Shrewsbury book collector gifts LGBT ‘legacy’

Shrewsbury book collector gifts LGBT 'legacy'

Jonathan Cutbill studied natural sciences at Cambridge and was also a keen bird watcher and photographer An LGBT book collector "passionate about justice" has left his 30,000-piece collection to a university.

Jonathan Cutbill, a founder of Gay’s The Word bookshop in London’s Bloomsbury, died last May aged 82.

His collection, which dates back to 1760, will be moved from his Shrewsbury home to the University of London.

Geoff Hardy, a friend of Mr Cutbill, said the "incredible legacy" featured the history of LGBT issues and the oppression people had faced.

Mr Cutbill’s collection includes novels, pamphlets and newspapers, including all the copies of Gay News, which ran for 11 years. The collection includes novels by famous authors Mr Hardy said his friend of 40 years began collecting in the 1970s, ahead of the bookshop’s opening.

"The idea was to stock the books that other people were not stocking, but also to become a bookshop with the knowledge of LGBTQ history and literature," he said.

"Not only is it a phenomenal collection dating way back to 1760, it is also catalogued and cross referenced – he was a museum man."

Mr Cutbill’s obituary in The Guardian, details how the Bloomsbury shop was raided by customs officers in 1984 and Mr Cutbill was among those accused of conspiracy to import obscene material.

Mr Hardy said the raid, in which some books were confiscated, sparked a campaign by publishers and booksellers, who raised money to defend the charges.

They were eventually dropped.

Mr Cutbill had faced prejudice as a gay man and was "most proud" of setting up the shop and how it had changed lives and supported people, Mr Hardy said.

"He was passionate about justice," he added.

"And not just LGBTQ justice. Justice." One article in the Daily Mirror from 1949 told the story of a soldier who dressed as a woman to perform as a fire eater Mr Hardy first spotted Mr Cutbill in a military parade in London’s Blackheath.

"In the middle of this military tattoo there are two youngish guys hand-in-hand with hennaed hair swishing their way through and kissing – this is 1976," he said.

"And I just thought, ‘I have to get to know this man’."

The collection includes publications such as Mancunian Gay and Gay Midlands and community newspapers.

Mr Hardy said many such publications sprung up in the 1970s and 1980s and included information about groups and meetings and were a "complete lifeline" for gay people who felt isolated. Geoff Hardy and Sue Gorbing, of Sand (Safe Ageing No Discrimination) were among Mr Cutbill’s friends Mr Cutbill’s collection includes novels, pamphlets and newspapers Maria Castrillo, head of special collections and engagement at London University’s Senate House Library, said the collection would help fill "fundamental gaps" in LGBT history.

She added the library "recognises the unique qualities of the collection and would like to develop it" and hoped it would be a catalyst for research and community engagement.

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Petition revives calls for LGBT street names

Petition revives calls for LGBT street names

A man has started a petition to change the name of Isis Street to Harvey Milk Street. Photo: Courtesy Twitter A petition to rename a South of Market street after Harvey Milk has reignited the issue of honoring LGBT leaders with street names in San Francisco.

Last week, a change.org petition ( https://bit.ly/2uNuSg9 ) was created that asks Mayor London Breed and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to change the name of Isis Street, a small side street in the South of Market neighborhood, to Harvey Milk Street.

As of Tuesday, it had garnered 45 signatures toward a goal of 100.

The first such proposal to rename a street after Milk failed to gather steam back in 1999. Milk was the first openly gay man elected to office in San Francisco and California when he won a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977. He was assassinated the next year.

But now the creator of the petition — David Collins, 59, a straight ally who owns property on Isis Street — said he would be open to renaming the street after someone else, after members of the LGBT community indicated in Facebook discussions after the Bay Area Reporter’s initial January 15 article online that a street in SOMA should be named for a member of the leather community, or that Milk should be honored with a different street.

"Maybe instead of Isis Street, it could be something that has a patriotic connotation like Veterans Street," Collins said in a January 17 interview with the B.A.R., adding that he may rework his efforts to reflect that. "The most compelling thing is to take the Isis name off.

"The LGBT community is in a better position to name Harvey Milk street, and I would support that," he added.

