Paris plans to cut pollution

Paris plans to cut pollution

The air quality in Paris can be poor From the narrow streets of Montmartre to the imposing majesty of the Arc de Triomphe and the fine art on display in the Louvre, Paris has a reputation for beauty and culture.

It’s just a shame about the diesel fumes, frequently so thick you can taste them.

The city is crowded, its boulevards are too often choked with traffic, and its air is badly polluted. There are times when its monuments are difficult to see through the haze.

The Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, has made tackling pollution a centrepiece of her socialist administration. Her strategy involves phasing out older vehicles and getting rid of diesels, while offering generous subsidies for other forms of transport. What do Parisians think of moves to improve its air quality? The policy is not universally popular. It faces opposition from motorists’ groups and even regional politicians. But as cities across Europe struggle with similar pollution problems, it could yet provide a template for others to follow. Dangerous air

According to a study carried out in 2016 by France’s national health agency , air pollution is responsible for 48,000 deaths a year across France.

Paris itself has suffered a series of damaging smogs in recent years, particularly in winter. While vehicles are not wholly responsible for the dirty air, they do play a very significant part .

During the worst periods, the authorities have experimented with emergency measures – banning one in every two cars from entering the city and lowering speed limits, for example. Recently, a more refined scheme, known as Crit’Air, has been introduced. Mayor Anne Hidalgo has made tackling pollution a priority Cars are now classified according to their emissions and forced to display coloured stickers. This allows the authorities to issue targeted bans against the most polluting vehicles. Other French cities, including Grenoble, Lyon, Strasbourg and Toulouse, have joined in.

But it’s the long-term strategy which is arguably more significant. Step by step, the city is trying to rid itself of petrol and diesel cars, and persuade people to use other types of transport. Bans and fines

So far it has banned all conventional cars built before 1997 from entering the city centre on weekdays between 8am and 8pm. Diesels registered before 2001 are also prohibited. Drivers breaching the bans face heavy fines.

Next year, the restrictions will be widened to include pre-2005 diesels. The clampdown will then continue in stages. Diesels are due to be outlawed altogether in 2024, and petrol cars in 2030. Sometimes it can be hard to see some of Paris’s iconic monuments through the smog It is a more aggressive strategy than that pursued by London – which has so far stopped short of actually banning older and dirtier cars, in favour of charging them extra to enter the city centre.

Paris is also steadily squeezing the amount of space available to cars by building extensive bus lanes and cycle tracks. A two-mile (3km) stretch of what used to be a major transport artery along the river Seine was closed to traffic in 2016 on a trial basis, and remains off-limits. Big incentives

But with the big stick has come a sizeable carrot. Earlier this year, the city council extended an already-generous package of subsidies aimed at encouraging people to choose other forms of transport.

Individuals can now claim benefits worth up to €600 (£522), to help them buy a bike, obtain a public transport pass, or join a car sharing scheme – but only if they agree to scrap their cars or motorbikes. Small businesses can claim up to €9,000 towards the cost of an electric truck or bus. Paris is cutting down space available to cars There are also substantial grants to help taxi drivers buy environmentally-friendly vehicles, and to subsidise the installation of electric charging points.

The man overseeing all of this is deputy mayor Jean-Louis Missika.

Sitting in his opulent, wood panelled office in the City Hall, he explains why he is happy to take drastic action.

"We are in a situation of emergency, the shift towards clean mobility and the diminution of the number of cars is very urgent. We need to do something – it is a question of public health."

Mr Missika believes his strategy will also benefit the Parisian economy, because he thinks a reduction in traffic and pollution will make the city more attractive to businesses, which might otherwise go elsewhere. Taxi drivers will get financial help to switch vehicles The city has, however, suffered one major setback. Its showpiece Vélib cycle hire scheme – which has been copied by cities around the world since its launch in 2007 – has run into trouble.

Last year a new operator, Smovengo, won the contract to provide the service for the next 15 years. But its attempts to introduce new, high-tech electric bikes have so far been beset with problems, creating a scandal dubbed "Vélibgate" by the French press. Motorists resist

But not everyone agrees with the clampdown on cars. Julien Constanti is a lawyer acting on behalf of a motorists group, the Fédération Francaise des Automobilistes Citoyens.

Driving around the crowded streets in his own car, a colossal 1979 Chevrolet of the kind once favoured by US police, he tells me the policy discriminates against people who cannot afford to replace their old cars.

