Malaysian school apologizes after conversion therapy printed in yearbook

Malaysian school apologizes after conversion therapy printed in yearbook

A school in Malaysia apologized this weekend for printing details of a conversion therapy program in the school’s yearbook.

The article used the derogatory term ‘kunyit’ to refer to homosexuals and included a photo of boys attending the program.

Internet users widely shared a photo of the yearbook online. The post garnered both condemnation and praise for the school in Kota Kinabalu.

Regional education director, Mistirine Radin, told Free Malaysia Today, the schools principal had made a mistake and apologized.

Mistirine said the school had not meant to publish it in the 2017 yearbook.

Malaysia is becoming increasingly hostile to its LGBTI residents.

The country’s prime minister, who took power nearly a year ago, has said LGBT rights are not Malaysia’s concern. He labeled them Western values.

Malaysia’s leaders regularly hit out at the LGBTI people. What’s more, attacks on trans Malaysians are on the rise .

Conversion therapy, which seeks to alter a persons gender identity or sexuality, has been widely denounced by global health bodies. What’s more, a number of countries and US states outlaw it for children. ’Setting them straight’

In the yearbook, the school said the program would ’set students straight’ and build self-esteem as males.

LGBTI groups and activists slammed the school online. BOOO to this school in Sabah. But YAAAY to our MPs Kasthuri Patto for asking for zero discrimination in schools, Maria Chin Abdullah for talking about the… https://t.co/hp4SFMMzpg — Pang Khee Teik (@PangKheeTeik) February 17, 2019 According to Free Malaysia Today, MP Maria Chin Abdullah also condemned damaging gay conversion therapy.

She said it would ‘reinforce intolerant, inaccurate and outdated assumptions about gender and sexual orientation’.

‘The fact that the program refers to itself as ‘kunyit’ and calls it a ‘weakness’, already shows the objective of this program is to shame students into changing their behavior’ she told FMT.

The school’s principal has reportedly recalled the yearbooks for reprinting.

‘The guidance and counseling unit has also promised to have a more positive programme involving these students to clear their name’ the principal reportedly said.

Key senator vows to probe discussions about removing Trump

Key senator vows to probe discussions about removing Trump

Senator Lindsey Graham said he was "stunned" by the latest comments by Andrew McCabe The chairman of the US Senate Judiciary Committee has vowed to get to the bottom of allegations that discussions were held in 2017 on removing President Donald Trump from office.

Senator Lindsey Graham pledged to issue subpoenas "if that’s what it takes".

Ex-acting FBI chief Andrew McCabe has said deputy US attorney general Rod Rosenstein discussed the numbers needed to invoke the 25th Amendment.

Mr Rosenstein has in the past denied discussing invoking the clause.

The amendment provides for the removal of a president if deemed unfit. How have these allegations arisen again?

They are certainly not new.

They have returned to the spotlight on Sunday, with Mr McCabe appearing on the 60 Minutes show on CBS.

In comments released ahead of the airing of the show, he details what he says Mr Rosenstein discussed as regards the 25th Amendment.

Mr McCabe says: "The discussion of the 25th Amendment was simply [that] Rod raised the issue and discussed it with me in the context of thinking about how many other cabinet officials might support such an effort. Andrew McCabe was fired as deputy director in March last year "The deputy attorney general was definitely very concerned about the president, about his capacity and about his intent at that point in time."

He restates his allegation that Mr Rosenstein had considered wearing a wire in meetings with Mr Trump.

Mr McCabe took over the FBI in 2017 after Mr Trump fired James Comey amid tension over the investigation into alleged collusion between his campaign team and Russia during the 2016 presidential election.

Mr McCabe was himself fired as deputy director in March last year just two days before he was due to retire. He has now written a book on his time in the post. The White House revolving door: Who’s gone?

On the Russia inquiry, Mr McCabe says he was "very concerned that I was able to put the Russia case on absolutely solid ground in an indelible fashion that were I removed quickly and reassigned or fired that the case could not be closed or vanish in the night without a trace". Russia-Trump: Who’s who in the drama to end all dramas?

How did Senator Graham respond?

The Republican was interviewed on CBS on Sunday morning, after some of Mr McCabe’s comments were released early.

"It’s stunning to me that one of the chief law enforcement officers of the land would go on national television and say, oh by the way I remember a conversation with the deputy attorney general about trying to find if we could replace the president under the 25th Amendment," Mr Graham said.

"I think everybody in the country needs to know if it happened. I’m going to do everything I can to get to the bottom of Department of Justice [and] FBI behaviour toward President Trump and his campaign."

He pledged to hold a hearing to determine "who’s telling the truth". What has Mr Rosenstein previously said?

