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British youth face ‘mental health crisis’

teen suicide, gay news, Washington Blade

Forty percent of young gay people in England have considered suicide according to a new study.

LONDON — More than half of young gay people in England have suffered mental health issues and 40 percent have considered suicide according to findings of a major study from Youth Chances released this week, the Independent reports.

The report says that neglect of LGBT issues in schools contributes to a climate of hostility and fear that results in a “mental health crisis” for LGBT young people, the Independent said.

The Youth Chances Project — the biggest social research study into young LGBT people ever undertaken in England — finds that 50 percent have self harmed and 42 percent have sought medical help for anxiety or depression, the article said. Charity Metro, which led the project, interviewed more than 7,000 16- to 25-year-olds and asked about their experiences with education, employment, health services and relationships.

Dr. Greg Ussher, Metro’s acting chief executive, told the Independent, “We are failing LGBTQ young people. The clear message is that they are badly served. What they want most is emotional support and they are not getting it. By the age of 13, most are already sure or are questioning their sexuality or gender identity, so we need to ensure all families and schools are equipped to give that support.”

One in five LGBT pupils reported being the victim of physical attacks at school, but the majority did not report them and only a small proportion of those who did felt that their concerns were resolved. And only a quarter said they had learned anything at school about safer sex with a same-sex partner, the Independent reports.

Ussher warned that if schools failed to act it would lead to a “hugely increased risk of bullying and abuse; isolation and rejection — all leading to significantly increased levels of depression, self-harm and suicide,” the article said.


Heterosexual mating rituals, by Sir David Attenborough (video)

"Meanwhile, nearby a female starts to regurgitate a mouthful of fish & chips. Life in Britain is not all roses."


Gay marriages have begun in England and Wales!

At midnight, England time (8pm Eastern US), gay marriage became legal in England, and the weddings have commenced.


Same-sex marriage law takes effect in England, Wales

Peter McGrait, David Cabreza, same-sex marriage, gay marriage, marriage equality, England, Great Britain, gay news, Washington Blade

Peter McGraith and David Cabreza were the first same-sex couple to legally marry in England on March 29. (Photo by Alicia Clarke)

A law that allows same-sex marriage in England and Wales has taken effect.

Peter McGraith and David Cabreza, who have been together for 17 years, exchanged vows at Islington Town Hall in London shortly after midnight in the U.K. (8 p.m. EST.) Peter Tatchell, a British LGBT rights advocate, witnessed the wedding.

“We are thrilled to be getting married,” said McGraith before he and Cabreza exchanged vows. “It is a mark of significant social progress in England and Wales that the legal distinction between gay and straight relationships has been removed.”

Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed the arrival of marriage rights for same-sex couples in England and Wales.

“The introduction of same-sex civil marriage says something about the sort of country we are,” he said in an op-ed that Pink News published exclusively. “It says we are a country that will continue to honour its proud traditions of respect, tolerance and equal worth. It also sends a powerful message to young people growing up who are uncertain about their sexuality. It clearly says ‘you are equal’ whether straight or gay.”

The British Embassy in D.C. hosted a reception to commemorate the law taking effect.

“I’m particularly delighted the British Embassy can add another step forward towards the march for equal marriage,” said Rosalind Campion, counselor for global issues at the British Embassy in Washington, as she discussed the civil partnership into which she and her partner entered five years ago.

“This is about equal rights for everybody, whoever they are,” Deputy British Ambassador to the U.S. Patrick Davies told the Washington Blade before same-sex couples began to legally marry in England and Wales.

LGBT rights advocates in the U.S. and across Europe also celebrated the law taking effect.

“The advent of marriage is a further historic step in the journey to full equality for lesbian and gay people in England and Wales and contributes significantly to the growing international momentum for equality,” said Kieran Rose, chair of the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network in Ireland. “A very strong message of inclusion, value, respect and equality is being sent to people everywhere.”

Catholic Voices criticized Stonewall and other British LGBT advocacy groups that backed the same-sex marriage bill.

