Friday, 28 June 2013

Brazil - the fight for public services must include equality

On of the fears over changing politics and constitution, fighting the system or overhauling legacy is that priorities have to be determined, which will often neglect other factors or individuals who may then become the victims wished to be avoided.

Any political change is due in response to change society for the better. However we every change there comes disruption. This can effect the 'good' that we have today, and damaging the value it gives to life.

So, when one of my friends sent me the below, I thought it was a striking point to make. Is change good for the whole, or can groups of people be neglected?

Alex Bernardes:

"Our Brazilian constitution states that ... anyone who is elected by the people and takes a political chair, is not allowed to use his religious concepts and beliefs to conduct or change people’s behavior. Unfortunately, that is true only in the books.
Recently, a pastor called Marco Feliciano (Minister of an Evangelical Church Franchise in Brazil), was elected by his peers – people weren’t able to interfere in that process because it was done undercover –, and, once taking charge as the president of the Human Rights ‘Deputy’ Chamber, he started to promote intolerance, discrimination, segregation towards some specific groups of doomed and unluckily borned people (his words, based in the Old Testment).

He mainly points to negros and gays. Now, he wants to pass a bill which allows the “cure for gays”, considering that “these people may want to be healed and live a “normal” life”, and he threatens anyone who tries to interfere or be in his way. Our state of freedoom, iquality and fraternity is now going down the drain...
As you worldwide friends may know, we are in the core of a revolution for real human rights in Brazil, asking for more important things such as better public educational, health and transportation systems. We really don’t need this kind of people around us to blur people’s real interests. Let the world know about this shame..."

Florida's Largest Pride Welcomes Revelers This Week

St. Pete Pride Organizers Expecting Record Crowds in Celebrating Mood

St. Pete/Clearwater, FL (June 27, 2013) - Fresh off the heels of a major LGBT Supreme Court ruling, revelers in town for this week's St. Pete Pride---Florida's largest LGBT celebration---will have much to celebrate, from art exhibits, to fashion shows, concerts and more, culminating in Saturday's Street Festival and Promenade along St. Pete's Grand Central District.

This year, Visit St. Pete/Clearwater has invited two local partner organizations---Tampa International Airport and Visit Tampa Bay---to join in the VSPC booth at Saturday's parade, marking the first time the three organizations have joined forces to promote the entire region in the LGBT arena. And in yet another area first, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn has announced plans to march in this year's St. Pete Pride Parade.

"The LGBT community is an important part of the travel industry, and this event speaks volumes about the level of diversity visitors will find when they travel to the St. Pete/Clearwater area," said David Downing, VSPC Deputy Director. "We're particularly excited to be welcoming our friends from Tampa to partner with us this year, since so many of our visitors celebrate pride on both sides of the Bay."

St. Pete Pride, which is in its 11th year, dwarfs similar gatherings in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Orlando, and draws thousands of visitors to the area's bars, restaurants and accommodations for the festivities.

The event drew some 100,000 attendees last year, but St. Pete Pride organizers believe attendance might approach 125,000 this year due to the GLBT community's response to the Supreme Court ruling earlier this week.

Local business owners say the more, the merrier.

"This is a fantastic event for our area," said Darren Connor, co-owner of The Queens Head Restaurant and Eurobar on Central Avenue in St. Pete. "And it's amazing for businesses throughout St. Pete/Clearwater."

Connor, whose restaurant is hosting a pride event this year, is especially fond of the parade. "The parade makes for a fun day, and we see visitors from around the world," he added.

Though the bulk of the pride events take place in St. Pete, visitors will find GLBT-friendly establishments throughout the area, from Clearwater's Pro Shop Pub to Blur nightclub in Dunedin, to the Flamingo Resort and Georgi's Alibi in St. Pete and a number of clubs in Tampa's GaYBOR District.

Not only is Saturday's parade the largest in the state, it's also the earliest, with festivities kicking off at 9 a.m.  For complete event information, visit

Friday, 21 June 2013

Brazil - citizens kick-off in protest at bad government spending decisions: Olympics/ World Cup

Brazil is on the world stage. It's hosting the World Cup and then the Olmypics. It's one of the fastest growing economies in the world - part of the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China). It has one of the most diverse cultures and mix of races in the world. It has the most amazing natural habitat that is part of the World's lungs. It has the best parties, the most vibrant and kind people, incredible food...YET the people aren't happy.