Terry Beswick, the executive director of the GLBT Historical Society, wrote on Facebook that he would support renaming Market Street for Milk. The 1999 proposal would have renamed a section of Market Street for Milk.

Gerard Koskovich, also of the GLBT Historical Society, suggested renaming Isis Street for Michel Foucault, the French philosopher who frequented the SOMA LGBT scene and died of complications from AIDS in 1984.

At least two San Francisco supervisors expressed their support for the idea after the initial petition was launched. District 6 Supervisor Matt Haney (Isis Street is in his district) wrote to the Bay Area Reporter via text message, "I love it."

"I’m definitely for more streets named after our local LGBT heroes, and it’d be amazing to have a street named after Harvey Milk in West SOMA," Haney wrote. "It’s a great location for that. I’ll check in with the community about it and next steps."

Gay District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, the lone LGBT member of the board, wrote to the B.A.R. that he supports having a street named for Milk, but would prefer it if such a street would be in the Castro neighborhood that Milk represented.

"I’m a fan of naming everything we can after Harvey Milk! Naming a San Francisco street after Harvey certainly seems appropriate, though I’d obviously love for it to be in the neighborhood he represented on the Board of Supervisors," wrote Mandelman, who now represents the Castro at City Hall. "I’m happy to have discussions about any possibilities with community members and friends and family of Harvey’s."

Isis Street is near the SF Eagle leather bar and the under-construction Eagle Plaza in the Leather and LGBTQ Cultural District.

"Its name presumably had paid homage to ‘Isis,’ a goddess from the polytheistic pantheon of Egypt," the petition states. "Unfortunately, Isis has taken on a new, maleficent meaning, referencing the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

"This petition will be presented to San Francisco Mayor London Breed and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in hopes that they will take action and change this street name to Harvey Milk St.," it reads.

Collins spoke with the B.A.R. by phone early January 16. He owns a 10-unit building on Isis Street.

"How would you like to be a disabled American veteran in your wheelchair on Isis Street?" he asked.

Collins said that his proposal is primarily about getting the Isis name off the street while honoring Milk, saying his LGBT relatives and friends might not have come out if not for Milk. The gay leader, both in his political columns he wrote for the B.A.R. and in his campaign stump speeches, implored LGBT people to come out of the closet.

"This isn’t about me," Collins said. "If someone in the LGBT community wants to take the mantle, I don’t mind. But if it starts with me, it’s OK. I just want a more positive name for the street and neighborhood."

Collins feels that the location is appropriate because of the historic LGBT presence in the South of Market neighborhood.

"We have the Eagle Plaza on one side and Folsom Street on the other side," Collins said. "Harvey Milk would fit right in."

Robert Goldfarb, a gay man who serves as the president of the Leather and LGBTQ Cultural District board, wrote in an email to the B.A.R. January 16 he will see what people in the area think of the proposal.

"Naturally, we are in favor of ways to honor Harvey Milk and we’re also interested in what the residents think of the change," Goldfarb wrote. "Additionally, we believe that on other streets in the leather & LGBTQ district, there are many ways to commemorate leather leaders and the neighborhood’s rich history which would benefit everyone who visits, works, or lives in the district."

Collins said that he reached out to then-District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim "four or five years ago" about the possibility of a name-change for Isis Street and she said she would support it if Collins got a petition started. But at the time he thought that ISIS would fade from people’s memories, and he was occupied with other things.

"I thought ISIS would go away, but in the meantime it’s only gotten worse," he said.

Kim did not respond to a request for comment.

Past effort unsuccessful
San Francisco does not have a street named for the slain LGBT civil rights icon. San Diego had the first street named for Milk, in 2012. Salt Lake City named a street for Milk in 2016, followed by Portland, Oregon in 2018.

Twenty-one years ago a proposal to rename a stretch of Market Street from Octavia Boulevard to Portola Drive — a main artery through the heart of the city’s LGBT Castro district — after Milk went nowhere. A resident and business owner of the Castro, Milk represented the neighborhood at City Hall for 11 months in 1978 until he was assassinated November 27 that year.

That proposal from the Castro Citizens Congress, a neighborhood improvement group, needed 10,500 signatures to make the November 1999 ballot, according to a contemporaneous story in the San Francisco Examiner.

