender and Sexuality Alliance/Facebook) It acknowledged that “many people have been personally affected” by the news, and said that all group members are invited to a meeting on Monday 4 June.

North Idaho College’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance also copied an email that was sent to all North Idaho College (NIC) students.

The email states that Downing has been suspended from the college “pending the outcome of law enforcement’s investigation and NIC’s personnel process.”

“With an ongoing felony investigation and other personnel matters, we are limited in what we can share, but North Idaho College is committed to ensuring an environment that creates trust and safety for our students, employees, and our community.”

Charity launches new fund to help trans campaigners across the world

Charity launches new fund to help trans campaigners across the world

The transgender pride flag. (Creative Commons) LGBT charity Giveout has launched a new fund to support trans activism worldwide, which is being sponsored by trans businesswoman Antonia Belcher and her wife Andrea.

The annual grant – called ‘The Antonia & Andrea Belcher Trans Fund’ – will provide at least £12,500 to support trans campaigners globally.

Antonia and Andrea Belcher hope to grow the fund to more than £25,000 annually.

“To be the true me, I have had a lot of luck, and an accepting and loving family and workplace – I know only too well that for many others this is not the case,” said Antonia Belcher, who is a founding partner of the building consultancy MHBC and has also appeared on the Independent’s Rainbow List.

“If I can help one soul to be free and true with this fund then I will be the proudest transgender woman alive.”

“I hope my contacts and friends will share my aim by giving to this fund, when I talk or join panels in the future perhaps.”

According to GiveOut, trans organisations globally are “deeply under-resourced.” (GiveOut_Org/Twitter) A 2017 survey, called ‘The State of Trans Organising’, found that more than half of trans groups globally had annual budgets of less than US$10,000 (£7,500).

Rupert Abbott, GiveOut’s executive director, said: “We are tremendously excited to be working with Antonia and Andrea to bring new resources into the trans movement, and are ambitious to grow the fund.”

“We aim to work with established trans funds and groups and consult across the LGBTQI movement to learn where the new fund can have the most impact.”

The first grants from the fund will be allocated in the second half of 2018. GiveOut is a UK-based charity that supports LGBTQI causes worldwide. (GiveOut_Org/Twitter) The charity is welcoming donations from the public to support the new grant.

To donate to The Antonia & Andrea Belcher Trans Fund, visit

Or, to set up a standing order or to make a bank transfer to the fund, email Abbott at

On Sunday, PinkNews reported on transfeminine and gender non-conforming Alok Vaid-Menon , who shared a powerful message on social media about the abuse they receive, after getting “thousand of comments telling me to die.”

The performance artist told PinkNews that trans and non-binary people are in a “state of emergency.”

They told PinkNews: “I am routinely verbally, physically, and sexually assaulted just for navigating the public as a gender non-conforming person.

“People take photos of me without my consent, shove me, spit on me, laugh at me, and insult me simply for walking down the street.”

“In the past I have been physically attacked and groped by random people on trains and on the street.”

Hong Kong’s top court hears landmark case over spousal visa for British lesbian

Hong Kong’s top court hears landmark case over spousal visa for British lesbian

(AARON TAM/AFP/Getty Images) Hong Kong’s top court has begun to hear an appeal for a landmark case which could have a significant impact on LGBT rights in the territory.

A lesbian, who is known only as QT for legal reasons, is married under UK law to SS, with whom she first got a civil partnership in 2011.

The pair found themselves facing discrimination when SS relocated to Hong Kong for work – which would usually allow SS to bring a husband on a spousal visa.

However, as they are a same-sex couple and their marriage is not recognised under Hong Kong law, immigration authorities in the former British colony repeatedly rejected QT’s spousal visa application . (Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images) Without the correct visa to reside in the country, QT could only travel there on a tourist visa, which does not permit her to work.

QT then sued Hong Kong’s immigration director for denying her a spousal visa.

Related: Hong Kong overturns ruling granting spousal benefits to husband of gay civil servant

QT lost her case in the lower court, but then won at the Court of Appeal in 2017, which ruled that the immigration department’s refusal to grant her a visa was indirect discrimination.

