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France approves marriage; Amaechi's mixed message
World news: Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2013-05-21

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World news: France approves marriage; Amaechi's mixed message

COMPILED BY ANDREW DAVIS

France's president, Francois Hollande, has signed into law a measure making the country the ninth in Europe, and 14th globally, to legalize gay marriage, the BBC reported. On May 17, the Constitutional Council rejected a challenge by the right-wing opposition, clearing the way for Hollande to sign the bill. Parliamentary Relations Minister Alain Vidalies told French TV he expected the first ceremonies to take place before July 1.

John Amaechi, the first former NBA player to ever come out of the closet (although he was retired at the time), had mixed opinions about being gay in professional sports, Gay Star News reported. In an interview with UK-based online radio station Gaydio, he said that organizational leaders should be held more responsible for homophobia in sports. Amaechi added that being a closeted professional athlete was "lonely," also saying, "I would say the idea that everyone should come out is an idealistic one. If you want safe, if you want secure, do not come out."

The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) has launched its 2013 issue of the state-sponsored homophobia report—a world survey of laws on criminalization, protection and recognition of same-sex love—from its newly opened office in Geneva, according to a press release. The report, which Lucas Paoli Itaborahy and Jingshu Zhu edited, was presented at the City Hall of Geneva in front more than 30 UN Delegates. The report is at old.ilga.org/Statehomophobia/ILGA_State_Sponsored_Homophobia_2013.pdf; a world map of gay and lesbian rights is at http://old.ilga.org/Statehomophobia/ILGA_map_2013_A4.pdf.

In the Philippines, the gay political party Ang Ladlad apparently failed to win a seat in its congress, according to Gay Star News. Official election results report that the party got 75,913 votes, only 0.37 percent of the vote; a party needs at least 2 percent (570,112 votes at this election) of the vote to get a seat under the Philippines' party-list system. The elections commission has twice denied the group accreditation, the last time in 2010 on what it said were moral grounds, Channel News Asia reported.

Ireland is hosting what some are calling the world's first LGBT matchmaking festival, according to Gay Star News. The Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival, the oldest event of its kind in Europe, will, for the first time, invite gay singles looking for love for a weekend filled with parties and events. The so-called "Outing weekend" will take place Aug. 30-Sept. 1.

Cardinal Keith O'Brien is being ordered to leave Scotland for several months and atone for his sexual misconduct with his male priests, according to Gay Star News. The Vatican has confirmed he will be leaving the country for several months "for the purpose of spiritual, prayer and penance." As Scotland announced plans to legalize equal marriage, O'Brien declared "war," and compared it to slavery and child abuse.

In Fiji, LGBT-rights advocates insist that discrimination against the community remains a problem, according to Pink News. The country was one of many to observe the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT), which marks the World Health Organization's decision in 1990 to remove the classification of homosexuality as a mental disorder. Drodrolagi Movement spokesman Kris Prasad said in an interview with Radio Australia that, despite Fiji having decriminalized gay sex in 2010, there is still bullying and discrimination throughout the country.

Shadow public health minister Diane Abbott believes British men are facing a "crisis of masculinity" brought on by economic anxiety, which is contributing to the "normalization of homophobia," Pink News noted. In a speech, the Labour MP for Hackney in east London said that the problems men and boys face are not receiving sufficient attention because "like the film Fight Club, the first rule of being a man in modern Britain is that you're not allowed to talk about it."

In a watershed ruling, Hong Kong's top court has granted a transgender woman the right to marry her boyfriend, according to the Guardian. The surprise decision only covers the right of a transgender person who was born male to marry a man, and for one who was born female to marry a woman. The court of final appeal's ruling brings Hong Kong in line with many other places in the Asia-Pacific region, including mainland China, where transgender people are allowed to marry as their new gender.

Felipe Najera and Jamie Morales, a couple who made their relationship official when Mexico City legalized marriage, are leading the fight for gay adoption in the city, according to Passport Magazine. The soap opera actor and theater producer adopted a year-and-a-half-old girl. Mexico's law allows gay couples to adopt; however, the government agencies have yet to update their rules and regulations.

In Scotland, teacher Steven Watt—who admitted to asking a student if he was "camp" and then advising him that it was "ok to be gay these days"—has been fired for indecent conduct, Pink News reported. Watt, 41, admitted six charges at a General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) hearing, including being intoxicated while caring for and being in control of a group of children. Watt reportedly got drunk at a band camp and climbed into a boy's bed in October 2011.