It didn’t make it, according to the San Francisco Department of Elections website.

But in the City by the Bay, and especially in the Castro neighborhood, Milk’s name is still omnipresent.

The San Francisco Public Library branch in the Castro is named for Milk, as is the plaza above the Castro Muni station, and the LGBTQ Democratic club he founded after his 1976 election defeat (originally called the Gay Democratic Club).

Milk’s name appears on Terminal 1 at San Francisco International Airport, the building that houses a Job Corps center on Treasure Island, an elementary school in the Castro, and an arts center in Duboce Triangle.

Milk also has an F Market streetcar, a bust in City Hall, a United States Postal Service stamp (2014), and a state holiday of special significance on May 22, Milk’s birthday.

The U.S. Navy announced last month that it began construction on a ship named for Milk.

Street names
Any request for a street renaming faces a lengthy process. It would need to be scheduled for a supervisors committee and voted on by the full board.

Several street names in San Francisco have changed in recent decades to reflect the diversity of the city’s population. Most notably, there was a bitter fight in 1995 over Army Street.

The Board of Supervisors voted to rename the street after Latino labor leader Cesar Chavez in 1995. But the name change came at a time of racial discord in California in the aftermath of the anti-immigrant Proposition 187, and many white residents wanted the name changed back to Army.

A ballot proposition to remove Chavez’s name went down in defeat November 7, 1995 by 54%-45%, according to the elections department.

In more recent years, there was considerably less controversy when Phelan Way was renamed in 2018 for Latina bisexual artist Frida Kahlo, and when a block of 16th Street was renamed 1 José Sarria Court, after the first openly gay candidate for public office in the United States. Sarria, a legendary drag queen, ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1961 and founded the Imperial Court system.

That block, where the Eureka Valley/Harvey Milk Memorial Branch Library is located, was renamed for Sarria in 2006, when he was still alive. (Sarria died in 2013.)

The city has also bestowed honorary street names that recognize LGBT community members, meaning that they do not impact the mailing addresses for businesses and residences on that block.

The 100 block of Taylor Street was renamed Gene Compton’s Cafeteria Way after the business where a transgender-led uprising against police brutality occurred in 1966, three years before the more famous Stonewall riots in Manhattan.

The 100 block of Turk Street was named Vicki Mar Lane, after trans performer Vicki Marlane, who died in 2011 at the age of 76 due to AIDS-related complications.Marlane had hosted a popular drag revue show at gay bar Aunt Charlie’s Lounge, which is located at 133 Turk Street. She is the first transgender person to be honored with a street naming in San Francisco.In 2014, Lech Walesa Alley between Polk Street and Van Ness Avenue was renamed Dr. Tom Waddell Place, due in part, to the former Polish leader making homophobic comments. Waddell was the founder of the Gay Games.A block of Myrtle Street near City Hall is named for lesbian author Alice B. Toklas, who was born nearby. And Jack Kerouac Alley in North Beach honors the bisexual Beat Generation writer.

Online Extra: CA LGBTs urged to fill out census forms

Online Extra: CA LGBTs urged to fill out census forms

Equality California Institute Executive Director Rick Zbur said the organization is launching a campaign for LGBT people to pledge to complete the 2020 census. Photo: Courtesy EQCA With billions of federal funding at stake and California at risk of seeing its congressional representation diminish, the state’s LGBT residents are being urged to fill out their 2020 census forms. Doing so is being pitched as a way to not only protect the Golden State’s political clout and financial resources but also as a protest against the Trump administration’s rollback of federal LGBT rights and protections.

During the Obama administration, a working group of federal agencies had been looking at including questions about sexual orientation and gender identity on the 2020 census form but the final decision was left up to the administration of his successor. And in March 2017, nearly two months after President Donald Trump took office, the U.S. Census Bureau confirmed the forms would not include SOGI questions, causing an uproar among LGBT groups and federal lawmakers supportive of seeing the census collect SOGI data.

Since then LGBT groups and advocates have been using the hashtag #WillBeCounted on social media platforms to drum up awareness about the importance of taking part in the census despite the lack of the SOGI questions. It is especially critical in California, where for the first time in the state’s history it could lose a House seat in Congress because the state’s population is no longer growing as fast as several Western and Southern states that are expected to pick up House seats next year.

