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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Looking back: World news
Extended for the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2017-12-30

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—Channel one: South Africa's first LGBT video-on-demand ( VOD ) channel launched. PrideTV content manager J/anne Raphael Katz said, "PrideTV reverses the trend to restrict access to LGBT themes by South African and African broadcasters."

—Bronski Beat member dies: Larry Steinbachek, a former keyboardist with 1980s synthpop group Bronski Beat, died at 56. Bronski Beat was known for, among other things, raising awareness about gay rights. "Smalltown Boy" was about the anguish of growing up gay, and the sleeve for the debut album, The Age of Consent, listed the ages of consent for gay men in different countries.

—Game over: The quadrennial World OutGames ( to be held in Miami ) was cancelled May 26—the day before the opening ceremonies were to be held—with hundreds or thousands of participants en route or already in South Florida. Social media was abuzz with irate, profanity-spewing participants from around the world who were upset about the cancellation.

—Nikki situation: In reaction to Nikki Haley's confirmation as the United States ambassador to the United Nations, OutRight examined her responses to questions during her Senate confirmation hearing and questions for the record about protecting LGBTI rights internationally, a press release stated. Jessica Stern, executive director of OutRight Action International, said in part, "I am reassured that Governor Haley condemned discrimination on any basis. ... At the same time, I can't help but notice that Governor Haley didn't say the words lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex."

—By George: Darren Salter—senior coroner for Oxfordshire, United Kingdom—stated that late singer George Michael died from natural causes. The "Faith" singer, 53, was found at his home on Christmas Day 2016, and apparently had a heart condition.

—Protest: In Croatia, approximately 1,000 people protested in Zagreb, calling for tolerance after unknown attackers released tear gas in a nightclub hosting a gay party. The incident sparked a panic at the Super Super club in staunchly Catholic Croatia's capital.

—( Hong ) Kong of the road: Hong Kong was chosen to host Gay Games 2022, edging Washington, D.C. and Guadalajara, Mexico. Paris is hosting the games in August 2018, and the Federation of Gay Games convened to hear the pitches of the finalists and make a selection in the French capital.

—Family affair: An Italian court ruled for the first time that two gay partners should be legally recognized as the fathers of two surrogate children. In a landmark ruling, the Court of Appeal in the northern city of Trento decided that both men can be officially named as the father—not just the parent who is biologically related.

—Chechnya crisis: Human Rights Watch reported that authorities in Chechnya rounded up, beat, and humiliated dozens of gay or bisexual men in an apparent effort to purge them from Chechen society. Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov denied the wrongdoing. U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley was among those condemning the attacks.

—French twist: Xavier Jugele—the 37-year-old police officer murdered in the April 20 Islamic State attack on Paris' Champs-Elysees—was openly gay and an advocate for LGBTQ rights.

—Out of Africa: Nigerian prosecutors charged 53 men with conspiracy to organize a gay wedding and related crimes punishable by up to 14 years in jail.

—I'm coming out: Artem Kolesov, first violinist of Chicago's Yas Quartet, was outraged by reports of gay oppression in Chechnya—so he decided to publish a video testament on being young, Russian and gay.

—Honoring Castro: Dr. Mariela Castro Espin received the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association's Chair Award for 2017. In addition to serving as director of CENESEX, she is also an active member of the World Association of Transgender Health Professionals, and is president of the National Commission for the Integral Care of Transgender Persons of the Ministry of Public Health of the Republic of Cuba.

—Historic ruling: Taiwan's constitutional court ruled that same-sex couples have the right to legally marry—making it the first Asian country to approve same-sex marriage. The court, known as the Judicial Yuan, said current marriage laws were "in violation of both the people's freedom of marriage ... and the people's right to equality," and it provided two years for legal amendments to allow same-sex marriage.

—In hot water: Indonesian authorities arrested 141 men, claiming they were engaging in a "gay sex party" at Atlantis Gym & Sauna in Indonesia's capital, Jakarta. Indonesia does not have laws criminalizing homosexuality, except in the Aceh province; however, the country does have severe anti-pornography laws that have been used to target LGBTIQ websites and activities.