Last September he strongly denied discussing invoking the constitutional clause to oust President Trump. Rod Rosenstein previously said there was "no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment" America’s second most senior law official said the allegation was "inaccurate and factually incorrect".

He said: "Let me be clear about this: Based on my personal dealings with the president, there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment."

A source told the BBC that the comment that Mr Rosenstein was thinking of secretly recording Mr Trump was sarcastic.

In January, US media reported that Mr Rosenstein was planning to quit , although no timeframe had been set. What is the 25th Amendment?

It provides for the removal of a president if he is deemed unfit for office. Duties are transferred to the vice-president.

Activating the relevant section of the 25th Amendment would require the approval of eight of the 15 members of Mr Trump’s cabinet, the vice-president and two-thirds majorities in Congress.

Ronald Reagan and George W Bush used the amendment to temporarily transfer power when they were medically anaesthetised. The 25th Amendment: Could it be used to unseat Trump?

Train operators call for fare shakeup

Train operators call for fare shakeup

Rail operators want fare regulations to change Tap-in, tap-out rail fares could be expanded beyond London if a group of train operators gets its way.

The Rail Delivery Group has set out a wish-list of reforms for the industry and it wants the UK and devolved governments to support them.

Another suggestion is removing the sudden change between peak and off-peak fares, to reduce overcrowding.

The lobby group said almost 20,000 people made submissions on how they would like the UK railways improved.

Transport Focus, the independent passenger watchdog which also worked on the consultation, said UK train operators currently offered an "outdated and outmoded fares and ticketing system". Fair fares

Feedback from commuters found eight out of 10 want the fares system overhauled and nine out of 10 want smart or electronic tickets, with the potential for price capping. Pay-as-you-go fares and daily capping are already used for London commutes The Rail Delivery Group said reforms would support tap-in, tap-out fares, a pay-as-you-go method used in London, and more integration with other modes of transport.

In London, tube and rail commuters can use contactless bank cards to automatically pay fares which are calculated based on where a passenger enters and exits the network.

Reform would mean updating regulations around peak and off-peak travel, Rail Delivery Group said, and ticket prices could be set more flexibly. This would reduce overcrowding, it said.

Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, said customers have different needs and want changes that offer value and better reflect changing work habits.

"Rail companies are already working together on plans for real world trials so people can see what our proposals could mean for them". All change

Mr Plummer said rail companies needed the government to change rules on how train fares are charged.

"Current regulation needs to be updated and we want to work with government, which is key to making improvements a reality, to deliver the better fares system the public wants to see." The vast majority of rail users surveyed wanted changes to train fares The government is currently undertaking the Rail Review which is covering everything from commercial contracts to rail fare structures. Its consultation closes at the end of May.

The Rail Delivery Group said its ideas could be rolled out, train operator by train operator, in as little as three years.

Darren Shirley, chief executive of the Campaign for Better Transport, said the existing system is "broken and desperately needs fixing".

"We’re particularly pleased to see proposals for more flexible commuter tickets to reflect modern work patterns, something we’ve long called for, and for nationwide smart ticketing.

"What’s not clear however, is if these proposals will also lead to an end to the annual fares rise, which fails to reflect the level of service passengers receive the previous year.

"It is now up to the Government to take forward these proposals to ensure we have a fares system that is fairer and easier to use."

Another proposal is to stop passengers having to buy split tickets to get the cheapest fares for some journeys. Analysis

Tom Burridge, BBC transport correspondent

How to reform the railways is a contentious, some might say politically toxic subject right now. A broad Government-commissioned review into almost every aspect of the system is ongoing.

Our out-dated and mind-bogglingly complicated ticketing system is a prime candidate for change. The system is, in the eyes of many, inherently flawed.

How can an off-peak single sometimes cost a fraction less than a return? And how can it be that you get different prices for exactly the same journey and fare?

Technology is clearly a big part of the solution. But a tap-in, tap-out system which automatically ensures you the best fare for your journey is also partly about restoring trust. The t-word has become a precious commodity on the tracks of late, after a whole host of problems.

The underlying message from train companies today is that they are on the side of passengers. They want to shunt the government towards positive change.

More types of flexible fares is one thing, but cost and who pays will, as always, be almost every passenger’s central concern.

To make the proposals ‘revenue neutral’, as the operators plan, cheaper fares would have to be off-set by more expensive ones. That is, unless the changes drive more people to travel by train, especially on more empty off-peak services.

The initial mood music from those representing passengers is broadly positive. But some fear there could be winners and losers.

Even with the support of Government, one industry source said real change might not arrive for another three to five years.

Brexit: Will Brits living in the EU still get healthcare?

Brexit: Will Brits living in the EU still get healthcare?

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, reciprocal healthcare arrangements will not automatically survive. The UK is trying to reach agreements with EU governments to extend them.