Not only is the census population count used to allocate House seats to the states, it also determines funding for myriad social services, from food stamps and Medicaid to Section 8 housing vouchers and community health centers.

Equality California, the statewide LGBT advocacy group, on its website is asking people to pledge that they will fill out their census forms this spring. For the first time people will be able to do so online, or they can return the printed forms that will be mailed to them by April 15.

"Thank you for taking the pledge and letting the Trump-Pence administration know we #WillBeCounted!" states a note that pops up on the screen of those who fill out the online form.

Pledge to be counted
Starting Wednesday (January 22) EQCA will be running ads on Facebook and the hookup app Grindr to encourage people to sign the pledge. It is part of a $1 million campaign the agency is undertaking this year to ensure LGBT people fill out the census.

"The 2020 census is nothing less than a fight for our future — a future that values diversity and invests in the communities that need it most," stated Equality California Institute Executive Director Rick Zbur. "Too often, California’s diverse LGBTQ community is undercounted — which denies us power, representation and funding for programs that the most vulnerable members of our community need to survive. There’s far too much at stake to allow that to happen in 2020. LGBTQ Californians will be counted."

The bulk of the money came from a grant EQCA received from the California Complete Count Office, which is overseeing the state’s 2020 census efforts. It also received funding from the California Community Foundation specifically for outreach efforts in Los Angeles County and from the California Wellness Foundation for its statewide efforts.

"Right now we are just asking people to pledge to complete the census. In March, we will be doing follow up outreach to people to remind them to fill out the census," said EQCA spokesman Samuel Garrett-Pate.

EQCA has been working with a coalition of LGBT groups around the state to prepare for this year’s census. A major awareness drive was conducted last year at Pride events across the Golden State.

Amanda McAllister-Wallner, director of the California LGBTQ Health and Human Services Network, told the Bay Area Reporter that the census campaign generated overwhelmingly positive reactions.

"I think people were both receptive to the idea of being counted and that this is important for these services that are important to me and the community," said McAllister-Wallner, adding that the Trump administration’s attempts not to count LGBT people in various government surveys also registered. "They are attacking you at the federal level constantly and this is an opportunity to fight back and demand I will be counted in the census. It is a way for people to say, ‘You can’t erase me. You can’t erase my community.’"

The decennial count of the nation’s population will fall short in terms of collecting exact data on the number of LGBT residents, since the 2020 census will not be asking people to specify if they identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. In terms of a person’s gender, the only choice one can select is either male or female.

There will be a question where same-sex couples can clearly mark their relationship. New to the 2020 census forms in explaining how people living in the same household are related are the options "same-sex husband/wife/spouse" or "same-sex unmarried partner." In 2010 the options on the census form were the generic terms "husband or wife" or "unmarried partner."

Despite the lack of SOGI questions for LGBT individuals, there does not appear to be a concerted effort to depress LGBT participation in the 2020 census, according to half a dozen LGBT leaders the B.A.R. spoke to about this year’s count. Rather, there seems to be a broad recognition within the LGBT community of the critical importance for filling out this year’s form.

"We need to be counted as a community. We need to know we exist," said Miguel Bustos, a gay San Francisco resident who serves on the California Complete Count Committee and is the senior director of the Center for Social Justice at GLIDE SF.

The Bay Area Reporter will have more about efforts to ensure LGBT Californians take part in the 2020 census in its January 30 issue.

Three SA companies score high in LGBTQ-inclusive workplace policies

Three SA companies score high in LGBTQ-inclusive workplace policies

Three San Antonio-based companies scored high while a local oil and gas company came in low on the Human Rights Campaign’s new corporate equality index.

Cloud computing company Rackspace Hosting Inc. and financial services provider USAA earned 100 percent ratings among 84 Texas companies on the HRC’s list, which was released Tuesday and includes hundreds of the largest U.S. companies. Broadcast media corporation iHeartMedia Inc. (Nasdaq: IHRT) earned a 95 percent rating. Valero Energy Corp. (NYSE: VLO) received a 20 percent rating, placing the oil and gas giant seven spots from the bottom of the list.

The HRC surveys and rates companies on nondiscrimination policies, employment benefits, inclusive culture, social responsibility to LGBTQ equality and responsible citizenship, according to an HRC news release.

