US Considering Placing Restrictions On Visas For Ugandan Officials Over Anti-Gay Law 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has stated that the United States is considering restricting visas for some Ugandan officials after the nation adopted what is being referred to as one of the world’s toughest anti-LGBTQ laws. 

Blinken has stated that the US was “deeply troubled” by Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act, which had been signed into law by President Yoweri Museveni this past Monday. 

Same-sex relationships have been illegal in Uganda for a while now, however, this new law states that acts of “aggravated homosexuality and/or promoting homosexuality” will lead to a capital punishment of potentially 20 years in prison. 

Embed from Getty Images

US President Joe Biden condemned the law as a “tragic violation of universal human rights,” and even threatened to stop providing aid and investing in Uganda, while urging the nation to repeal the measure. 

Blinken continued his statement to discuss how the US would “consider deploying existing visa restrictions tools against Ugandan officials and other individuals for abuse of universal human rights, including the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons.” 

“Washington will also help develop mechanisms to support the rights of LGBTQI+ individuals in Uganda and to promote accountability for Ugandan officials and other individuals responsible for, or complicit in, abusing their human rights.”

Adrian Jjuuko, the executive director of the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Fund, announced Monday that they would be filing a legal challenge with Uganda’s High Court, arguing the newest laws are “blatantly unconstitutional.” 

Embed from Getty Images

“By criminalizing what we call consensual same-sex activity among adults, it goes against key provisions of the constitution including rights on equality and non-discrimination,” said Jjuuko.

Additionally, The European Union, United Kingdom, UNAIDS, the Global Fund, various human rights groups and LGBTQ+ organizations have expressed their disdain and shock at the adoption of the law. 

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria released a joint statement with UNAIDS, as well as the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief: “Trust, confidentiality, and stigma-free engagement are essential for anyone seeking healthcare.”

“LGBTQI+ people in Uganda increasingly fear for their safety and security, and increasing numbers of people are being discouraged from seeking vital health services for fear of attack, punishment and further marginalization.”

“Uganda’s failure to safeguard the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons is part of a broader degradation of human rights protections that puts Ugandan citizens at risk and damages the country’s reputation as a destination for investment, development, tourism and refugees,” Blinken said.


The New “A League of Their Own” Remake TV Show Doesn’t Shy Away From Strong Reputation

The recent Amazon Prime remake “A League of Their Own” demonstrated the highs and lows of what life was like in the 1940s as being a Black transgender man.


Singapore To Repeal Law Banning Gay Sex, ‘A Win For Humanity’

Singapore will repeal a law that bans gay sex in the city-state, effectively making it legal to be homosexual, which activists are calling a “win for humanity.”


Ugandan Government Shuts Down LGBT+ Organization, Members Call The Move A ‘Clear Witch Hunt’ 

Uganda’s government this week decided to shut down operations of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), a non-governmental organization that works on improving LGBT+ rights in the nation. The government released a statement in which they explained that the group was operating illegally in the country. 

Members of SMUG responded by calling the move a “witch hunt” against the LGBT+ community. 

Embed from Getty Images

Uganda’s National Bureau for Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO Bureau) said Friday the “group operated without being registered in the NGO Bureau.” The group initially tried to register in 2012, but was rejected “on grounds of being undesirable.”

SMUG members released a statement this past Friday stating that the choice to shut down the group’s operations was a “clear witch-hunt rooted in systematic homophobia that is fueled by anti-gay and anti-gender movements.” 

“The refusal to legalize SMUG’s operation that seeks to protect LGBTQ people who continue to face major discrimination in Uganda, actively encouraged by political and religious leaders, was a clear indicator that the government of Uganda and its agencies are adamant and treating Ugandan gender and sexual minorities as second-class citizens,” the group stated

“The government should uphold their obligations to protect all Ugandans regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, expression, and sex characteristics.”

Embed from Getty Images

Uganda is no stranger to anti-LGBT+ policies and laws. In 2009 the nation introduced an anti-homoseuality bill that included a death sentence for gay sex. Lawmakers in the country passed another bill in 2014 that replaced the death penalty punishment with a proposal for life in prison. 

