Fans hit-out at Love Island’s ‘diversity problem’, as Caroline Flack hints at gay romance

Fans hit-out at Love Island’s ‘diversity problem’, as Caroline Flack hints at gay romance

This year’s Love Island contestants (ITV) Love Island fans have slammed the show for having “no body diversity,” and not representing the LGBT community – as host Caroline Flack hints that there could be a gay romance this summer.

Season four of the show kicked off last night – complete with fake tan slathered bodies and an abundance of synthetic eyelashes – as eleven singletons entered the revamped Majorcan villa.

This year’s line-up includes model Eyal Booker, Danny Dyer’s daughter Dani, air steward Laura Anderson and, A&E doctor Alex George.

But – despite the eclectic mix of professions – there were no larger bodies in sight. The contestants were the usual sludge of lean, muscular, and slim.

And, although Caroline Flack has hinted that there could be a same-sex couple this summer – telling the Mirror today : “I don’t see any reason why not,” – there are still no signs of any LGBT contestants.

Gerry Stergiopoulos, an author and former Big Brothe r contestant, lashed out at the show’s choice of islanders on Twitter.

“#LoveIsland might trigger body insecurity to many young people. Where ARE the curvier girls? Where are the guys with a bit of a tummy? This is an island where if you are a size 10 plus female or a bloke without a six pack, you basically don’t deserve love!” (GerryGreek/Twitter) One Twitter user wrote: “I wish #LoveIsland would represent more body shapes & people of the LGBT community. Instead I feel like I’m being force fed hetero-norms.” (mhairi_mitchell/Twitter) Another fan said that Love Island is “so so good”, but that there is “no body diversity and I just hope that not every girl/guy watching is feeling insecure.”

Last night’s show saw the formation of five couples.

Host Caroline Flack then introduced an eleventh – and surprise contestant – Adam, who will choose an islander to couple up with on tonight’s show, consequently breaking up one of the pairings. (uhnonee/Twitter) Channel 4 presenter Rick Edwards joked on Twitter that personal trainer Adam could be gay, and choose to couple up with a guy.

However, Adam only indicated that he is interested in women on last night’s show. (rickedwards1/Twitter) Other fans tweeting before the show called for LGBT contestants.

One said: “Really hopin [sic] lose island pulls through tonight and gives us the gay couple we deserve.” (Ryan_Andrew01/Twitter) The launch of the latest series of the show on Monday (June 4) broke ITV2 viewing figures, with an audience average of 2.95 million people.

Last month, Richard Cowles, the show’s executive producer, suggested that there could be a gay spin-off of Love Island.

Speaking in the press room after Love Island won a BAFTA Award, he said: “For a dating show, you need everyone to fancy everyone, so if you have gay and heterosexual in the same place, they’re not going to fancy each other,” he said in the press room at the BAFTAs.

However, Cowles added he would consider a gay version of the show, “for a gay audience with a gay villa,” saying he was open to producing two seasons a year.

Also in May, an ITV spokesperson suggested that this season could include LGBT players. “Everyone is welcome to apply – the only stipulations are that people are over 18 and single/looking for love,” they told OK! Online .

But show bosses have previously said that there can’t be queer contestants due to the logistical nature of Love Island. (ITV2) ITV 2’s head of digital channels Paul Mortimer said: “The format doesn’t really allow it. If you’re familiar with the programme, it’s about coupling and recoupling. To complicate it with same-sex relationships is to take something away from the format,” said

“I know Richard [Cowles] said, maybe with tongue-in-cheek, that we might do a gay version one day.”

Cowles, who is also an executive producer on I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here! , said last year: “I would like to see what a gay version of the show would be.

However, he outlined the practical issues – as he saw it – with introducing gay and lesbian competitors alongside straight contestants.

“You are trying to create couples,” he said.

“It is not impossible and it is not something that we shy away from… but there is a logistical element which makes it difficult.”

In 2016, bi contestants Sophie Gradon and Katie Salmon paired up on the programme, but were told to couple up with a man if they wanted to be in with a chance to win the £50,000 cash prize.

Candidates ranked on LGBT issues

Candidates ranked on LGBT issues

Want to know where the provincial candidates stand on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues?

Fierté Simcoe Pride has done a lot of the legwork for you.

Fierté Simcoe Pride has released the results of its Proud Vote survey, in which it asked all of the candidates across the five ridings in Simcoe County (York-Simcoe, Barrie-Innisfil, Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte, Simcoe-Grey and Simcoe North) a series of questions about issues faced by LGBT people to see where they stand. The candidates were given two weeks to respond.

Fierté Simcoe Pride’s board of directors, along with community members, reviewed the responses and assigned an overall grade to each candidate and party.

Brandon Rhéal Amyot, president of Fierté Simcoe Pride, was encouraged by the candidates’ responses and sees their willingness to engage as encouraging.

“If we had done this five years ago, I don’t think we would have received many responses — maybe one or two,” Amyot said this week when reached for an interview.

“We want to encourage discussion and discourse. It’s very hard to put nuanced ideas into a report card. Our main goal is to get people to read them, and also to convince people to get out and vote,” Amyot said.

While some parties fared better than others, Amyot stressed the goal of the exercise wasn’t to necessarily to rank parties, but more to disseminate information in a more digestible way for LGBT voters.