I ask him if he thinks Paris has declared war on the motorist.

"Yes, and it’s not just the city of Paris," he replies.

"It’s also on a state level, and possibly on a European level. It’s like, you have to buy cars to make the economy work – but don’t use them!" Julien Constanti argues that the city’s policy amounts to discrimination It is true that some other European cities have shown a marked enthusiasm for getting rid of cars.

Oslo and Madrid, for example, are both planning to make central areas off-limits to motor vehicles within the next few years. Hamburg is also taking action to get rid of older vehicles.

As cities across the continent struggle to meet EU air quality standards, the likelihood is many more will introduce similar restrictions.

So residents, commuters and businesses in urban areas across Europe may soon have to learn new ways to get around.

Can Romance Protect the Mental Health of LGBT Youth?

Can Romance Protect the Mental Health of LGBT Youth?

Even with increasing social acceptance in recent years, people who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender (LGBT) still experience prejudice, discrimination , and victimization because of their sexual orientation. For LGBT youth, bullying by peers and rejection by family members are common. Not surprisingly, this often leads to psychological distress and mental health issues like depression .

Along with many others, I am interested in finding ways to promote positive mental health among LGBT youth. And in a recent study published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology , I found that romance – that is, being in a romantic relationship – may be one factor that can protect LGBT youth from the negative psychological effects of victimization.

For this paper, I (along with colleagues Christina Dyar and Michael Newcomb), used data from Project Q2, conducted by Brian Mustanski, Director of Northwestern University’s Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing . In Project Q2, 248 LGBT youth were interviewed 8 times over 5 years, starting when they were 16-20 years old. At each interview, youth reported on whether or not they were in a romantic relationship, the amount of victimization they had experienced due to being LGBT, and their level of psychological distress.

We found two important things: Source: Javi_indy / Shutterstock First, lesbian and gay youth were less psychologically distressed at times when they were in a romantic relationship than at times when they were single. This was particularly true for Black and Latino youth—which is very important since LGBT people of color face significant challenges due to being both sexual and racial minorities. However, it was not true for bisexual youth (more on that, below).

Second, for all youth in the study, being in a romantic relationship reduced the negative psychological effects of LGBT-related victimization. Let me explain that further. When youth were single, the more bullying, threats, and violence they experienced because of their sexual orientation, the more distressed they were likely to be. However, when youth were dating someone, victimization was no longer associated with psychological distress.

Together, these results are exciting because they suggest that romantic relationships can help many LGBT youths feel less emotionally distressed. Not only does dating someone appear to promote psychological well-being for gay and lesbian youth overall, but it also can buffer them from the hurtful effects of being bullied or otherwise victimized. We didn’t explore exactly how this buffering effect plays out, but it is likely that youth receive emotional comfort and social support from their romantic partner to help cope when bad things happen.

The results fit with the well-known positive psychological effects of marriage for heterosexual adults—getting married tends to make people healthier and happier. But before this study, it wasn’t clear if gay and lesbian people would get the same benefits from romantic relationships, especially since same- sex relationships often do not involve the same financial and legal benefits as marriage and are not always accepted by others. The findings also help to dispel negative myths about LGBT relationships, which have historically been portrayed as unhealthy.

One big caveat is that the benefits of romance were not seen for bisexual youth. In fact, bisexual participants were more distressed – not less distressed – when they were in a relationship than when they were single. It is not clear why this was the case, but it might be related to how bisexuals are often told, by both heterosexual and gay and lesbian people, that their bisexuality is not a “real” sexual orientation, or is only a temporary phase. Sometimes entering a relationship can make this worse, because people (including the partner) assume that the bisexual person is now heterosexual or gay/lesbian based on the gender of their partner. Bisexual individuals also face negative stereotypes, such as being unable to commit to one partner and sexually promiscuous. They may face such stereotypes more when they start dating someone.

Overall, though, the results indicate that dating is often a positive experience for gay and lesbian youth that can help them manage the stressors associated with being a sexual minority. In my view, this means we should develop and support initiatives to promote involvement in healthy relationships among LGBT youth. Efforts to encourage dating among LGBT youth (e.g., through planned LGBT-focused social events like Gay Prom) and to teach healthy relationship skills hold some promise for reducing the mental health disparities they face.

If you’re interested, check out the coverage of this study by The Washington Post .