For emergency treatment on holiday, UK nationals can use their EHIC card if they fall ill in another EU country, but if there is a no-deal Brexit it will no longer be valid and they will need travel insurance.

You can read more about EHIC cards here.

There are about three quarters of a million UK nationals living in other EU countries, although estimates vary.

UK nationals who live in EU countries will have different arrangements to access healthcare, depending on which country they live in.

"We are in a situation now where many of our fellow-citizens living in Spain or France do not know in just over 40 days time whether they will have any health cover," Sarah Wollaston, the Conservative chair of the House of Commons health select committee told BBC News.

We’ll look at the situation in those two countries and Ireland. There is considerable uncertainty about what would happen if there is no deal but the government says it is in "close discussions" with EU member states and will do all it can to ensure patients can continue to access healthcare, whatever the outcome.

If the UK leaves the EU with Theresa May’s deal, after 29 March 2019 UK nationals in EU countries would continue to receive the state healthcare on the same terms until the end of the transition period. Under the current plan the transition would end in 2020 but it could be extended.

What will happen after the transition depends on the agreement between the EU and the UK on their future relationship. Confused by Brexit jargon? Reality Check unpacks the basics. One issue that is relevant in all EU countries (except Ireland) is what happens to UK pensioners living elsewhere in the EU who currently benefit from the S1 certificate, which means they are entitled to the same healthcare as nationals of the countries in which they live.

If there is no deal, then that would cease to apply after 29 March.

The UK government’s Healthcare (International Arrangements) Bill is supposed to allow reciprocal healthcare arrangements to continue for UK expats in the case of a no-deal Brexit, but that would need the agreement of each country’s government.

While some governments have said favourable things about the idea, they have not yet agreed to it. France

If you have been living in France for more than three months and are not working or receiving a pension, then you can apply to be covered by the French healthcare system, PUMA, which means you get the same state healthcare as French nationals.

After 29 March, if there is no deal you will need to apply for a residence permit to be eligible for PUMA – the authorities have not yet decided how much this will cost.

If you are employed, your employer should have registered you to pay social security, which means you are eligible for state healthcare. If you’re self-employed you’ll need to do this yourself.

For UK pensioners living in France, if there is no deal then there will be a two-year period from the date the UK leaves during which they will receive French state healthcare as before. That period is meant to be used by the two governments to agree what will happen next.

It may be that they will be given eligibility for PUMA, but have to pay an annual fee of 8% of their annual income above a certain level – last year it was 9,933 euros (£8,725). Spain

There are an estimated 300,000 British nationals living in Spain , the highest number in any EU country.

A no-deal Brexit would affect different groups of UK citizens in Spain differently, according to the latest government advice .

If you are working in Spain and paying social security contributions to Spain, you would still be able to access state-funded healthcare.

But if you are a pensioner, your rights would depend on how long you have lived in Spain. Brexit healthcare worries for Brits in Spain

Pensioners who have been residing in Spain for more than five years continuously might be able to apply for a permanent residence, which would allow them to access state-funded healthcare under the same conditions as Spanish citizens.

Those who have been in the country for less than five years but who have been registered with their local town hall for at least a year, could use a pay-in health insurance scheme offered by the Spanish government to people who are not employed.

The scheme is called Convenio Especial and it allows you to use the state healthcare system, including for all pre-existing medical conditions, at the cost of €60 per person per month for those under the age of 65, and €157 for those aged over 65. The scheme does not cover prescriptions. Ireland

The relationship between the UK and Ireland is different to the relationship between the UK and anywhere else in the EU because of the Common Travel Area (CTA).

The UK and Irish governments are both committed to maintaining the CTA if there is a no-deal Brexit,. It allows access to emergency, routine and planned healthcare for UK nationals in Ireland and Irish Nationals in the UK.

While the principles have been agreed and both countries are keen to have the legislation in place if there is a no-deal Brexit, the technical details have not yet been completed. What about EU citizens who live in the UK?

The government says it wants EU citizens who already live in the UK to stay. According to the ONS, there were around 3.7 million EU nationals living in the UK in 2018 .

Those citizens will be able to continue accessing the NHS free of charge, whether the UK leaves the EU with a deal or without one.

If the UK leaves with Theresa May’s deal, EU citizens already in the UK and those who arrive before 2021, will continue to use public services, including the NHS, for free – as long as they apply for "settled status" before 30 June 2021.

If the UK leaves with no deal, only those who are already in the country before 29 March 2019, will be able to apply.