“Marginalized communities tend to see themselves as not represented in the discourse and discussion,” Amyot said.

Fourteen policy questions as well as three party questions were asked of each candidate. Some examples of topics are LGBT inclusion in the health curriculum, access to health care for transgender people, mental health services, the blood donation ban, and truth and reconciliation.

Some parties chose to show a united front by sending in responses as a group. For example, the Green Party candidates sent one response for all candidates in Simcoe County (Bonnie North of Barrie-Innisfil, Keenan Aylwin of Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte, Jesseca Perry of Simcoe-Grey, Valerie Powell of Simcoe North, and Alexandra Zalucky of York-Simcoe).

Amyot says some candidates are still reaching out despite the deadline being passed, indicating they met with York-Simcoe PC candidate Caroline Mulroney on Monday morning and would be adding new responses as they are received.

Amyot also said the grading system in no way indicates endorsement of any candidate by Fierté Simcoe Pride.

For detailed responses from the candidates as well as the full list of questions, click here . Party rankings from Proud Vote — overall score

Green Party: A

NDP: B+

Liberal: B

Progressive Conservative: C

None of the Above: C

Canadians’ Choice: C

Libertarian: C

Trillium: D

Pride Month Roundtable: How LGBT-friendly Is Hong Kong?

Pride Month Roundtable: How LGBT-friendly Is Hong Kong?

Kayla Wong

Kayla Wong was just 22 when her life was turned upside down. “I was with my girlfriend, we were in Kennedy Town by the harbour, we were just hugging and kissing,” remembers Kayla, the founder of ethical clothing brand Basics for Basics. “But the paparazzi had followed us and they suddenly appeared in front of us in the dark with their cameras flashing. It was super traumatic.”

The tabloids had a field day. Newspapers and magazines plastered the photos on their front pages, prompting Kayla to come out to the press and reveal that she had the full support of her parents, actor Michael Wong and model Janet Ma. “I had already told my parents two years before,” says Kayla. “I was fine with being out as a gay person, but I just didn’t feel like this should be a thing.” Kayla Wong (Photo: Nic and Bex Gaunt) Kayla’s disappointment is understandable. This isn’t a story from the 1960s, when homosexuality was still illegal in most countries; this happened in Hong Kong in 2014, the same year that Britain legalised same-sex marriage, Apple CEO Tim Cook came out as gay and Jared Leto won an Oscar for playing a transgender activist in Dallas Buyers Club.

Even the conservative Catholic Church softened its stance on homosexuality in 2014, with Pope Francis declaring “homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community.”

So for all Hong Kong’s claims to be “Asia’s world city,” just how LGBT-friendly is it? It’s a tough question to answer, say some of the city’s leading LGBT personalities who recently gathered at Douglas Young’s Mid-Levels home for a roundtable discussion on the state of LGBT rights in Hong Kong.

As this discussion took place on the eve of Pride Month, which is celebrated in June, it was an especially appropriate time to reflect on the lives of the city’s LGBT residents. Douglas Young

Homosexuality was only legalised in Hong Kong in 1991—24 years after it was legalised in the UK, and 11 years after the state of New York—but Douglas doesn’t remember living in fear before legalisation. Instead, sexuality simply wasn’t discussed.

“When I was young, nobody knew the word in Cantonese for gay,” recalls Douglas, the founder of the brand GOD. “I think my biggest breakthrough was watching this TVB soap opera called A House is Not a Home, which came out in 1977. It featured a gay character. They used the phrase tung sing luen, which translates roughly as same-sex love. It was such a mysterious word for me. We had a nanny and when I asked her, she said, ‘That’s no business for kids.’ But I knew instinctively that it was something to do with me.” Douglas Young (Photo: Nic and Bex Gaunt) Undeterred by his nanny’s response, Douglas confided in people at school and found an open-minded, supportive friendship group. “I went to Diocesan Boys’ School and there were lots of LGBT students,” says Douglas. “I’m still very close with my schoolmates and I’m very open with them and we still meet regularly. I don’t think I’ve ever been judged by them. If it wasn’t for that school, I might still be hiding or not be as open as I am.” Gigi Chao

Gigi Chao, executive director of Cheuk Nang Holdings and an unofficial spokesperson of the LGBT community, found a similar group of friends when she was in her teens in the 1990s. “I went to an international school and I had a few friends that were lesbians, so we hung out in a little group and would go out and meet girls. We hung out in Causeway Bay and we were allowed to be ourselves.”

One person not happy that teenage Gigi was hanging out with LGBT friends was her father, property tycoon Cecil Chao . “Of course [our sexuality] was to the great dismay of our respective parents. They were all very concerned—probably up to this day they’re all very concerned,” says Gigi.

In 2012, Cecil famously offered HK$500 million to any man who could persuade Gigi to marry him, despite the fact that Gigi had just tied the knot in Paris with Sean Eav, her long-term girlfriend. Cecil’s offer sparked a global media storm and Gigi was inundated with proposals from more than 20,000 men.