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie: West End smash to be made into film

Everybody's Talking About Jamie: West End smash to be made into film

John McCrea plays Jamie New in the show, inspired by Jamie Campbell West End musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie will be turned into a feature film, it has been announced.

The show – about a 16-year-old boy from Sheffield who wants to be a drag queen – has also just had its run at London’s Apollo Theatre extended.

The musical was inspired by a BBC Three documentary Jamie: Drag Queen at 16.

Warp Films, who are behind films including Tyrannosaur – starring Olivia Colman – and the TV series This is England, will adapt the musical.

The story came about after 15-year-old Jamie Campbell wanted to wear a dress to his school prom.

Speaking to BBC News after the film adaptation was announced, Jamie said: "I was jealous that all the girls got to go to prom in these amazing, glamorous dresses.

"I spoke to my mum about it and she said ‘Well, why not wear one too?’ (l-r) Jamie’s real life mother, Margaret, with stage Jamie – played by John McCrea – and Jamie Campbell with his stage mum – played by Josie Walker "I was worried about my safety, if I went through with it, so I thought what I needed was a film crew and then no-one would touch me."

Jamie sent off a film pitch to various TV production companies, finally getting a documentary commissioned, which followed his journey – and aired on the BBC.

This, in turn, was adapted into a musical, which played at Sheffield’s Crucible theatre.

"I thought it was just going to be a small community show," says Jamie. "I had no idea it was going to be as big as it was, even at the Crucible. I was in tears when i saw it.

"And now it’s being turned into a film – I absolutely can’t believe it! This is just so crazy."

Nica Burns, who is the producer of the West End production, saw the show on its very last performance of a 19-night run at the Crucible.

"I cried twice when I saw it and skipped out singing and dancing – there were grannies and kids in the audience, just all sorts of different people," she recalls.

"I went straight out into the foyer, and told the team behind it I wanted to take the show to London. Right then and there I offered them a theatre to show it in.

"That was a first for me – I normally go away and think about it." Jamie’s best friend in the show, played by Lucie Shorthouse, faces prejudices of her own Everybody’s Talking about Jamie has seen a successful and critically-acclaimed transferral to the West End – receiving five Olivier nominations earlier this year – with The Guardian calling it "a fizzing, feeling instant hit", and The Daily Telegraph predicting it to "become a cult classic".

Marianka Swain – the UK editor in chief of Broadway World told the BBC: "After watching dozens of West End shows, it felt like a breath of fresh air."

"I loved it," she adds. "It’s one of those joyfully feel-good shows.

"It has a strong message but wears it lightly," she says ascribing its success partially to its "brilliant working class Sheffield script" and "amazingly diverse cast".

"The core message about love and acceptance means a lot to people. And the story isn’t even about the main character coming out – but being able to express himself fully. I really think that shows how far we’ve come.

"I think it will translate really well as a film. People seem to be lapping up musicals at the moment. Look at the success of The Greatest Showman." The film adaptation of Mamma Mia – originally a musical – went on to become one of the highest-grossing films of all time at the UK box office. Mark Shenton, theatre critic and associate editor of The Stage – who’s seen the show seven times – has noticed the same thing: "There has been a resurgence in musicals and this has all the ingredients to make a great film.

"The fact that this is about to come full circle – from starting out as a documentary to now being made a film – is rather a delightful idea.

"It’s a tremendous show, with an amazing message – to live your life without people judging you. It’s a genuinely original story – and rare for something so new to be made into a film," says Shenton.

Nica Burns agrees: "We are all ecstatic! This is very unusual – it’s very early in the history of the show for it to be made into a film.

"You look at the likes of Mamma Mia and Les Mis and they had music which had been around for years and was in the public consciousness.

"But this is brand new music from a brand new writing team – so it really is incredible."

The lyrics and music are written by singer-songwriter Tom McRae and The Feeling’s Dan Gillespie Sells, who were both new to musical theatre.

Indeed, Gillespie earned himself an Olivier nomination for outstanding achievement in music for his debut as a musical theatre composer and orchestrator. Dan Gillespie Sells from The Feeling is behind the show’s music "It’s such a real Brit story," adds Burns. "Right now there’s not a lot of good news and this is a really happy, cheerful thing to happen – which reflects the message in the musical itself."

Jamie Campbell says the best part about the whole experience is the number of people the show has helped. Oliviers 2018: What happened at the awards?