The immigration department then appealed the Court of Appeal’s decision, which brought it to Hong Kong’s highest court, the Court of Final Appeal. (MIKE CLARKE/AFP/Getty Images) QT has been supported by 31 major banks and law firms, as well as Amnesty International, many of which have sought to advocate for her directly in the case. According to Reuters , QT’s lawyer Dinah Rose, QC, told the Court of Final Appeal that the immigration policy was discriminatory as it placed LGBT couples at a disadvantage compared to their heterosexual peers.

“Every single gay couple is unable to comply with the policy,” Rose said on Monday.

She added that it was striking that corporations and businesses – including Goldman Sachs and Barclays – had taken an interest in the case. (Isaac Lawrence/AFP/Getty Images) Rose said: “The businesses are concerned the discriminatory way… is impeding their ability to recruit the best people, gay or straight, to work in Hong Kong, so Hong Kong can compete and thrive in an international market.”

Representing the government of Hong Kong, Lord David Pannick, QC, stated that the immigration department was not required to recognise same-sex marriages from abroad.

Neither same-sex marriage or civil partnerships are currently recognised in Hong Kong. (ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images) Pannick said that the director of immigration had the power to grant the visa, but was under no obligation, stating: “He may choose to go further than that, but he has no duty to do so.”

However, Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma stated that the immigration department’s stance on marriage was “inconsistent” as same-sex partners of consular staff were granted the visas.

Ma said: “It does call into question… whether this sort of difference in treatment is actually right, whether it is fair.”

New York City to recognise third gender on birth certificates

New York City to recognise third gender on birth certificates

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (Spencer Platt/Getty) New York City is set to introduce gender ‘x’ birth certificates, under plans backed by Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The city is set to approve a policy recognising a third gender category of ‘X’ alongside ‘M’ and ‘F’.

It would allow people who identify as neither male or female to gain legal recognition for their gender identity, while it would also cater to intersex babies, who a born with a mixture of male and female sex characteristics.

The proposal is set to go before the city’s Board of Health on June 5, with backing from Mayor de Blasio and out Council Speaker Cory Johnson. It will be accompanied by legislation in the city council. Mayor Bill de Blasio (Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images) The Mayor said: “Pride Month is a time to celebrate how far we’ve come in the fight for equality, and re-affirm our commitment to protecting all New Yorkers from discrimination.

“This proposal will allow transgender and gender non-conforming New Yorkers to live with the dignity and respect they deserve, and make our City fairer.” Johnson said: “This is about making it easier for people to be who they truly are and letting them know that New York City understands them and has their backs.” New York City Council leader Corey Johnson (Slaven Vlasic/Getty) Dr. Mary Bassett, the city’s health commissioner, said: “Transgender New Yorkers, like everyone else, should have birth certificates that reflect their true gender identity.

“We know that being able to live your authentic gender and gender expression is critical to physical and mental health. Now more than ever, we must ensure that all people can live their best and healthiest lives.”

New York issued a third-gender birth certificate to an intersex person for the first time in 2017. The Statue of Liberty stands in the foreground as Lower Manhattan is viewed at dusk (Drew Angerer/Getty) Sara Kelly Keenan, who was born with male genes, female genitalia and mixed reproductive organs, was granted the certificate designating them ‘intersex’ after appealing directly to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Three states, California, Oregon and Washington, already allow gender ‘X’ birth certificates under law.

Earlier this year Canada said it would recognise third gender options and let people self-identify on government surveys and forms – including the next census.

When asking about gender, future Canadian government surveys will now include an additional category where respondents can self-identify and describe their own genders.

Instead of being provided with a binary male or female options, survey respondents will now have the option to tick a third box where they are then asked how they identify.

Police seek man after homophobic tirade forces gay couple to flee train

Police seek man after homophobic tirade forces gay couple to flee train

L – File photo, Creative Commons/Flickr user Joshua Brown. R – British Transport Police British Transport Police are looking to speak with a man in connection with a homophobic incident that forced his victims to flee a train.