The deadline for the settled status applications in the no-deal scenario will be 31 December 2020. What do you want BBC Reality Check to investigate? Get in touch Read more from Reality Check

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Facebook needs regulation as Zuckerberg ‘fails’ – UK MPs

Facebook needs regulation as Zuckerberg 'fails' - UK MPs

Facebook needs far stricter regulation, with tough and urgent action necessary to end the spread of disinformation on its platform, MPs have said.

A Commons committee has concluded that the firm’s founder Mark Zuckerberg failed to show "leadership or personal responsibility" over fake news.

Untrue stories from foreign powers were risking the UK’s democracy, they said.

Facebook welcomed the digital select committee’s report and said it would be open to "meaningful regulation".

MPs said that what was needed to deal with the proliferation of disinformation online and the misuse of personal data was a "radical shift in the balance of power between social media platforms and the people".

The inquiry into fake news, which lasted more than a year, was conducted by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, with much of the evidence focusing on the business practices of Facebook before and after the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Cambridge Analytica was a political advertising firm that had access to the data of millions of users, some of which was alleged used to psychologically profile US voters. The data was acquired via a personality quiz.

How such data, particularly in terms of political campaigning, was shared by Facebook was at the heart of the inquiry, alongside the effects of fake news.

"Democracy is at risk from the malicious and relentless targeting of citizens with disinformation and personalised ‘dark adverts’ from unidentifiable sources, delivered through the major social media platforms we use every day," concluded the report.

"The big tech companies are failing in the duty of care they owe to their users to act against harmful content, and to respect their data privacy rights."

The report called for: a compulsory code of ethics for tech companies, overseen by an independent regulator

the regulator to be given powers to launch legal action if companies breach the code

the government to reform current electoral laws and rules on overseas involvement in UK elections

social media companies to be forced to take down known sources of harmful content, including proven sources of disinformation

tech companies operating in the UK to be taxed to help fund the work for the Information Commissioner’s Office and any new regulator set up to oversee them

In response, Facebook said: "We share the Committee’s concerns about false news and election integrity and are pleased to have made a significant contribution to their investigation over the past 18 months, answering more than 700 questions and with four of our most senior executives giving evidence.

"We are open to meaningful regulation and support the committee’s recommendation for electoral law reform. But we’re not waiting. We have already made substantial changes so that every political ad on Facebook has to be authorised, state who is paying for it and then is stored in a searchable archive for seven years. No other channel for political advertising is as transparent and offers the tools that we do."

MPs made no secret of the fact that they found it difficult dealing with Facebook during the inquiry and chair Damian Collins had strong words for the firm and its leader, Mr Zuckerberg.

"We believe that in its evidence to the committee, Facebook has often deliberately sought to frustrate our work, by giving incomplete, disingenuous and at time misleading answers to our questions," he said.

"These are issues that the major tech companies are well aware of, yet continually fail to address. The guiding principle of the ‘move fast and break things’ culture seems to be that it is better to apologise than ask permission." Mark Zuckerberg addressed the US Congress but refused to travel to the UK to speak to MPs MPs were particularly angry that Mr Zuckerberg did not come to the UK to answer questions in person.

"Even if Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t believe he is accountable to the UK Parliament, he is to billions of Facebook users across the world," said Mr Collins.

"Evidence uncovered by my committee shows he still has questions to answer yet he’s continued to duck them, refusing to respond to our invitations directly or sending representatives who don’t have the right information."

He also accused Facebook of "bullying" smaller tech firms and developers who rely on their platform to reach users. What is fake news and can you identify it?

Facebook employs UK fact-checkers to combat fake news

The godfather of fake news

The committee did not list specific examples of fake news. But it pointed to the government response to its interim report, which found at least 38 false narratives online after the nerve agent attack in Salisbury in March 2018.

The report also noted that disinformation was not just spread on Facebook but also on platforms such as Twitter.

And it found that, in the month following the publication of its interim report, 63% of the views to the online government response were from foreign internet protocol (IP) addresses, more than half of which were from Russia, highly unusual for a UK-based political inquiry.

The wide-ranging inquiry did not just look at fake news. It also examined how tech firms use data and data-targeting especially in political contexts, the use of political campaigning online and relationship between a complex network of firms including Canadian AIQ, Cambridge Analytica parent firm SCL and IT firm Six-Four-Three.

MPs said that current electoral regulations were "hopelessly out of date for the internet age" and needed urgent reform, so that the same principles of transparency of political communications that operate in the real world were applied online too. The committee called on the government to reveal how many investigations are currently being carried out into Russian interference in UK politics, particularly the EU referendum in 2016. They asked the government to launch an independent investigation into that.

In order to better regulate social media firms, the MPs suggested creating a new category of tech firm – one that was neither a platform nor a publisher but something in-between, which would tighten the legal liability for content identified as harmful. Fact-checkers

Pressure is mounting on the tech giants to get to grips with the issue of fake news, and will add to calls from other ministers for regulation on the issue of harmful content, following the death of teenager Molly Russell.