"USAA recognizes and respects multiple dimensions of diversity. We are committed to inclusive employment and business practices that include the LGBT+ community, as well as all aspects of diversity," USAA spokesman Chistrian Bove said.

Holly Windham, chief legal and people officer for Rackspace, said embracing employee differences helps deliver the best experience for customers.

"We are dedicated to creating an environment where we can bring our whole selves to work," she said.

According to the HRC’s release, 28 of the 84 Texas companies surveyed earned 100 percent ratings while 42 earned more than 90 percent.

“These companies know that protecting their LGBTQ employees and customers from discrimination is not just the right thing to do — it is also the best business decision. In addition, many of these leaders are also advocating for the LGBTQ community and equality under the law in the public square,” HRC President Alphonso David said.

The full report can be viewed here .

8 KC Companies Rank ‘Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality’

8 KC Companies Rank ‘Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality’

Several Kansas City, Missouri, companies have earned the “ Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality ” distinction this year.

Every year, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation ranks businesses for their adoption of inclusive workplace policies and practices such as domestic partner benefits, transgender-inclusive benefits and non-discriminatory policies, among others. This year eight of the 686 top companies in the U.S. are located in Kansas City.

“Kansas City for such a long time has had a reputation as being an enormously conservative city,” said Suzanne Wheeler, executive director of the Mid-America LGBT Chamber of Commerce in Kansas City.

Wheeler identifies as trans and grew up in the Kansas City suburbs in the 1980s. She spent 30 years away from Kansas City while in the military before she retired. Wheeler admits Kansas City wasn’t the first place she considered to retire, but she gave it a shot and went to a chamber meeting. She was pleasantly surprised.

“It was a completely different city than the one I left,” Wheeler said. “I realized there were plenty of opportunities for me in Kansas City. I wouldn’t just be able to make it but I would be able to thrive.”

The ratings suggest the city has become more inclusive for professional LGBTQ+ individuals, which is good for recruitment and therefore good for business. Every year, Kansas City’s ratings improve, Wheeler said, and the community notices.

“It’s fabulous because ultimately it helps show this eclectic and wonderfully accepting city that we live in,” Wheeler said.

KC companies that earned high scores are listed below: Cerner Corp. — 100

Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City — 95

Hallmark Cards Inc. — 100

H&R Block Inc. — 100

Lathrop Gage — 95

Polsinelli — 100

Shook, Hardy & Bacon — 100

Stinson — 100

Inspired by Ireland, Taiwan’s LGBT activists feel empowered for future battles

Inspired by Ireland, Taiwan’s LGBT activists feel empowered for future battles

The gay community in Taiwan followed the Irish same-sex marriage debate and referendum very closely and they kept in close contact with groups active in the campaign. Photograph: Ashley Pon/Bloomberg via Getty The battle has been long and at times bitter, but Taiwan’s LGBT activists say they now feel empowered to tackle remaining discrimination where they see it and act as a beacon for the burgeoning gay rights movement in Asia.

Taiwan became the first Asian state to recognise same-sex marriage last year, a historic breakthrough following a prolonged campaign, and one that activists say was buoyed by Ireland’s marriage equality referendum in 2015.

The introduction of the new law was divisive in Taiwan, and conservative and church groups vowed to punish President Tsai Ing-wen and her Democratic Progressive Party at the January 11th elections and vote in lawmakers who would reverse the legislation.

The electorate, however, delivered Tsai a landslide victory, meaning the LGBT community could heave a collective sigh of relief and focus on consolidating their position over the next four years. There is great solidarity across the world, and the Irish community was very helpful sharing all their experiences Taiwan has a vibrant LGBT scene, and one that has been spurred on by the legislative change. More than 200,000 people joined last year’s riotous gay pride parade in Taipei , among them many of the 2,600 same-sex couples who have legally tied the knot in Taiwan since the new law was introduced.

Also joining the party were representatives of several gay groups from all across Asia, many looking to emulate Taiwan’s legislative success in their own countries.

“We have had so many groups visit, from Hong Kong , Japan , Singapore , Malaysia , Korea, all over. We share our experience and resources, and together hope to develop the LGBT movement across Asia,” said Sih-Cheng Du, director of policy advocacy from the Taiwan TongZhi (LGBTQ) Hotline Association.

