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Anti-gay mayor loses to gay man; Vatican-gay sauna link
World news: Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2013-03-12

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Anti-gay German mayor Helmut Muller has lost his seat to openly gay candidate Sven Gerich, of the Social Democratic Party, according to Gay Star News. Gerich, 38, became mayor of Wiesbaden in Hesse by garnering 50.8 percent of the vote over Muller's 49.2 percent. Just two weeks before the election, results showed Muller had been leading with the vote.

The Vatican apparently is the majority owner of an apartment block that houses Italy's largest gay bathhouse, the New York Daily News reported. In addition, Ivan Cardinal Dias lives in a 12-room apartment one floor above Europa Multiclub, which has everything from a Turkish bath to massages to "bear parties." Dias is known for criticizing homosexuality, calling it "unnatural" and arguing that gays can be "cured."

The Federation of Gay Games ( www.gaygames.org )—joined by the European Gay and Lesbian Sport Federation, Football v. Homophobia and AllOut—released a letter March 6 they all wrote to Sepp Blatter and Jerome Valke, who are the president and secretary of FIFA, the world football (soccer) federation, a press release stated. The organizations expressed their concern about reports that the Nigerian Football Association has banned lesbians from soccer in the country. The ninth edition of the quadrennial Gay Games will be held in Cleveland and Akron, Ohio, Aug. 9-16, 2014.

A prominent Chinese sociologist and sexologist said her proposal to legalize same-sex marriage had been submitted to the parliamentary session in Beijing, according to SCMP.com . Women's-rights advocate Li Yinhe added, however, the proposal is only a recommendation, which means there is low likelihood her plan would ever become law. "Homosexual people are Chinese citizens, and there are homosexuals who want to get married. Their request should be addressed, as it does not run against their civil rights as citizens," reads Li's proposal.

In Canada, Quebec's minister of justice, Bertrand St-Arnaud, is leading the provincial government's fight against homophobia. A new campaign features a series of commercials that challenge citizens to evaluate how comfortable they are living, working and supporting LGBT people. The TV ads conclude with same-sex couples sharing a kiss, followed by the question: "Does this change the way you thought 20 seconds ago?" An interactive website also gives visitors a chance to examine different situations of individuals of various sexual orientations and gender identities.

The group Gay and Lesbian of Zimbabwe (GALZ) criticized Prime Minister's Morgan Tsvangirai's slamming of homosexuality, calling it was "reckless" and "unfortunate," according to Gay Star News. Tsvangirai told party supporters, "In the draft constitution, we said marriage is between a man and a woman and those who want to marry another from the same sex, then they have a problem. Why do you want to sleep with another man?" The group said Tsvangirai's statements contradict the spirit of the constitution that protects all Zimbabweans.

Queen Elizabeth II has signed an historic pledge to promote gay rights and gender equality, according to the Daily Mail. She signed the Commonwealth Charter, which lays out the core values of the 54 member states. One particular line reads, "We are implacably opposed to all forms of discrimination, whether rooted in gender, race, colour, creed, political belief or other grounds." The "other grounds" is intended to refer to sexuality, but others have wondered if this interpretation is a stretch.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has accused Malaysia of violating international standards regarding anti-LGBT discrimination, according to Gay Star News. HRW submitted a report to the UN on Malaysia's human-rights shortcomings, which included curtailing freedom of peaceful assembly, association and expression, and abuses in the justice system. Among the examples provided were the banning of the Seksualiti Merdeka (sexual diversity) festival and denying transgender individuals the right to correct their gender on official documents.

Professor Jokin de Irala—known for his views that homosexuality is a "curable disease"—was forced to cancel a planned lecture on the subject in an international convention in Costa Rica, according to Gay Star News. Irala, a Spanish medical doctor, was due to speak March 7 on the subject of "curing" homosexuality at the 5th Central American Congress of Bioethics. However, after several organizations (including Costa Rica's Psychologists Association and human-rights groups) slammed de Irala's views, he was forced to cancel his talk.

While the "Harlem Shake" video craze has generated fun for the most part, a Jamaican version has an anti-gay bent, Gay Star News noted. A Jamaican contribution compares gay people to pedophiles and even zoophiles (people who have sex with animals). Urging gay people be imprisoned for showing affection in public, the video is in response to local efforts to repeal the so-called "Buggery Law." The conservative Love March Movement is reportedly behind the clip.

Canada is quietly financing a grassroots effort to help gay Ugandans' fight their country's proposed anti-homosexuality bill, according to the National Post. Since November—when the Ugandan Parliament renewed its effort to pass the legislation, which Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has called "abhorrent"—Canada has spent $200,000 to kick-start several gay-rights initiatives in the region. Homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda, but the proposed legislation would renew and reinvigorate efforts to rid the country of its gay population.

British singer Christopher Maloney, who finished third on England's X Factor last year, has come out of the closet, Gay Star News noted. Maloney, 35, told Now that the pressures of the show—including death threats against him and family members—led to him having a something of "breakdown." He also clashed with fellow contestants and judges during the show.

Activists claim Brazil has the world's highest occurrence of anti-gay murders, according to Gay Star News. Brazilian LGBT-rights group Grupo Gay da Bahia has released a breakdown of gay-related murders for 2012, claiming that Brazil accounts for 44 percent of the killings worldwide. The organization documented 338 anti-LGBT killings in 2012—which breaks down to one murder every 26 hours.

A preliminary hearing began for Luka Magnotta, the Canadian porn actor accused of dismembering his male Chinese lover and mailing the body parts, according to CBS News. Police suspect Magnotta of killing student Jun Lin as well as posting a video online that shows him stabbing and having sex with the dismembered corpse. Magnotta pled not guilty last June to first-degree murder.

French anti-gay activists plan to stage a protest against England and Wales' marriage-equality bill in London's Trafalgar Square March 24, Pink News reported. French anti-equality group La Manif pour Tous is said to be behind the rally, which will take place on Palm Sunday and coincides with a similar large-scale anti-equal marriage protest planned for the Champs-Elysees in Paris.

The mortality rate for men in same-sex marriages has dropped markedly since the 1990s, according to a Danish study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology. Mortality was markedly elevated among people in same-sex marriages for the first several years after Denmark enacted the law; however, since 1996, with the advent of effective treatment of HIV/AIDS, mortality among men married to men has dropped to a level below that of unmarried or divorced men. In contrast, same-sex married women were at increased risk of mortality, most notably from suicide and cancer.


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