—Dire warning: Researchers and advocates have said that at least 1 million people will die in sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere of HIV if funding cuts proposed by the Trump administration to HIV-treatment programs were enacted.

—App dance: China's leading lesbian app, Rela, was shut down recently following a viral incident at Shanghai's marriage market in People's Park in which a group of mothers of LGBT children were kicked out by police while trying to raise awareness for gay rights.

—Great Scot: The Scottish Episcopal Church voted to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry in the church, making it the first major Christian church in the UK to do so. The vote amends cannon law that says marriage is an opposite-sex union. It also places the Scottish Episcopal Church at odds with most of the Anglican Communion.

—Leo, political: Leo Varadkar assumed office as Ireland's Taoiseach, after a confirmation vote in his favor. Varadkar was elected as leader of the governing political party Fine Gael, replacing Enda Kenny, who departed the role after 15 years. As he took office, the new leader ( who is Indian ) became only the fourth openly gay head of government in recent global history.

—Lesbian leader: Serbia leader Aleksandar Vucic named public administration minister Ana Brnabic as the new prime minister. Brnabic became the first woman—as well as the first openly gay politician—to lead the European country.

—I apologize: A gay man in central China won an apology and compensation from a mental hospital over forced conversion therapy. The man, identified only by his surname Yu, had been admitted by his wife and relatives to the hospital in the town of Zhumadian in Henan province in 2015.

—It's all relative: An ultra-Orthodox Jewish lawmaker resigned from the Israeli legislature after drawing rabbis' wrath for attending his gay nephew's wedding. Yigal Guetta, of the Shas party, said in an Israeli radio interview that he and his family had gone to the celebration—held two years ago in Israel—because he wanted his sister's son to be happy, although same-sex marriage violated his own religious beliefs.

—Another crackdown: Police in the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan reportedly conducted a violent campaign, arresting and torturing men presumed to be gay or bisexual, as well as transgender women.

—The show is over: Seven people were arrested in Egypt for raising a rainbow-pride flag at a concert in Cairo by Lebanese band Mashrou' Leila, whose lead singer ( Hamed Sinno ) is gay. They were detained for "promoting sexual deviancy"—one of the several laws authorities use to go after LGBTQ people, despite homosexuality not being explicitly criminalized under Egyptian law.

—Tech and effect: Pope Francis made a statement denouncing technologies that support gender confirmation. DignityUSA Executive Director Marianne Duddy-Burke was among those expressing profound disappointment about the pope's remarks.

—Losing a leader: LGBT-rights activist Julian Aubrey was found stabbed to death in his West London flat. Police discovered Aubrey, 55, with multiple knife wounds. The British campaigner was a former co-chairman of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea LGBT liaison group.

—It's still standing: The Elton John AIDS Foundation, marking its 25th anniversary, raised more than $4.3 million at its 2017 annual New York Fall Gala to support HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, supporting services, and advocacy programs across the United States, the Americas and the Caribbean.

—Talking 'bout a resolution: All 193 United Nations member-states adopted the Olympic Truce Resolution maintaining language protecting against discrimination based on sexual orientation. The resolution—which passed by consensus—included the contested reference to non-discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation in the Olympic Charter.

—Back and forth: In May, Bermuda approved same-sex marriage. However, by December, a bill to ban same-sex marriage and establish domestic partnerships was passed by the parliament—and now awaits a signature from the governor.

—Shutdown: Ugandan police reportedly raided and forcibly closed the Queer Kampala International Film Festival. The festival featured films and documentaries portraying the lives of LGBTIQ people. Police offered no formal legal basis for forcibly shutting down the festival.

—Missing Jana: Wimbledon champion Jana Novotna ( who several websites listed as being lesbian ) died in her native Czech Republic after a long battle with cancer. She was 49.

—With this ring: After years of debate, Australia's Parliament has voted to legalize same-sex marriage, becoming the 24th country in the world to do so. By the end of the year, the continent witnessed its firs same-sex wedding.


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