The two men had been travelling on the service between Shoeburyness in Essex and London Fenchurch Street on May 7 when the incident took place.

Police say that a man approached the two men at around 7:40 PM and subjected them to a verbal homophobic tirade.

The man continued to mock the couple, making anti-gay remarks before rubbing one of the victim’s thighs.

The pair fled the c2c train at the next station, Chalkwell, because they “felt unsafe.” Police are seeking to speak with this man (British Transport Police) Police have released images of a man they would like to speak to in connection with the attack.

Detective Sergeant Hayley Whyte said: “Everyone has the right to travel without fear or intimidation and nobody should be subjected to offensive or homophobic language.

“I am keen to speak to anyone who was on the service and saw this incident.” A train at Shoeburyness (Creative Commons photo/Flickr user Matt Buck) If you have any information, text 61016 or call 0800 40 50 40, quoting 380 of 1 June. Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

New York gay sex party defends better than half price entry for tops

New York gay sex party defends better than half price entry for tops

The venue charged $65 entry for bottoms and $25 for tops (Pexels) The organisers of a gay sex party in New York have defended giving a vastly reduced entry price for those men who use the “top” sex position.

The private party in Brooklyn called ‘ANONYMOUS’ charged $65 entry for bottoms – those who prefer to be the receptive partner – and $25 for tops, meaning those who prefer to penetrate, at an event at the weekend.

The organisers also held a similar party last month.

Like most gay sex parties, gatherings have been arranged and advertised discreetly, by inviting men who are then required to email the organisers directly for further details. (Twitter) However, the organisers had faced questions over the pricing, which also didn’t appear accommodate for those men who are versatile or not into anal sex.

But, speaking to GSN , an ANONYMOUS promoter called Luke defended the ticket pricing, saying it was inspired by a guest at one of his other parties who identified as a “cumdump.”

Luke said: “I knew people were in fact hungry for this type of party. I actually didn’t create the top and bottom pricing. That was suggested by the same cumdump who suggested the party.

“The way the party works is that bottoms volunteer as a cumdump. They are placed into position for the entirety of the party and stay there as long as they want.”

He explained that, because of the way the party was organised, there needed to be more tops than bottoms – and the reduced entry price acted as an incentive.

“I’m a big big old bottom, and this has always been a fantasy of mine, but for it to work – and for the experience to be achieved for the cumdump bottoms – we need a huge ratio of tops to bottoms, which means discounting admission for anyone who wants to top,” Luke added.

“That’s also part of what the bottoms are paying more for – guaranteed high numbers of tops.”

Luke also said that versatile men could participate at the party, provided “they can play as a top.” He continued: “They just can’t switch over to bottom during the party because the bottoms have already volunteered for a limited number of spots in advance.” me paying 25 then bottoming the whole night Luke explained that the organisers the entirety of the event space.

“We do regular check-ins with our bottoms to make sure they are feeling safe, comfortable, taken care of properly and if they need bathroom breaks or to take a time out we can help them do that.

“We don’t mention vers on the flyer or voyeurs, but certainly both are welcome to come and in my emails to my mailing list, those things are mentioned.

Luke added: “I hope this clears up some of the ‘cumtroversy.’

“I wish I had a shocking or controversial reason for charging bottoms more, but no, I just wanted to center a party around bottoms who have a gang-bang fantasy, and that means making it easier to attend if you‘re eager to play the complementary role in this scene.”

Facebook won’t be bringing back the Pride reaction emoji

Facebook won’t be bringing back the Pride reaction emoji

(Facebook) Facebook has opted not to bring back the much-loved Pride reaction emoji in 2018.

In 2017, the social media giant implemented the rainbow flag reaction for users to celebrate LGBT pride, which promptly became a huge hit worldwide.

Alongside Like, Love, Sad, Haha, Wow and Angry, the Pride reaction was initially added for June’s US Pride Month, before being expanded in some locations to cover later celebrations such as Prides in London and Berlin.

