From Uganda to the US, it was a year of highs and lows for the global LGBTI community. Alex Dunkin revisits the people and events that made headlines around the world.
‘Transphobic’ tampon ad causes a stir
An New Zealand ad by tampon brand Libra caused a stir and was labelled by many as ‘transphobic’. The commercial featured a blond woman and a drag queen competitively adjusting themselves in a nightclub bathroom. It ends with the blond actress pulling out a tampon, much to the drag queen’s chagrin, implied that the tampon-holder was a real woman. Despite the uproar, however, the country’s national regulators dismissed complaints made to them about the commercial.
‘Kills the Gays’ bill gathers momentum
The anti-gay sentiment in Uganda reared its head early with the return of the ‘Kill the Gays’ bill and the Minister for Ethics and Integrity gate crashing a pro-gay event. The reintroduction and movement of the bill has been closely followed all year with international pressure forcing Uganda to remove the death penalty clause. The bill still maintains harsh prison sentences for some homosexual acts and is being rushed through by the parliamentary speaker as a “Christmas gift” to anti-gay supporters.
Clementi accused found guilty
The legal case of Tyler Clementi came to a head with Dharun Ravi found guilty of the bullying which ultimately led to Clementi’s suicide. There were a total of 15 charges including bias intimidation, invasion of privacy and other charges surrounding the setup of a camera to film Clementi engaging in sexual acts with another man. Ravi later posted the film online and encouraged others on Twitter to watch. While the case sparked international outrage, it put the spotlight on anti-gay bullying and harassment.
Miss Universe pageant contestant expelled
Continuing on from late March was the saga surrounding the Miss Universe pageant and the expulsion of Jenna Talackova when it was discovered she was not “naturally born female”. A petition launched soon after calling for her reinstatement received over 30,000 signatures and led to the decision being overturned. Later Talackova used her newfound celebrity to lead the successful campaign to have transgenderism removed from the World Health Organisation’s mental disorder list.
Lesbian scout leader dismissed
The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) was heavily criticised following the dismissal of a troop leader, Jennifer Tyrrell, for being a lesbian. Over a quarter of a million people signed an online petition to have the Ohio woman reinstated as the pack leader of her then seven-year-old son’s troop. The BSA rejected the petition and upheld the decision which they say was made after a complaint against Tyrrell had been forwarded to them. Tyrrell believed the timing of the decision was questionable as she had recently raised queries about the troops finances after becoming treasurer.
Global hunt for ‘Canadian Psycho’
The so-called ‘Canadian Psycho’ was on the run in Europe after allegedly murdering his lover with an ice-pick, eating and dismembering the body while filming the incident to later be placed online. The 29-year-old man, later identified as Luka Rocco Magnotta, is a former prostitute and gay porn star, was on the run in France after the murder. French locals recognised Magnotta from the news forcing him to flee to Germany where he was eventually detained.
‘I’m gay’: Anderson Cooper
Revered US journalist Anderson Cooper found himself in the headlines when he publicly disclosed his sexuality for the first time – “I’m gay, I always have been, always will be”. His admission would eventually inspire others, with former Australian Olympian citing Cooper’s actions as one of the reasons why he decided to be open about his HIV status.
Madonna provokes Russian authorities
Pop star Madonna caused a stir in St Petersburg for publicly protesting their homophobic laws during a concert. A $10 million fine was placed against the singer under the city’s anti-gay propaganda laws but later dropped following a scathing criticism levelled against the city by the UN for their anti-gay laws. Conservative Russian activists then failed in their attempt to sue the pop star for handing out pink wrist bands and asking the crowd to hold them up in support which they considered to be promoting homosexuality in the presence of minors.
Controversy over football kiss
Homophobia in sports and online were revealed on several occasions during the month when an American college footballer was forced to miss his first game after being caught kissing his much-older boyfriend and then lying about it to team officials. Shortly after baseball player Yunel Escobar decided as “a joke” to write a homophobic slur in Spanish on his eye-black strips that are used to reduce sun glare. The seeming month of homophobia finished off with the announcement from Twitter that the word “faggot” had been used 2.5 million times on the social media site since July 5 2012.
Pastor blames Hurricane Sandy on gays
Figure heads from religious organisations made plenty of waves throughout the year, but none gathered attention more than US evangelical preacher John McTernan, who blamed Hurricane Sandy on LGBT people. On the flip side, however, was Italian priest Don Mario Bonfanti from the town of Pagnano near Milan, who posted on Facebook that he is “a happy gay priest”. Soon after controversial evangelical US pastor Ted Haggard, the man at the centre of a gay sex scandal in 2006, shocked the world by coming out in support of gay marriage.
The re-election of US President Barrack Obama provided the global LGBTI community with plenty of cause for hope and optimism, in light of the President’s public support for marriage equality and equal rights. Moreover, the elections also saw the first openly gay politician elected to the US Senate and popular votes to allow same-sex marriage in four states, which many saw as a sign of things to come.
[Images] Barack Obama at his victory party in Chicago in November; disqualified Miss Universe contestant, transgender model Jenna Talackova, displays her passport which recognises her gender as female; and Luke Magnotta, dubbed 'Canadian Psycho', was apprehended in June. Photos: Getty Images; Montreal Police Service