Her father accused Facebook-owned Instagram of facilitating her death, by failing to remove images of self-harm.

And the Cairncross Review into the future of UK news recently recommended that a regulator should oversee Google and Facebook to ensure their news content is trustworthy.

In her report, Dame Frances Cairncross said that such sites should help users identify fake news and "nudge people towards news of high quality".

Facebook has repeatedly said that it is committed to fighting fake news and works with more than 30 fact-checking organisation around the world.

Two of those agencies – Associated Press and Snopes – recently quit working with the social network.

The ease with which fake news can be created was illustrated recently by a team of researchers at OpenAi which showed a machine learning system produce coherent, but untrue articles, just by trawling through news site Reddit.

Niger man deported by Israel marooned in Ethiopian airport

Niger man deported by Israel marooned in Ethiopian airport

A Niger national who was expelled from Israel has been stuck at the international airport in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, since November after his home country refused to take him back.

"I have been staying here at the airport under very bad conditions because there’s nothing, nothing at all," 24-year-old Eissa Muhamad told the BBC.

Mr Muhamad’s series of misfortunes began last April when he was arrested for being in Israel illegally.

He had been living in the Middle Eastern state since 2011, having left Niger’s north-western Tilaberi region as a 16-year-old in search of a better life.

He said he paid traffickers to take him across Libya and Egypt before he entered Israel by foot.

Once in Tel Aviv, Mr Muhamad survived by doing odd jobs in hostels and in a sweet factory until April 2018 when he was arrested for being in Israel without proper documents.

After several months in detention, Israel issued him an emergency travel document and put him on an Ethiopian Airlines plane, via Addis Ababa, to Niger in November. But on arrival in Niamey, Niger’s capital, he was refused entry by Niger’s authorities who alleged his travel document was false.

"They didn’t want me in Niger. They didn’t accept me," Mr Muhamad said. Eissa Muhamad (C) spent seven years living in Israel After more than a week of being detained in Niger he was deported back to Israel. But Israel refused to accept him and detained him again for several weeks.

"They tied my hands and legs and forced me into a plane back to Niger which refused to accept me again," the 24-year-old said.

Then the travel document issued by Israel expired when he was stuck in transit at Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport after Niger refused to accept him for a second time. Food handouts

That was at the end of November, and he been stranded there ever since.

The BBC has repeatedly tried to contact Niger’s foreign ministry and its embassy in Ethiopia without success to ask why their authorities believed the document was false.

Mr Muhamad now spends his day wondering the corridors of the departures area, depending on food handouts from people in the airport lounges.

"Sometimes the airline people give me food. It’s the same every day but I am grateful to them," he said.

When I met him, he was having breakfast at an Ethiopian Airlines lounge. Its employees have been giving him food since he became marooned here. Many migrants who enter Israel illegally end up in detention centres He took me to the Muslim prayer room and showed me a small corner where his bags and a small shawl were spread out.

"This is where I sleep most nights. If it’s too full, I find one of the seats outside, say a prayer and try to sleep," he said, adding that he has had not access to a shower now for several months.

"I cannot stay here. I want to send out a message to [anyone] to help me because I want to move from here.

"I cannot stay at the airport because the airport is not my home," Mr Muhamad said.

His case echoes that of a Syrian man who spent seven months living in an airport in Malaysia. Hassan al-Kontar posted regular videos from Kuala Lumpur International Airport, which brought him to world attention and last November he was allowed to travel to Canada, where he had been granted asylum . You may also be interested in: What became of the man stuck in an airport?

Israel’s unwanted African migrants

Zimbabweans spend months in Bangkok airport

"I miss my home. Everyone loves his or her home. Your home is your home. But this condition here is very hard. You understand? It’s very hard," Mr Muhamad said.

Israel’s immigration department defended itself, saying in a statement issued to the BBC that Mr Muhamad had been deported because he had been in the country illegally.

"He is a citizen of Niger. It has nothing to do with us because he was expelled from here and when he arrived in Niger, he refused to co-operate with the authorities. How is Israel connected? He is not an Israeli," the statement said.

It rubbished allegations that the emergency travel document was a fake.

"The Laissez Passer is a transit document for foreigners. It was legally designed precisely for such cases," the statement said. ‘Asylum his only option’

Mr Muhamad insists that he has co-operated with all authorities – in Niger, Israel and Ethiopia – throughout his ordeal.

His case has put Ethiopia in an awkward position. It has always welcomed refugees and currently hosts nearly a million of them. The Eritrean runner fearing deportation from Israel This month it enacted a new policy that gives refugees access to education and work opportunities.

