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WORLD Iran trans assaults, legal action in Japan, Harry and Meghan
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2018-05-02

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A shocking video showing the harassment and sexual assault of a group of trans women has shown how police at the scene stood by and did nothing to protect them in Iran, Gay Star News reported. In the short video, one of the trans women is screaming hysterically as a mob of men surround them on a public street. Witnesses at the scene the police officer allegedly blamed the trans women for the assault. U.S.-based Iranian activist Masih Alinejad posted the video on her Twitter account.

A gay Japanese man has taken legal action after he was barred from his partner's cremation and not receiving inheritance, Gay Star News reported. The move is a historic one in Japan which only recognizes same-sex partnerships in some districts in the country. The 69-year-old, from Osaka Prefecture, filed a suit against his partner's sister for inheritance he feel he is owed; he is also suing her for barring him from attending his partner's cremation. His partner died in March 2016, and he's suing his sister-in-law for 7 million yen ( $64,000 U.S. ) in damages.

Social-media videos are encouraging people to vote for change in Lebanon, Gay Star News noted. Of all the countries in the Middle East, many regard Lebanon as more progressive in regards to LGBTI rights. Same-sex sexual activity is illegal under Penal Code 534; however, some electoral candidates in the country's May 6 elections are openly calling for the code's repeal.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are to put gay rights at the forefront of their agenda, the couple told young activists from the Commonwealth, according to The Times. They were at a youth reception in London as part of the Commonwealth heads of government meeting, and Markle said that LGBT issues were about "basic human rights." Although her fiance and the Duke of Cambridge have spoken out about gay rights before, this was the prince's firmest commitment to date.

BBC.com published an article on sexual harassment in Bollywood. The BBC's Rajini Vaidyanathan and Pratiksha Ghilidial spoke to several actresses who say they have been sexually harassed by directors and casting agents. One actress said she went to the police on one occasion but her complaint was dismissed by officers who said "filmy people" can do what they want. Also, Ranveer Singh, one of Bollywood's biggest male actors, said in a 2015 interview that he had experienced the casting couch "first hand." Actor/director/singer Farhan Aktar founded MARD, the Men Against Rape and Discrimination campaign, which raises awareness around sexual violence across the country.

Bangalore, a state in southern India, has seen its number of transgender voters double, Gay Star News noted. Efforts to improve the lives of trans people and raise awareness about their human rights has been credited for the jump in voter numbers. The chief electoral officer ( CEO ) confirmed 4,552 trans people are registered to vote in Bangalore—double than in the most recent elections.

The U.S. Senate confirmed Richard Grenell as U.S. ambassador to Germany, making him the most high-profile openly gay appointee in the Trump administration, The Washington Blade reported. Despite Democratic opposition for months over mean tweets he made about the appearance of women and other comments downplaying the significance of Russia's influence in the 2016 election, Grenell was confirmed ( mostly along party lines ) by a vote of 56-42. The first openly gay U.S. ambassador was James Hormel, who served as U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg during the Clinton administration.

Advocacy groups have warned that HIV-positive Papua New Guineans could die if the country's dwindling antiretroviral drugs supply is not replenished soon, PinkNews reported. The Oceanic nation is eating into its "buffer" supply of the HIV medicine after the government slashed the budget for the treatment, reported ABC News. The country, which accounts for 95 percent of all HIV cases in the Pacific, has seen its budget for the HIV drug plummet in the past year.

Pro-Beijing lawmakers spoke out against the appointment of two leading foreign judges to Hong Kong's top court over their support of same-sex rights but stopped short of pledging to block their appointments, The South China Morning Post reported. Baroness Brenda Hale and Beverley McLachlin—Britain's current top judge and Canada's former top judge—cleared their first hurdle to join the Court of Final Appeal with a five to one approval from a Legislative Council subcommittee. The House Committee and Legco will now have to vote them in before they are formally appointed by Hong Kong's top official, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor; tThey would be the first female non-permanent judges in the city's judiciary.

Canadian politician Scott Brison—the Nova Scotia MP for Kings-Hants and president of the Treasury Board—said that, in his teen years, he was borderline suicidal as he tried to be anything but gay, CBC.ca noted. Even after accepting his sexual orientation and pursuing his career in politics, Brison delayed coming out publicly for a few years, thinking it wasn't necessary because his friends and family knew; however, he decided he needed to officially come out as gay to inspire others. Now Brison is Canada's first openly gay cabinet minister.

A delegation representing Pride Montreal traveled to Nairobi, Kenya, to meet the leaders of a dozen organizations working—mostly in the shadows—with sexual and gender-diverse clients ( SGD ), according to a Pride Montreal press release. Present at this meeting was Her Excellency Sara Hradecky, high commissioner to Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda, who explained how Canada would be able to support the actions of the Executive Committee and to invite leaders of LGBTQ+ organizations from Kenya to the Canadian Embassy on May 17, as part of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

Speaking of Kenya, the African country's authorities have banned Wanuri Kahiu's Rafiki ( "Friend" ), an LGBT love story that will have its world premiere in Cannes' Un Certain Regard in May, Variety reported. Kahiu announced the decision recently, saying she was "incredibly disappointed" during an appearance on the "Morning Express" wake-up show on Kenyan network KTN. The film ( adapted from the short story "Jambula Tree," by Uganda's Monica Arac de Nyeko ) is the story of two teenage girls who develop a romance that's opposed by their families and community.

Actor Jackie Chan's daughter Etta Ng and her girlfriend have appealed for help, saying that they're homeless, PinkNews noted. In a YouTube video, the couple told viewers that every attempt they had made to find shelter through official channels had led to the authorities trying to split them up. Ng, 18, came out last year, posting a photo on Instagram of her in front of a rainbow coloured background, with the caption: "In case no one got the memo, I'm gay." Sitting alongside her girlfriend Andi Autumn, 30, Ng said, "We've been homeless for a month, due to homophobic parents."

Vancouver bar/nightclub Odyssey will close June 30 after almost 30 years of business, Gay Star News noted. No further explanation for the closure was offered besides a farewell message on the venue's Facebook page. Odyssey originally opened in the city's Gay Village area, but had to relocate in 2010.


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