“Despite the claims of lobbies and the government’s own wishful thinking, gay marriage will not strengthen marriage,” said Catholic Voices earlier this week in a blog post.

Iceland, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Portugal, Spain, Canada, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, South Africa and New Zealand have extended marriage rights to same-sex couples alongside 18 states, D.C. and Mexico City.

The Scottish Parliament last month approved a same-sex marriage bill that will take effect later this year. A referendum on whether gays and lesbians can exchange vows in Ireland will take place next year.

Same-sex couples have been able to enter into civil partnerships in the U.K. since 2005.

Great Britain, gay news, Washington Blade, same-sex marriage, marriage equality

The British embassy held a celebration on Friday night. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)


England official calls conversion therapy ‘abhorrent’

Norman Lamb, Ministry of Health, England, Great Britain, conversion therapy, gay news, Washington Blade

Health Minister Norman Lamb (Photo by; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

LONDON — England’s Health Minister Norman Lamb says gay conversion therapy is “abhorrent and has no place in modern society,” the Guardian reports.

“It is based on the completely false premise that there is something wrong with you if you happen to be gay,” Lamb, the minister for care and support, was quoted as having said by the Guardian. “I certainly want to do what I can, as a liberal Democrat, to eradicate this.”

Lamb spoke to the Guardian as 15 cross-party MPs (members of Parliament) wrote to him demanding tougher measures, including consideration of a ban on gay conversion therapy.


U.K. group hopes to improve health of gay men

Pink Jack, United Kingdom, U.K., gay news, Washington Blade

Workers with Public Health England said gay and bi men in the U.K. are twice as likely to be depressed or anxious as straight men, that smoking rates are higher and the number of STDs has risen sharply.

LONDON — Gay and bisexual men are disproportionately affected by poor sexual health, mental health challenges and use of alcohol, drugs and tobacco, Public Health England, a health agency, said in the first of several documents to be released, Pink News, a British gay news agency, reports.

The documents, which researchers there plan to use as a framework for action over the next six months, find that men who have sex with men account for about 5.5 percent of the male population in the United Kingdom. Public Health England workers hope that by targeting these areas, they will “help [men who have sex with men] to enjoy long, healthy lives, to have respectful and fulfilling social and sexual relationships and to significantly reduce the annul number of new HIV infections … by 2020.”

Workers with the agency said gay and bi men there are twice as likely to be depressed or anxious as straight men, that smoking rates are higher, gonorrhea rates are higher and the number of sexually transmitted diseases there has risen sharply in recent years. Some of that has been attributed to increased testing, but researchers are also concerned with “ongoing high levels of unsafe sex,” the Pink News article said.


Gay advocates outside U.S. applaud Supreme Court rulings

Louisa Wall, New Zealand, marriage equality, gay marriage, same-sex marriage, gay news, Washington Blade

New Zealand Parliamentarian Louisa Wall (Photo courtesy of the office of Louisa Wall)

LGBT rights advocates around the world joined their American counterparts in celebrating the U.S. Supreme Court rulings that found a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional and struck down California’s Proposition 8.

“This is a fantastic outcome from the U.S. Supreme Court,” Kieran Rose, chair of the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network, an Irish LGBT rights group, said. “The ruling is a pivotal moment in the achievement of equality for lesbian and gay people in the U.S. and the decision will echo across the world.”

A commission charged with reforming the Irish constitution in April overwhelmingly approved a recommendation to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples. Deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore last Friday said a referendum on the issue will take place in 2014.

The British House of Lords continues to debate a proposal that would extend marriage rights to same-sex couples in England and Wales.

Andy Wasley, spokesperson for Stonewall, an LGBT advocacy group in the U.K., told the Washington Blade on Thursday his organization hopes “we’ll be celebrating too within the next few weeks.”

“It’s heartening to see a more enlightened attitude towards the rights of 19 million lesbian, gay and bisexual Americans from the Supreme Court,” he said. “We’re delighted for those in California who can now dust off their wedding plans and look forward to their special day.”