However, fans of the reaction – which was notably used to troll anti-LGBT politicians during its short-lived appearance on the platform – were recently disappointed to find that the reaction had been discontinued. (Facebook) Facebook spokesperson Lisa Stratton confirmed to Business Insider on Saturday that custom reactions, including the Pride flag, had been dropped from the social platform.

“We are no longer doing custom reactions for major holidays or moments in culture,” Stratton said.

The release of the reaction in 2017 featured its own controversy after it became clear that Facebook was hiding its LGBT Pride Month reactions from users in countries with anti-gay laws . (SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP/Getty Images) Users in Egypt, Palestine, Bahrain, Lebanon, Singapore, Russia, among other countries, were unable to access the LGBT flag reaction.

Related: Facebook’s trustworthiness tool could be dangerous for LGBT+ rights

Facebook did not explain its reasoning for withholding the reaction in the countries.

Facebook had choice wording when it launched the reaction, stating: “People in major markets with Pride celebrations will be able to use a temporary rainbow reaction during Pride month.” (Facebook) With the absence of the Pride reaction, Facebook and Instagram have instead launched new rainbow-inspired features – available all year – to celebrate Pride month in the US this June.

The new settings include “Pride Profile Frames” on Facebook, where users can choose rainbow frames – including multicoloured waves and concentric circles – to add to their profile picture.

Facebook users can also personalise their text posts with Pride-themed backgrounds, and the camera mode now has a variety of rainbow-inspired masks and effects. (Facebook) In Facebook Messenger, users can share Pride-themed filters, frames and stickers in the Messenger Camera.

“The LGBTQ community has always been a celebrated part of Facebook,” said Alex Schultz, vice president of growth at Facebook, on Friday.

“We know representation and having a community matters — whether that be LGBTQ people sharing photos that can change hearts and minds, or using our products, like Facebook Groups, to find a supportive network.”

During June, users will also see rainbow gradients added to frequently used LGBT hashtags on Facebook-owned Instagram.

BREAKING: US Supreme Court rules in favour of bakery that refused to serve gay couple

BREAKING: US Supreme Court rules in favour of bakery that refused to serve gay couple

Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop claimed requiring him to make a wedding cake for a gay couple violated his free speech rights The US Supreme Court has ruled that a state violated ‘religious freedom’ protections by ordering a bakery to cease discriminating against same-sex couples.

The court ruled 7-2 in favour of Colorado’s Masterpiece Cakeshop.

Bakery owner Jack Phillips had launched a legal challenge to state anti-discrimination laws after refusing to serve gay couple David Mullins and Charlie Craig.

The baker refused to make a cake for the couple after he found out they were celebrating their wedding.

Phillips claimed that Jesus Christ would discriminate against gay people , and insists his religion requires discrimination against gay people.

The Colorado Civil Rights Commission (CCRC) had ordered him to “cease and desist from discriminating against same-sex couples by refusing to sell them wedding cakes or any product [they] would sell to heterosexual couples.”

The US Supreme Court today (June 4) issued a ruling overturning that order. The narrow opinion largely shies away from setting a wider precedent of what discrimination is permissible in the name of religious freedom, though it did find that the actions of the CCRC were discriminatory.

LGBT rights groups have voiced concern at the decision. The justices ruled that the CCRC “showed elements of a clear and impermissible hostility toward the sincere religious beliefs motivating his objection.”

The majority opinion led by Chief Justice Kennedy states: “The Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s consideration of this case was inconsistent with the State’s obligation of religious neutrality.

“The reason and motive for the baker’s refusal were based on his sincere religious beliefs and convictions.”

Kennedy added: “When the Colorado Civil Rights Commission considered this case, it did not do so with the religious neutrality that the Constitution requires.

“It is proper to hold that… the Commission’s actions here violated the Free Exercise Clause; and its order must be set aside.” Jack Phillips, owner of “Masterpiece Cakeshop” in Lakewood, Colorado speaks outside the US Supreme Court as Masterpiece Cakeshop vs. Colorado Civil Rights Commission is heard (BRENDAN MIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty) The justices avoided setting a wider precadent in favour of religiously-enabled discrimination, however, finding that gay people were entitled to equal protection under the law.