It would have been easy for Gigi to retaliate and paint a picture of her father as unsupportive and out of touch, but she lay low and in 2014 published a calm, considered open letter in the South China Morning Post. Gigi Chao (Photo: Nic and Bex Gaunt) “You are one of the most mentally astute, energetic yet well-mannered and hard-working people this humble earth has ever known,” Gigi wrote. “As your daughter, I want nothing more than to make you happy. But in terms of relationships, your expectations of me and the reality of who I am are not coherent.”

Four years on from that letter, Gigi remains close to her father, but he still rarely sees her wife. “He doesn’t see Sean much, but we bump into each other sometimes at social events, at the Tatler Ball , for example,” Gigi says.

“Since coming out, the good thing is that there are now moments when he actually treats me as an adult. For parents, I think it’s sometimes quite difficult. But there are moments where he does show that respect for me and we talk to each other as friends. Dad and I have a very close father-daughter relationship and we love each other very much.”

Whether you are the daughter of a tycoon or come from more humble beginnings, coming out to family remains one of the biggest challenges for LGBT people. “There’s not a lot of in-your-face discrimination in Hong Kong, so that leads to a seen-but-not-heard situation in some families, where everyone knows a family member is LGBT but no one discusses it,” Gigi says. Angus Wong

Angus Wong, founder of gay club night Behind, admits that is what happened to him. “I think it’s a very Chinese mentality, where you know but don’t talk about it,” Angus says. “That’s how it worked with me and my mum. She was very open-minded, we watched Sex and the City together and we discussed gay plotlines, but I never had a definitive conversation about coming out.” Angus Wong (Photo: Nic and Bex Gaunt) Coming out to family can be particularly hard in Hong Kong, where there’s a lot of pressure to have children and continue the family name. “I know a lot of gay people that are not out and are married because they’ve been forced into this marriage in order to have descendants,” Douglas says.

All of this leaves many in the LGBT community caught in a bind. They don’t face open discrimination at home or in public, so they don’t feel they can complain, especially when LGBT people in other Asian countries are the victims of witch-hunts. Yet many gays and lesbians here are deeply hurt by the pressure they feel to keep their relationships secret. May Chow & Samantha Wong

“Tolerance is not celebration,” says May Chow , chef-owner of Little Bao and Happy Paradise . As May and her partner, Samantha Wong, are in a relatively privileged position with successful careers, a happy relationship and a strong network of friends, they see it as their job to be extra visible. “We can push it just a little bit more—I tell people I’m gay all the time,” says May. May Chow (Photo: Nic and Bex Gaunt) The fact that May and Samantha are so visibly out and proud seems to have helped earn their families’ support. “My mum went to [LGBT festival] Pink Dot with May’s mum,” says Samantha, founder of the marketing agency On Air Collective.

See also: May Chow on Elevating a Dim Sum Classic

“And now my mum is spreading the word about LGBT rights to all my aunties. In our last conversation, she asked when we’re going to get married and said, ‘When are you going to have a baby? You two should have a baby soon.’" Legalising gay marriage

Everyone at the table agrees that legalising gay marriage is crucial to furthering LBGT rights in Hong Kong.

“If you don’t recognise gay marriage, for every one of us around the table, when you’re filling in a tax form, you’re always lying,” Gigi says. “Even though I’m married in a same-sex relationship, I always have to tick I’m single on my tax form. And that’s a lie, really. [Resisting gay marriage] is also another way of society putting off recognising the LGBT community in general.” Samantha Wong (Photo: Nic and Bex Gaunt) Marriage also has a huge impact on people’s legal rights, including on subjects such as hospital visitation rights.

“I used to think ‘Okay, we can’t get married and have legal rights, but I can get into a private hospital.’ But as I’ve got older, I’ve realised that true happiness for society is a collective good,” May says, her voice cracking with emotion. “So I might be able to take care of Samantha if she gets sick, but for a person who’s making just enough money and who can’t afford private healthcare for themselves and their partner, that’s really hard.”

Everyone nods when Gigi says there’s a tough road ahead to the legalisation of gay marriage. “In terms of politics and getting it through the legal system, it’ll take a lot of work, but we can take steps towards it,” Gigi says.

Douglas adds that it will only come about if people pressure the government. “I think the Hong Kong government is very reactive, they’re not proactive,” he says. “They respond to what other people do.”

See also: Room To Read Founder John Wood On How To Turn Social Impact Into A Startup’s Competitive Advantage

One thing LGBT Hongkongers and their supporters can do is put pressure on businesses. “I’m a member of a number of clubs in Hong Kong and the Football Club is one of the few that recognises same-sex partners,” Douglas says. “If more clubs recognised same-sex couples, say the Hong Kong Club, then it starts putting pressure on the government.”

Gigi adds: “the Golf Club and Hong Kong Club do not recognise same-sex partnerships, so every time Sean and I go, she’s my guest.” Everyone also voices their support for Pink Dot Hong Kong, an annual LGBT festival, and the Gay Games , an international sporting event promoting sexual diversity that will be hosted by Hong Kong in 2022. Speaking up

But the most important thing, everyone agrees, is being open about sexuality. “I think it’s important that we break free from the shackles of tradition and speak out,” Gigi says.

