Category: International News

Malta l-aqwa fid-dinja fil-ġlieda kontra l-omofobija u l-protezzjoni abbażi tal-orjentazzjoni sesswali

Malta kklassifikat l-aqwa fid-dinja fil-ġlieda kontra l-omofobija u l-protezzjoni abbażi tal-orjentazzjoni sesswali. Dan ikkonfermatu l-Assoċjazzjoni Internazzjonali tal-Persuni Leżbjani, Gay, Bisesswali, Trans u Intersex f’rapport ippubblikat fi New Zealand.

Ir-rapport juri kif Malta hi l-unika pajjiż li ssodisfa l-kriterji kollha tal-ILGA World li jinkludu l-protezzjoni Kostituzzjonali, il-protezzjoni fil-liġi tax-xogħol, il-protezzjoni kontra kull forma ta’ diskriminazzjoni u mibegħda, iż-żwieġ ugwali u l-unjoni ċivili.  Kriterji oħra jinkludu addozzjoni konġunta jew addozzjoni mit-tieni ġenitur, u l-projbizzjoni ta’ prattiċi ta’ konverżjoni jew ir-riklamar tagħhom.

B’reazzjoni għal dan ir-rapport, il-Ministru Helena Dalli qalet kif dan ir-riżultat li ħareġ minn rapport li sar minn organizzazzjoni li ilha mwaqqfa għal erbgħin sena fejn spjegat kif għandna nkunu sodisfatti ferm b’din il-kisba.

“Hija xi ħaġa tajba u importanti li Malta tinsab l-ewwel fid-dinja fejn tidħol l-ugwaljanza. Qabel konna l-ewwel fl-ewropa issa ġejna l-ewwel fid-dinja. Meta tara l-pajjiżi li hemm warajna pereżempju l-aktar viċin tagħna huwa l-kanada. Huwa pajjiż avvanzat fejn tidħol ugwaljanza però għad ma jissodfiswawx il-kriterji kollha li trid tissodisfa skont dan ir-rapport biex ikollok ugwaljanza totali. Ovvjament aħna nieħdu gost għax in-nies qed igawdu mix-xogħol li għamilna f’leġislazzjoni f’dan il-qasam, issa qed jgħixu ħajja aħjar,” qalet il-Ministru Dalli.

Dan kien possibbli wara li l-Gvern implimenta numru ta’ riformi leġiżlattivi li poġġew lil Malta fil-quċċata Ewropea f’dan il-qasam.

Din l-aħbar issegwi dik li ħarġet ftit tal-jiem ilu meta pajjiżna għall-ewwel darba għamilha mal-aqwa għaxar destinazzjonijiet turistiċi għall-persuni LGBTIQ.

Source: one.com.mt

UK patient ‘free’ of HIV after stem cell treatment

A UK patient’s HIV has become “undetectable” following a stem cell transplant – in only the second case of its kind, doctors report in Nature.

The London patient, who was being treated for cancer, has now been in remission from HIV for 18 months and is no longer taking HIV drugs.

The researchers say it is too early to say the patient is “cured” of HIV.

Experts say the approach is not practical for treating most people with HIV but may one day help find a cure.

The male London patient, who has not been named, was diagnosed with HIV in 2003 and advanced Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2012.

He had chemotherapy to treat the Hodgkin’s cancer and, in addition, stem cells were implanted into the patient from a donor resistant to HIV, leading to both his cancer and HIV going into remission.

Researchers from University College London, Imperial College London, Cambridge and Oxford Universities were all involved in the case.

‘Not an anomaly’

This is the second time a patient treated this way has ended up in remission from HIV.

Ten years ago, another patient in Berlin received a bone-marrow transplant from a donor with natural immunity to the virus.

Timothy Brown, said to be the first person to “beat” HIV/Aids, was given two transplants and total body irradiation (radiotherapy) for leukaemia – a much more aggressive treatment.

