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IKEA Thailand apologizes; Vatican denies rumors
World news: Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
2013-02-26

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Thailand's Pimilai Resort. Photo by Kelsy Chauvin


IKEA Thailand has apologized to Thai Transgender Alliance for "the unintended offense" that an advertisement featuring a transgender person caused, according to Gay Star News. The ad, shown on Bangkok's BTS Skytrain system and YouTube, features a transgender woman who is so shocked by a sale item she speaks in a masculine voice—causing the man she is with to run away.

The Vatican is denying reports that Pope Benedict XVI's resignation was linked to an emerging scandal involving gay priests and high-priced blackmail, according to USA Today. Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, who didn't specifically mention the scandal, said, "It is deplorable that as we draw closer to the time of the beginning of the conclave ... that there be a widespread distribution of often unverified, unverifiable or completely false news stories that cause serious damage to persons and institutions." A story that was originally in the Rome newspaper La Repubblica claims the pope's decision to step down dates to Dec. 17, 2012, after he first saw a nearly 300-page dossier—dubbed "VatiLeaks" by the Italian press—that details meetings between priests and other officials working in the Vatican and laymen who were "united by their sexual orientation."

The 30th anniversary of the annual global convention of the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) will take place in Chicago May 2-4. Among the events slated are breakout sessions, an opening party (at the Field Museum), networking luncheons and an awards ceremony. Breakouts will include "Gay Travel/Gay Rights: A 30 Year History/A Bright Future" and "Marking your territory in the LGBT Travel Industry," among many others. See www.igltaconvention.org .

A UK-based therapy organization said that the term "LGBT" is too exclusive and should be replaced with the phrase "Gender and Sexual Diversities (GSD)," Gay Star News reported. Pink Therapy in London has posted a video on Facebook arguing the term "LGBT" needs to be replaced. Pink Therapy wants to use "GSD" to be more inclusive of people who do not consider themselves part of the available labels.

Following calls from LGBTI-rights groups and legal experts, the Australian Senate committee drafting the new Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill has recommended that "intersex" be included as a category in its own right in the proposed law, according to Gay Star News. The report said the committee agreed with campaigners that "intersex is a matter of biology rather than gender identity," so protection from discrimination was not covered by the definition of gender identity in the draft bill.

In Vietnam, the Ministry of Justice has ordered the local government in Binh Phuoc province to halt its decision to reverse recognition of intersex teacher Pham Le Quynh Tram's gender, according to Gay Star News. Pham successfully lobbied the authorities in Binh Phuoc to change her gender on official documents in 2009, and was "deeply shocked" to learn last month that they wanted to revoke the decision.

Allegations surfaced that the United Kingdom's most senior Catholic official, Cardinal Keith O'Brien of Scotland, had engaged in inappropriate behavior with priests over the past few decades, according to ThinkProgress.org . Although O'Brien contested the claims, he officially resigned from the Church. He was due to retire in March anyway; however, the resignation rendered him unable to represent Britain in the papal conclave to replace Pope Benedict XVI.

In Australia, lesbian Sydney Councillor Christine Forster has explained why she voted against a motion to paint a road crossing rainbow colors to honor the LGBT community, according to Gay Star News. In a statement, she said that "cost to ratepayers ... could not be justified on the basis that the crossing would only be in place until the end of March." She added that now the crossing has been approved, she has set wheels in motion to make the structure a long-term feature.

In South Africa, Mamphela Ramphele—leader of the country's newest political party, Agang (Sotho for "Build")—stated she fully backs LGBT rights and is dedicated to fight homophobia, according to Gay Star News. Ramphele—a doctor and revered anti-apartheid activist—announced the formation of a new political party Feb. 18 and called upon South Africans to 'join me on a journey to build the country of our dreams."

In India, a man was assaulted in an anti-gay attack, resulting in him having a broken chin, according to DNAIndia.com . Two men confronted him at a train station; they then started hitting him and shouting, "Homogiri karne toilet mein aata hai aur abhi sharif banta hai (which means "You indulge in homosexual acts in the toilet and now you are trying to be decent")." Gay-rights activist Ashok Row Kavi promised legal help for the victim through the Hamsafar Trust.

In Australia, the fired principal of a major Jewish school in Melbourne reached an out-of-court settlement on the eve of his unfair dismissal case in the Federal Court, according to Haaretz.com . Joseph Gerassi, who is gay, sued Bialik College for millions of dollars in damages to his reputation and for lost income after the school's board abruptly fired him in 2011. The two parties settled for an undisclosed sum; Bialik President Graham Goldsmith said the relationship between Gerassi and the college's board "had irretrievably broken down."


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