“The only tool we really have is to communicate with people. When someone who thinks they know no gay people discovers […]

The world’s hottest LGBT-friendly destinations

The world's hottest LGBT-friendly destinations

The LGBT traveller is being courted by destinations all around the world. Abigail Healy looks at what’s hot for 2018. Europe
The Swedish tourist board VisitSweden has worked hard to promote LGBT travel in the UK and is cementing its commitment further with a new global campaign, “Open for Everyone”.

For LGBT travellers planning a visit, suggest mid-summer when they will not only be able to bask in the midnight sun, but can also revel at Europride – hosted in Stockholm from July 27 to August 5.

From the city to the slopes, European Gay Ski Week celebrated its 10th anniversary this March in France’s Les Menuires and the resort will be gearing up for yet another epic celebration in 2019. The week-long event combines skiing and snowboarding with cabaret, parties hosted by international clubs and DJs, fine dining, pool parties and open-air apres ski. Pure Organisation hosts the event and offers agents commission.

Event director Kevin Millins says: “We’ve put together a full programme along with chalet, hotel and apartment accommodation to suit all budgets in a resort where everyone is very welcoming and friendly.”

For clients who prefer to shun the snow for the sand, look to Gran Canaria. Known as “Miami Beach of Europe”, hotspots on the Canary island include renowned gay beach bar Kiosk No7, marked by its weathered Pride flag, and Yumbo Centre, a mall with stores tailored to the LGBT community. Highlights of Gran Canaria’s events calendar include Maspalomas Gay Pride in May and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria Carnival Drag Queen Show, in February-March 2019.

Malta is another sun-soaked destination that welcomes LGBT travellers with open arms. It has just been ranked top on the European Rainbow Index 2018, winning the accolade for the third consecutive year. This year the island plays host to TropOut gay festival in September – it’s the first European country to host the event and coincides with Malta Pride.

For a sociable week of activities and cultural experiences, Slovenia’s Pink Week offers travellers the chance to explore the country with like-minded people. Clients can be sure of a classy experience thanks to organisation by Matej and Mattej, co-owners of Luxury Slovenia DMC. Activities at this year’s event, which has just taken place, included a visit to Lipica, home to the Lipizzan horses, a carriage ride through Unesco karst caves, and of course blow-out parties. Americas

The US is bursting with Pride events and LGBT-friendly destinations, so clients looking to head stateside can include these in itineraries should they wish.

The big ticket is WorldPride, hosted for the first time in the US by New York City next summer. Fred Dixon, president and chief executive of NYC & Company, says: “2019 is a particularly poignant moment in time for New York City and the global LGBTQ community, marking the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising – a pivotal event that is widely known as the birthplace of Pride and the modern LGBTQ rights movement.”

Before then, clients heading south this autumn should look to Atlanta, which hosts its 48th Pride festival from October 12-14, as well as other events throughout the year.

Up in the Capital Region, the city of Richmond in Virginia has a campaign, OutRVA, with a handy website dedicated to LGBT-friendly accommodation, dining and attractions. Virginia also hosts VA PrideFest in September.

Neighbouring state Maryland’s largest city Baltimore has an up-and-coming LGBT scene in the hip neighbourhood of Mount Vernon – a lively cultural arts centre. For those keen to party, Baltimore Pride takes place from June 7-17 this year with a Saturday parade and block party.

Out west in California, Palm Springs claims the largest number of gay resorts in the US and has an all-gay city council. The Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism offers a warm welcome to LGBT visitors with dedicated LGBT information outlets, including the visitgaypalmsprings.com website. It also hosts a range of year-round events such as The Dinah Shore Weekend, one of the world’s largest lesbian events, the annual Cinema Diverse LGBT Film Festival and Palm Springs Pride (November 3-4, 2018).

San Francisco is where the Pride flag was first waved in 1978 and it continues to be a hub for the LGBT community today, particularly in the Castro district, which is decorated with bright rainbow colours. Its Pride event, which claims to be the country’s largest, is from June 23-24 this year.

And of course Las Vegas has to get in on the action with a series of LGBT-friendly events. Funway’s destinationproduct manager, Malcolm Davies, points out some of the highlights, including The Sin City Shootout –an LGBT athletic tournament; Viva WildSide’s Sin City Soiree – a week of parties and events for the transgender community; Matinee – a gay dance music festival over Memorial Day weekend (late May); Convergence festival over Labor Day weekend in September, and of course Las Vegas Pride
(October 19-21).

Sporty types are well catered for too with AdventureOUT in Snowmass, Colorado, from July 4-8, 2018. Developed by the group behind Aspen Gay Ski Week, the event offers hiking, biking and white-water rafting in the surrounds of the Rocky Mountains. Meanwhile, those of a more wintry persuasion should look to Canada from January 20-27, 2019, when Whistler hosts its 26th Pride and Ski Festival – with previous events having featured comedy nights, the splash pool party, Snowball26 – a huge club night, and plenty of on-slope fancy dress.

In the Caribbean, Funway’s Davies recommends the Dutch Caribbean islands of Curacao and Aruba, both of which have welcoming LGBT attitudes and laws. As well as picture postcard beaches and laid-back beach bars, Curacao will be particularly lively from September 27-30 this year when its annual Pride festival takes place. Asia Pacific It’s been a momentous year for Australia’s LGBT community with the legalisation of same-sex marriage last December and the 40th anniversary of Sydney’s iconic Mardi Gras festival in March, headlined by singer Cher. Mardi Gras typically takes place on the first Saturday in March, so revellers can start planning for next year’s event – Travel 2 has a package on sale from £1,299pp for 10 nights – but in the meantime LGBT visitors can be sure of a warm welcome in the city, and of course tie the knot should they wish.