“By achieving remission in a second patient using a similar approach, we have shown that the Berlin patient was not an anomaly and that it really was the treatment approaches that eliminated HIV in these two people,” said lead study author Prof Ravindra Gupta, from UCL.


Hope of a cure?

By BBC Online Health Editor, Michelle Roberts

Although the finding is exciting, it is not offering up a new treatment for the millions of people around the world living with HIV.

The aggressive therapy was primarily used to treat the patient’s cancer, not his HIV.

Current HIV therapies are really effective, meaning people with the virus can live long and healthy lives.

But the reason this case is so significant is that it could help experts who are looking for new ways to tackle HIV and achieve a cure.

Understanding how the body can naturally resist the infection does offer up hope of this, even if it is still a long way off.


Prof Eduardo Olavarria, also involved in the research, from Imperial College London, said the success of stem cell transplantation offered hope that new strategies could be developed to tackle the virus.

But he added: “The treatment is not appropriate as a standard HIV treatment because of the toxicity of chemotherapy, which in this case was required to treat the lymphoma.”

How does it work?

CCR5 is the most commonly used receptor by HIV-1 – the virus strain of HIV that dominates around the world – to enter cells.

But a very small number of people who are resistant to HIV have two mutated copies of the CCR5 receptor.

This means the virus cannot penetrate cells in the body that it normally infects.

The London patient received stem cells from a donor with this specific genetic mutation, which made him resistant to HIV as well.

But a reservoir of cells carrying HIV can still remain in the body, in a resting state, for many years.

The UK researchers say it may be possible to use gene therapy to target the CCR5 receptor in people with HIV, now they know the Berlin patient’s recovery was not a one-off.

Prof Graham Cooke, National Institute for Health Research research professor and reader in infectious diseases from Imperial College London, said the results were “encouraging”.

“If we can understand better why the procedure works in some patients and not others, we will be closer to our ultimate goal of curing HIV.

“At the moment the procedure still carries too much risk to be used in patients who are otherwise well.”

‘Potentially significant’

Dr Andrew Freedman, reader in infectious diseases and honorary consultant physician at Cardiff University, said it was an “interesting and potentially significant report”.

But he said much longer follow-up would be needed to ensure the virus did not re-emerge at a later stage.

“While this type of treatment is clearly not practical to treat the millions of people around the world living with HIV, reports such as these may help in the ultimate development of a cure for HIV.”

In the meantime, he said the focus needed to be on diagnosing HIV promptly and starting patients on lifelong combination antiretroviral therapy (cART).

This can prevent the virus being transmitted to others and give people with HIV a near-normal life expectancy.

Source: bbc.com

LGBT-inclusive relationship and sex education taught from 2020

Schools in England will teach LGBT-inclusive relationship and sex education starting 2020, the Department of Education announced on Monday (February 25).

The changes will be implemented as part of a reform of the school curricula which will add new subjects focusing on mental and physical health as well as relationship education.

The curriculum will adapt according to the pupils’ age—primary schools pupils will receive relationships education, while secondary school students will learn about relationships and sex education (RSE).

The sex education guidance has received its first update since 2000, discussing LGBT+ relationships and identities as well as issues such as sexting, FGM, and menstrual health.

Department of Education spokesperson told PinkNews that, at primary school level, pupils will be taught about various family models, including same-sex families. At secondary school, the curriculum will address LGBT+ issues, including how damaging stereotypes, including those based sexual orientation or gender, can be.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds stated: “Almost twenty years on from the last time guidance on sex education was updated, there is a lot to catch up on.

“Although sex education is only mandatory to teach at secondary, it must be grounded in a firm understanding and valuing of positive relationships, and respect for others, from primary age. In turn positive relationships are connected with good mental health, which itself is linked with physical wellbeing. So it is appropriate to make health education universal alongside relationships and sex education.”

The Department of Education has set aside a £6 million budget for the following school year to ensure teachers will be prepared to handle the new subjects in September 2020. The Department for Education will also provide support to early-adopter schools who will start teaching the new content from September 2019.