How Tina Turner rates her own musical

Mean Girls the musical: Fetch or flawed?

"With the musical, it’s touched so many people. I’ve had hundreds and hundreds of messages from people who it’s resonated with. Some people said they had even been suicidal and have told me the show has helped them.

"And now it’s going to have a much wider audience, so will hopefully be able to help lots more people. That’s just the best thing."

Jamie says he’s going to be working as a consultant on the film, adding he is hoping the director will find their way to giving him "a little cameo".

"I couldn’t have dreamt this," he says. "I’ve always had an active imagination, but who’d have thought all of this would happen..?"

Everybody’s Talking about Jamie is showing at the Apollo Theatre until April 2019. Follow us on Facebook , on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts , or on Instagram at bbcnewsents . If you have a story suggestion email

Wembley Stadium sale: Martin Glenn calls for calm and points to FA opportunity

Wembley Stadium sale: Martin Glenn calls for calm and points to FA opportunity

Shahid Khan – If you love English football, Wembley deal must go ahead The sale of Wembley stadium represents an "opportunity" rather than a "betrayal", says Football Association chief executive Martin Glenn.

Fulham owner Shahid Khan has offered £600m for the stadium, but the FA faces criticism over a potential sale.

In a speech to the FA Council, Glenn said there was no need for "drama" or "meltdowns" over the issue.

"This is an opportunity to unleash an unprecedented amount of investment into community football," he said.

Glenn added: "Receiving an offer to sell Wembley Stadium is not a ‘betrayal’. It is not selling the ‘soul of the game’. Nor is it a desperate action by a desperate organisation."

Glenn said Khan’s offer was the only one the FA had so far received and reiterated the governing body’s stance that the funds could accelerate its plan to improve facilities in grassroots football and grow the women’s game.

He insisted the impact could be "transformational" and that around £500m could be ploughed into the grassroots game in the first three years after the sale.

Khan – who also owns NFL franchise the Jacksonville Jaguars – has said anyone who "loves English football" should "want" the deal.

His £600m offer would not include acquiring the FA’s Club Wembley hospitality business, valued at £300m and Glenn also stressed Khan would inherit all the restrictions the FA has worked within, including usage, any potential name change and resale options.

More to follow.

Should we visit or boycott homophobic and transphobic countries?

Should we visit or boycott homophobic and transphobic countries?

Here’s 22 pictures of Pride taking over the Belgium capital Should we visit or boycott homophobic countries? What is your dream holiday destination? Our LGBTI travel survey will discover the answers so we can inform the travel industry.

We will use it to tell travel professionals what you expect of their companies. What ethical issues do you consider when you choose your holidays? And, therefore, how can the industry help LGBTI rights?

What is more, we ask what you love to do on holiday. Is your perfect trip about embracing adventure, exploring museums, attending festivals, tasting local foods or just relaxing on the beach?

We will send the results out to leading travel professionals. And we will present them at the Travel Trade Gazette LGBT summit in London on 4 July. Take part in our travel survey

If the survey doesn’t load for you, click this link to open it . More about our travel survey

We have set up our survey to ask you relevant questions. So the information you provide at the beginning determines what else we ask you. That makes it quicker and more interesting to complete. We expect it to take no more than five minutes to finish.

We try to make our surveys engaging and thought-provoking so they are enjoyable to do. As always, we welcome your feedback on the questions we ask and the way we ask them. It will help us improve our research in future.

We will keep all responses totally anonymous. And we will keep your data secure and confidential. If you kindly provide your email to subscribe to our newsletter or to hear about future surveys, only Gay Star News will contact you, nobody else.

Numbers count – so please share the survey with anyone you think may be interested in helping.

Unlike many other LGBTI travel surveys, this one is not sponsored by a tourist board or a travel company, so is 100% impartial.

You can also take part in our survey about older LGBTI people – designed for older and younger people to complete.

Care agencies challenged to prove their LGBT-friendly credentials

Care agencies challenged to prove their LGBT-friendly credentials

Here are 19 beautiful pictures of Birmingham Pride Here’s 22 pictures of Pride taking over the Belgium capital Care agencies are being asked to do better when it comes to their LGBT clients (Photo: © Ocskay Mark | Advances in healthcare mean many of us are living longer. The health and social care sector in the UK is a growing industry. However, austerity measures and cutbacks have raised questions about the quality of care across the sector.