The Asia region can be a mixed bag when it comes to LGBT travel, but Thailand is making big strides in promoting its inclusive message. This year will see the first global LGBT symposium in Bangkok with LGBT buyers and media in attendance. The aim is to deliver organisational change among Thai travel brands and help them create product to appeal to the LGBT community.

Chris Lee, head of marketing at Tourism Authority of Thailand, UK and Ireland, says the destination already has a huge amount to offer LGBT travellers, highlighting hotels and experiences such as gay-owned Twelve Bangkok, Villa Mahabhirom and the Supanniga Cruise, as well as global brands including Peninsula Bangkok, Belmond, SO Sofitel Bangkok and other Accor brands that have made a commitment to the LGBT community, plus DMCs such as Easia and Smiling Albino, which have created safe and inclusive LGBT product.

Lee adds: “With a subcommittee in the Justice Ministry of Thailand developed to consider same-sex civil unions in the foreseeable future, we also expect exponential growth in the popularity of Thailand among LGBTQ travellers.”

Join us at the TTG LGBT Conference
Interested in learning more about marketing and selling to the LGBT market? Tickets are on sale to our annual event on July 4 at Tropicana Beach Club. CLAIRE STIRRUP

Sales director UK and Ireland, Celebrity Cruises.

HOW CAN YOU HELP AGENTS WHEN BOOKING CRUISES FOR LGBT TRAVELLERS?
We have a dedicated LGBT+ toolkit available (cruisingforexcellence.co.uk), including a host of marketing tools, recommended itineraries, a bank of destination and onboard images, a print advertisement template, video overviews and the rainbow Celebrity Cruises logo.

WHAT IS YOUR TOP SELLING TIP WHEN BOOKING LGBT CLIENTS?
It’s important to treat everyone as an individual no matter how they self-identify. First, find a holiday that suits your clients’ needs. LGBTQ clients will want to know that wherever they go on holiday they will be welcomed, respected and safe. Ultimately, that’s no different from any other client – they simply want a fantastic holiday experience. SALLY HENRY

Sales director, Hoseasons.

HOW CAN YOU HELP AGENTS WHEN BOOKING BREAKS FOR LGBT TRAVELLERS?
Our Specialist Collection agents’ guide is a great starting point. It provides inspiration from our eight Specialist ranges. Using the “feature filters” on the agent portal (hoseasons.co.uk/agents) can help you find the best breaks for your customers – you can filter for features such as hot tubs, indoor pools, spa facilities and many more, so you can find exactly what they are looking for.

WHAT IS YOUR TOP SELLING TIP FOR AGENTS WHEN BOOKING LGBT CLIENTS?
Get to know your customer and make them feel at ease. Use gender-neutral phrases and questions where possible and take an interest in their reason for travel – the more you know, the better service you can deliver.

Poll: Emerging consensus among faith-based people in support of LGBT rights

Poll: Emerging consensus among faith-based people in support of LGBT rights

A church welcoming members of the LGBT community with a rainbow flag. stock.adobe.com Here is the church.

Here is the steeple.

Open the door and see all the people. 728×90 image ad Cheryl Tate of Racine remembers thinking about that children’s rhyme when she quit going to church in 1999 because of the anti-gay views of the people in the pews around her.

Tate’s daughter is a lesbian and, in 1999, was planning a commitment ceremony with her partner.

“All the people,” it turned out, weren’t welcome in that church.

About two years ago, though, Tate noticed a rainbow flag on the church she’d left. She began attending worship services again and noticed a transformation in attitude about LGBT people and their relationships.

Now, “all the people” are welcomed by most of the people.

Tate’s experience of new-found inclusion is not an isolated one.

In fact, new polling by PRRI — part of its massive national survey for the American Values Atlas — finds dramatic changes in religious communities since the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2015 that legalized same-sex marriage across the country.

“The country has reached a milestone moment in the debate over LGBT rights,” said Dan Cox, research director at PRRI, a nonprofit, nonpartisan group that conducts research at the intersection of religion, culture and public policy.

Cox said, “At a time when Americans are more divided than ever, the sea change in support for LGBT rights that now crosses the lines of race, ethnicity, religion and geography means that LGBT rights are becoming one of the few areas of agreement.”

PRRI found that majorities of nearly all religious groups support same-sex marriage, with white, evangelical Protestants and Mormons in the minority — although a majority of young Mormons support it.

The survey also documented a dramatic partisan divide. About 73 percent of Democrats and 66 percent of independents support same-sex marriage, compared to only 42 percent of Republicans.

Support is highest among young adults, ages 18–29, and lowest among seniors, age 65 and older.

Overall, the survey found six in 10 728×90 image ad Americans support same-sex marriage. Those who strongly support it outnumber those who strongly oppose it by a margin of more than two to one.

Majorities in 44 states, including Wisconsin, support same-sex marriage. Support is lowest in Alabama — at 41 percent.

