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2019 global roundup, from Toronto to Taiwan
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2020-01-08

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There was no shortage of the good, the bad and ugly regarding global LGBTQ developments. Below are just a few of media reports ( highlights and lowlights ):

—Bus attack: In London in late May, a group of teen boys attacked couple Melania Geymonat and Christine Hannigan when the twosome refused to kiss when the boys demanded it. Three of the boys eventually pled guilty to using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behavior, with at least one being ordered to attend diversity sessions.

—Wed-dy or not: Two women tied the knot just minutes after midnight in Austria—making them the first same-sex couple to get married on the day it became legal. Nicole Kopaunik and Daniela Paier, both 37, got married in the southern town of Velden at five minutes past midnight on Jan. 1.

—Parenthood: In Israel, Supreme Court President Esther Hayut criticized the state's position on surrogacy for gay fathers, and said that the solutions that apply to women should also apply to men. Etai and Yoav Pinkas-Arad filed a petition that called to amend Israel's surrogacy law in a way that would allow gay men—both couples and individuals—an equal chance at parenthood.

—No conversion: Members who perform conversion therapy could now be expelled from the Israel Medical Association—which represents 90 percent of the country's doctors—if a complaint is filed to its ethics committee. In a related matter, a group of international lawyers researching the criminalization of homosexuality met with the Vatican secretary of state and urged the Holy See to publicly oppose conversion therapy for gay people.

—Home base: Lithuania's top court ruled that foreign spouses of gay citizens must be granted residence permits. The Constitutional Court ruled that denying residency permits to the spouses of gay Lithuanian citizens who had married abroad was discriminatory.

—Out of Africa: Angola finally decriminalized the "vices against nature" provision in its law—widely interpreted to be a ban on same-sex conduct. Taking things one step further, the government has also prohibited discrimination against people on the basis of sexual orientation, with violators facing up to two years in prison.Also, In a groundbreaking ruling, Botswana's High Court, on June 11, tossed out a colonial-era law that criminalized same-sex relations.

—Killer pleads: Toronto serial killer Bruce McArthur—who targeted men within the city's gay community—pled guilty to eight murders, and was sentenced to life in prison. There were eight counts of first-degree murder over the deaths of eight men that took place between in 2010 and late 2017.

—Brunei backlash: The nation of Brunei faced global backlash for proposing the death penalty for gay sex and adultery. Celebrities such as George Clooney and Elton John slammed the policy, and some businesses cut ties with the country.

—Kiss off: Two Sicilian women photobombed Italy's anti-LGBT and far-right interior minister, Matteo Salvini, with a same-sex kiss. Salvini recently endorsed the anti-LGBT, anti-feminist and anti-abortion World Congress of Families, held in Verona in March.

—Taiwan's triumph: On May 17, Taiwan's legislature became the first in Asia ( by a vote of 66 to 27 ) to fully legalize same-sex unions. The law—which allows for same-sex couples to apply for "marriage registration" as part of "exclusive permanent unions"—came a week before Taiwan's codes barring same-sex marriage would have been automatically dropped by court order.

—The Vatican released the document "Male and Female He Created Them: Towards a path of dialogue on the question of gender in education" to address issues surrounding sexuality and gender identity. Unfortunately for the LGBTQ community, the document rejected the idea that people can choose or change their genders, and insisted on the sexual "complementarity" of men and women to make babies.

—On the run: Mid-distance runner Caster Semenya had a tumultuous year. After being allowed to compete without having to take testosterone-reducing medication, the Swiss Federal Tribunal reversed its ruling, causing Semenya to miss the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha.

—What a kick: On July 7 in Lyon, France, the United States claimed a fourth Women's World Cup triumph with a 2-0 victory over European champions Netherlands in the final. Megan Rapinoe, an out lesbian, and Rose Lavelle scored goals for the U.S. team.

—Trip cancelled: Dan Ware, the owner of Chicago-based Toto Tours—which has a mostly gay clientele—cancelled an October trip to Ethiopia after receiving death threats from people in the African country.

—Head to head: In a notable meeting between two out heads of government, Prime Minister Xavier Bettel of Luxembourg hosted his counterpart from Serbia, Ana Brnabic, and discussed the possibility of Serbia joining the European Union.

—Stigma: Former Welsh rugby star Gareth Thomas revealed he is HIV-positive and has vowed to help "break the stigma" surrounding the illness.

—A murder in Russia: LGBT activist Yelena Grigoryeva's body was found in St. Petersburg, Russia, on July 20—with evidence she had been choked, stabbed and thrown into the bushes near her home.

—Trailblazer: Time magazine named a top Brazilian drag queen and LGBT+ advocate as one of 10 young people "changing the world" in its biannual list. Pabllo Vittar—a 24-year-old Brazilian drag pop singer—was included alongside other rising stars from around the world in Time's roster of "Next Generation Leaders."

—No marriage in Caymans: The Cayman Islands Court of Appeal most recently ruled in favor of the government, overturning Chief Justice Anthony Smellie's previous ruling that legalized same-sex marriage in the Cayman Islands.

—Revelation: On Dec. 17, Pope Francis announced major changes to the way the Roman Catholic Church deals with sexual-abuse cases involving minors, abolishing the rule of "pontifical secrecy" that previously covered them.

—Changing teams: Out gay freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy, a two-time Olympian who has represented Team USA, announced he plans to compete for Great Britain's team in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing to honor his "#1 fan"—his mother.

—Beauty mark: Miss Myanmar Swe Zin Htet took part in the Dec. 8 Miss Universe pageant as the first lesbian in the event's history. Miss South Africa won the 2019 Miss Universe title.


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