Thursday, July 07, 2016

NEWS: Hate Crimes; Price of HIV Drugs Hiked Up, Again; LGBT Rights Gaining Momentum in Japan; Obama Hearts Hillary; America's Youngest Gay Dad

Anti-gay Violence Increases in Brazil, LGBT Travelers to Rio for Olympics Need To Be Careful
The Summer Olympics start in Rio de Janeiro on Aug. 5 and will attract hundreds of thousands of visitors from all parts of the world. For LGBT people making the trek, the advice is: Be careful out there. The surge in anti-LGBT violence has been attributed to a backlash to tolerance in a country that is staunchly Catholic with a strong evangelical movement. The country has also been dealing with a constitutional crisis that has its president out of office facing impeachment, rampant corruption, a struggling economy and the spread of the Zika virus. Add in reports that rowers and other athletes will be competing in sewage-filled water and these are shaping up to be the Bummer Olympics. READ MORE

Gilead Hikes Prices of HIV Drugs, Again
As part of a strategy to switch patients to newer HIV treatments, Gilead Sciences late last week raised prices on a pair of older HIV medications that face patent expiration. This sort of maneuver is often found in the pharmaceutical playbook, but is triggering still more criticism by AIDS activists of its overall pricing strategies. Here’s what Gilead did: the company raised the wholesale acquisition cost, or list price, for the two older medicines — Complera and Stribild — by 7 percent, to $2,508 and $3,469 a month, respectively. This follows price hikes of 7 percent and 5 percent last January, which Cowen analyst Phil Nadeau noted is a deviation from the typical annual price hikes that Gilead takes on its HIV drugs. By boosting prices for the older HIV treatments twice in just six months, Gilead is clearly hoping that doctors will prescribe its newer drugs. And physicians have an added impetus for doing so: the newest Gilead medications are more potent and studies have indicated they are likely to cause fewer side effects. READ MORE

Japan Election Manifestos Free LGBT Rights from Political Closet
When openly gay independent candidate Wataru Ishizaka campaigned for a 2007 Tokyo local election, people snickered at his speeches, but now even Japan's conservative ruling party mentions gay rights in its platform for this year's upper house election. Though the paragraph is deep in the manifesto of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and refers only to promoting understanding of sexual diversity, even this was unthinkable a decade ago. By Asian standards, Japanese laws are relatively liberal - homosexual sex has been legal since 1880 - but social attitudes keep the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community largely invisible. LGBT rights are not covered in Japan's Equal Opportunity Act and there are no anti-discrimination laws. But things are changing. Several municipalities, including two Tokyo districts, now give same-sex partners rights similar to spouses, as do a growing number of companies. Same-sex marriage remains a distant dream in Japan, where some gays still enter heterosexual marriages of convenience or sport wedding rings as straight camouflage. Public views remain mixed. A 2015 survey by a research group led by Kazuya Kawaguchi at Hiroshima Shudo University found that while 51 percent of respondents supported the idea of same-sex marriage, they were less willing to countenance an LGBT relative, friend or colleague. As many as 53.2 percent said they were repelled by the idea of a gay male friend. But even this is an improvement, said Takahiko Morinaga, CEO of the new Japan LGBT Research institute, noting the influence of social media and news events such as the U.S. same-sex marriage ruling and Japan's winning the Olympics. "Those of us in the gay community had pretty much given up, feeling strongly that Japan was not a place where you could expect to come out. These events gave us a bit of hope," he added. "These things have really brought the global spirit of diversity to the attention of Japanese corporate executives, as well as media and ordinary citizens." With LGBT spending estimated at 5.9 trillion yen ($58 billion), others are eyeing the potential of the "pink yen" in Japan's stagnant economy. "There are a lot of services that LGBT people want - insurance that includes a same-sex partner, housing, and services connected to aging," said Morinaga.

Why President Obama Campaigning For Hillary Clinton Is Historic
No president has campaigned strongly for his chosen successor in at least 100 years. Tuesday's event [July 5, 2016], with President Obama campaigning for Hillary Clinton, his former secretary of state and onetime rival, in North Carolina is remarkable for that reason. It kicks off what is likely to be a season of vigorous campaigning by the president. There are reasons presidents haven't campaigned strongly for a successor — sometimes they're unpopular, some nominees try to distance, some presidents were in failing health. Here's a look back at the last 100 years of presidents to see just how rare it is: READ MORE

Meet America's Youngest Gay Dad
Twenty-year-old Brian Mariano admits that sometimes people just don’t get him. He’s a gay dad with a 2-year-old son, Aison. “Everybody in my life is really supportive,” he says. “When someone new finds out I’m a dad, they will often stop and ask “How?”. Still, Mariano knows that from the outside looking in, his story is anything but typical. He was a junior in high school when his then-girlfriend, Kelly, became pregnant. They had been dating for a year. “I like to refer to myself as a ‘Kellysexual,’ which may sound really weird,” he continues. “I’m gay, but there’s Kelly. Everybody kind of knew that I was gay. I didn’t really have to say it. People will come along and ask if our relationship was a cover-up. And I say, well, I got her pregnant, so I don’t think that’s the case.” Kelly gave birth to Aison Mariano-Nichols, who will be turning 3 years old, in March. The couple stayed together for the first two years of Aison’s life before splitting. “It was very stressful and really rocky,” he remembers. “We made it work the best we could. We still loved each other and for Aison’s sake we tried to stay together. But we’re not together now.” Now, Kelly is a junior at the University of Massachusetts studying biology while Mariano works, waiting to start his first semester at community college in the fall. Despite their history, the two have come together to give Aison parents and a family he can rely on. “He lives with Kelly most of the time. She has full custody, and she has been so good letting me see him. “I’m definitely his father, and that’s something that’s not going to change.” Mariano says he was hesitant to come out as a gay father when dating. In fact, he told his boyfriend about his son with a quick Snapchat: “Oh, by the way, I have a son.” READ MORE