But an immigration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they can only intervene in Mr Muhamad’s case if he makes an asylum request, which he has refused to do.

"It’s all up to him. We care about his dignity so we will approach him to find out if he will change his mind so he can get refugee status here. It’s the only thing we can do," the official added.

But Mr Muhamad does not want to stay in Ethiopia, and says he would prefer to go home to Niger or back to his life in Israel.

An Israeli non-governmental organisation working with migrants and refugees said Mr Muhamad’s case was similar to that of other migrants expelled from Israel.

"Other migrants deported from Israel with the Israeli travel document have been refused entry to their countries of origin, or other countries en route, because the authorities claim the Israeli travel documents are false, " the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants said in a statement.

"In 2016 we published a report, Forgotten in Prison, which details the cases of migrants who are faced with the same problem," it added

It also wants Israeli officials to investigate Mr Muhamad’s allegation that he was brutally assaulted while in detention.

"What is required now is that Eissa Muhamad be returned to Israel so that his accusations of brutality at the hands of Israeli immigration authorities can be investigated, and a solution found so that he may return to Niger," said Shira Abo, the organisation’s spokesman.

But until a resolution is found, Mr Muhamad will keep wondering Bole Airport like a ghost.

Actor Don Cheadle wears ‘Protect Trans Kids’ t-shirt on Saturday Night Live

Actor Don Cheadle wears 'Protect Trans Kids' t-shirt on Saturday Night Live

Actor Don Cheadle hosted on Saturday Night Live (SNL) last night, 16 February. Many noticed the slogan on the t-shirt he was wearing — ‘Protect Trans Kids.’

While Cheadle did not say anything about the t-shirt, this was still a powerful statement. Positive Reactions

People on Twitter were excited to see Cheadle’s support. Don Cheadle on Saturday Night Live.
One of the good guys. #ProtectTransKids pic.twitter.com/ZKviMarS4v — Greg Hogben (@MyDaughtersArmy) February 17, 2019 Don Cheadle, hosting “Saturday Night Live” this week #snl #protecttranskids pic.twitter.com/RBbyyKWmZL — Christopher Pepper (@mrhealthteacher) February 17, 2019 . @DonCheadle thank you for your performance on Saturday Night Live & lifelong gratitude for your support of transkids. This old transman knows how a shoutout from a hero can & will save tender lives anytime, but especially during Der dread Trümpenreich. #ProtectTransKids https://t.co/aVqZUatOQN — A Toone ⚧ (@AndersonToone) February 17, 2019 @DonCheadle Thank you for raising awareness and being an ally. I’m the parent of a wonderful trans kid and this means the world to me. pic.twitter.com/M46ccxp5K7 — Kathy Riley (@mckelly64) February 17, 2019 @DonCheadle I loved the shirt man, thank you for doing that, my son is a trans man and seeing people step up for these kids rights and safety is a wonderful thing — night of the dogs (@cthulhumachine) February 17, 2019 I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t like kids, but trans kids need all our support. School is bad enough as it is (bullying, drug dealing, who knows what). We need to stand up for these kids ’cause (being KIDS) they can’t stand up for themselves the way an adult can. — Me_myself_and_I_1885 (@MelaK96) February 17, 2019 Hey @DonCheadle you’re awesome and that Protect Trans Kids shirt was amazing. We need more people with influence to speak out like you do. — Dennis (@wyldemoose39) February 17, 2019 Hello just came online to say Don Cheadle wearing a protect trans kids shirt !!!! Amazing! beautiful! outstanding! nothing but respect for MY James Rupert Rhodes !!!!!! — vri (@carolsrhodey) February 17, 2019 Negative Reactions

However, not everyone was happy. Some even questioned what it meant to be a ‘trans kid’ and implied that letting kids be themselves is ‘normalizing child abuse.’ Saturday Night Live, MSM, Don Cheadle are trying to normalize child abuse and exploitation with #TransKids nonsense created by adults. We must speak out and not be silent while kids childhoods are stolen. #LetKidsBeKids What’s next? 9 year old boys dancing in gay strip clubs? https://t.co/Lcz4XCMEAe — Jimerican Trump Responded with Q Code (@JimericanTweets) February 17, 2019 Don Cheadle’s “protect trans kids” shirt makes me sad. Of course we should protect ALL kids. But part of protecting children should be letting children be children. Being or becoming trans is a very ADULT concept and decision. — Question Everything (@notgroupthink) February 17, 2019 Don Cheadle’s ‘protect Trans kids’ t-shirt won a lot of praise from SNL viewers Sure, Don. Let’s take them away from their idiot parents before they allow their child to do irreversible harm to their bodies. https://t.co/uek11NH4d4 — The Smokeshow Thē Andrew Bello (@BelloBeingBello) February 17, 2019 Anything else?