Source: pinknews.co.uk

Partner of Serbia’s gay PM gives birth to baby boy

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic’s partner gave a birth to a baby boy Wednesday, her office said, heralding it as a historic event although the conservative country does not legally recognise same-sex marriages or partnerships.

“Ana Brnabic is one of the first Prime Ministers whose partner has given birth while in office… and the first in the world in a same-sex couple,” her media office said in a statement.

“The delivery went well and both the mother and baby are doing fine,” it added.

According to local media, the boy was named Igor.

Brnabic, 43, became one of the few openly gay government leaders in the world when she came to power in June 2017.

But she has not been a vocal advocate on LGBT issues in a country where homophobia is widespread.

In February alone there have been at least two acts of vandalism at an LGBT centre in central Belgrade.

During an appearance at a Pride parade in Belgrade in 2017, Brnabic declined to comment on whether she would like to see same-sex marriage legalised in her country.

“I can’t give you my personal opinion right now because I’m here as the prime minister representing the Serbian government,” she said at the time.

Although the country has various legal acts addressing gender identity and anti-gay discrimination, rights activists say that implementation is poor.

A campaign for the adoption of a law on same-sex partnerships, for which activists hope to win the premier’s support, has not yet been successful.

Source: timesofmalta

Malta remains role model in EU for LGBT inclusivity

Malta has been a top-scorer in some of this year’s results in LGBT rights studies.

The island – often described as ‘gay-friendly’ – has always been seen to strive towards greater inclusivity for all ages, races and genders, through multiple forms of legislation that work towards furthering rights for the LGBT community.

Since Malta passed the Bill for same-sex marriage in 2017, the country has then gone on to make further progress.

Because of this, the island had another inspiring statistic to add to its ever-growing collection, which was released by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association in May.

It found that Malta scored over 91 per cent in the ILGA-Europe Rainbow Europe LGBTIQ Index, which places it at the top spot out of 49 countries, for a third consecutive year.

Malta was rated 100 per cent in categories such as Civil Society Space, Legal Gender Recognition and Bodily Integrity and Hate Crime and Hate Speech.

For the Equality & Non-Discrimination and Family categories, it received very positive results of 90 per cent and 89 per cent.

The island’s widespread accolades come from the public’s increased embracement of the gay community.  

A poll conducted in 2016 showed that 65 per cent of Maltese people were in favour of same-sex marriage, a huge rise from 18 per cent in similar findings back in 2006.

Many believe, however, that the awareness and inclusion of the LGBT community and those within such community, should begin at an early age.

Maltese schools are required to meet the Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act legislation launched in June 2015 by the Maltese government, which is a comprehensive education policy focused on the needs of trans, gender variant and intersex children.

Malta was rated 100 per cent in categories such as Civil Society Space

In a recent report from the LGBTIQ Inclusive Education Report, it said that “all young people have the right to education, but research shows that this is still far from being a reality for many LGBTIQ learners. We firmly believe that the LGBTIQ Education Index and Report can play a vital role in changing this.”

However, Malta seems to be a country that is making great changes to this idea, with it receiving perfect scores in nine out of 10 categories that the report analysed.

The categories included: anti-discrimination law applicable to education, inclusive national curricula, partnerships between governments and civil society, support systems, right to choose gender and teacher training on LGBTIQ awareness. While the Maltese education system is facilitating LGBTIQ curricula and policies, some countries are still far behind such progressions.

The report showed that some countries such as Armenia, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Moldova, Poland received scores of zero out of 10, have no regulation or policies to tackle bullying and harassment and promote inclusivity.

There was even a case in Azerbaijan where a psychologist hit a child in front of the parents, because of their toy preferences and the report says that incidents such as this “shows clearly the oppositional position of Azerbaijani government regarding LGBT rights”.

Source: independent.com.mt

Gender Incongruence removed from Mental Health Chapter through ICD 11

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has announced that, through the International Classification of Diseases 11, Gender Incongruence, previously Gender Dysphoria, will no longer be considered a mental health issue, but one of sexual health.