The community in Taiwan followed the Irish same-sex marriage debate and referendum very closely, he said, and they kept in close contact with groups active in the campaign in Ireland.

“It was inspiring. There is great solidarity across the world, and the Irish community was very helpful sharing all their experiences,” he said, “and now we are doing the same across Asia.” Taiwan president Tsai Ing-Wen was re-elected in a landslide victory on January 11th, cementing her government’s same-sex marriage legislation. Photograph: Carl Court/Getty The origins of the path to legislative reform can be traced back to 1986, the year before Taiwan’s four decades of martial law under Kuomintang leader Chiang Kai-shek finally came to a close.

Chi Chia-wei, a solo activist at the time, decided to call a press conference in a downtown McDonalds. He stuffed notices into the postboxes of local and international media outlets, reserved a small section of the fast-food venue, bought dozens of soft drinks from the counter, and waited to see if anyone would show up.

His invites stirred press intrigue and with the cameras rolling he did the unthinkable in such oppressive climes: he openly declared his sexual orientation and launched a one-man HIV/Aids education campaign. He also petitioned the legislature to permit same-sex marriages, a proposal that was promptly and angrily rejected.

Chi quickly found himself in trouble with the law, and was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment on robbery charges that were widely seen as fabricated. He sat in a cell for five months, before being pardoned by a lenient and tearful judge who sent him on his way.

In the following years he set up an LGBT support hotline, raised funds for Aids victims, and continued challenging the island’s laws in the courts. A well-known public figure on the streets of Taipei, he would hand out free condoms, occasionally dressed in a suit made of condoms.

In 2013 he made another of his many attempts to apply for a marriage licence, and when denied he appealed to the Taipei city government, who referred the constitutionality question to the courts.

As that was winding its way through the legal system, Tsai Ing-wen was preparing for her first presidential bid. In November 2015 – the same month that same-sex marriage became legal in Ireland – she announced her support for the legislation in Taiwan.

When she came to power the issue was sidelined, though it proved to be deeply contentious amongst her governing ranks, much to the disappointment of the LGBT community, who accused her of reneging on campaign promises. She did, however, manage to appoint several liberally oriented judges to the constitutional court in her early days at the helm.

That court, considering Chi’s latest application that the ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional, then reached the landmark decision in 2017, declaring that marriage in Taiwan should indeed be opened to same-sex couples. It gave the government two years to find a legal solution. Chi Chia-wei began his solo campaign for LGBT rights in Taiwan with a press conference in a branch of McDonalds in 1986. Photograph: Sam Yeh/AFP via Getty The court decision was met with a conservative outcry, and opponents put forward a series of referendums in which two-thirds of the voters opted to reject same-sex marriage. While the government had said prior to the referendums that they were obligated to follow the court ruling regardless of any referendum outcome, it was an acrimonious time that drove a wedge into society.

“When we spoke to LGBT groups and individuals in Ireland, they told us to avoid a referendum if we could. They said it would be bitter and divisive and offensive and cause a lot of hurt to our community,” Du said. “They were right but we had no choice here. So, they advised us to prepare to protect our community, to give them emotional support.”

Conservative and Christian groups ran a well-funded campaign of hate and scare-mongering, he said, “and so much fake news” that led to “a huge amount of pain in our community . . . we really got beaten up in the process.” Same-sex couples still face areas of discrimination that the TongZhi group and others intend to challenge And while the vote was non-binding, it did lead the government to pass a special same-sex law as a compromise move, rather than amending the civil code, which is what the LGBT and human rights groups had been seeking to deliver full equality.

So, in May last year, right on the court’s two-year deadline, the legislators passed a Bill making same-sex marriage a reality.

Speaking to Taiwanese media at a rally outside the legislature after the vote, the 60-year-old Chi marvelled at the massive crowd around him.

“It was just a one-man campaign when I started, now I have 250,000 people here beside me. I am not alone in doing what is right,” he said.

He was never discouraged by the setbacks, he said, but always felt the cause was worthy.

“My belief is that if you can do one thing right in this life, then it is all worth it,” he said.

