04 FEB 2016:As much as Pride events around the world continue to be a voice for some in the LGBT community to raise awareness of political issues, for others it’s also a great party atmosphere. Similarly, politics often go hand-in-hand when this community makes decisions on where to travel. 

For instance, there aren’t many individuals who would choose to travel to a destination where homosexuality is still punishable by lengthy jail terms, or even death. As well, to a far lesser extreme, destinations known for their discriminatory practices most likely will fall lower on the scale of travel lists than those with anti-discriminatory laws in place. Rainbow Roundup aims to provide a good mix of global politics and parties to help travellers plan their next getaway.

Here in North America we are perceived to be more accepting and open to diversity, and here in Canada for the most part that seems to be the case. However, our neighbours south of the border have quite a different situation to contend with. According to a recent Human Rights Campaign (HRC) report, anti-LGBT bills are likely to be considered in nearly 30 states across America this year. The report noted that many of the anti-LGBT bills introduced last year are still pending, while new anti-equality bills may be introduced in other states that are based around issues such as the right to religious freedom, marriage equality, and adoption rights.

In 2016, HRC expects state legislatures to consider anti-equality measures in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

‘Oklahoma is regrettably leading the nation in the number of bills attacking LGBT people, their families, and visitors in the 2016 legislative session,’ said Human Rights Campaign Legal Director Sarah Warbelow.

On the upside, there are campaigns in many states including Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio and Pennsylvania to amend existing state anti-discrimination laws to protect against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. According to a new Gallup poll, 60% of Americans say they are satisfied with the acceptance of gays and lesbians in the United States. As recently as 10 years ago, satisfaction was as low as 32%.

Here’s the January Rainbow Roundup of news that happened around the world this past month.

North and Latin America

The Indiana state tourism office, Visit Indy, estimated that their state lost as much as US $60 million in tourism revenue from both individual and group travel last year due to the controversy surrounding the state's freedom of religion law, that was perceived as a direct attack on the LGBT community. Furthermore, Visit Indy estimates that the actual amount of money lost could be far greater because fewer convention prospects are currently in negotiations compared to years past.

So you would think a lesson be learned, but it seems that’s not the case for some. In retaliation to the Supreme Court decision allowing same-sex marriage, Indiana Republican state representative Jim Lucas has introduced legislation that would abolish state issued marriage licenses altogether, and replace them with private contracts.

Then there’s Republican Senator Jim Tomes, who has filed a bill which would fine people $5,000 dollars or one year in jail for using the incorrect washroom. The bill would effectively ban any toilets that aren’t designated ‘male’ or ‘female’. You would think steps should be taken to make individual-stall unisex washrooms a given option, for parents taking their child to the washroom, an elderly or disabled person who may need assistance, or a transgendered individual not having to make the choice between the two gender specific washrooms.

New state legislation unveiled earlier this month in Missouri would expand the current process of data collection that police officers are required to follow during random stops, to include not just race, but also perceived sexual orientation, as well as religion, disability, and English language proficiency. What makes this quite bizarre is that this provision is part of a bill that would ban police profiling of racial and other minorities, including LGBT people. A similar bill was introduced around the same time in, you guessed it, Indiana.

GOP Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott proposed nine new amendments to the US Constitution that maybe aimed toward last year’s Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage. Two of these are to:

1. Allow a two-thirds majority of the states to override a US Supreme Court decision, and

2. Require a seven-justice super-majority vote for US Supreme Court decisions that invalidate a democratically enacted law.

Alabama’s Chief Justice Roy Moore ordered all probate judges to ignore the US Supreme Court’s ruling that legalized gay marriage nationwide.

Legendary filmmaker John Waters drag character, Divine, is poised to get a monument in her honour in her home town of Baltimore. A local business owner has set forth a proposal to the city to have the monument made from concrete and marble and stand eight feet tall in the city centre. That’s eight feet in heels!

With the recent addition of the state of Jalisco, LGBT couples can now marry in six of the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico, after yet another Supreme Court ruling in favour of equal marriage. It now seems possible that any state contesting the ban on same-sex marriage will likely be overrode by the Supreme Court, paving the way for national equality throughout the country. Same-sex marriage was already legal in Mexico City, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nayarit and Quintana Roo and all Mexican states must recognize the legality of same-sex marriages performed in those states whether or not their state performs same-sex marriages.

European Union

As of January 01, Estonia became the first and only ex-Soviet state to recognize gay partnerships via same-sex civil unions, although laws pertaining to divorce, inheritance and other practical matters are not yet in place.

Switzerland has introduced adoption legislation for same-sex couples that would be able to apply for the adoption of stepchildren into their family, and could also extend to couples who conceived with the help of a surrogate. All is not such great news however, as the country could also define marriage as exclusively between man and woman in a referendum at the end of February.

Berlin has announced plans to open a shelter exclusively housing LGBT refugees after a reported spike in violence. Amsterdam opened a similar facility last year.

Same-sex couples in Greece can now enter into civil unions as of the beginning of the year.

Both supporters and opponents of measures to legalize same-sex civil unions in Italy took to the streets to demonstrate each their view points, prior to a senate debate the end of this month which is expected to pass in favour. Italy remains the last Western European country that has no legal protection for same-sex couples.


After a defeat in Parliament, a Congressman in India is trying to build public support for the campaign to decriminalise gay sex that stems from an 1800’s colonial law. As well, India’s first LGBT taxi service, Rainbow Wings, was launched as a pilot program this month in Mumbai, with individuals now undergoing etiquette training to obtain their driving licence. The service is expected to start fully functioning in 2017. Operating under Wings Travels taxi service, the company plans to launch similar programs in the eight other cities it services.

A report on anti-gay discrimination in Hong Kong was released on December 31, and among the recommendations put forward were sensitivity training for public employees, a government charter on non-discrimination for voluntary adoption by employers, and a publicity campaign. However, it fell short of calling for legislative protections for LGBTI people. Leung Chun-Kwong, a gay male official in Hong Kong’s civil service is suing the autonomous territory over its refusal to recognize his same-sex marriage from abroad.

The Court of Appeal in Lebanon has said trans people can legally change their gender, and as such the judge’s ruling sets a precedent confirming the legal rights of trans people. The decision confirmed three basic rights in the ruling: The right to change gender to relieve psychological and social suffering, the right to access treatment for gender conditions and the right to privacy.

Two men were arrested and detained in Morocco after a video of them kissing at school caused outrage on local social media platforms. This follows the arrest of two other men charged with the same kissing offence last June. Convictions can result in up to three years in prison.

Russia’s State Duma wants to ban people from coming out as gay, and are calling for a law that would allow male individuals to be jailed for up to 15 days. The proposed bill is only targeting gay men, as according to the lawmakers, women are more ‘reasonable’ and can ‘manage their emotions’. The bill is being presented because the current law banning the promotion of non-traditional relationships and Pride celebrations is not ‘effective’ enough.

Gay and Lesbian Tourism Australia (GALTA) has revealed a new initiative, ‘Visit Gay Australia’ to target the LGBT market in hopes of increasing tourism. Upcoming projects include social media activities and a new website, to be launched during Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in February.


Utah Gay Ski Weekend – Feb 18 to 21, 2016 www.utahgayskiweek.com

Sydney Mardi Gras – Feb 19 to Mar 6, 2016 www.mardigras.org.au

Cape Town Pride – Feb 19 to 28, 2016 www.capetownpride.org

Miami Winter Party – Mar 2 to 7, 2016 www.winterparty.com



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