They added: “The outcome of cases like this in other circumstances must await further elaboration in the courts, all in the context of recognizing that these disputes must be resolved
with tolerance, without undue disrespect to sincere religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market.”

They added: “The judgment of the Colorado Court of Appeals is reversed.”

Pro-LGBT law firm Lambda Legal lamented: “This 7-2 ruling, while limited, invites discrimination and further efforts to justify withholding service from LGBTQ people. This will encourage all sorts of mischief by well-funded anti-LGBTQ organizations who want to create exceptions to nondiscrimination laws.

“We’re going to see years of needless, hurtful litigation by those seeking to evade responsibility for discriminating against members of our community.

“The Court today has turned its back on longstanding precedent and offered not just encouragement but a roadmap to those who would deny civil rights to LGBTQ people and people living with HIV.

“Religious freedom under our Constitution has always meant the right to believe whatever you wish. NOT to act on your beliefs in ways that harm others.

“SCOTUS has become an accomplice in the right’s strategy to hollow out one of its finest achievements, the right to equal marriage, and create what Justice Ginsberg memorably termed ‘skim milk marriages.’

“We are ready to fight back and make sure this heartbreaking and infuriating decision is understood for what it is: a narrow ruling limited to unique facts that cannot be used to justify discrimination in any other context.

“We will continue to fight in every arena and in every court until LGBTQ people and people living with #HIV have full equality under the law in every aspect of our lives. We deserve no less.” (Getty)

The ACLU said: “As a nation, we’ve already rejected the idea that businesses open to the public have a license to discriminate against people because of who they are.

“Colorado law prohibits discrimination based on who you are. We’re confident the courts will once again rule that businesses don’t have a right to discriminate.

“Thank you to Charlie and Dave for your courage. We won’t stop fighting until we ALL have equal treatment under the law.”

Louise Melling, deputy legal director of the ACLU said: “The court reversed the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision based on concerns unique to the case but reaffirmed its longstanding rule that states can prevent the harms of discrimination in the marketplace, including against LGBT people.”

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented against the ruling.

In a scathing dissent, Ginsburg – known as the court’s most liberal justice – wrote: “I strongly disagree with the Court’s conclusion that Craig and Mullins should lose this case.” Charlie Craig and Dave Mullins the gay couple who were denied having their wedding cake baked by cake artist Jack Phillips, in front of the U.S. Supreme Court December 5, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Alex Wong/Getty) She challenged Kennedy’s assertion that the Commission’s process was discriminatory based on statements at public criticising Phillips’ viewpoints. Ginsburg wrote: “Whatever one may think of the statements in historical context, I see no reason why the comments of one or two Commissioners should be taken to overcome Phillips’ refusal to sell a wedding cake to Craig and Mullins.

“The proceedings involved several layers of independent decisionmaking, of which the Commission was but one.”

She concluded: “Sensible application of CADA [Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act] to a refusal to sell any wedding cake to a gay couple should occasion affirmance of the Colorado Court of Appeals’ judgment. I would so rule.”

Trump nominee Justice Neil Gorsuch penned a separate opinion alongside fellow conservative Justice Samuel Alito which supported Kennedy’s ruling – but argued more broadly against LGBT rights protections.

The pair questioned whether Phillips’ actions could be considered discriminatory because he “”testified that he would have refused to create a cake celebrating a same-sex marriage for any
customer, regardless of his or her sexual orientation.”

Gorsuch claimed: “There’s no indication the bakers actually intended to refuse service because of a customer’s protected characteristic”

He added : “No bureaucratic judgment condemning a sincerely held religious belief as ‘irrational’ or ‘offensive’ will ever survive strict scrutiny under the First Amendment.”

LGBT campaigners had warned that the decision could lead to subsequent rulings that may blow a hole in decades of civil rights laws and anti-discrimination protections across the US.

