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Gay team makes history; Laverne Cox tops world list
World news: Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2014-07-08

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Australia's first gay rugby union team ( the Sydney Convicts ) made history July 6 when it become the first gay rugby team in the world to play as part of a professional match, according to a press release. The Convicts beat Macquarie University ahead of the game between the NSW Waratahs ( AUS ) and the Highlanders ( NZ ) at Allianz Stadium. Also, as part of the event, Allianz aired a 30-second anti-homophobia TV advertisement during the Waratahs/Highlanders game that featured some of the most well-known athletes in world sport.

Actress Laverne Cox topped UK publication The Guardian's third annual World Pride Power List, which celebrates the world's most influential LGBT people, On Top Magazine noted. Ellen DeGeneres, who last year ranked first on the list, came in second this year. Recently out Olympic diver Tom Daley ranked third. Among others in the top 10 are actor Sir Ian McKellen; TV host Graham Norton and Gok Wan; musician Elton John; and Nike CIO Anthony Watson.

Iran has remade the hit U.S. TV show Modern Family—minus gay couple Mitch and Cam, according to Gay Star News. In Haft Sang, an unauthorized remake of the show, their parts have either been written out or given a heterosexual makeover as Iranian TV tries to translate the appeal of the ABC hit show within the strict religious guidelines of an Iranian theocratic state. Other characters have also had their genders changed to avoid depicting pre-marital mixing of men and women to Iranian audiences.

A UK trans woman who was held in a men's prison in Canada is filing two human-rights complaints, according to Gay Star News. Avery Edison, a 26-year-old trans woman from London, was detained this past February when she was traveling to Canada. Canadian immigration officials sent her to men's prison instead of a female prison and now Edison is filing two complaints—one to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario and the other to the Canadian Human Rights Commission. Edison's passport had identified her as female.

A Zambian magistrate has acquitted two men charged with having sexual relations "against the order of nature," saying the state had failed to prove its case, according to the UK Guardian. Philip Mubiana and James Mwape, both in their early 20s, had been held since May 2013 and faced up to 15 years in jail if convicted. In February, another Zambian magistrate acquitted gay-rights activist Paul Kasonkomona on charges of encouraging homosexuality after concluding that the prosecution had failed to prove its case.

A British immigration court has denied a bisexual Jamaican man's request for asylum, ordering him to return to his home country, where he says he will face persecution because of his sexual orientation, Advocate.com reported. Orashia Edwards, 32, lost his lengthy legal battle with the United Kingdom's Home Office when he was denied asylum on the basis of his sexuality. The court concluded that Edwards was "dishonest" about his sexuality, apparently not believing that Edwards was actually bisexual.

The United Nations will begin recognizing staff members' legal same-sex unions according to the the laws where the union was established, LGBTQ Nation noted. The change was detailed in a policy statement issued from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Describing the new policy, Ban said, "Human rights are at the core of the mission of the United Nations. I am proud to stand for greater equality for all staff, and I call on all members of our UN family to unite in rejecting homophobia as discrimination that can never be tolerated at our workplace."

Findus, a frozen-food company, has produced what is believed to be the first gay-friendly ad in Italy, Time.com reported. In the commercial—in which no faces are shown—a man named Luca and his mother bond over microwaved pasta cooked by Luca's boyfriend. The ad comes nine months after the chairman of Italian pasta maker Barilla came under fire for saying he would never use a gay family in his ads; the company eventually announced a "more inclusive" initiative.

Three French men have been sentenced in Paris for a 2013 attack on a gay man and his partner who were walking arm-in-arm, LGBTQ Nation noted. K. Taieb and M. Abdel Malik, both 19, were sentenced to two and a half years in jail—with 12 and 18 months suspended, respectively—for the attack on Wilfred de Bruijn and his partner. de Bruijn was kicked in the face and beaten unconscious near his home early in central Paris on April 6, 2013, sustaining five fractures in his head and face, abrasions and a lost tooth. A third man, 21-year-old T. Kide, witnessed the attack but did not help the victims; he received a six-month suspended jail sentence.

Australian transgender man Paige Phoenix and his wife have had their marriage invalidated because the home state of Victoria requires a trans person to undergo surgery before it will amend their birth certificate, according to Pink News. Australia's government legally recognizes Phoenix, a recording artist, as male; he was allowed to marry his female partner because he had a valid passport indicating his gender. Phoenix has a serious underlying medical condition he is not able to have surgery, and is stuck with some documents referring to him as male, and some female.

British lesbian writer and advocate Julie Bindel has defended her assertion that being gay is a choice, Gay Star News noted. Bindel, 52, believes she made a "conscious and happy choice to be a lesbian" more than 30 years ago because she had "better taste than other young women." However, even though she asserts being gay is a choice, she states she did not choose to be gay herself. Bindel said that homosexuality "has to be some kind of choice, as well as some deep-rooted, embedded responses that developed through different experiences in our childhood."

The Atlantic City Alliance's chief strategy and communications officer, Jeff Guaracino, will serve as the new board chair of the IGLTA Foundation ( the philanthropic organization of the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association ), according to a press release. Guaracino is joined on the board's executive committee by Vice Chair Steve Roth, OutThink Partners; Secretary Richard Gray, Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau; and Treasurer Brianna Murphy, Trillium Asset Management.

In Australia, a University of Melbourne study shows that children of same-sex parents have above-average health and well-being, CNBC reported. The research was based on data from the Australian Study of Child Health in Same-Sex Families, which involved input from 315 same-sex parents ( out of 390 ) and a total of 500 children. Of these participating families, 80 percent had female parents while 18 percent had male partners. Eleven percent of gay men and 33 percent of lesbian women in Australia have children, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Right after Russia was knocked out of the World Cup, a Russian Orthodox priest said it doesn't matter since FIFA's major contest is a "homosexual abomination" anyway, Advocate.com noted. Priest Alexander Shumsky, a columnist for Russian People's Line, said the bright-colored shoes that football players wear are too flashy. Russia, which has a law that criminalizes so-called LGBT propaganda, is scheduled to host to the World Cup in 2018.

Northern Ireland's Equality Commission is pursuing legal action against a Belfast bakery that is claiming Christianity as justification for its refusal to decorate a cake celebrating marriage equality, according to Advocate.com . Daniel McArthur, the 24-year-old manager at Asher's Baking Company in Newtownabbey, told a broadcasting agency that his shop does not endorse the so-called redefinition of marriage. The design the customer in this case wanted included an image of Sesame Street's Bert and Ernie, as well as text that read, "Support Gay Marriage," and the logo of an LGBT-equality group called QueerSpace.


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