For the first time in over 20 years the people in Brazil are standing up to its government. Not to force the PM to stand down, but rather to tell them to spend their money differently. Just watch this video to get a sense of what this Brazilian woman is feeling...

I asked my friends in Brazil what their opinion was:

Friend 1:
Hey my friend! It's happening the greatest protest in the history of Brazil!
Friend 2: 
The brazilians can't help so much corruption anymore, the government is spending 30 billion in stadiums to the World Cup, and the school, hospitals, roads, airports are trash! Our economy is going down, the inflection is eating our salaries... And many others wrong things!
I'm happy to see that the brazilians finally realized that life is more than samba and futebol. And we pay to much taxes and receive trash back! The most of demonstrators are peaceful but a little part of them are violent and take the opportunity to terrorize and sure some people get hurts but nobody dead.
but the problem is not only the world cup or olympics games!!!! the problem is 500 years of suffering, we have been explored for a long time, we want the governement spends with infrastruture. we have more priorities to invest this money.
Friend 3: 
As a people we are used to sucking it up every time the government do something arbitrary or harmful to us but now its about time someone actually did something about it as opposed to just moan. I'm not happy about the violence but I reckon its fair enough that people go out in the streets and shout back at those who think they can play us like chess pieces. We are absolutely thrilled that we are hosting the world cup and the Olympic games but we are NOT impressed that to achieve that our hospitals, schools, roads and etc are falling apart due to the lack of investment. The initial budget for the doing up of the stadiums was R$600 million and they reckon that by the time we're done we'll have spent just over R$1 billion. Where has that money gone and why wasn't it spent on what really mattered before? We really need to get our priorities right.
Plus, after years of being apathetic to what is going on around us and what's being decided about us this is the biggest demonstration of democracy we have had in bloody years. The mayor of Rio is particular deserves to be bitch-slapped for being such a wanker!
[*Note: figures mentioned are not exact, just examples of how they perceive the money spent] 

Thursday, 20 June 2013

PR: What happens when you put Fierce and MAD together? A match made in bingo heaven!

FierceBingo, is very proud to announce that it has entered into an agreement with the Make A Difference Trust, in line with its mission to help and support the LGBT community.

FierceBingo has filled an otherwise untapped niche by bringing you the world’s first gay online bingo portal, with fantastic online games for LGBT people, as well as a safe and monitored chat room (Fierce Chat)  to get the community talking. There are regular exciting promotions and giveaways to reward you for your support, and welcome bonuses to grab your attention.

“Gay bingo has long been a medium for fundraising for the LGBT community. When we first set up FierceBingo, we wanted to make sure that we did what we could to give back to a worthy and relevant cause. It is therefore with great pride that we can confirm an agreement between FierceBingo and the Make A Difference Trust whereby Fierce will donate 3% of its monthly profits to MAD.

The Make A Difference Trust works to bring together the British Entertainment community and its audiences to raise funds to support people living with HIV and AIDS, and those in the entertainment industry facing hardship as a result of a long-term medical condition.”

The Make A Difference Trust has various programmes set up to support those in need, many of which target the LGBT community.

·       > The Crisis Fund – Set up to support those in the entertainment industry, living with HIV and experiencing health related poverty which impacts on their ability to maintain employment.
·       > The Next Stage Programme – Working alongside existing statutory services to support people back into work after long-periods of ill health.
·       > ACT Now! – Be Aware, Take Control, Get Tested Now! provides sexual health information, prevention supports such as condoms and information on PEP across the UK through theatres, dance studios and rehearsal spaces. The programme particularly targets LGBT and MSM groups.
·       > Are You Positive? – The charities education programme for schools, asking the difficult questions and getting people talking about the personal and social issues related to HIV
·       > Internationally The Make A Difference Trust works in southern Africa where it provides programming in: Food Security, Orphan Care, Education and Income Generation Programming, and has recently funded its 14,000th child with educational supports.
All of the programmes make a huge difference in the lives of those they assist on a daily basis.