As the civil code was not amended, same-sex couples still face areas of discrimination that the TongZhi group and others intend to challenge, Du said.

Currently, same-sex couples can only adopt if the child is the biological offspring of one of the couple, for instance, and Taiwanese citizens can only have a transnational same-sex marriage recognised if their partner is from one of the 30 or so countries around the world that recognise gay marriage, he said.

“There are other issues too, such as gender equality education, that we need to tackle,” he said. “It will all take time. It’s a long process.”

But Taiwan, and Asia, are changing, he said.

After Tsai signed the historic law, she gave her pen to Chi in recognition of his decades-long struggle.

“I used this pen to sign the same-sex marriage Bill. Please keep it as a token. May love unite everyone in this land,” she wrote in a note to him.

Chi then acted as witness for the first same-sex marriages in the country, using the president’s pen to sign his name on the official marital documents.

Adam Lambert wants to get rid of the phrase ‘coming out’ as he launches new charitable venture

Adam Lambert wants to get rid of the phrase ‘coming out’ as he launches new charitable venture

Lambert performs onstage during his ‘Velvet’ tour at El Rey Theatre on December 21, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Scott Dudelson/Getty) Adam Lambert has said he wants to abolish the phrase “coming out”, as he launches his new foundation supporting LGBT+ human rights.

Lambert, 37, is currently on tour with Queen but announced the launch of the Feel Something Foundation on January 22.

He wrote on Instagram that the foundation’s mission was “to support LGBTQ+ organisations that are moving the needle for communities of all ages and backgrounds”. According to Metro , Lambert said: “I’ve worked with some amazing LGBTQ+ organisations and charities over the years.

“The Feel Something Foundation will shine a light and support existing charities, whose work is pivotal in empowering the community.”

The American Idol star also said that he wants to get rid of the phrase “coming out” in favour of “someone simply being themselves”.

The newspaper reported that the Feel Something Foundation would support charities and organisations promoting LGBT-inclusive education and working to end LGBT+ homelessness.

A statement by the foundation read: “Having spent time throughout his career engaging in LGBTQ+ activism and as a member of the community himself, the foundation sees Adam’s philanthropy institutionalised into an organisation with the aim to truly make a difference.

“With the vision to see LGBTQ+ communities of all ages and backgrounds enjoy full human rights within a fully-inclusive society, FSF first aims to ensure support is given to the myriad of issues that continue to disproportionately affect them.”

Stars you didn’t know are gay or lesbian

Celebs you didn’t know have an LGBT sibling

The stars who went gay for pay Adam Lambert previously opened up about struggling with his own mental health.

The Feel Something Foundation will also support charities that promote good mental health, and prevent suicide among LGBT+ people.

In February 2019, Lambert opened up about being “lonely and depressed” in a letter to fans.

Lambert wrote about his mental health: “I’m coming out of a dark period of second-guessing my own artistry and having my mental health suffer because of it.”

He added: “I put all my focus on work and started to feel detached in my personal life. My self worth was suffering, I was lonely, and becoming depressed.”

Lambert said he pulled himself “out of the darkness… with a bit of professional help, and the support of colleagues, friends and family.”

The first fundraiser for the Feel Something Foundation will be an online auction of some of Lamberts most iconic outfits.

Metro Council asks Gov. Lee to veto anti-LGBT adoption bill

Metro Council asks Gov. Lee to veto anti-LGBT adoption bill

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The controversial measure, which could allow faith-based adoption agencies to turn down LGBTQ people based on their religious beliefs, is headed to Republican Governor Bill Lee’s desk.

Meanwhile, Metro Council made a plea to the governor Tuesday night, asking him to veto the anti-LGBT adoption bill.

“We’d like to send a message to residents and respective businesses that Tennessee is a welcoming state, and this would be detrimental to the Metro Government of Nashville and Davidson County,” said one councilwoman.

Gov. Lee has specified that he plans to sign the bill.

N.J. becomes ninth state to ban ‘gay panic’ defense

N.J. becomes ninth state to ban ‘gay panic’ defense

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation into law legislation the use of gay panic defense in court. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law Tuesday legislation that would prohibit the use of gay or trans panic as a defense in state court, making the Garden State in the ninth in the United States to enact such a law.

