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May 7, 2018 | by  | in News |
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Queer Coverage: Local, National, and International LGBTQIA+ News

Paula Bennett Supports PM’s Refusal to Identify Folau Comments as Hate Speech
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has refused to identify homophobic comments by Israel Folau as hate speech, despite campaigning on the protection of LGBTQIA+ communities.
Folau, a prominent Australian rugby player, had said on Instagram that God’s plan for gay people was “HELL”.
“I’m very careful around how I categorise someone’s speech,” Ardern told Newshub in April.
Deputy National Party leader Paula Bennett expressed concern that strengthening hate speech laws might be “a step too far”.

Ardern’s Labour Party campaigned on LGBTQIA+ rights in the 2017 Election, spearheaded by prominent gay MP, Grant Robertson. Robertson’s rainbow policy platform set out that a Labour Government would seek “inclusiveness and dignity for all Rainbow New Zealanders”.

Part of the policy included “strong” engagement with United Nations Human Rights bodies. The UN Free and Equal campaign obliges nations to, among other things, “promote empathy and respect” for queer people. Public and sporting figures have spoken out against the harmful comments. Among them are Hurricanes Halfback TJ Perenara, All Blacks’ coach Steve Hansen, and director Taika Waititi. Chiefs players and the All Blacks have both made rainbow additions to their uniforms in solidarity.

Majority of Americans Support Same Sex Marriage, Study
A recently released study from 2017 has shown that 61% of Americans now support same-sex marriage (SSM).
30% of Americans strongly support SSM, while only 14% strongly oppose it. In 2007, 13% strongly supported and 24% were strongly opposed.
The Public Religion Research Institute study also identified a “Declining Religious Resistance” to SSM, with most denominations having majority support for SSM. The study found most states (44 of a  possible 50) also had majority support for SSM.

Findings also revealed wide-ranging support for protections against discrimination and refusal of services based on LGBT identities.
The study has a margin of error of +/-1.2%, and is based on 40,000 telephone interviews.

Success for The Queer Muslim Project
The Queer Muslim Project, an online support space for Muslim members of the LGBTQIA+ community in India, has announced its first offline event.
Wanting to reflect the vibrancy of communities he saw in the United States, Rafiul Alom Rahman started the project as a way to support queer Muslims in India to reconcile their identities.
“People either let go of their religious identity or they repress their natural sexual orientation because they believe both of them cannot go together.”
The project has spread to a number of platforms and has just announced its first offline event for 13 May in Bengaluru. The event has almost reached its RSVP capacity at time of writing.

Planning Underway for VUW Pride Week 2018
UniQ Victoria has started preparations for Victoria University Pride Week 2018.
Running throughout week two of trimester two, VUW’s queer representative group is excited about their annual event.
Event details will be finalised soon, and promotional material will be released by the end of May.
The week is a celebration of LGBTQIA+ identities for the university’s students, and features a special edition of Salient.

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:   I wanted to write this piece, in order to connect to all tauira within the University, with the hope that we can all remind ourselves that we are a part of an environment which is valuable, no matter our culture, our beliefs or our skin colour. The ultimate purpose of this