Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Pink News: Comment: Chemsex is causing a disproportionate amount of harm for gay men

1st April 2014, 11:46 AM by Monty Moncrieff

The use of crystal meth is on the rise

The Chief Executive of London Friend, Monty Moncrieff, gives his response to a recent study on drug use in the gay community and says chemsex could be contributing to a rise in HIV infection rates.

Last Friday our Antidote team attended the launch of a new report examining ‘chemsex’ trends amongst men who have sex with men (MSM). Chemsex is a term used to describe the use of drugs to engage in sex and is a word increasingly being associated with the trends we see in men accessing Antidote, our specialist LGBT drug & alcohol support service.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Guardian: LGBT retirement home: the end of the rainbow


Europe’s first LGBT retirement home, a modest 80s apartment block in Stockholm, gives gay people a friendly place in which to grow old. It’s the start of a growing trend, discovers Eleanor Margolis

The Observer, Sunday 27 July 2014 by Eleanor Margolis

As you might expect of a Stockholm suburb on a Sunday, not very much is happening in Gärdet. Despite its staunchly liberal values Sweden is a Christian country, and the shops and cafés near the station are almost aggressively shut. Aside from one elderly man puffing on a pipe, the streets are empty. An expanse of identikit 80s apartment block screams “Nordic noir” but doesn’t so much as whisper “gay”. Certainly there is nothing to suggest that this is the setting of Europe’s first LGBT retirement community.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Sunday Circle: Here come the Brides: Inside Malta's First Civil Union

July 16, 2014 by Philip Leone-Ganado

With the introduction of Civil Unions in Malta last April, same-sex couples can for the first time have their relationships legally recognised. Philip Leone-Ganado meets the very first couple to tie the knot

Kristina Galea Cavallazzi and Clara Borg first met ten years ago, when Clara’s mother, a colleague of Kristina’s, asked her whether she could find summer work for Clara and a friend at the café’ Kristina owned in Attard. Clara, then a law student, started work during the European Championships of 2004 (as Kristina, a self-confessed football fanatic, remembers it) and continued until she finished University – over which time the two grew increasingly close. Eight years later, on Clara’s 30th birthday, the couple exchanged rings, and on June 13 this year they tied the knot during a ceremony at Ta’ Cenc Hotel in Gozo, surrounded by their family and friends.

So far, nothing unusual – except that with their exchange of vows, Kristina and Clara became the very first same-sex couple to enter into a civil union in Malta since the law came into effect last April. “To be honest, it’s not something we thought would ever be possible in our lifetimes,” says Kristina. “But we always said that if the law ever went through, we’d just go for it.”

“We were in Germany on holiday with both our families when the news came through,” says Clara, “and our parents brought champagne over to the table to celebrate. We thought: why wait? At this point in our relationship, there was nothing to think about.” As soon as they could, the couple got in touch with Clara’s cousin, Sarah Young, a wedding planner, and asked for her next availability – which happened to be Friday 13. “That’s a bit…you know,” Clara laughs. “But I said let’s go for it. We always did things slightly differently, so even that was fitting for our relationship.”

Although the couple were aware from the moment they registered that they were making history, they were adamant that their wedding should be no different to that of any other couple: a celebration, first and foremost, of their love. Thanks to Sarah they managed to organise their dream celebration in just six weeks. “Without her it would definitely not have been possible,” Kristina says.

The ceremony at Mgarr ix-Xini (Photography: Ben Camille)

The ceremony took place in the beautiful surroundings of Kantra, overlooking Mġarr ix-Xini. Kristina and Clara both arrived with their parents, and after their parents had taken their seats, the couple walked down the aisle together. The words spoken were similar to those of any other civil ceremony, and after an exchange of rings and vows, the newly-weds joined their friends and family in celebrating the occasion.

“We each danced with our fathers first, then we had a short dance together, and then we called the rest to join in,” Kristina recalls. Clara is quick to add: “Spending two minutes with the spotlight just on us was a bit nerve-wracking, so we tried to make it as short as possible.”

There were, of course, a few personal touches to the evening. The cake-topper, for example, featuring two women, had to be custom-made and flown in from the US. And Kristina had a pair of rainbow-coloured shoes made for the occasion. “Which I wore after we cut the cake, of course,” she cuts in as Clara tells the story.

But as for their aim of ensuring that the evening was first and foremost about their love, that was never in question. “Throughout the whole evening there was this feeling of happiness and love,” says Clara. “Everyone was having a good time and showing their love for us. That was very important to me.”

“I think the magical part of the actual exchange of vows is what will stay with me the most,” Kristina adds. “Remember, people in our situation would not have thought this would be possible. So being able to stand there and say those words and exchange rings in front of our families will remain with me. The party was great, but it could have been any party. That moment will stay with me.”

Both Kristina and Clara admit that they were surprised at how matter-of-fact everyone they encountered in the run-up to the wedding was about the whole affair. And yet in some regards it was a new experience for everyone involved.

“Well, the make-up artists and hair dressers had double the work,” Clara laughs. “They actually commented that usually when they’re doing the bride, they’re wondering whether the groom will like it, whereas since we were both in the room together, we could give feedback as we went along. We also went to the dressmaker together: we chose each other’s dresses and had them done in a way that they would complement each other’s.”