That law was ultimately struck down, but lawmakers have attempted to reintroduce it in more recent years. 

Uganda is known as a socially conservative country, beyond just their restrictions to the LGBT+ community. In 2014 they introduced the Anti-Pornography Act which banned mini-skirts, and arrested victims who were subject to revenge porn. 

LGBT+ community members in Uganda face arrest, assault, and overall persecution for their identity.

Disney Refusing To Cut LGBTQ Scene In Doctor Strange 2 For Saudi Arabia

An official from Saudi Arabia has said that while the nation is not planning on banning Doctor Strange 2 for its inclusion of a 12-second scene referring to a lesbian character, they’re still trying to get Marvel to cut the scene.

Hungary Fines Bookshop Chain Over Picture Books Depicting LGBT+ Families 

The bookshop chain known as Líra Könyv in Hungary has been fined by the government for selling a children’s book that depicts the day in the life of a child with same-sex parents. Government officials are condemning the bookstore for featuring the families so prominently in their store. 

The picture book is called “Micsoda család!”, and is a Hungarian translation that combines two titles by US author Lawrence Schimel and illustrator Elīna Brasliņa. One of the original books was called “Early One Morning,” and depicted a young boy’s daily routine with his two mothers, and the other was called “Bedtime, Not Playtime!” and showed a young girl with two fathers who’s reluctant to go to bed; so basically depicting normal family life with a young child. 

The chain was fined 250,000 forints, which is equivalent to around $600, by Pest County, which is the local authority for all businesses located in the areas surrounding Budapest. Pest County commissioner Richard Tarnai told a local television station that the book chain violated rules on unfair commercial practices by failing to clearly indicate that the book “contained content which deviates from the norm.” 

Embed from Getty Images

“The book was there among other fairytale books and thus committed a violation. There is no way of knowing that this book is about a family that is different from a normal family.”

Schimel immediately took to Twitter to speak out against the Hungarian government and Tarnai in general. 

“The Hungarian government is trying to normalize hate and prejudice with these concerted attacks against books like mine, which represent for kids the plural and diverse world they live in,” he exclaimed.

“The idea for the books was to celebrate queer families, to put more queer joy into the world, so that the only books available to children weren’t about conflicts”.

“In these stories, the fact that the parents are two moms or two dads is incidental to the story, as it is to the daily lives of children in rainbow families. These families don’t only experience homophobia, they also have fun,” he said.

Líra Könyv said that it would “now put up a sign warning customers that we sell books with different content than traditional ones,” as per request of the government and to avoid further fining in the middle of a global pandemic that’s impacting businesses everywhere.  The book’s Hungarian distributor, Foundation for Rainbow Families, released a statement in response to this fining as well:

Embed from Getty Images

“Rainbow families are completely normal, ordinary families. These families haven’t had their own story book so far. That’s why we thought it was important to publish a fairytale book about them – and first of all for them.”

Schimel claimed that he “was more determined to keep trying to create books like these, that respect the intelligence of children and offer the vast, complex world to them in fun and accessible ways.” 

The fine was imposed under a Hungarian law that bans all unfair trading practice, which has been known to specifically target LGBT+ rights in Hungary. In fact, this Thursday the Hungarian government will be implementing a new law which bans LGBT+ people from being featured in educational materials, or TV shows for children under 18.

It’s expected that the European Parliment will be condemning this law and calling upon the European commission to fast-track a legal case against Hungary over human rights violations and discrimination against LGBT+ people. 

The Hungarian Publishers’ and Booksellers’ Association has already condemned the law itself, labelling it as “unacceptable.” 

“The law creates conditions for restricting freedom of the arts and speech. Several masterpieces of world and Hungarian literature that are currently used in the secondary school curriculum, including Sappho, Ovid, Thomas Mann, Marcel Proust, Mihály Babits and Sándor Weöres could come under the ban.”

