Improved AIDS healthcare helps increase worldwide life expectancy

(WM) Life expectancy worldwide has increased by about five years in the last 15 years according to a report issued May 19 by the World Health Organization in the fastest gain since the 1960s.

The biggest increase was seen in Africa due to improvements in health care for children and the better availability of medicines, including those for malaria and AIDS.

The UN health agency says that globally, life expectancy for a baby born in 2015 was 71 for women and 69 for men, with women in Japan and men in Switzerland typically living the longest.

Sierra Leone had the lowest life expectancy for both genders.

The report noted there were glaring gaps in data from some countries and that about half of all deaths worldwide aren’t registered.


Church of Scotland allows same-sex marriage for clergy

(AP) The Church of Scotland has voted to let its ministers enter same-sex marriages – though saying it “maintains its traditional view of marriage between a man and woman.”

At its general assembly, meeting in Edinburgh, voted May 21 to allow congregations to “opt out” from traditional teaching if they wish to appoint a minister or a deacon in a same-sex marriage.

However, Church of Scotland clergy will not be allowed to conduct same-sex weddings. A debate on whether to sanction gay marriages within the church won’t be held until the church’s Theological Forum presents a report next year.

Gay marriage has been a divisive issue for religious groups around the world. Scotland’s official church is a Presbyterian denomination with about 400,000 members.


First transgender delegate elected in Florida

(WM) Florida is making history with the state’s first transgender delegate.

According to Florida’s LGBTA Democratic Caucus, Monica DePage of Jacksonville has been elected to the Democratic National Convention.

On May 7, DePage was elected as a district-level delegate from Florida’s 4th Congressional District.

She will be one of 30 delegates from the LGBT community meeting in July at the convention in Philadelphia where the Democratic candidate for President of the United States will be nominated.

DePage is from Jacksonville and is pledged to Senator Bernie Sanders.


Oklahoma wants to impeach Obama because of transgender bathroom laws

Oklahoma has introduced a new discriminatory bill that calls for schools to provide a “religious accommodation based on the student’s sincerely held religious beliefs” if their public schools allow transgender students access to the facilities that match their gender identity.

The bill, Senate Bill 1619, does not once use the word “transgender,” rather it uses terminology such as “the physical condition of being male or female, as identified at birth by that individual’s anatomy.” The bill therefore reduces every student to their anatomical gender and disregards any claim to a different gender identity.

Lawmakers insist that those who request religious accommodation not be given a single-occupancy option, but instead given full access to the facilities matching their gender assigned at birth. There are no alternatives provided for gender-nonconforming students other than the authorizing Oklahoma’s attorney general to file suit against a public school that does not adhere to the proposed policy.

Along with the bill, new Senate Concurrent Resolution 43 urges Oklahoma’s two U.S. senators and five representatives in the House – all Republican – to “file articles of impeachment against the President of the United States, the Attorney General of the United States, the Secretary of Education, and any other federal official liable to impeachment who has exceeded his or her constitutional authority,” based on their efforts to open facilities up to gender nonconforming students.


New LGBTQ facilities are coming to LA and NYC

Los Angeles and Ney York City, which have two of the largest LGBTQ populations in the country, are about to welcome two exciting new facilities geared toward those communities.

In Los Angeles the LGBT Center will build a new campus with 100 affordable housing units for seniors, up to 35 units of permanent supportive housing for youths and a large industrial kitchen and 100 beds for homeless young.

The city’s LGBT Center is doing its second round of fundraising for the project and hopes to open the campus in early 2019. The future Anita May Rosenstein Campus will also include medical services.

In NYC, the Bronx Trans Collective, opening next month, will be “the city’s first major multi-service center dedicated specifically to transgender people, offering program and services that were previously scattered across different sites,” according to the New York Times.

The center will offer a number of services to transgender people such as surgeries, hormone treatments, mental health counseling, assistance with legal name changes and other services.

The center also plans on hosting regular support groups, youth counseling, yoga classes and meditation and cookouts.

The goal of the center is to have all transgender-focused services available under one roof. The Space for the center is being donated for the first year by the building’s management, and various LGBTQ groups throughout the city are chipping in other needs and expenses.


Mexican President Proposes Legalization of Same-Sex Marriage

Only four countries in Latin America legalized same-sex marriage -- but soon, there may be a fifth.

On Tuesday, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto declared his proposition to make gay marriage legal in his country.

According to CBS News, Pena Nieto claimed he wanted “to recognize as a human right that people can enter into marriage without any kind of discrimination,” desiring to change Article 4 of the country’s constitution to match the Supreme Court’s opinion.

The president’s Twitter page, as well as that of other Mexican government accounts, had their pages altered to have rainbow colors following Pena Nieto’s announcement.

Congress requires a two-thirds majority vote to amend the constitution. According to LGBTQ Nation, Pena Nieto’s allies and party have over half of the seats, leading up to a potential ratification by the majority of states until finally requiring a signature by Pena Nieto.

Pena Nieto’s announcement had perfect timing – his Tuesday announcement came on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, a day focused on celebration of sexual and gender identities.


Study of HIV Prevalence Among Gay Men in U.S. Reveals Trouble in the South

The numbers are revealed for HIV prevalence in the United States — and the South tops most of the results.