Trump’s Justice Department had delivered oral arguments as part of the baker’s defence, arguing that it has a “substantial interest” in the case to protect “free expression”.

YouTube Is Currently Running “Anti-LGBT” Ads On Creator Content

YouTube Is Currently Running "Anti-LGBT" Ads On Creator Content

(Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images) It’s officially the beginning of Pride month, however the celebrations at YouTube appear to be lukewarm at best. The video streaming platform, which has long been a haven for independent LGBTQ+ creatives, has recently been accused by users and channels of running advertisements by anti-LGBTQ+ brands against creator content.

Screenshots and videos of a YouTube advertisement by Alliance Defending Freedom were circulated on Twitter. Alliance Defending Freedom is a legal firm that has historically fought against LGBTQ+ legislation, including the transgender bathroom debate, same-sex marriage and denying LGBTQ+ couples the right to adopt children. One member went as far as to claim that the death of Matthew Shepard, a gay man whose torture and subsequent ignited landmark hate crime legislation, had been "debunked as a homosexual hate crime" and was a part of the "homosexual agenda". Alliance Defending Freedom are currently classed as an extremist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Centre.

While some instances of the advertisement ran against unrelated content including Buzzfeed News, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee and YouTube personality Pewdiepie’s videos, fans noted that the advertisements were also running against LGBTQ+ creator content.

Chase Ross, a transgender creator who speaks openly about his transition from female to male on his channel uppercaseCHASE1 , told Forbes that he had been sent screenshots of ADF’s advertisements on his video running two months ago but explained that he thought it was a "one time thing and a mistake". However, it soon became clear that it was a recurring problem.

Ross said, "Yesterday a bunch of people tweeted me more screenshots and videos of anti-LGBT ads (specifically from Alliance Defending Freedom). This started up the conversation with other LGBT+ YouTubers and we all realized our videos had anti-LGBT ads placed on them." Kellie Fiedorek of Alliance Defending Freedom said the bill ‘fails to provide significant safeguards for the religious liberties of all Coloradans.’ during her testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Senate Bill 11 at the Denver State Capitol. The bill would allow gay couples to form civil unions. Denver, Colorado January 23, 2013. (Joe Amon / The Denver Post via Getty Images) The advertisement from Alliance Defending Freedom is a four minute thirty second clip, which revolves around florist Baronnelle Stutzman. In it, Stutzman describes how she told a client that she could not create floral arrangements for his wedding to a man based on her religious beliefs – that man and his partner later filed a discrimination lawsuit titled Arlene’s Flowers v Ferguson , which they ultimately won in 2015. The video ends with a call to subscribe to Alliance Defending Freedom’s YouTube and Twitter channels.

Another screenshot provided by a fan showed another advert by conservative commentator ASKDrBrown running against Ross’ video regarding his five years post-female-to-male top surgery. ASKDrBrown’s advert titled "CAN YOU BE GAY AND CHRISTIAN?" calls homosexuality "a sin", while citing instances from the Bible as alleged evidence.

Another tweet by bisexual YouTuber Gaby Dunn of Just Between Us quickly picked up speed on social media, in which she said she had been alerted to similar advertisements on her channel by her fans. She then asked her community if they had noted any other occurrences, which prompted a flood of comments.

One user responded with a screenshot, saying, "Same happened to me a few days ago with a [Just Between Us] video. In support of an anti lgbt lawsuit based on religious freedom. I couldn’t believe YouTube would allow the ad to run. Honestly super upsetting."

Another revealed that they had actually seen the ads running on two of Just Between Us videos two months prior, specifically videos titled "Gay Allison" and "Why I’m Not Polyamorous Anymore".

Forbes reached out to a representative for Gaby Dunn’s channel for additional insight into the situation, however was told that they had no further comment at this time.