Giving back and supporting our community is extremely important to us, and it gives us great joy knowing that we will be able to help fund the above programmes for LGBT individuals from the proceeds of the online bingo games that are played at FierceBingo.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Exclusive Interview about LGBT Travel Safety and the U.S. Department of State

By Sophie Needelman

The LGBT travel niche has become a thriving economist force in tourism both domestically and abroad. Given the diversity in backgrounds and experiences around the world, LGBT travel safety is being promoted more and more on a political level to promote awareness and education across all realms of society. For better or for worse, a destination’s attitude toward the LGBT community is an important factor to keep in mind when planning travel and tourism details. The U.S. State Department is spearheading the efforts of promoting and circulating LGBT travel information online by developing resources and support regarding travel for the LGBT community. Consequences for engaging in homosexual activity vary around the world, so it is important to have an understanding of the context of where you are traveling.’s CEO Steve Rohrlick was recently invited to a roundtable with the State Department in D.C. to discuss the importance of promoting LGBT travel safety for Americans traveling abroad. This roundtable consisted of a variety of government officials and leaders from the gay travel community to start a dialogue on how the government can facilitate travel safety awareness. Specifically, the State Department has put together an online forum of resources:

Since the roundtable, got the inside scoop through this exclusive interview with CEO Steve Rohrlick, as well as Jack Markey, the Division Chief for Africa in the U.S. Department of State's Office of American Citizens Services and Crisis Management about LGBT travel safety. Check it out!

GT: How did you get involved in the State Department’s roundtable on LGBT Travel Safety abroad?

JM: I am a division chief in the Office of American Citizens Services and Crisis Management.  This office - publishes information about safety and security concerns for U.S. citizens traveling and residing abroad.  Our State Department Travel Warnings and Country Specific Information documents are two good examples.    We recently started a systematic expansion of the information we provide to LGBT travelers through our Country Specific Information sheets. A roundtable discussion on how U.S. citizens obtain important travel information overseas was a great way to highlight this, in addition to highlighting the debut of our LGBT travel information page.

GT: What sort of perspective were you able to offer the group on the needs of the LGBT travel community?

JM: An informed traveler is a smart traveler.  LGBT travelers needed access to official, accurate and timely information that is also relevant to the specific concerns facing LGBT travelers overseas.  It’s important to know whether certain over-the-counter medications are banned in some countries, or that certain styles of dress are frowned upon by the local community.  But it’s even more critical for travelers to know whether there are cases of harassment, threats, or violence directed towards LGBT persons in a particular country, or that a country criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual relations, with legal implications.  Finally, it’s important for LGBT travelers to have the assurance that they can turn to consular officers at U.S. embassies and consulates for help if they run into trouble abroad.

SR: The team at fully supports what it is the state dept is doing. One of the things that became apparent from the meeting is that it takes about 6 months for the State Department to update any changes in a specific location. That is understandable with all the destinations they are covering. However things can change significantly in a six month period. I suggested that With the power of the internet gaytravel and other LGBT travel related websites could help facilitate feedback from LGBT residents and travelers in a real time fashion, thus enhancing the great work the State department is already doing.

GT: What are the goals of the State Department regarding LGBT travel safety and how are you able to contribute to their efforts?

SR: The state dept. is responsible for all U.S. citizens once they leave the United States. The travel safe program is good for all travelers, and with the recent developments also address specific issues relevant to  LGBT travelers. We plan to utilize the power of internet and our network of millions of travelers at track on the ground changes in a more timely manner. As part of our site redesign this Fall, we plan to add an RSS feed from the State Department, along with our own updates with regard to attitudes and treatment of LGBT individuals around the globe.

JM: One of the top priorities of the State Department and the Bureau of Consular Affairs is protecting the lives and interests of U.S. citizens abroad.  Keeping travelers informed and updated with the latest and most accurate information helps U.S. citizens travel safely.  One of the best ways for U.S. citizens to stay connected to this information is through the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, which also allows loved ones in the U.S. to locate you in times of distress or emergency.  Additionally, travelers should also visit to get the latest country-specific information, and make sure they have adequate  health and travel insurance for emergencies. LGBT travelers should read our LGBT Travel Information page, and review the linked resources.  Our Country Specific Information for LGBT travelers is undergoing a systematic expansion.  All of this information is reviewed and updated at least every six months.

GT: Will you/how will you continue to stay involved with the State Department and its efforts to promote travel safety?

JM: As I mentioned earlier, my office - the Office of American Citizens Services and Crisis Management - publishes information about safety and security concerns for U.S. citizens traveling and residing abroad.  In addition to our Country Specific Information and Travel Warnings, we also publish information for niche market travelers, available on our Bureau of Consular Affairs website.  We have information for older Americans, Americans retiring abroad, medical tourism, voluntourism all on our website, and a related website for students planning overseas studies or travel.