PRRI also conducted polling on a question before the U.S. Supreme Court this term: Can small businesses legally deny goods or services to LGBT people based on the religious beliefs of the owner?

A clear majority — 60 percent — oppose giving small businesses in their state license to discriminate against LGBT people.

PRRI said majorities are opposed to such discrimination in 47 states, including Wisconsin, and nearly all major religious groups believe small-business owners should not be allowed to refuse service or deny goods based on their religious beliefs.

The American Values Atlas survey involved telephone interviews with more than 40,000 people — more than half of them conducted on cellphones. 728×90 image ad

Germany asks for ‘forgiveness’ for persecuting gays under Nazi rule

Germany asks for 'forgiveness' for persecuting gays under Nazi rule

14+ beautiful images from Sao Paulo Pride in Brazil Steps added to Pride Glasgow lineup – relive their 5 best-selling hits Meet the new International Mr Leather Over 100,000 men were arrested on homosexuality charges in Nazi Germany German’s president Frank-Walter Steinmeier has asked for ‘forgiveness’ for the persecution of LGBTI people under Nazi rule.

Thousands of gay men, lesbians and gender non-conforming people were locked up in concentration camps during World War 2.

Even after the victims of the Holocaust were freed, many LGBTI people then spent decades imprisoned under homophobic laws. How gay men suffered under Nazi rule (and in the decades after)

Inside the camps, men were seen as slaves; but after their liberation, not all of them walked free.

Gay men were considered the ‘lowest of the low’ in the concentration camp hierarchy.

They were constantly beaten, had their testicles boiled off by water, sodomized by broken broomsticks, and were used by the SS as target practice.

The Nazis also used gay men for cruel human experimentation.

Lesbians were raped, forced to work in brothels for officers.

‘The German state has inflicted grave suffering on these people. Above all, under the National Socialists, but also afterwards, in East Germany and for too long under [West German] Basic Law,’ Steinmeier said.

‘That is why I ask for forgiveness today – for all the suffering and injustice that has happened, and for the long silence that followed.’ President issues apology and asks for forgiveness

The president spoke at the 10th anniversary of the Memorial to Homosexuals Persecuted Under Nazism.

In Berlin, the memorial is a concrete cube that bears a small window where visitors can see a video of a gay couple kissing. The kiss represents the act of love that was considered criminal, and the tomb-like cube represents the certain death LGBTI people would face.

About 50,000 men were convicted under Paragraph 175 of the criminal code between 1945 and 1969 in western Germany.

The law was first enacted in 1871, and made more extreme by the Nazis in 1935.

Watered down in West Germany in 1969, the homophobic law was not fully abolished by Germany until 1994.

In June last year, gay men who were convicted between 1945 and 1969 were given a pardon.

Thousands of victims received a lump sump of €3,000 (£2,630; $3,350) in compensation along with €1,500 per year spent in jail.

Justice Minister Heiko Maas described the new law is a ‘belated act of justice.’

I fled an anti-gay gang while my friends were tortured and killed

I fled an anti-gay gang while my friends were tortured and killed

14+ beautiful images from Sao Paulo Pride in Brazil Steps added to Pride Glasgow lineup – relive their 5 best-selling hits Meet the new International Mr Leather Karar Noshi was a Iraqi model who was killed by a mob A brave airline worker has told us how he escaped from a paramilitary mob in Iraq while his friends were tortured and killed.

Kasim, as we will call him to protect his identity, was a part of a select group of young LGBTI activists in Baghdad.

In June last year, they posted pro-LGBTI leaflets through doors and stuck posters on walls and pillars in the Iraqi capital one night.

Faces captured on security cameras, the group was rounded up by a homophobic mob. One by one, they were murdered.

Except from Kasim, and today he is telling his story exclusively to Gay Star News. LGBTI posters that sparked a witch-hunt

These pro-gay posters in Baghdad, Iraq have gone viral

‘You are not alone, that was our motto,’ he said.

‘Our small group was created so that we as LGBT people, living in Iraq, could reach out and support others, to communicate with all homosexuals by providing advice, guidance in what it means to be LGBT.’

Kasim worked for an airline at Baghdad International Airport. Thanks to his job, he knew the dangers of the mafia. Posing as army and police forces, these gangs would kill you if they suspected you of being gay. Anyone linked to US coalition forces is also at high risk.

But he wanted to get the message of diversity and equality out there. And so he agreed to help distribute the posters.

With an image symbolizing a male same-sex couple, a lesbian couple, and an opposite-sex couple, the posters read in Arabic: ‘I am equal to you. Difference is the basis of life.’

‘We agreed that when this was done, we would all meet up the following day to see if there had been any reaction in Iraqi society regarding the leaflets and posters that had be placed throughout the city the night before,’ he said.

‘It soon became very clear that there had been and to a level more frightening than any of us could have ever feared.’ ‘Give yourselves up within four days or be killed’

This is the moment a gay man was killed in Mosul, Iraq

On 20 June, a warning letter was pinned to Kasim’s front door. It included a list of every member of the LGBTI support group. What is more, the letter ordered all of them to give themselves up within four days or ‘face the punishment of Allah’.

This meant they would be killed.