The Oscars

The Oscars Announce New Diversity Requirements For ‘Best Picture’ Eligibility 

Within the past few years, the Oscars have come under major fire for their lack of diversity in nominations across all categories. Some may remember the many times that “#OscarsSoWhite” began trending shortly after the nomination lists were announced. It’s been a similar pattern among all of the major award ceremonies, but now, the Oscars are attempting to right some of their past wrongs with a list of new “representation and inclusion requirements” for films nominated for Best Picture. 

This past Tuesday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that movies in the Big Picture category will only receive the nomination if they check off every box on their list of new representation standards. The Academy recently released a statement regarding these new standards which will be a part of the Academy Aperture 2025 initiative. 

Embed from Getty Images

“These standards were designed to encourage equitable representation on and off screen in order to better reflect the diversity of the movie-going audience.” 

The 2020 Oscars in particular received major backlash for a huge lack of diversity within all categories. Even in terms of gender equality, one third- of the nominations were women – a step up from years past – however, there were no female nominees for Best Director, despite the fact that a majority of the year’s most popular films were directed by women. The most staggering aspect of this past year’s ceremony was the fact that only one person of color was nominated for one of the acting categories. 

These new standards for diversity will begin to be phased in with the 94th Oscar ceremony in 2022. For the years in between, a confidential Academy Inclusion Standards form will be submitted for any film that’s eligible for Best Picture, however, the form isn’t a list of requirements. Starting in 2024, films will have “to meet two out of four newly created standards to be eligible for Best Picture.”

Embed from Getty Images

The standards are listed by categories A through D, with subcategories. Standard A discusses on-screen representation, themes, and narratives, specifically, at least one of the lead actors must be from an underrepresented racial or ethnic group (which they go on to list), and at least 30% of all “actors in secondary and more minor roles are at least from two underrepresented groups.” The main storyline must also center around an underrepresented group: women, racial/ethnic groups, LGBTQ+ community, individuals with cognitive or physical disabilities. 

Standard B covers more of the behind the scenes making of a film. This standard claims that at least two of the following leadership positions must be done by an individual in an underrepresented group: Casting Director, Cinematographer, Composer, Costume Designer, Director, Editor, Hairstylist, Makeup Artist, Producer, Production Designer, Set Decorator, Sound, VFX Supervisor, Writer. The standard then gets more specific with other level positions on set. 

Standard C regards “industry access and opportunities,” meaning that any film’s financial sector must pay apprentices and interns who are members of underrepresented groups, as well as ensuring they have a multitude of substantive, ongoing paid apprenticeships/internships inclusive of underrepresented groups. 

Finally, Standard D discusses overall audience development. According to the standards subcategories, “the studio and/or film company has multiple in-house senior executives from underrepresented groups on their marketing, publicity, and/or distribution teams.” To read all the specifics of the Academy’s new Best Picture requirements, click here.

HuLu App

Why ‘Shrill’ Needs To Be The Next Show You Watch

You may know Aidy Bryant as one of the main cast members of Saturday Night Live, but have you seen her criminally underrated Hulu show Shrill yet? Shrill follows Bryant’s character, Annie, as she goes through the trials and tribulations of adult life as a plus-sized woman working as a writer in the city of Portland (they never fully say that they’re in Portland but that’s where the show is filmed). The show currently has two seasons and, personally speaking, I highly recommend it. 

However, while a lot of the show’s success should be credited to Bryant herself, who also writes for it, her co-star, Lolly Adefope, is owed some dues as well. If you don’t know who Lolly is it’s likely due to the fact that her acting career just began in 2014, but her more notable projects are more recent; such as The Spy Who Dumped Me (2018). 

Adefope plays Bryant’s character’s best friend on the show named Fran. Fran is also a plus-sized woman and beyond that she also identifies as gay. Adefope has discussed her role in the past, stating that “playing an overweight and gay black woman depicted without any cliches is more than a little refreshing.”

Embed from Getty Images

Lolly Adefope

If you have seen Shrill, or any other notable works with Adefope in it, you may have picked up on her British accent, which is actually real! Adefope was born in the United Kingdom, in fact, it’s where the beginning of her acting and comedy career truly began; another reason why many haven’t heard of her until recently as she’s just broken into American entertainment. 