The WHO’s Coordinator of the Department of Reproductive Health and Research Dr Lale Say explained, “It was taken out of Mental Health Disorders because we had better understanding this wasn’t actually a mental health condition, and leaving it there was causing stigma. And in order to reduce the stigma, while also insuring access to medical health interventions, this was placed to the Sexual Health chapter in the new ICD.”

Say added that this decision was based on the review of existing evidence from the scientific and concerned communities.

Community manager for Allied Rainbow Communities (ARC) Clayton Mercieca viewed this as a positive. He is, however, unhappy that this still stigmatises trans and non-binary persons considering it still pathologises these identities.

“We believe that such persons should be given full right and freedom to determine their gender identity without medical assessment”, he said, adding that ARC believes trans individuals should still be given the necessary treatment without being pathologised, “in order to live the identity they determine themselves to be.”

In July 2016, Julia Ehrt, executive director of Transgender Europe, suggested that the childhood diagnoses be removed from the ICD 11. She said: “Children need the freedom to be who they are. But before puberty there is no need for medical treatment and therefore no need for inclusion in the ICD.”

Responding to this, Mercieca said that children as young as five have shown a desire to change their gender. “In this regard they should be given full social and emotional support by their parents and school, and this includes giving them the freedom to choose the uniforms they wish to wear and be assigned to schools of the gender with which they indentify”.

The Malta Independent on Sunday contacted the Health Ministry for comments on whether this change would affect current care procedures and guidelines and, seeing that it is no longer considered a mental illness, would this have any effect on state-funded care.

In reply, the Ministry clarified that “Malta has become a beacon for other countries with respect to LGBTIQ rights. To this effect, the Government’s policy on transgender services is in line with the re-classification of gender incongruence.”

The Nationalist Party did not respond to a request for comment on the issue.

Source: independent.com.mt

US Supreme Court backs baker who refused to bake a cake for gay couple

Court says state panel violated baker’s religious rights

The US. Supreme Court on Monday handed a victory on narrow grounds to a Colorado Christian baker who refused for religious reasons to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, stopping short of setting a major precedent allowing people to claim exemptions from anti-discrimination laws based on religious beliefs.

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Malta Becomes First European Nation To Ban Gay Conversion Therapy

The practice is now deemed a “deceptive and harmful” act.

Malta has made history.

The island nation has become the first country in Europe to ban gay conversion therapy.

On Dec. 5, the Maltese parliament approved the Affirmation of Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Gender Expression Bill, which criminalizes so-called “gay cure” therapy as a “deceptive and harmful” act.

The bill defines the practice as any “which aims to change, repress or eliminate a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.”

It also affirms that “no sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression constitutes a disorder, disease or shortcoming of any sort.”

Counselors, therapists or religious leaders prescribing or advertising the therapy will be fined between €1,000 and €5,000 (roughly $1,075 to $5,377 USD) or receive five months in jail, Malta Today reports.

Catholicism is the official religion of Malta and the religion plays a major role in the passage of the country’s laws. For instance, the country didn’t legalize divorce until 2011.  

In 2013, however, voters brought a social democratic government, the Labor Party, to power. The party is liberal, enabling the government to pass more progressive laws.

In 2014, Maltese parliament approved a bill that grants marriage rights to LGBTQ couples, including the possibility to adopt children.

A spokesperson from the Malta Chamber of Psychologists, which played a part in drafting the recently passed bill, told Malta Today that it is proud of its role in helping to outlaw a practice it considers inhumane.

“As a body we promote respect and equality for all persons, and are determined to continue working towards ensuring our clients can enjoy as safe a therapeutic experience as they deserve.”

In the same session, Parliament also passed amendments to the country’s Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act. The changes made will now allow anyone who is 16 years or older to have their gender legally changed without parental approval or having to file an application in court.

Source: huffingtonpost.com