Alex Alí Méndez Díaz, a lawyer who represented three same-sex couples in the Mexican state of Oaxaca whom local authorities denied marriage licenses in 2011 and 2012, agreed.

The Mexican Supreme Court in February released its ruling that found the Oaxacan law against same-sex marriage unconstitutional.

The three couples whom Méndez represented who petitioned the Mexican judicial system to ensure local authorities would protect their constitutional rights exchanged vows shortly after the country’s highest court announced its decision. Chihuahua and Baja California del Norte that includes the city of Tijuana are among the five other Mexican states in which same-sex marriage efforts are also underway.

“The decision from the (U.S. Supreme) Court is great news,” Méndez told the Blade. “Without a doubt it represents an advance and at the same time it is the realization of the international trend for equality and not to discriminate against the LGBTTTIQ community.”

Canada, Argentina, Iceland, France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and South Africa currently allow same-sex marriage.

Gays and lesbians will be able to tie the knot in Uruguay and New Zealand in August.

Brazil’s National Council of Justice last month said registrars cannot deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Gays and lesbians in neighboring Colombia last Thursday began to apply for civil marriage licenses, even though it remains unclear whether a 2011 ruling from the country’s highest court allows registrars and judges to issue them.

Louisa Wall, the New Zealand parliamentarian who introduced her country’s same-sex marriage bill that received final approval in April, told the Blade she is “incredibly proud” of LGBT rights advocates in the U.S. for “their persistent, progressive and inclusive pursuit of equality under the law.”

“I am also buoyed by the reaction to the decision by President Obama and his directive to officials to identify laws that this decision is relevant to and to expeditiously implement the necessary changes to guarantee legal equality for all couples,” Wall added.

Rodney Croome, national director of Australian Marriage Equality, said the Supreme Court decisions “sends a powerful message” to his country’s lawmakers on the issue.

“The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision sends a direct message to Australian politicians that our law against same-sex marriage violates basic principles of equality and fair treatment must be removed,” he said.

LGBT rights advocates in other countries in which same-sex couples cannot legally marry echoed Croome.

Three gay Chilean couples who had been denied marriage licenses last September filed a lawsuit with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights after the South American country’s Supreme Court ruled against them.

The Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation (Movilh,) a Chilean LGBT advocacy group, said in a statement on Wednesday the Supreme Court decisions “changed the political and cultural context in relation to same-sex marriage.” The organization added it feels the Inter-American Court of Human Rights will certainly take these changes into account when it considers the case of the three gay Chilean couples.

“The signal given today by the U.S. Supreme Court is that the days of homophobic laws like DOMA are numbered,” Movilh said. “This is a process that nobody can stop.”

Gay News, Washington Blade, Supreme Court

Ugandan activvist Frank Mugisha (Blade file photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Frank Mugisha, a Ugandan LGBT rights advocate, also welcomed the rulings.

He and other activists in Uganda and around the world have criticized the country’s lawmakers for supporting the so-called “Kill the Gays” bill that would impose the death penalty upon anyone convicted of repeated same-sex sexual acts.

Mugisha, whom then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton honored last summer at the U.S. Embassy in Kampala, the Ugandan capital, said he feels the Supreme Court decisions “weakens the extreme religious conservatives” whom he categorized as exporting “hate to Africa and Uganda.”

“I celebrate every step towards equality, especially in the United States,” Mugisha told the Blade hours after President Obama applauded the rulings and responded to a question about the criminalization of homosexuality in Senegal during a press conference in the Senegalese capital with the country’s president. “Although our fight in Uganda is at the first step and not about marriage equality, due to the global village, equality for same-sex couples in the United States in certain ways adulterates homophobia in Uganda as Ugandans get used to gay people being normal globally.”


British House of Lords gives final approval to marriage bill

House of Lords, Great Britain, England, gay news, Washington Blade, same-sex marriage, gay marriage, marriage equality

Same-sex marriage supporters gather outside the British House of Lords in London on Monday. (Photo courtesy of Simon Callaghan)

The British House of Lords on Monday gave its final approval to a bill that would allow same-sex couples to marry in England and Wales.