In 2015 Adefope won the opportunity to be in the BBC Writersroom Comedy Program. After that she remained writing/acting in the U.K. until 2018 when she got the opportunity to be in The Spy Who Dumped Me, which arguably gave her the notoriety to get casted in Shrill the following year. Originally Adefope also believed she’d have to put on her best American accent for the role, but producers felt it added an extra comedic flare to her characters already outspoken personality. 

Shrill can definitely be categorized as a comedic series, however, it also discusses a wide-variety of more serious issues such as fatphobia, toxic/emotionally manipulative relationships, and LGBT+ rights. However, the writing of the show weaves in these issues through casual conversation in a way that doesn’t feel like Hollywood trying to force diversity or a conversation that doesn’t actually have anything to do with the shows plot. 

Embed from Getty Images

The Cast of Shrill

In a recent interview, Adefope discusses how important it was that she and Bryant were working alongside to show the world a new look on the ways in which individuals that society deems as fat or overweight can avoid all the tropes and boxes that Hollywood tends to force them in. Playing a gay woman on top of that added even more incentive to avoid stereotypes and deliver story-lines that depicted them both as normal people who happen to be fat; and in Fran’s case also gay and black. 

“Just because somebody might hint at a stereotype doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily problematic. It’s all well and good to have a gay black character, but [not] unless you show the real-world consequences of her deciding to be unapologetic about who she is,” Adefope said in an interview with The Cut

The ability to represent gay, overweight, black women in a way that doesn’t emphasize certain tropes or play into harmful stereotypes is definitely a challenge, but Adefope does it quite effortlessly and that shouldn’t go unnoticed. In fact, fans were quite upset after watching season 1, noting that their favorite character, Fran, had barely been in it! Luckily, the writers listened and included a multitude of new and old storylines regarding Fran’s journey to self-love and discovery throughout season 2. 

Hollywood should take note as to what the writers for Shrill and Adefope were able to accomplish within this series. The ability to discuss serious topics that are relevant, represent a whole slew of individuals who live in the place where those topics are also relevant, and do it in a way that doesn’t seem forced is no easy-feat, and yet, there are two seasons of a show that did it, no problem, currently streaming on Hulu.

Hallmark Store

Hallmark Channel Reinstates Ads Featuring Same-Sex Couples

The Hallmark Channel says they made the “wrong decision” when it came to pulling several ads featuring a same-sex couple. The commercials were for the wedding planning site, Zola, and featured two brides kissing at the altar. They originally pulled the commercials after a measly complaint from a conservative group online, which caused an even bigger backlash to occur. The original decision to pull the ads were made by Hallmark Channel’s parent company Crown Media. 

When this occurred individuals took to social media to spread the word about the unnecessary erasure of a whole community from a channel that already featured predominantly heterosexual content. Celebrities such as Ellen DeGeneres and William Shatner started the hashtag “#BoycottHallmarkChannel” which ended up trending. Especially for this time of year, when cheesy Hallmark Christmas movies bring major traffic to the network, the last thing Crown Media needed was a major loss in viewership. 

“The Crown Media team has been agonizing over this decision as we’ve seen the hurt it has unintentionally caused. Said simply, they believe this was the wrong decision. We are truly sorry for the hurt and disappointment this has caused,” said Hallmark Cards CEO Mike Perry in a statement. 

Embed from Getty Images

Zola originally had six ads submitted to the channel; four contained same-sex couples, and two contained heterosexual couples. Once Crown Media pulled the four advertisements featuring gay relationships, Zola took it upon themselves to remove the other two as well. The group “One Million Moms” posted the original complaint against the ads to the Hallmark Channel on their official website, and Crown Media quickly replied stating that the ads were submitted and aired by mistake, which is false. 

The network also announced that they will be working with LGBT+ advocacy group GLAAD on how to implement further inclusion within the Hallmark Channel. GLAAD created a petition when the advertisements were originally pulled as a means to show the channel all the public support that was for LGBT+ representation compared to one post made by a Christian conservative group of concerned mothers. Now, GLAAD has not only worked with the Hallmark Channel on the importance of inclusion of all kinds of relationships, but they worked with the media to “expose” One Million Moms and their “continued agenda” which works to dehumanize and discriminate against LGBT+ individuals/families. 