Last year, the BBC revealed that 900 adult social care staff were quitting the industry every day. This shocking figure has led some service providers to warn the UK Government that vulnerable people are seeing a drop in the level of care they receive. Care agencies are increasingly reliant on people who will work for less pay.

LGBTI people have particular reason for concern. They are less likely to have children and may be estranged from their existing family. They are more likely to be reliant on good quality health and social care services than their heterosexual counterparts.

Trans people often feel particularly self-conscious about carers washing and dressing them. Jo’s story

Jo Panter, 76, and lives in Hackney, London. A former theatre nurse, she is now wheelchair-bound and requires help from carers. She has been through 11 in the past 11 years.

Jo says she simply wants carers to turn up and do the jobs they’re supposed to do. However, she finds many ask intrusive questions about her life.

Jo is happy to describe herself as a butch lesbian. Throughout her life, she has often worn trousers, shirts and ties. This has led to some carers to question her wardrobe, or to ask if she has a man in the house.

‘I also have pictures around my house, and a big photo of Raquel Welch in One Million Years BC. One carer, she came here, and the first thing she did was go into my kitchen and make herself a cup of tea. She didn’t ask me if I wanted one. She made herself one and came through and sat with me to drink it, even though she only had half an hour to do all her duties.

‘Then she made comments and started asking about my life. I told her I was a lesbian. And she said she didn’t know what that was. I explained it was a woman who went with a woman, and she dropped her cup and broke it. She got very flustered!

‘One told me I should pray to be corrected. I should pray to the Lord. It was horrible.

‘I’ve got a very good carer now. She’s Muslim. She’s been with me for several years. I would phone up the agencies and complain, and they’d be apologetic, but they’d keep sending me these carers. I’d tell them, I just want them to do their job. I don’t want them questioning me about my life.’ Unhealthy attitudes

Opening Doors London is a groundbreaking charity set up to provide support for LGBTI people over the age of 50. It runs numerous social groups and befriending services – connecting isolated, older LGBT people with volunteer befrienders.

On 13 June it is hosting a conference in London for social health care professionals entitled Pride in Care. One of the highlights will be the launch of its new Pride in Care quality standard scheme. This is a quality standards badge care agencies can apply for to prove they take the care of their LGBT clients seriously.

Opening Doors says Jo’s experiences are not uncommon. A 2015 report by LGBT advocacy group, Stonewall, backs this up. Unhealthy Attitudes found ‘one in ten health and social care staff across Britain have witnessed colleagues express the dangerous belief that someone can be “cured” of being lesbian, gay or bisexual.’

The Pride in Care scheme is largely being overseen by Jim Glennon, the organization’s Training and Consultancy Manager.

Its quality standard badge will be aimed at care agencies, care homes and supported housing providers who can demonstrate standards specific to LGBT clients.

Glennon says Opening Doors London has heard of LGBT elders who have felt the need to go back into the closet in later life, wary of the response their sexuality my prompt among carers or other care home residents.

‘Often at their most fragile, possibly without much family support, they feel they cant express themselves as an LGBT person,’ says Glennon. Taking Pride in Care

There will be a cost to applying for the badge, which will be on a sliding scale depending on the size of the organization.

After an initial conversation to explain how it works, the applicant’s management team will have a formal meeting with the Opening Doors team to discuss how they achieve the quality standard. Opening Doors will explore the company’s HR policies and complaints procedures, and then conduct a staff survey. This will examine the attitudes and views of staff on working with LGBT people.

If the survey results prompt any concerns, the organization will be advised to provide further LGBT-specific training for staff. Advice can also be provided on amending policies and procedure if they’re not up to scratch.

Depending on the size of the organization, site visits will be made. For example, a large organization with several care homes might expect three visits. People who identify as lesbian, gay and trans will act as ‘mystery shoppers’.

‘They will make a few phone calls, identify themselves, as lesbian for example, say they are interested in entering a care home, or speak on behalf of a family member or friend. They will check the website to see what it looks like, to see how inclusive the feel is around the site, and if there’s any issues with external communications.

‘Then, they will physically go into the organization, speak to people at reception, have a look around. There will be conversations with clients and service users.’ ‘We will fail them if we really think there is a simple unwillingness to engage’

After a final report, the organization finds out whether they’ve achieved the Pride in Care standard.