The measure passed on a voice vote after parliamentarians debated the measure for more than an hour. Same-sex marriage supporters and opponents also gathered outside Westminster Palace in central London as the House of Lords considered the bill.

“Judge us on the creation of the liberties we protect and extend,” Baron Waheed Alli, who is gay, said.

Baroness Tina Stowell of Beeston said she is a “firm believer in justice and fairness” as she described the same-sex marriage measure as “a force for good.” Baron Patrick Cormack of Grimsby urged those who support the bill to acknowledge opponents who feel it “does change the structure of society by changing the definition of marriage.”

“I understand that you feel euphoric today, but please have a thought for those who have different views,” he said.

Ben Summerskill, chief executive of Stonewall, a British LGBT advocacy group, applauded the vote.

“It’s impossible to express how much joy this historic step will bring to tens of thousands of gay people and their families and friends,” he said in a statement. “The bill’s progress through Parliament shows that, at last, the majority of politicians in both Houses understand the public’s support for equality – though it’s also reminded us that gay people still have powerful opponents.”

Sweden, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Iceland, Spain, Portugal, South Africa, Canada, Argentina, Mexico City and 11 states and D.C. currently allow same-sex marriage.

Gays and lesbians in Minnesota, Rhode Island, New Zealand and Uruguay will be able to tie the knot on August 1.

Brazil’s National Council of Justice in May ruled registrars in the South American country cannot deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples. A judge in neighboring Colombia last week said a gay couple in Bogotá, the country’s capital, who had sought legal recognition can enter into a civil marriage on July 24.

The U.S. Supreme Court last month found a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional and struck down California’s Proposition 8 that had banned same-sex marriage in the Golden State.

The Scottish government last month introduced a bill that would extend marriage rights to same-sex couples in Scotland.

The bill will return to the House of Commons, which approved it in May, for parliamentarians to consider any last-minute amendments. They will then send it to Queen Elizabeth II who will sign it into law through royal assent.

The first same-sex weddings are expected to take place in England and Wales sometime in the spring of 2014.


A unique approach to testicular cancer awareness – just get a football team naked on TV

Gotta hand it to the Brits on this one, but I wonder if this really made it on actual television.


U.K. House of Commons approves marriage bill

Great Britain, England, British House of Parliament, House of Commons, House of Lords, Big Ben, gay news, Washington Blade

A same-sex marriage bill passed a final hurdle in the House of Commons by a vote of 366-161 on Tuesday, and now heads to the House of Lords for final approval. The law puts the United Kingdom on par with Norway, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Iceland, Spain, Portugal, and most recently France in extending marriage equally to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples. (Photo public domain)

The British House of Commons on Tuesday gave its final approval to a bill that would extend marriage rights to same-sex couples in England and Wales.

The 366-161 vote capped off two days of debate on the measure that the same chamber overwhelmingly approved in February.

Norway, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Iceland, Spain and Portugal are among the 11 countries in which same-sex couples can legally marry.

Gays and lesbians in neighboring France can begin to legally tie the knot next week after President François Hollande on May 18 signed his country’s same-sex marriage bill into law. Gay couples in Uruguay and New Zealand will also be able to walk down the aisle in August once their same-sex marriage laws take effect.

Brazil’s National Council of Justice on May 14 ruled registrars in the South American country cannot deny marriage licenses to gays and lesbians.

The British House of Lords is expected to consider the same-sex marriage bill next month.

British Prime Minister David Cameron and London Mayor Boris Johnson are among those who support the bill.

‘This evening’s vote shows MPs are on the public’s side, as poll after poll shows a clear majority of people in Britain support equal marriage,” Ben Summerskill, chief executive of the British LGBT advocacy group Stonewall said. “Now that the bill has cleared the Commons without any of the wrecking amendments tabled by opponents, we hope peers will show the same respect to public attitudes.”