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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Italian PM's anti-gay comments; China's first transgender man
World news: Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2013-01-23

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Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti has come out against same-sex marriage and adoption, according to Reuters. Monti told a TV interviewer, "My thought is that the family should be made up of one man and one woman, and I consider it necessary that children should grow up with a mother and a father." It was the first time the former economics professor has made a social issue part of his campaign; elections will be held next month.

China's first openly transgender man said he feels great as a man, according to WhatsOnXiamen.com . Back in 2005, 38-year-old Geng Zi had a mastectomy and several reproductive organs removed; he legally became a man one year later. However, although Geng (born Geng Lanjun) is happy in his body, he yearns for a relationship; he said it's hard to find a woman who can completely accept who he is.

Also in China, a new report that the First Intermediate People's Court of Beijing released urges legislation that would make it legal for anyone who discovers his or her spouse is gay to get an annulment rather than a divorce, according to an Advocate.com item. The country has "at least 10 million 'gay wives,' according to prominent sexologist Zhang Beichuan, adding that nearly 90 percent of gay men are already married to or will eventually marry heterosexual women, as same-sex marriage is banned in the country."

Dr. Julie Gasper, a UK Independence Party chair, has left her post after her anti-gay views were exposed, Gay Star News reported. In an online forum, Gasper said gays are more likely to abuse children, branded gay rights as a "lunatic's charter" and claimed some gay people prefer sex with animals. Party leader Nigel Farage told The Sunday Mirror that Gasper's "position in the Oxford branch is not acceptable and is being changed. Her war against homosexuals is unacceptable."

The French edition of Elle magazine declared its support for same-sex marriage with a "Marriage for all!" issue, the Huffington Post reported. Elle Editorial Director Valerie Toranian wrote, in part, "This debate is not primarily between old and modern, right and left, homophobes and progressives: there are gay, pro-marriage Catholics, left- and right-leaning psychologists fiercely attached to the symbolism of gender difference as a necessity for any potential child." In recent months, marriage equality has been a hot-button topic throughout France.

A Russian court has denied imprisoned Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina's plea to defer her sentence so she could take care of her 5-year-old son, according to the BBC. She was arrested last year after the band interrupted a service at the main cathedral in Moscow with a protest song against President Vladimir Putin. Alyokhina, 24, and fellow band member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, were convicted of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred."

Dane Lewis—the executive director of J-FLAG, Jamaica's foremost gay-rights organization—is headlining a new a human-rights video campaign featuring straight, gay and lesbian Jamaicans, according to the Miami Herald. The campaign, called "We Are Jamaicans," was launched to raise awareness among Jamaicans about LGBT identity and community, human rights, stigma and discrimination. "We Are Jamaicans" is a participatory video campaign hosted on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/user/EqualityJA.

In Australia, Tania Herman—who's serving at least nine years for attempted murder—has applied to "marry" prison lover Nicole Muscat, according to the Herald Sun. If Corrections Victoria approves the application, the two inmates hope to hold a commitment ceremony inside Tarrengower Women's Prison in May. Muscat began a two-year prison term in July 2011 for stealing $118,000 from a venue she managed.

Israel has celebrated its first public transgender wedding, according to Gay Star News. Celebrities and the couple's friends and family cheered as Chen Arizona married her husband, whose identity was not revealed. Arizona, who runs a salon near Tel Aviv, was born Erez Yisraelof, one of four siblings in a traditional Orthodox Jewish family. Israel's Channel 2 evening news televised the event, and it was seen throughout the country.

In Nigeria, three men have gone into hiding after suffering being stripped naked, being paraded in public and enduring savage beatings for allegedly having gay sex, Gay Star News reported. A relative of one of the men claimed that police will not take action against them or against the perpetrators of the assault. Human-rights activists are investigating the case.

In Canada, two Canadian men have been acquitted of the 2010 beating of a Vancouver gay couple in a controversial verdict that reportedly elicited gasps from the public gallery, according to Gay Star News. Brothers Parminder Bassi and Ravinder Bassi had been accused of beating gay men David Holtzman and Peter Regier. At least two witnesses, including a police officer, identified Parminder as a member of his soccer team after viewing security footage of the brothers fleeing the crime scene.

In Malta, same-sex couples are closer to achieving partnership rights after both the island nation's leading parties backed the idea, Gay Star News reported. The Malta Gay Rights Movement hopes to have civil partnerships in the next five years and marriage equality within 10. The Mediterranean archipelago is currently preparing for elections on March 9 with the ruling Nationalist Party (Partit Nazzjonalista, or PN) competing against the Labour Party.

The IGLTA (International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association) Foundation is offering five scholarships to attend the 30th Annual Global Convention May 2-4 in Chicago, according to a press release. Scholarships include the cost of visas, flights, hotel, per diem and conference attendance for three hospitality/tourism students, one individual representing a small business, and one individual representing a destination or event. The deadline is Feb. 15; see www.igltafoundation.org/scholarships.

In Nepal, Home Minister Bhola Siwakot said that the government will begin issuing gender-neutral citizenship documents for people who do not wish to be identified as male or female, Pink News reported. Activists praised the development, saying it was an achievement for LGBT rights in the country. Australia and New Zealand are among the other areas offering a gender-neutral option on passports.

In Russia, militant Orthodox activists have attacked members of the country's embattled gay community, who were protesting against a planned law banning "gay propaganda," according to a KHON2.com item. Russia's Parliament is slated to consider a federal law that makes public events and dissemination of LGBT-related information to minors punishable by fines of up to $16,000. A dozen LGBT-rights campaigners gathered in front of the parliament building in Moscow to stage a kiss-in; however, a similar number of young men interrupted the protest and assaulted the campaigners.


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