‘Hopefully we’ll tell them they’ve passed for the standard with flying colors and can use our plaque and communication products. Or we’ll be saying “You need a bit more work.” On the rare occasion, we might have to say “You really need major organizational change on these issues because you’re not anywhere near the standards that enable us to say you provide good service for older LGBT people.”

‘Our aim is to get people through the standard,’ says Glennon. ‘Not to fail people. But we will fail them if we really think there is a simple unwillingness to engage with the materials.’

At the moment, the scheme will operate in London. It may extend outside the capital if it proves successful.

Jo Panter needs little convincing of the benefits of such a quality standard. Given her own experiences with carers in the past, she says knowing in advance if a care agency has attained it, ‘would be a blessing.’ See also

From teens to seniors to everyone in between, we want to know what you think about becoming an older LGBTI person

Whoopi Goldberg, Andy Cohen, Lance Bass and Sarah Paulson are among those encouraging young and old LGBTI people to come together to share a meal

Northern Ireland can’t and won’t follow Ireland’s footsteps – the UK must act

Northern Ireland can't and won't follow Ireland's footsteps – the UK must act

Here are 19 beautiful pictures of Birmingham Pride Here’s 22 pictures of Pride taking over the Belgium capital Ireland went #HomeToVote – but this time they did to repeal laws that made abortion illegal | Photo: Instagram/Twitter The Irish referendum result over the weekend was a truly amazing moment. It shows Ireland is a united country, with both urban and rural, behind social progress and human rights.

But it was a referendum that had to happen because the Irish constitution specifically banned abortion.

Following the weekend, many are calling for Northen Ireland to do the same. But that call just does not make sense.

It would delay a change in the law, and would not be binding.

In the current policial climate it is something only the UK Westminster parliament can change. The eighth amendment ‘Yes Vote’ has rightly put the focus on Northern Ireland

With abortion in Northern Ireland still illegal in cases of rape, fatal fetal abnormality, and incest – the result of the referendum is rightly leading to calls for our sisters north of the border to get the right to legal and safe abortion services too.

However, the devolved administration in Stormont is currently broken down. This means there is no Northern Ireland government to change the law.

Some have called for a similar referendum. But there isn’t a constitutional requirement for this as there was in the Irish Republic.

Others, including Labour MP Stella Creasy, are demanding that the Westminster government take action and vote to extend the 1967 abortion law to Northern Ireland.

Rather than spending time legislating for a referendum, Westminster should spend that time legislating for equality. Westminster: Take the opportunity to take a landmark stance on both LGBTI and Women’s rights

In the absence of a devolved government, the Labour Party Irish Society is supporting Westminster extending the 1967 Act to Northern Ireland.

The Act made abortion legal in all of Great Britain, but not in Northern Ireland, up to 28 weeks gestation.

We firmly believe that human rights should not be won or lost on a populist vote. No group should have to appeal to another for their fundamental rights.

But, this is not just a women’s rights issue. We want to see the extension of the 1967 abortion act and equal marriage to Northern Ireland too.

Women and LGBT people in Northern Ireland have already waited too long to enjoy the same rights as their brothers and sisters across these islands. On both issues public opinion is clear. A referendum on both would be a divisive delay. These are my human rights; I shouldn’t have to persuade a whole nation

As a lesbian and an Irish woman, I don’t think I should have to convince others of my right to abortion services any more than I should have to persuade them of my right to marry my girlfriend.

They should both be human rights.

I canvassed with Labour Party Irish Society in Dublin last week. Although it went the right way in the end, we were shouted at and called murderers by random strangers.

Referendums are divisive and damaging, as we learned to our cost in the Brexit referendum.

A referendum in Northern Ireland would not be legally binding. Therefore we would still face a long and protracted political fight over any new law.

Labour Party Irish Society is transparent that a divisive referendum would merely delay women’s rights longer. We want politicians to just get on and extend fundamental human rights to reproductive healthcare to Northern Irish women.

Since Stormont can’t and won’t do this, Westminster must. Read more on Gay Star News:

Northern Ireland is the only place in the UK or Ireland that does not allow same-sex couples to marry

The last time Ireland went #HomeToVote, they voted yes in the first ever national same-sex marriage referendum

Dear Brands: Support for LGBT People Should Last All Year

Dear Brands: Support for LGBT People Should Last All Year

Corporate sponsorship of Pride festivals is fine, as long as the relationship is thoughtful and respectful. It’s about that time of year again, when cities around the world are adorned in rainbow and play host to queer celebrations, parties and parades. Our media becomes rife with advertisements showing pride; and many brands take every opportunity to remind us that they support LGBTQ+ people (read: consumers). Awareness and commercialization of pride month has grown in tandem with improving perceptions of queerness globally. But the fight is far from over, and to the brands that have adopted a one month only, superficial approach to allyship: you need to do better.