According to a report in JMIR Public Health and Surveillance, researchers determined that 15 percent of the 4.45 million gay men in the U.S. have HIV positive, according to POZ.

The results in the South were staggering, with 21 out of 25 metropolitan statistical areas coming from that region. Jackson, Mississippi and Columbia, South Carolina topped the list.

“These refined results are an additional tool for regional and local public health action and provide further evidence for the need to prioritize HIV prevention efforts for MSM and particularly for MSM living in the South,” said Eli Rosenberg, PhD, assistant professor of epidemiology at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health and the study's head, in a press release.

Within Florida, the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach area had over 3,100 gay men diagnosed with HIV, POZ claimed.

The report also specified that Florida had 0.93 percent diagnoses with HIV per year.

“By pinpointing where HIV strikes the hardest, we have a key piece of the puzzle highlighting the largest disparities within states and the South,“ Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, said in a press release. “We hope these data empower local public health officials, community-based organizations and everyone fighting HIV to bring resources to the gay and bisexual men who need them the most.”


Private Kansas Christian School Will Expel Students with LGBT Family Members

Prospective students for Trinity Academy in Wichita, Kansas better not have a gay brother or a trans mother — they may face expulsion.

In the school's "Statement of Understanding and Agreement for Parent and Student," the school requires all parties hold up to their beliefs and practices: No drinking, no premarital sex and more. But even if the students themselves do not identify on the LGBT spectrum, the school threatens expulsion if any relative does.

“Given the debate and confusion in our society about marriage and human sexuality it is vital that Trinity families agree with and support the school’s traditional, Christian understanding of those issues," reads the letter. "Therefore, when the atmosphere or conduct within a particular home is counter to the school’s understanding of a biblical lifestyle, including the practice or promotion of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) lifestyle or alternative gender identity, the school should have the right, in its sole discretion, to deny the admission of an applicant or discontinue enrollment of a current student.”

According to Patheos, who obtained the statement, even LGBT people who are celibate still breach the Statement of Understanding. This is unusual compared to other fundamentalist schools.

The policy itself is not publicly made by the school or on their website.

“We believe in a biblical perspective for all areas of life," reads the Trinity Academy website. "In the social arena, Trinity Academy seeks to impart a respect for the sanctity of life and an abhorrence for the sins of idolatry, abortion, euthanasia, sexual impurity, racism, lying, stealing, gossip, slander, greed, injustice, prejudice, and the abuse of the body through the use of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco.”


Iranian Women Dress Up As Men To Avoid Country’s Sexist Morality Laws

Some women in Iran have had enough with their strict dress code and extremely limiting morality laws. So what do they do? Dress up as men.

“I am an Iranian girl,” said one of the women via Facebook. “In order to avoid the morality police, I decided to cut my hair short and wear men's clothes so that I can freely walk in the streets in Iran.”

According to Pink News, many of the women do not identify as transgender, but choose to cut their hair short and wear masculine clothes in order to be free in public without facing harassment.

The Facebook page “My Stealthy Freedom” features several of these women escaping Iran’s morality laws.

“Iran is a country where certain young women who do not believe in the compulsory veil have now started dressing up as men to enjoy the liberty of going to stadiums or to even walk in the streets without having to wear the headscarf,” the page reads. “We sincerely hope for the day when women in Iran will no longer be obliged to live in fear and their moments of stealthy freedom will be transformed into real ones.”

The page also shares the personal stories of women in Iran, showing photos of the women in their masculine attire.

“I myself choose what to wear, how to study, how to exercise, how to live and how respect others in society,” one woman explains. “I am not afraid of the system, but they are visibly very afraid of me. I will do my best to be successful in the sports that I am practising (sic) and represent Iran in a way that people of Iran want to be represented so that the rest of the world can get to know the real ‘us.’ I won't give up. Iran belongs to all of us.

”Recently, eight models were allegedly detained for posting “vulgar” photos of themselves on social media with their hair uncovered, according to Independent. As a result, many women are changing their Facebook profiles to private.


Padres Under Fire For Mishandling Gay Chorus' Anthem

(EDGE) The San Diego Gay Men's Chorus is criticizing the San Diego Padres for mishandling the group's scheduled performance of the national anthem.

The chorus said on its Facebook page that 100 of its members gathered to perform the song before the game Saturday against the Los Angeles Dodgers when the Padres instead played the recorded voice of a woman singing the anthem. Their statement said no attempt was made to stop the recording and that the group received "homophobic taunts" while being escorted off the field.

Chorus members called for the Padres and Major League Baseball to investigate whether anyone intentionally played a woman's voice "with the purpose of denigrating and/or ridiculing gay men."

The Padres issued a statement Saturday night saying a mistake was made that prevented the chorus from performing and that "we apologize to anyone in the ballpark who this may have offended." The Padres said they'd reached out to the chorus "to express our deep regret for the error."

Billy Bean, an MLB vice president for social responsibility and inclusion, tweeted Sunday that "it was very unfortunate that there was a technical error" that prevented the chorus from performing but added that the Padres "have supported our inclusion message at MLB without hesitation." Bean, a former Padres player, revealed he was gay in 1999, four years after his final major league season.