Embed from Getty Images

“The Hallmark Channel’s decision to correct its mistake sends an important message to LGBTQ people and represents a major loss for fringe organizations, like One Million Moms, whose sole purpose is to hurt families like mine. LGBTQ people are, and will continue to be, a part of advertisements and family programming and that will never change. GLAAD exists to hold brands like The Hallmark Channel accountable when they make discriminatory decisions and to proactively ensure families of all kinds are represented in a fair and accurate way,” GLAAD President and CEO, Sarah Kate Ellis, said in a statement.

This is not the first time GLAAD has worked with major corporations as a means of establishing representation. Just recently the organization worked on a partnership with Pantene. The collaboration called upon the Trans Chorus of Los Angeles to come and be in a new holiday video series for the company titled “Going Home for the Holidays.” The video series brought light to a lot of the difficulties that many LGBT+ individuals face during the holiday season. It also worked to show that not all families look the same, and often members of the LGBT+ community have to find their “chosen family” that loves and accepts them, as they have gone through the same struggles. 

GLAAD’s work continues to implement further representation on all media networks. This year the organization said that, thanks to the collaborative work from their team and the many mainstream networks/streaming services out there today, LGBT+ representation has never been higher in the entertainment world. Thanks to them the Hallmark Channel will continue to grow and show that this year for Christmas, all kinds of families are beautiful and valid in their own unique way.


Merriam-Webster Names Non-Binary Pronoun “They” As The Word Of The Year

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary made headlines recently when they added the non-binary pronoun “they” to their dictionary. Now, they’re back on the trending list and this time it’s for their recognition of the pronoun as their word of the year. The decision became quite clear when Merriam-Webster announced that searches for the term have risen 313% within the last year! The data alone was enough of a determining factor for Merriam-Webster to give it the title of word of the year, as every year they base the decision off of search data for the most part. 

“Pronouns are among the language’s most commonly used words, and like other common words (think go, do, and have) they tend to be mostly ignored by dictionary users. But over the past year or so, as people have increasingly encountered the non-binary use, we’ve seen searches for ‘they’ grow dramatically,” said Emily Brewster, senior editor at Merriam-Webster, said in a statement.

Embed from Getty Images

Merriam-Webster representatives also stated the major moments within the past year that led to an increase in search traffic for the term. These moments included when non-binary model Oslo Grace made their Paris Fashion Week debut back in January, and when US congresswoman Pramila Jayapal made a statement back in April stating that her child is non binary.

In terms of pop culture, searches for the pronoun also increased during the entire month of June, most likely due to Pride Month and the increase in education over LGBTQIA+ individuals during the month. Additionally British pop/soul singer Sam Smith came out as non-binary this past September with a minimalist Instagram post where they told their massive 14+ million followers their pronouns were ‘they/them.’

Embed from Getty Images

“They” has obviously always been in the dictionary, as it’s a relatively standard pronoun in the English language. However, it’s always been defined as a pronoun referring to two or more individuals. It wasn’t until this year that Merriam-Webster, among other dictionaries, recognized the word as a singular pronoun referring to an individual whose gender identity is non-binary to the conventional “he/him/she/hers” standard in our society. 

“The spike in searches for the word was so significant and sustained that it stood apart from other popular entries. People were clearly encountering this new use and turning to the dictionary for clarity and for usage guidance,” Brewster said.

Merriam-Webster originally added the singular pronoun to its dictionary back in September, leading many to credit Sam Smith’s coming out to the addition. While their may not be a clean-cut direct correlation between the two, Smith is definitely one of the most notable public figures in pop culture today that is out as non-binary. Their coming out lead to a huge discussion across the media about non-binary pronouns and what being non-binary means in general. Smith definitely sparked a massive discussion that was long overdue amongst the LGBT+ rights conversation. 

When we, as a society, validate the thousands of ways people identify, we create spaces for equality and understanding. Merriam-Webster added this singular pronoun to their dictionary as a means of facilitating that discussion and giving individuals who may not fully understand what it is to be non-binary, an opportunity to learn and grow.