+
upworthy
More

'Prejudice is prejudice': Joe Biden blasts homophobia based on 'cultural' differences.

Russia, the plans to build a wall, Russia, North Korea, travel bans, Russia ... there's a lot happening around the world right now.

Amid the chaos, Joe Biden doesn't want us to forget about protecting and expanding LGBTQ rights — at home and overseas.

Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images.


In a powerful op-ed in The Washington Post published May 16, 2017, Biden pleads with Americans to stay informed on the perils faced by LGBTQ people abroad.

In the article, written in recognition of International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia, Biden notes the progress celebrated (and setbacks faced) by LGBTQ Americans. But the former vice president chose to focus the piece on the persecution of LGBTQ people in places like Syria, Uganda, and — most notably — Chechnya.

Biden wrote:

"In Syria and Iraq, LGBT individuals face terror and torture, often at the hands of the Islamic State. Countries such as Russia — where appalling reports recently surfaced that authorities in Chechnya were imprisoning and torturing individuals believed to be gay or bisexual — Uganda and Tanzania continue to be openly hostile to LGBT people, and their political leaders have used anti-American sentiment to fuel anti-LGBT hate. And in many parts of the world, the horrific assault of 'corrective rape' is used as an extreme form of conversion therapy to try to turn women straight."

Photo by Craig Ruttle/AP.

As Biden mentioned, more than a hundred Chechen men suspected of "nontraditional" sexual practices have quietly been arrested and held in what some reports describe as modern-day concentration camps.

Weeks have gone by since news of the atrocities began trickling out of Chechnya, a semi-independent state of Russia. Yet many world leaders, including President Donald Trump, have not publicly condemned the actions. On May 17, 2017, BuzzFeed News reported the U.S. is denying visas for Chechen men escaping persecution.

Biden went on to note cultural differences are never an excuse for human rights violations:

"Many times, this kind of discrimination, harassment and violence is justified in the name of 'culture.' This offensive argument ignores the fundamental truth that LGBT rights are human rights. Prejudice is prejudice; inhumanity is inhumanity. Using religion or culture to license discrimination and demonizing LGBT individuals to score political points are no more justifiable around the world than they are here at home."

Biden was a longtime proponent of LGBTQ rights as a senator and vice president. Now that he's out of office, he clearly doesn't want us becoming complacent.

Here's what you can you can do to keep progress pushing onward:

  1. If you're concerned about what's happening in Chechnya, check out the Russian LGBT Network — a Moscow-based group helping gay and bisexual men escape persecution.
  2. If you want to help LGBTQ refugees from countries like Syria and Iraq, the Organization for Refuge, Asylum, and Migration is a terrific group doing important work.
  3. And if you want to help push progress forward in the U.S., organizations like the Human Rights Campaign, the National Center for Transgender Equality — and many others — are doing just that.

"Together, we will work to defend and advance the human rights of all people, and we will not rest until equality, at home and around the world, is fully realized," Biden wrote.

"Until then, to all those suffering discrimination and violence simply because of who they are or whom they love, know this: The American people are on your side."

Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images.

Education

12 books that people say are life-changing reads

Some books have the power to change how we see ourselves, the world, and each other.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Books are powerful.

As a participant in the Amazon Associates affiliate program, Upworthy may earn proceeds from items purchased that are linked to this article, at no additional cost to you.

Out of all human inventions, books might just be the greatest. That may be a bold statement in the face of computers, the internet and the international space station, but none of those things would be possible without books. The written recording of human knowledge has allowed our advancements in learning to be passed on through generations, not to mention the capturing of human creativity in the form of longform storytelling.

Books have the power to change our lives on a fundamental level, shift our thinking, influence our beliefs, put us in touch with our feelings and help us understand ourselves and one another better.

That's why we asked Upworthy's audience to share a book that changed their life. Thousands of responses later, we have a list of inspiring reads that rose to the top.

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

Bus driver comes to the rescue for boy who coudn't afford outfit for school's Pajamas Day

“It hurt me so bad…I wanted him to have a good day. No child should have to miss out on something as small as pajama day.”

Representative Image from Canva

One thoughtful act can completely turn someone's day around.

On the morning just before Valentine’s Day, school bus driver Larry Farrish Jr. noticed something amiss with Levi, one of his first grade passengers, on route to Engelhard Elementary, part of Jefferson County Public School (JCPS) in Louisville, Kentucky.

On any other day, the boy would greet Farrish with a smile and a wave. But today, nothing. Levi sat down by himself, eyes downcast, no shining grin to be seen. Farrish knew something was up, and decided to inquire.

With a “face full of tears,” as described on the JCPS website, Levi told Farrish that today was “Pajama Day” at school, but he didn’t have any pajamas to wear for the special occasion.
Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

Terrified, emaciated dog comes to life as volunteer sits with him for human connection

He tries making himself so small in the kennel until he realizes he's safe.

Terrified dog transforms after human sits with him.

There's something about dogs that makes people just want to cuddle them. They have some of the sweetest faces with big curious eyes that make them almost look cartoonish at times. But not all dogs get humans that want to snuggle up with them on cold nights; some dogs are neglected or abandoned. That's where animal shelters come in, and they work diligently to take care of any medical needs and find these animals loving homes.

Volunteers are essential to animal shelters running effectively to fill in the gaps employees may not have time for. Rocky Kanaka has been volunteering to sit with dogs to provide comfort. Recently he uploaded a video of an extremely emaciated Vizsla mix that was doing his best to make himself as small as possible in the corner of the kennel.

Kanaka immediately wanted to help him adjust so he would feel comfortable enough to eat and eventually get adopted. The dog appeared scared of his new location and had actually rubbed his nose raw from anxiety, but everything changed when Kanaka came along.

Keep ReadingShow less
via Imgur

Memories of testing like this gets people fired up.

It doesn't take much to cause everyone on the internet to go a little crazy, so it's not completely surprising that an incorrect answer on a child's math test is the latest event to get people fired up.

The test in question asked kids to solve "5 x 3" using repeated addition. Under this method, the correct answer is "5 groups of 3," not "3 groups of 5." The question is typical of Common Core but has many questioning this type of standardized testing and how it affects learning.

Keep ReadingShow less
Image from YouTube video.

An emotional and strong Matt Diaz.


Matt Diaz has worked extremely hard to lose 270 pounds over the past six years.

But his proudest moment came in March 2015 when he decided to film himself with his shirt off to prove an important point about body positivity and self-love.

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

There are over 30 years between these amazing before-and-after photos.

"It's important for me for my photography to make people smile."

All photos by Chris Porsz/REX/Shutterstock.

Before and after photos separated by 30 years.


Chris Porsz was tired of studying sociology.

As a university student in the 1970s, he found the talk of economics and statistics completely mind-numbing. So instead, he says, he roamed the streets of his hometown of Peterborough, England, with a camera in hand, snapping pictures of the people he met and listening to their stories. To him, it was a far better way to understand the world.

He always looked for the most eccentric people he could find, anyone who stood out from the crowd. Sometimes he'd snap a single picture of that person and walk away. Other times he'd have lengthy conversations with these strangers.

Keep ReadingShow less