British band The Wanted answered a question about a Lance Bass comment by saying most of them "probably would have a dabble" with another guy, according to the Huffington Post. Bass, who was in the band NSync, recently said that at least one member of any boy band is probably gay. The Wanted's Jay McGuiness said during a radio interview in Australia that most of the band's members would probably hook up with another guy, to which bandmate Tom Parker said, "Speak for yourself." The Wanted is known for its hit song "I'm Glad You Came."

Two Toronto Catholic District School Board trustees want to eliminate gay-straight alliances from the city's Catholic schools, according to the Globe and Mail. Trustee Garry Tanuan, who represents Ward 8 Scarborough, will introduce a motion at a May 23 board meeting that states that "Toronto Catholic District School Board schools shall have no Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) clubs or similar." Trustee John Del Grande, who represents Ward 7 Scarborough/NorthYork, seconded the motion.

In Georgia, thousands of anti-gay activists attacked LGBT-rights campaigners in the country's capital, Tbilisi, Gay Star News reported. A small group of LGBT people were attending a rally for International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO), marked on May 17, when they were overwhelmed; it is believed that more than a dozen were injured. A day later, pro- and anti-gay forces again staged rallies in Tbilisi, although no violent incidents were reported, Pink News noted.

Another IDAHO demonstration also resulted in violence. According to Gay Star News, more than 150 LGBT people and their friends held a protest in St Petersburg, Russia. However, around 150 counterprotesters—held back by police barriers—displayed photos of victims of pedophiles and shouted slurs as well as threw smoke pellets and small stones at the demonstrators. LGBT witnesses at the event said that among the anti-gay activists were two radicals currently on trial for the attacks on LGBT campaigners last year.

Finland's pro-equal marriage Eurovision entry, "Marry Me," placed 24th in the recent Eurovision Song Contest, according to Pink News. Krista Siegfrids, the Finnish Eurovision singer, said her song was intended as a hint to her boyfriend to propose to her, but was also meant as a message of marriage equality. The winner of the contest was Denmark's Emmelie de Forest, with "Only Teardrops."

U.S. drag artist Rhea Litre was forced to perform out of drag when visiting Dubai, according to Gay Star News. Litre was booked to perform her hit song "Let's Have a KaiKai" at Carnage, one of the few gay-friendly events in Dubai. However, local authorities approached her and fellow artists, telling them they could not go on stage in drag.

Portugal's Parliament passed a bill to offer some adoption and fostering rights to same-sex couples, according to Pink News. The bill won with a very narrow majority of just five votes in the Lisbon assembly, but prompted long applause from that 230-seat assembly. This development has been called the biggest move forward for LGBT rights in Portugal since the country became the eighth in the world to allow equal marriage, back in 2010.

Gay Vietnamese-Canadian fashion-design lecturer Valentine Vu, who lives in Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City, said that the country is not ready for marriage equality, according to Gay Star News. Legalizing gay marriage would not make Vietnam "'cool' when it has failed to acknowledge other gay rights issues," Vu wrote in an editorial for Tuoitre News. Vu added that Vietnamese society doesn't have the "foundation" for marriage equality. Vietnam's ministry of justice began consulting on same-sex marriage last year.

Peace Corps Deputy Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet announced that the agency will begin accepting applications from same-sex domestic partners who want to serve together as volunteers overseas, according to a press release. Same-sex couples may begin the application process starting Monday, June 3. The Peace Corps requires formal documentation for all couples who want to serve, and same-sex domestic partners will be required to sign an affidavit before leaving for service that verify their relationships.

In an interview with the BBC, former German shot-putter Andreas Krieger—who competed as East German female Heidi Krieger during the 1980s—said that his coaches "killed Heidi" by supplying anabolic steroids, according to a New York Daily News item. Kreiger was among thousands of young athletes injured by an East German government plan to dominate Olympic sports through chemistry; in most cases they were told the pills and shots were vitamins and natural supplements. Female victims who were teenagers in the East German system later stated that their pubic hair spread onto their chests; in addition, their voices deepened and their menstruation cycles fell out of rhythm.

Right-wing French historian and activist Dominique Venner, 78, shot himself to death in Paris' famed Notre Dame Cathedral, apparently in protest of the nation's new marriage-equality law, Advocate.com reported. Venner walked past crowds of visitors and stopped beside the cathedral's altar, where he put a gun in his mouth and fired. His editor, Pierre-Guillaume de Roux, acknowledged that Venner objected to same-sex marriage but said he also had concerns that went "far beyond" the issue.

In central China, authorities detained the 18-year-old organizer of a gay-pride march, ABC News reported. The man, identified only by his surname Xiang, was detained following the event in the city of Changsha, and he was ordered to serve 12 days in a detention center for organizing an illegal march. China requires prior police approval for all marches and street demonstrations; permission is reportedly rarely granted.


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