Since Donald Trump became president, LGBTI rights — specifically trans rights — have come under fire. The Trump Administration was successful in banning trans troops from the United States military. With Trump’s focus on the Mexico-America border wall, he is actively harming LGBTI refugees, many of which are transgender . Additionally, since Trump became president, hate crimes against LGBTI people have tripled in Washington DC . See Also:

Trans man awarded $120,000 in discrimination case at an Iowa prison

Trans man awarded $120,000 in discrimination case at an Iowa prison

A transgender man has been awarded $120,000 [€106,227.60] in a discrimination lawsuit against an Iowa prison. What happened?

Jesse Vroegh, a registered nurse, was working at this Iowa prison in 2015. He asked his employers, the State Department of Corrections (DoC), for permission to use the men’s facilities at work. He explained that he was transitioning from female to male.

However, the Department denied his request, citing concerns of the ‘rights of male officers’. According to the lawsuit, they also deemed transgender issues to be ‘too controversial’.

Being denied access to men’s facilities at work made Vroegh feel ‘like they had put a roadblock in front of me, trying to stop my social transition.’

‘It is like wearing a Halloween costume,’ he continued. ‘Being who you are on the inside and knowing you can’t be who you are on the outside.’

Luckily, jurors in Iowa disagreed with the DoC’s decision. On Wednesday, 13 February, at jury at a District Court in Polk County awarded Vroegh $120,000 [€106,227.60] for workplace discrimination on the basis of sex and gender. Additionally, this money was for damages caused by lack of insurance coverage for Vroegh’s gender reassignment surgery.

‘I was astonished,’ 37-year-old Vroegh told The New York Times following the jury’s decision.

Vroegh now works as a nursing director for a rehabilitation center.

‘It was about being in a country where you have rights and you are free and everybody should be treated equally,’ he said on what the jury’s decision meant to him. ‘It is worth it for anybody who comes up after me, who doesn’t have the voice to stand up to a big state entity.’ Milestone Case

This was the first time a transgender rights case has been successful in Iowa since state legislatures amended the state’s Civil Rights Act in 2007 to include gender identity.

‘It is a really important victory,’ said Melissa Hasso, a lawyer who worked with Vroegh and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on the case. ‘It is a cutting edge victory nationally, let alone in Iowa.’ Reactions from the DoC

Cord Overton, a spokesperson for the State Department of Corrections commented on the jury’s decision.

‘The department is working with the Office of the Attorney General to review the court’s decisions. And we are evaluating our options going forward,’ Overton said. According to The New York Times, Overton did not respond to requests for comment about any policy changes moving forward. See Also:

This storybook for trans kids wins 2019 Stonewall Book Award

This storybook for trans kids wins 2019 Stonewall Book Award

Julian Is A Mermaid, by Brooklyn-based author and illustrator Jessica Love, has won the 2019 Stonewall Book Award. It is also nominated for the prestigious Waterstones Children’s Book Prize. The Book

The story follows Julian, a young boy, who sees women dressed up as mermaids on the New York City Subway. Inspired by this, he recreates their looks at home. When his Nana sees him donning lipstick, a shirt, and a headdress, she supports Julian. Nana gives Julian a pearl necklace and takes him to see the famous Coney Island Mermaid Parade.

It took Love about five years to write this book, following the realization that there are so few books on the market for genderqueer kids. Love was also influenced by her transgender friend, who wasn’t able to come out until later in life.

‘I have a friend who is trans, but he didn’t transition until much much later in life,’ Love told PinkNews. ‘He was in his 50s when he finally was able to live like a man, and that was the result of some pushback when he was younger.’

‘Talking to him and thinking about his journey got me curious about what kind of literature there is out there for kids who might be asking themselves these questions, and I started reading blogs of families who had children who were questioning their gender.’

Additionally, Love was enthralled by popular television series RuPaul’s Drag Race. This led her to think ‘a lot about costumes and what a profound thing playing dress-up actually is, and how to tell a story in which that particular magic is quietly celebrated.’

RuPaul himself even Tweeted an endorsement of the book last summer. LOVELY Children’s Picture Book “Julián Is a Mermaid” by Jessica Love @Jessica67755257 https://t.co/WR1M9MLiWz pic.twitter.com/vCaWuCzp4o — RuPaul (@RuPaul) June 8, 2018 Mermaid Symbolism

Initially, Love intended Julian to come across drag queens on their way to a ball. However, this shifted once she learned the significance of mermaid symbolism to trans people.

‘The mythical creatures have become symbolic to transgender people and their allies: they are depicted with nothing below their waists but a tail, while the Disney film The Little Mermaid has a main character who wants to change form — echoing the feelings of some trans people,’ writes Josh Jackman in PinkNews. ‘Such is the affinity between the two that the British trans children’s charity, Mermaids , derives its name from the beings.’