I recently came across a targeted advertisement for a branded pride fundraising event, inviting me to “party hard to save LGBTQ+ lives.” I felt queasy reading the invitation. Without question this advertisement was the product of poor copywriting, but it is rooted in a frightening complacency. Lacking sensitivity and contextualized understanding, some of our most beloved brands are frequent perpetrators.

With the Supreme Court sending marriage equality nationwide, seemingly thousands of Pride events at the peak of their popularity, and universal adoration of out Olympian Adam Rippon, the LGBTQ+ rights movement may appear to be coasting on success. A global survey published in 2018 reports that nearly 57 percent of countries have shown increases in social acceptance rates of the LGBTQ+ community since 1981. Certainly, there is cause to celebrate.

But those same findings show a hyper-polarized world — countries with the highest acceptance rates increased exponentially, while countries with the lowest scores are plummeting. Existing in liberal bubbles, prominent brands may be unaware that many LGBTQ+ people continue to live in persecution, in countries where doing so openly is illegal (over 70 to be exact).

And of course, persecution of LGBTQ+ people exists well within American borders. This Pride month I am reminded of the 49 lives lost at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando two years ago, in the most violent act of domestic terror since 9/11 . Transgender people are murdered in the dozens each year. The rights movement didn’t end with marriage equality in the United States.

In 2017, the New York City pride march boasted 61 corporate sponsors, 13 promotional partner and 31 media sponsors, according to MarketWatch . Every year the number of participating brands has grown. Though the volume of support has increased, I fear the quality will not.

As a consumer, I am engulfed by “limited-edition” rainbow products that, at best, send a portion of the proceeds to a charity or noteworthy cause. I’m surrounded by “inclusive” ads featuring only white, cisgender, gay couples. While brands are often criticized for tone deaf or half-hearted efforts, we see mistakes happen again and again .

True advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community extends beyond a sponsored mixer, rainbow logos, or well wishes. To tout oneself as an ally to the community, brands must respect the historical significance of Pride marches and empower meaningful action.

The first major Pride march and rally was organized almost 50 years ago, observed on the first anniversary of the Stonewall riots. Back then activists were risking arrest in solidarity.

By nature, Pride events are spaces in which everyone is welcome — including brands. Recognizing that the Pride events will likely never get less commercial, take note: there is an enlightened approach to marketing for this consumer segment . Brands can and should still take part in the celebration, but only if done so thoughtfully. As one of the many lenses through which people view the world, brands have a unique opportunity to take a stand and make a meaningful impact this Pride month (and year round). The key is to remember that Pride month is rooted in riot. Every powerful action brings us one step closer to equality.

Recently, brands have demonstrated meaningful commitment to social change at the benefit of LGBTQ+ people. When the North Carolina Senate passed legislation taking away protections for transgender individuals to use their preferred bathroom, several brands, including Google, IBM, and Paypal, voiced disappointment and continued support of LGBTQ+ employees. The likes of Deutsche Bank and Lionsgate truly made an impact – the former suspended plans for expansion and the latter ceased business operations completely until the legislation was overturned.

I look to the March For Our Lives Movement against gun violence and the Women’s marches as inspiration; thousands of people marched on Washington this year in protest of senseless acts of gun violence and discrimination against women. And many brands notably followed suit, cutting ties with the NRA to take a stand against gun violence.

Cutting business ties in solidarity is a powerful demonstration, and may even pay off long-term from a business perspective: another study found that two-thirds of American consumers now find it important that brands take a stand on social issues.

The first step for brands that seek to empower their LGBTQ+ employees and consumers — especially during pride month — is to remember that this is not your party. In fact, it really isn’t a party to begin with; it’s an act of resistance and protest to all the spaces in the world where queerness is still unwelcome (albeit sometimes a really fun act of resistance).

So, continue to raise a glass, attend those galas, and tweet your encouragement — but brands can’t forget to rise up. Meaningful allyship requires more than just the fun stuff.