So what does marriage – and the fact of having been able to get married – mean to the newly-weds? “It puts a seal on a relationship that we’ve always lived as a couple,” says Kristina. “We’ve been living together for 4 or 5 years, but if something had happened – if I were in hospital and Clara needed to visit, she shouldn’t need to ask for permission. These things make a difference. As far as our relationship is concerned, nothing really changes. But now we’re recognised as a couple.”

“The process of organising the Civil Union has itself actually brought the families closer,” says Clara. “And to a certain extent, it gave us a feeling of authenticity. For our parents, seeing guests coming over and showing their love was a reassurance that their kids are loved… irrespective of anything else. That helps us, it helps them, and it’s brought us all closer.”

“This wasn’t just a couple getting married,” says Kristina. “It was a couple being able to do so – finally – in their own country. It was a sense of belonging to your roots and being accepted by them, rather than having to run away from them to achieve your dream.”

Telegraph: HIV: 'the WHO is perpetuating gay stereotypes'

The World Health Organisation has recommended that all gay men take antiretroviral drugs to stop the spread of HIV, but surely education - not more drugs - is the answer

10:37AM BST 15 Jul 2014, by Patrick McAleenan

'A more relaxed attitude to HIV is not exclusive to the gay community' Photo: Alamy


Anything else you’d like us to take responsibility for? Famine in Africa? Umemployment statistics? Binge drinking in Magaluf?

Being gay can often feel like the world is against you, and yet again the planet’s HIV epidemic is being firmly placed on our shoulders. I’m talking about the news that the World Health Organisation has announced for the first time that men who have sex with men should take antiretroviral drugs, in a bid to try and contain the growing rates of HIV in gay communities around the world. That’s all men who have sex with men. No mention of men who have sex with women. Are they all suddenly having safe sex?

El Pais: “People who say homosexuals are sick are sick themselves”


Raúl Vera is the Mexican bishop who holds the record for death threats. He has survived more than one attempt on his life, and his work in favor of missing persons, immigrants, children and juveniles, indigenous populations, prostitutes and pariahs of all types has earned him the undying hatred of many, including the drug rings.

Yet the threats seem to leave no mark on him. An engineer by trade and an intellectual son of May 1968, the 69-year-old Dominican friar has forged himself a legend as an untamed soul.

His first test came in 1995 when Juan Pablo II sent him to Chiapas in the middle of the Zapatista effervescence. His mission: to bring order to the diocese of San Cristóbal de las Casas, which was then headed by the charismatic Samuel Ruiz, a champion of liberation theology and supporter of pro-indigenous theories. But the man who was supposed to wrest power away from the unruly Ruiz and return the diocese to the path of conservatism ended up supporting the local clergy instead.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

BBC News: Healthy gay men urged to take HIV drugs - WHO

11 July 2014 Last updated at 13:16 GMT
By Smitha Mundasad, Health reporter, BBC News

Antiretroviral drugs are more widely used to treat people who are already infected with HIV

The World Health Organization (WHO) is urging all sexually active gay men to take antiretroviral drugs to reduce the spread of HIV.

The organisation says the move may help prevent a million new HIV infections over 10 years.

BBC News: HIV re-emerges in 'cured' Mississippi girl

10 July 2014 Last updated at 20:44 GMT

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) attacks the immune system

A baby girl in the US born with HIV and believed cured after very early treatment has now been found to still harbour the virus.

Tests last week on the four-year-old child from Mississippi indicate she is no longer in remission, say doctors.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Times: Annual gay parade celebrates recognition granted to same-sex couples

Friday, July 11, 2014, 20:19

Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

Malta’s gay community this evening held its annual Gay Pride Parade in Valletta on the theme “Family: Where Love Matters More”.

Carrying posters and colourful balloons, participants in this year’s parade celebrated the passing of the Civil Unions Act and the legal recognition it grants same-sex couples and their families.

The community is holding a series of other activities this week, all aimed at celebrating its achievements.

Malta Today: Gay pride march 2014 'a celebration of the family'

This year's gay pride week celebrates the family and the legal recognition of gay couples

11 July 2014, 9:24pm by Miriam Dalli,

Gay pride 2014 is a celebration of the family and the recognition of an LGBTI person to love, gay rights activists said.

Although the number of attendees to this year's gay pride march do not compare to the bigger numbers registered during past marches, the smaller numbers did not mar the strong sense of happiness and joy.
Also noticeable was the increase in attendance by representatives of the Nationalist Party.
Activists also urged legislators to enact the gender identity bill.

Guardian: Children of same-sex couples healthier, says Australian study

But researchers warn the stigma associated with parents' sexual orientation is an ongoing challenge for children
Australian Associated Press, Monday 7 July 2014 02.27 BST

The children were equivalent to those from the general population on measures of temperament and mood, behaviour, mental health and self-esteem. Photograph: Queerstock, Inc./Alamy

Children of same-sex couples experience higher levels of general health and family cohesion than those from traditional families, a study shows. But the researchers warn that the stigma associated with their parents' sexual orientation is an ongoing challenge for these children.

Researchers from the University of Melbourne surveyed 315 same-sex parents with a total of 500 children. About 80% of the children have female parents, while 18% have male parents.