“We will always stand with our LGBTQ+ community and promote full equality for all our residents,” Murphy said in a statement. “Gay and trans panic defenses are rooted in homophobia and abhorrent excuses that should never be used to justify violence against vulnerable populations. With this new law, we are enacting critical measures to protect our friends and neighbors in the LGBTQ+ community.”

Individuals accused of violent crimes against LGBT people have in the past invoked gay and trans panic defenses in court to receive a lesser sentence, and in some cases, avoid conviction. In essence, the accused would blame the emotional disturbance of finding their victim was LGBT to avoid legal consequences for the act of violence.

Primary sponsors of the legislation, known as A1796, include New Jersey State Assembly members John McKeon and Joann Downey and State Sens. Joe Lagana and Vin Gopal.

“The ‘gay panic or trans panic’ defense is not a freestanding defense to criminal liability, but rather a legal tactic,” McKeon said in a statement. “It’s used to diminish the reason for a defendant’s violent reaction that asks a jury to find a victim’s sexual orientation or gender/expression as the cause. Whether the person was gay, transgender or heterosexual, sexual orientation should not have any bearing on determining a person’s guilt in a murder trial. It is prejudiced against the LGBTQ community.”

Christian Fuscarino, executive director for Garden State Equality, commended Murphy for signing the legislation into law and “sending an unequivocal message that we fully value the lives and dignity of LGBTQ people in New Jersey.”

“Make no mistake, the ‘panic’ defense is flat-out discriminatory legal malpractice, and no one should ever be excused from murder because their victim is gay or transgender,” Fuscarino said. “As hate crimes against LGBTQ New Jerseyans continue to rise and trans people are murdered across the nation, it’s more imperative than ever that we ensure our criminal justice system protects LGBTQ people equally — full stop.”

Other jurisdictions with bans are California, Illinois, Rhode Island, Nevada, Hawaii, Maine, Connecticut and New York.

ACLU urges Gov. Bill Lee not to sign anti-LGBT adoption bill, which awaits his signature

ACLU urges Gov. Bill Lee not to sign anti-LGBT adoption bill, which awaits his signature

While a controversial adoption bill affecting LGBT couples awaits Gov. Bill Lee’s signature to become law, the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee is urging the governor not to sign the legislation.

In a letter sent to Lee on Tuesday, ACLU-TN executive director Hedy Weinberg wrote that "while the legislation purports to advance religious liberty, it does just the opposite," and asked the governor to veto HB 836/SB 1304.

The House version of the bill easily passed last year, however the Senate version became the first bill passed in the 2020 session when it was approved last week in the upper chamber, despite not having the support of Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge.

McNally signed the bill on Tuesday, and House Speaker Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, signed it last week.

Lee, who has said he will sign the legislation, is in California on Tuesday and Wednesday for a National Governor’s Association summit and won’t be able to sign the bill until he returns, his office confirmed. Gov. Bill Lee speaks during the MLK Day Convocation organized by the Interdenominational Ministers Fellowship at Tennessee State University Monday, Jan. 20, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. (Photo: Courtney Pedroza / The Tennessean ) The legislation specifies that adoption agencies will not be required to participate in a child placement if doing so would "violate the agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies," such as working with a same-sex couple.

Tennessee will also be barred from denying an agency’s license or grant application for public funds because of a refusal to place a child with a family based on religious objections.

"Laws like HB 836 are not only damaging to children; they also unconstitutionally infringe on religious liberty," Weinberg wrote. "While their supporters claim they advance religious liberty, they do the opposite by authorizing the use of a religious test to participate in a government program."

Weinberg pointed to recent federal data showing there are more than 1,600 Tennessee children in foster care awaiting adoption.

The bill has also been opposed by the Tennessee Equality Project, an LGBTQ advocacy group, while it received support from the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

Nashville council members approved legislation Tuesday night that also calls on Lee to veto the bill, saying passing it would send a message to residents and businesses that Tennessee is not a welcoming state.

"This would have tremendous negative impact on the fiances of Nashville and the state," said Council member Nancy VanReece, who sponsored the resolution. "Nashville is a welcoming state."

Reach Natalie Allison at nallison@tennessean.com. Follow her on Twitter at @natalie_allison .

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