BILLY LEPAGE is a New York-based global analyst at OgilvyRED . From our Sponsors

Teaching Businesses To Welcome LGBT Elders

Teaching Businesses To Welcome LGBT Elders

There are many segments of the LGBT community that face marginalization, but there are few more undeserved than LGBT elders. Along with the challenges of getting older, many LGBT elders have few safe spaces where they can shop and interact with the community without fearing harassment. describes what shopping is like for Tricia Russell, a 61-year-old transgender woman from St. Augustine: “…clothing store employees either eyed her suspiciously or closely followed her as she walked around. At a grocery store’s customer service counter, an employee reacted to her masculine voice in a feminine body by relocating to a back room. She was harassed by some members of law enforcement.”

One center based in Jacksonville, Fla., is addressing the specific concerns of queer elders through implementing a new certification program for local businesses, ensuring that they become as inclusive as possible.

ElderSource Institute, founded in 2015, will be hosting a new LGBT Elder-Friendly Business Certification. The program promotes new sensitivity for businesses working with lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual elders and wishing to make safe spaces for them as customers, outlets report.

Training, education, and resources for adults ages 50 and older will be provided by the Institute. The certification program itself came to be from a “need for safe and friendly resources” for LGBT elders in the area, who were found to be five times less likely to use the support provided for them due to fear of abuse, discrimination, and harassment. In educating the community as a whole, LGBT customers—especially the elders—can have piece of mind as their needs and safety is secured.

Heidi Katz, the institute’s vice president of business development and innovation, spoke on the need for the certification program in ensuring LGBT elders have the support they need: “As we all age, we look for and rely on trusted friendships, businesses, and communities where we feel welcome and can age with dignity and independence. Many LGBT seniors go back into the closet because they fear discrimination and harassment as they age.”

Businesses interested in taking the certification course will undergo cultural competency training, and must also adapt inclusive business practices that will include: staff training; LGBT-inclusive politics; a public statement of LGBT friendliness and inclusion; other symbols of equality within the workplace, in literature, or on the company’s websites. Local businesses that have already undergone the program are seeing a drastic difference in the ease their customers feel, as well as their own sense of community through giving back.

Transgender woman killed by mob in India because of fake child trafficking rumours

Transgender woman killed by mob in India because of fake child trafficking rumours

A transgender woman was killed by a mob of angry locals on Saturday in India because of false rumours linking her to child trafficking.

The victim was hunted and killed by a mob, while three other women were wounded in Hyderabad, southern India, after fabricated claims accusing them of trafficking spread through the area via WhatsApp.

The falsely accused women were attacked by angry locals on Saturday night, reports CNN .

A police official told CNN that the women were begging in Hyderabad when they were attacked by the angry mob.

“They were begging for money from some shopkeepers in Chandrayanagutta at 11 p.m. when some unruly youths started saying they had come to kidnap children,” said deputy commissioner V. Satyanarayana.

About 20 people took part in the attack as a crowd of roughly 200 watched , encouraging the attackers to keep going. 12 people have been arrested on Sunday following the incident.

According to Satyanarayana, the rumours, spread via WhatsApp, went viral in the area, prompting the attack. According to the messages, transgender women were plotting to kidnap children in India.

“For the last 15 days in India, especially in the Telugu-speaking states, a lot of rumours on WhatsApp and other social media have been shared about gangs kidnapping children,” Satyanarayana said.

Such myths have been debunked by authorities. Pictures of dead children were shared on social media along with the kidnaping rumours, but the police said they had been taken in Syria. Indian transgender activists take part in a protest against the Transgenders Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2016 at Dharna Chowk in Hyderabad on August 26, 2016. (NOAH SEELAM/AFP/Getty) “These mischief mongers are intentionally circulating such messages to create panic in the minds of the public,” Satyanarayana said, adding there was no evidence that a child trafficking gang operated in the region.

Police warned locals against believing these rumours and produced a public service announcement explaining how fake videos/photos were created.

However, some of the population still seem to take the rumours at face value. The Hyderabad victim is the sixth person to be killed following rumours about the child trafficking ring.

Just a day before, a man suffering from mental illness was stripped and beaten to death with pipes and sticks in Pahadishareef, in the same region. A rumour had also spread on WhatsApp that he was linked to the kidnapping gang.

On May 20, a farmer was killed and seven other injured following a similar attack triggered by the same rumours.