Kasim and a friend named Yani fled to a hotel. They sat there terrified as information slowly trickled in. Some had been killed, some had gone into hiding.

‘We felt the net was closing in on us from all sides. We had no family to help us. Our friends were missing or perhaps dead. Gangs were searching for us and our faces were now known throughout the city.’

Luckily, Yani and Kasim knew a closeted gay man who worked as a police officer at the airport.

He had promised them they would be able to give them a travel card, a requisite for all Iraqis to get permission from police to leave the country.

With a way out, Yani said he would leave the hotel to gather money to support themselves. They agreed to phone each other at a certain time.

‘One hour passed, then two, then three and still Yani had not been in contact with me,’ Kasim said.

‘I was suspicious that Yani had come to some harm but how could I know for certain?’ ‘I have never been so terrified in my life’

Kasim ran from the hotel with only his passport, leaving his belongings behind. When he arrived at the airport, he didn’t have a flight.

‘I have never been so terrified in my life,’ he said.

‘I spent much of that time hiding in the bathroom. Police and armed security were everywhere and I felt sure if I was in an open public area, my identity would be revealed.’

At the airport, he saw a local news report flash on the screen. It said a well known Iraqi male model had been found dead.

Karar Noshi, known as the ‘King of Iraq Beauty’, had been tortured and viciously stabbed . The news report did not reveal Noshi was a member of the LGBT group and his name had appeared on the letter pinned to the door days before. Escape from Iraq

Kasim phoned his mother, who told him he needed to leave Iraq immediately. Meanwhile, a friend told him Yani had been tortured and killed. A gang had been waiting for him at his home.

‘As far as I knew, I was alone and possibly the last one alive. I knew that my arrest was imminent and my death would quickly follow.’

Fortunately, he managed to get a flight. However, he still needed to get through the passport checks staffed by armed airport police.

Timing it carefully, Kasim approached the desk with a large group all in a rush.

‘I tried to remain calm and look relaxed, even if I was screaming inside,’ Kasim said.

‘Just as I thought I had been discovered, he handed me my passport and waved me through. I couldn’t believe it.’ Isolated, fired, and nowhere left to turn

Kasim traveled to Oman, where his older brother lived. However his uncle is a government official and was furious. He said being linked with a gay person was a ‘disgrace’ to the family’s reputation.

Kasim’s brother gave him two options: enter into an arranged marriage with a woman or leave and never contact family again.

He left his brother’s home, and arranged a stay at a friend’s house in the same city. Able to keep the same job with the airline, he rented a small apartment.

A month or so later, his manager informed him that he could work in Germany or Ireland.

But then he was asked to come into the office.

‘My manager informed me the Iraqi embassy, along with the police, had posted my image on social media. Pictures of me holding the LGBT poster was now widespread online,’ Kasim said.

‘They were the photos Yani had taken on his phone, the phone he had on him when he was killed.’

The company fired him with immediate effect. Moreover, they gave him just 10 days to settle his affairs in Oman and leave.

But he still had a travel visa for Ireland in his possession. And that is where he decided to go.

‘My life is still being threatened…just because of being gay and displaying a poster,’ Kasim said.

‘I just want to live a normal life, to love who I love and not be in fear.’

It’s official: Homophobic neighbors negatively impact your health

It's official: Homophobic neighbors negatively impact your health

14+ beautiful images from Sao Paulo Pride in Brazil Steps added to Pride Glasgow lineup – relive their 5 best-selling hits Meet the new International Mr Leather Australians celebrated the legalization of same-sex marriage last December (Photo; Shannon Power) Research conducted in Australia using data from the same-sex marriage postal vote has presented a direct link between discrimination and poor health rates amongst lesbian, gay and bisexual people.

Whilst the results of the study may seem obvious to LGB people who have experienced stigma and discrimination, very few studies have been conducted into the causes of poor health amongst LGB people, especially outside of the US.

The results of last year’s same-sex marriage postal vote have allowed for what appears to be the very first study of its kind in Australia.

High levels of anti-LGB stigma in towns and cities across Australia were determined via high levels of ‘No’ votes in the postal vote (‘No’ indicated opposition to same-sex marriage). The researchers found that quality of life for LGB people was lower in areas where there was an increased number of ‘No’ votes, as they received far less social support.

Graph accompanying Perales and Todd’s research, indicating decline in mental health of LGB people proportionate to ‘No’ votes (Image: supplied).

The study, conducted by Francesco Perales and Abram Todd of the University of Queensland, compared data from the postal survey with data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey. The HILDA survey gathered 15,986 respondents, of whom 554 identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual. There was, however, no inclusion of data regarding trans or intersex people.

The HILDA survey afforded the researchers access to data regarding the mental and physical health of both LGB and heterosexual populations across Australia.

Perales and Todd presented their findings in their report entitled Structural stigma and the health and wellbeing of Australian LGB populations: Exploiting geographic variation in the results of the 2017 same-sex marriage plebiscite.

‘Even within a relatively progressive country such as Australia, the lack of acceptance of LGB people and the dearth of social support that they receive are to a large extent responsible for their overall poor health and wellbeing,’ Perales said.