Other users also began to note additional creators’ videos who they had seen anti-gay advertisements, which include Dodie , Anna Akana , the Philip DeFranco Show , vlogbrothers and others. Anna Akana (Desiree Navarro/WireImage) Currently, YouTubers who reach a certain threshold of subscribers and viewers are invited to join the streaming service’s Partner Program. Under the terms of service, they are allowed to earn revenue on the condition that their content remain "advertiser-friendly" and adhering to the platform’s community guidelines. In return, YouTube is allowed to sell pre-roll and mid-roll advertising to brands which run against their videos – however those adverts must adhere to the same guidelines as any other creator’s regular video, due to the fact that they must be uploaded as organic content to the platform first.
Despite YouTube’s policy that videos whose "primary purpose is to attack a protected group" is strictly against their community guidelines, it appears as though the Alliance Defending Freedom and ASKDrBrown advertisements fall into a grey area. In its Hate Speech policy , YouTube acknowledged the "fine line" that some content can fall into and also stated, "We encourage free speech and try to defend your right to express unpopular points of view, but we don’t permit hate speech."

The set up is one that strikes a particularly sour chord with LGBTQ+ creators like Ross, who have struggled with YouTube’s strict monetisation policies. In the wake of the revelation that advertising was running against predatory videos targeted at children and extremist content, YouTube strengthened its auto-flagging algorithm and cracked down on channels that were deemed non-advertiser-friendly. However, the service overcorrected when it began demonetising content that discussed LGBTQ+ issues and mental health – something that Ross is still fighting today.

He said, "I posted my 5 years post-op top surgery video yesterday and it was demonetized instantly the second I added the word Transgender in the title…My content on trans issues being restricted makes me feel so unwelcome on a platform that the LGBT+ community helped form." Chase Ross Ross continued, "I’m terrified. I’ve known 3 trans creators who have had their entire channels deleted, without strikes, so when my channel received a strike, I was terrified, and I still am! The anti-LGBT ads is just another stab and it really hurts."

Veteran YouTuber Hank Green also released a video statement in which he condemned the anti-gay advertisements running against LGBTQ+ content as "despicable" and "poison in the well". He called for a "higher standard for advertisements than there is for content" – YouTube confirmed to Forbes that under the current advertising model, any ad must "meet the advertiser-friendly guidelines and the community guidelines".
Green also suggested that YouTube introduce the option for creators to turn off controversial advertisements on their own videos. YouTube confirmed that this feature already exists, instructions for which can be seen in the image below and online here . Instructions on how to filter advertisers for creators A spokesperson for YouTube told Forbes , "We have policies against ads on YouTube that incite hatred or promote discrimination, and all ads that run on the platform have to comply with these policies. Even when an ad does not violate our policies, we understand that creators may not want ads from certain advertisers appearing on their videos. That’s why we give creators the ability to block ads from an advertiser in their AdSense account. We also give creators the option to block certain categories of ads if they choose. In the meantime, we are looking at ways to improve our policies going forward."

However, some creators like Ross and Green feel that these ads are targeting LGBTQ+ content – and more specifically, their audiences.

Ross said, "I don’t like this at all. I feel that maybe these anti-LGBT companies are doing on purpose to place their ads on LGBT content to try and get people who are maybe questioning their gender identity or sexuality. These individuals are in a vulnerable place and these anti-LGBT organizations are taking advantage of them. This isn’t right and I don’t like that YouTube is [letting] this happen. Anti-LGBT ads shouldn’t be placed on our videos."

When asked for clarification, YouTube explained that it is currently impossible to target a specific demographic.

They stated, "You cannot target ads to a set of people or an audience based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. We have a strict personalised ads policy and you cannot target specific demographics as prohibited by that policy. We do allow targeting by content, so we do allow gardening for example as one of the keywords that you’re looking to target."

It isn’t impossible that perhaps some of these advertisers set their keyword targeting to specific phrases like "LGBT", "trans", amongst other words relevant to the LGBTQ+ community. And if so, it’s a loophole that needs to be addressed. While it can be explained away as simple keyword targeting, these are words tied intrinsically to the audience and a specific demographic – by targeting these keywords, you target the LGBTQ+ community.

Megan C. Hills is a freelance journalist and blogger based in London, writing about YouTube and women’s lifestyle. Follow her on Twitter , Instagram and on her blog .