‘I was reading all these parenting blogs, and this theme of mermaids is a thread that runs through so many of these different kids’ experiences,’ Love recalls. ‘There’s something about mermaids. Who knows if that’s because they’re magical creatures who can live between two realities or because they don’t have any genitals, or because they’re fucking great.’ Awards & Feedback

For Love, being nominated for the Waterstones award was ‘one of the most shocking moments in my life. It felt like the laws of the universe had changed.’

In fact, Love never expected her book to take off at all — she originally intended to self-publish it.

‘I never expected I would be able to get it published,’ she says. ‘This is a very unexpected turn of events. All of the success of this book feels very, very surreal to me.’

Love has received a great deal of positive feedback from parents about her book.

‘Pretty shortly after the book came out, parents started to find me, on Instagram mostly, just to tell me how much their family had needed this story.’

‘I got to meet these kids when I started doing readings,’ says Love. ‘I remember the first time a parent brought in a kid who was like Julian. The mother and I just made eye contact, and she had a huge smile on her face.’

‘The child was wearing this gauzy lavender skirt and had made a headdress out of a long flowing veil. We didn’t talk about it all, she just came up and said: “This is Max.”’

‘But contained within that encounter was this unreal feeling of having reached the people I made Julian is a Mermaid for. It was gratifying in a way I’ve never experienced in any other arena.’ See Also:

Japan’s former defense minister takes up fight for LGBTI rights

Japan's former defense minister takes up fight for LGBTI rights

A former defense minister of Japan has said she aims to ‘promote understanding’ of LGBTI rights issues.

Tomomi Inada has described LGBTI rights as a ‘human rights issue’ which transcends left or right political beliefs.

The former minister said that she is working to raise awareness of LGBTI rights, and eventually hopes to introduce legislation supporting it.

However, she admits she’s facing an uphill battle.

Inada served as defense minister in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) from August 2016 to July 2017.

The politician is one of few influential members of the LDP to openly support LGBTI rights. A number of her colleagues have made anti-LGBTI statements in recent months.

Her comments also come as rights activists are becoming increasingly in advocating for LGBTI equality in Japan. ‘I think it’s a human rights issue’

In an article in the Singaporean newspaper The Straits Times , Inada said that a number of her former colleagues have been confused about her support for LGBTI rights.

‘People asked me if I’d turned left wing,’ Inada said.

‘It’s a tough situation for me, but I think it’s a human rights issue and nothing to do with being conservative or liberal.’

Many Japanese lawmakers are skeptical of furthering LGBTI rights out of fear that it could further impact the country’s population growth, which has remained stagnant for years.

‘There is so little understanding that some conservatives think recognizing LGBT people will destroy the traditional family, or reduce the birthrate,’ Inada added.

However, a growing number of people in Japan believe the country is falling behind other developed economies in the progression of LGBTI rights.

Many worry that the lack of LGBTI rights in Japan could negatively impact the economy by making the country less appealing to multinational companies which actively support LGBTI employees.

There is also speculation that the country’s attitude to LGBTI rights will come under greater international scrutiny when capital city Tokyo hosts the Olympics in 2020. Far from full equality

Inada’s comments come amid a contentious fight for LGBTI rights in Japan.

The country is considered as generally progressive with regards to LGBTI rights, which has seen tangible progress in recent years.

Numerous cities have adopted the partnership oath system which allows same-sex couples to register with their local authorities .

The authorities have also announced that anti-discrimination legislation to protect LGBTI rights will be put in place while Tokyo hosts the 2020 Olympics

However, the LGBTI community still lacks full equality, and equal rights activists have become increasingly vocal.

Thursday (14 February), 13 same-sex couples filed lawsuits against Japan’s government, in a move which they hope will force the government to recognize equal marriage . A politician making headlines for different reasons

Inada is part of a minority of influential politicians who have openly supported LGBTI rights in Japan.

Several of her colleagues in the LDP have courted headlines for speaking out against LGBTI rights or the LGBTI community.

In July last year, lower house MP Mio Sugita suggested that same-sex couples were ‘unproductive’ and should not be entitled to receive welfare in a magazine article.

Her comments were met with severe backlash. Several thousand people took to the streets in central Tokyo to protest her comments , and a petition demanding her apology gathered over 25,000 signatures.

Around the same time, fellow LDP lawmaker Tom Tanigawa drew flak for saying same-sex marriage was ‘like a hobby’.

In early January, Katsuei Hirasawa, a veteran LDP legislator, came under fire for saying that the ‘nation would collapse’ if everyone in Japan became LGBTI .