SR: will definitely stay in touch with the State Department- they are providing a valuable service to all U.S citizens. We plan to  harness the power of the global LGBT community to provide additional and more current safety related information on the website in a more real time version as an enhancement to what the State Department is doing. The work both organizations do are complimentary to  one another so it is absolutely a priority a priority for us to remain involved.

GT: How should safety and homophobia influence travel for the LGBT community?

JM: Safety should be a top priority for every overseas traveler.  We never tell U.S. citizens that they can’t travel to a particular location, but we do make every effort to provide them with an accurate assessment of safety and security concerns abroad for them to use in determining their own acceptable level of risk. LGBT travelers should carefully consider the laws, customs, and culture of the countries they are planning to visit, and decide what measures they want to take in order to protect themselves.  Good judgment and knowledge of local laws and customs before traveling abroad will help ensure personal safety. LGBT persons traveling abroad for leisure have the option to decide where they will travel.  Business travelers and younger persons accompanying their parents may not have the same flexibility in choosing where to travel, and may find themselves in a country where the culture or custom  where there are criminal penalties simply for being LGBT.

SR: At the end of the day that is really a question that each traveler needs to answer for themselves.  A smart traveler is a safe traveler, so you have to do your homework in advance.

GT: What resources are available for the LGBT community regarding travel safety abroad?

JM: The State Department publishes Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, Country Specific Information, and a wide range of facts sheets on our Travel.State.Gov website.  We also have an LGBT Travel Information page that identifies a number of resources, both general and LGBT-specific, for LGBT travelers.  You can download our free Smart Traveler App, available through iTunes and Google play, to have this travel information at your fingertips. If you sign up for our Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), you will also have up-to-date safety and security messages sent directly to your email inbox when you’re abroad by the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

Finally, but very importantly, you can contact the American Citizens Services (ACS) Section of the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.  Consular officers there may be able to help you if you run into problems overseas, especially if you feel that you can’t approach the local police or encounter difficulties with local authorities.  Consular officers will protect your privacy, and won’t make generalizations, assumptions, or pass judgement.  They also monitor and record incidents U.S. citizens report to them about the treatment they receive from host authorities.  Our embassies regularly raise issues of concern, especially inappropriate treatment or harassment of our citizens, with relevant officials.

GT: What can members of the LGBT community do to promote travel safety both at home and abroad? How can LGBT travelers get involved in these efforts of the State Department?

JM: Perhaps the best thing that individual travelers can do is to research their travel destinations before leaving home, and make wise decisions.  And by all means, let your friends and family know about the information on our website and the resources, like STEP and our Smart Traveler App, that we offer.  LGBT media, travel, and business organizations can place our icon on their websites to direct visitors to the LGBT information on our website.

SR: We plan to proudly display the LGBT State Department icon on the site and to provide access via an RSS feed. We will also have a methodology on the next version of our site for LGBT travelers and citizens to inform the LGBT community at large as to their observations on the ground wherever they may be.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

NEWS: Priceline’s CEO questions long-term viability of online hotel booking startups

Are Room 77 and HotelTonight different enough from their competitors to make it as  successful businesses in the long term?

Skift recently took a look at Room 77′s differentiation and the growing ranks of HotelTonight’s competitors, and Priceline CEO Jeffery Boyd separately chimed in on the issue yesterday during a presentation at the Goldman Sachs Lodging, Gaming, Restaurant and Leisure Conference at New York City University.

Boyd fielded a question about his take on the slew of travel startups, including Hotel Tonight, Room 77, and Hipmunk, and his answer focused on HotelTonight and Room 77.

In essence, Boyd argued that despite their original visions, both Hotel Tonight and Room77  are turning into hotel metasearch companies, and they might not be unique enough to justify the “substantial investment” that would be required to compete with larger metasearch businesses such as Priceline’s Kayak and Expedia-controlled Trivago.

“There is a lot of metasearch out there,” Boyd said. “To me, that is the question about those businesses [HotelTonight and Room 77].”

Boyd said HotelTonight and Room 77 are “very small right now,” and the only way they will make it is through substantial investment, with the implication being that it would take a lot more funding than the roughly $35 million and $43.8 million, respectively, that HotelTonight and Room 77 have raised.

For more