The report concludes by highlighting the necessity of legislation in favour of LGB people, such as marriage equality, with regards to the positive impact social support has on health and wellbeing.

Candidates ranked on LGBT issues

Candidates ranked on LGBT issues

Want to know where the provincial candidates stand on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues?

Fierté Simcoe Pride has done a lot of the legwork for you.

Fierté Simcoe Pride has released the results of its Proud Vote survey, in which it asked all of the candidates across the five ridings in Simcoe County (York-Simcoe, Barrie-Innisfil, Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte, Simcoe-Grey and Simcoe North) a series of questions about issues faced by LGBT people to see where they stand. The candidates were given two weeks to respond.

Fierté Simcoe Pride’s board of directors, along with community members, reviewed the responses and assigned an overall grade to each candidate and party.

Brandon Rhéal Amyot, president of Fierté Simcoe Pride, was encouraged by the candidates’ responses and sees their willingness to engage as encouraging.

“If we had done this five years ago, I don’t think we would have received many responses — maybe one or two,” Amyot said this week when reached for an interview.

“We want to encourage discussion and discourse. It’s very hard to put nuanced ideas into a report card. Our main goal is to get people to read them, and also to convince people to get out and vote,” Amyot said.

While some parties fared better than others, Amyot stressed the goal of the exercise wasn’t to necessarily to rank parties, but more to disseminate information in a more digestible way for LGBT voters.

“Marginalized communities tend to see themselves as not represented in the discourse and discussion,” Amyot said.

Fourteen policy questions as well as three party questions were asked of each candidate. Some examples of topics are LGBT inclusion in the health curriculum, access to health care for transgender people, mental health services, the blood donation ban, and truth and reconciliation.

Some parties chose to show a united front by sending in responses as a group. For example, the Green Party candidates sent one response for all candidates in Simcoe County (Bonnie North of Barrie-Innisfil, Keenan Aylwin of Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte, Jesseca Perry of Simcoe-Grey, Valerie Powell of Simcoe North, and Alexandra Zalucky of York-Simcoe).

Amyot says some candidates are still reaching out despite the deadline being passed, indicating they met with York-Simcoe PC candidate Caroline Mulroney on Monday morning and would be adding new responses as they are received.

Amyot also said the grading system in no way indicates endorsement of any candidate by Fierté Simcoe Pride.

For detailed responses from the candidates as well as the full list of questions, click here . Party rankings from Proud Vote — overall score

Green Party: A

NDP: B+

Liberal: B

Progressive Conservative: C

None of the Above: C

Canadians’ Choice: C

Libertarian: C

Trillium: D

SCOTUS-approved anti-LGBT bakery has quite the Yelp page right now

SCOTUS-approved anti-LGBT bakery has quite the Yelp page right now

Masterpiece Cakeshop in Denver does indeed have its cake, but the owners may not fully enjoy eating it too.

On Monday morning, the Supreme Court weighed in on the long-simmering case of a baker who refused to bake a cake for a gay customer. The ordeal began in 2012, when David Mullins and Charlie Craig visited Masterpiece Cakeshop to order a cake for their wedding reception in Colorado. Jack Phillips, the baker, would not comply, on the grounds that his religious beliefs barred him from baking a cake for a same-sex marriage. Mullins and Craig filed a complaint, which bounced around to ever-higher courts in the intervening years, ultimately landing in the Supreme Court, who ruled in favor of the Colorado baker.

This decision was bound to provoke a hostile reaction no matter what; coming during Pride, however, a time of heightened attention to LGBT affairs, the response has reached a fever pitch. Although there are few courses of action to overturn a SCOTUS ruling, one area where critics of Monday’s decision are finding some sense of satisfaction is on the Masterpiece Cakeshop’s Yelp page .

Yelp pages have often served as battlegrounds for businesses that end up in the news. Just a couple weeks ago, New Yorkers in droves set upon reviewing so-called “racist lawyer” Aaron Schlossberg’s law practice as a Mexican restaurant . Shortly after Monday’s SCOTUS ruling, Masterpiece Cakeshop’s page was inundated with reviews like the following, all of which either chasten the restaurant for its intolerant policies in earnest, or make light of them: “They do a really great job of balancing the prejudice with the discrimination – you know, sometimes you get too much of one or the other, but here they pile on BOTH! What a deal. Mmm, tastes like fresh hot bigotry.
If you’re not looking to buy hatred sweets, go elsewhere.” “Several months ago, I bought some cupcakes from here and brought them home to my lesbian lover. She was seated, as per usual, in the center on a pentagram we’ve emblazoned on our hardwood floors in goat blood, and smiled in delight when she saw I came bearing such a sweet, sugary bounty. We incorporated the cupcakes into our hour-long ritualistic worship of Satan and then held each other in romantic homosexual embrace. The cupcakes were so meaningfully integrated to our practice of lesbianic Satan worshipping that, between my girlfriend and me, we now refer to them as occult-cakes. Highly recommend everyone do the same–just don’t tell anyone at the shop what you’re using them for.” “Giving a one-star review because their menu doesn’t include ‘hatred and bigotry’ as options.” Of course, perhaps the most succinct summary of the situation comes from this reviewer: “More like masterpiece of sh*t.”

Have a look at more of the intolerant bakery’s Yelp reviews here .