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  WINDY CITY TIMES

WORLD African country's pro-LGBT move, Pride marches, lesbian singer
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2020-07-07

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In a landmark decision on July 6, the Senate of Gabon voted to decriminalize same-sex relations with 59 votes in favor, 17 against and four abstentions, Outright International noted. The move to decriminalize was supported by the lower house of Parliament on June 23. Unlike numerous countries across Africa, Gabon did not have a colonial-era ban on same-sex relations; instead, a ban had been introduced in 2019 criminalizing same-sex relations between both men and women.

On June 26, Manila police arrested at least 20 people at an LGBT Pride event protesting an anti-terrorism bill in the Philippines, Human Rights Watch noted. The police did not explain why they were arresting the protesters, only telling them that their actions were illegal. The protesters were subsequently charged under the Law on Reporting of Communicable Diseases ( 2019 ) and the Public Assembly Act ( 1985 ). The Philippine Star confirmed that the protesters had been released from police custody, pending further investigation, SouthFloridaGayNews.com reported.

A stripped-down LGBT Pride march took place in Paris on July 4 that featured powerful slogans demanding racial equality and protesting against police violence, Reuters reported. The French capital's official Pride parade was postponed to November because of the coronavirus pandemic; however, organizers decided to hold a march they said should be more politically driven and support the "Black Lives Matter" movement. More than 200 LGBTQ-rights marches have been postponed or cancelled due to the pandemic, according to the European Pride Organisers Association.

A HuffPost item stated that lesbian Cantopop icon Denise Ho continues to take personal and professional risks as her career has grown to encompass activism amid Hong Kong's pro-democracy protests. Ho set a precedent in 2012 when she came out as a lesbian, reportedly becoming Hong Kong's first major female singer ever to do so. She's also the subject of the film Denise Ho: Becoming the Song, which hit virtual cinemas the day after LGBTQ Pride Month ended. For more on the film, see https://kinomarquee.com/film/venue/5ef0ec20480594000185e696.

On June 30, the Dutch House of Representatives voted for a bill by D66, GroenLinks and PvdA to anchor LGBTI rights in Article 1 of the Constitution, according to COC Nederland. In total, 124 MPs voted in favor and 26 voted against the proposal. The LGBTI organization COC Nederland has been advocating for almost 20 years to have LGBTI rights as part of the country's Constitution. The proposal now goes to the Senate. If it votes in favor, it will have to be re-adopted by a two-thirds majority after the March 2021 parliamentary elections.

In India, in what is being seen as a historic move, the Union Home Ministry has set the ball rolling for recruitment of transgender individuals in the Central Armed Police Force, IndiaTVNews.com noted. Transgender people can soon aspire to lead combat troops in central paramilitary forces as the government is mulling allowing them take the annual UPSC exam for recruitment. News agency PTI reported citing sources in the security establishment that with the central government notifying the Transgender Persons ( Protection of Rights ) Act last December, it is now essential to provide transgender people a "level playing field" in all avenues and services—including combat policing.

Germany is planning to right the wrongs done to soldiers who were discriminated against in past years by being rejected for promotion or even fired from the army because of their homosexuality, DW.com reported. The ministry said it intends to present a draft bill in September to address the injustices done to those soldiers who had been subjected to punitive measures by military disciplinary courts. According to the Defense Ministry website, Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer told groups representing LGBT+ personnel in the Bundeswehr in March that LGBT members of the German army had been unjustly treated for decades.

President Vladimir Putin on Friday mocked the U.S. embassy in Moscow for flying a rainbow flag to celebrate LGBT rights—suggesting it reflected the sexual orientation of its staff, Reuters noted. His comments followed a nationwide vote on constitutional reforms that included an amendment enshrining the definition of marriage specifically as a union between a man and a woman. Putin said the U.S. embassy's move to raise the LGBT pride flag "revealed something about the people that work there."

Turkey lashed out at so-called "LGBT propaganda," claiming it undermined free speech, and defended the head of the Turkish Red Crescent after the humanitarian organization's international umbrella body said his comments violated its rules against homophobia, Al-Monitor noted. Kerem Kinik—who also serves as one of five vice-presidents at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies ( IFRC )—appeared to equate homosexuality with pedophilia in a tweet he made June 28, when the Turkish LGBTI community typically celebrates Pride Day. The IFRC condemned the tweet, but Fahrettin Altun, a senior adviser to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, tweeted, "LGBT propaganda poses a grave threat to freedom of speech."

At the start of pride season, Grindr announced it was finally ditching its "ethnicity filter" after a decade—but that move is causing different problems, Queerty noted. In an new op-ed published by the UK's GQ, gay Black writer Otamere Guobadia explained how some BIPOC ( Black, indigenous and people of color ) users actually used the filter to escape the overwhelming sea of white profiles that they are constantly confronted with whenever they log on, and how not having it has created a less friendly, less safe experience for them. Guobadia stated that many BIPOC users have felt so abused by white gays that they are not particularly interested in engaging with them on the app and are instead looking to meet guys who share their experiences. However, Vice.com noted that Grindr still hasn't removed the filter nearly a month after pledging to remove it in support of Black Lives Matter.

Nepal's National Human Rights Commission has put new pressure on the government to legalize same-sex marriage, Gay Star News noted. It is now five years after an expert committee recommended it should—and it is almost 13 years after Nepal's Supreme Court ruled in favor of equal rights for all sexual and gender-identity minorities. The Himalayan country, which has a population of more than 28 million, would become only the second country in Asia to offer same-sex marriage ( after Taiwan ) if it went ahead.

An archbishop who directed moral theologians to study the possibility of blessings for same-sex unions was elected president of the Austrian Bishops' Conference, according to a New Ways Ministry item that cited Novena News. On June 16, the conference selected Archbishop Franz Lackner of Salzburg—the former head of the Austrian Liturgical Commission ( LKO )—to be its leader. As chairman of the LKO, Lackner commissioned a study on the possibility of developing a liturgy of blessing for same-gender couples.

Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil filed for bankruptcy, CNN.com reported. It blamed its bankruptcy on the "immense disruption and forced show closures as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic" and is aiming to restructure its debt with assistance from the Canadian government and private equity firms. The filing comes three months after Cirque temporarily suspended production of its shows, including six in Las Vegas; it also has about 10 shows on tour across the world, including O, Michael Jackson One, and The Beatles LOVE.

ABC News Nightline reporter James Longman recently posted a video of his engagement to boyfriend Alex Brannan, LGBTQ Nation reported. Longman popped the question while the couple were in Burford, a small medieval English town about 70 miles northwest of London. Brannan's mother recorded Longman proposing in an outdoor garden; shortly afterward, the women in Brannan's family excitedly clapped and cheered, with one saying, "So we've got a wedding!"

Welsh singer Duffy—who revealed earlier this year that she had been kidnapped and raped—wrote an open letter to Netflix, criticizing the streaming service for its decision to air the "erotic" kidnap film 365 Days. Addressing Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, she wrote in the letter, dated July 2 and seen by CNN, that the film "glamorizes the brutal reality of sex trafficking, kidnapping and rape." Based on the best-selling Polish novel 365 dni, by Blanka Lipinska, the film tells the story of a woman who is abducted, imprisoned and repeatedly sexually abused by a mafia boss—who gives her one year to fall in love with him.

Canadian football player Christion Jones was fired after he let loose with a torrent of homophobic tweets, Out.com reported. Saying they "firmly condemn" the hateful language used by Jones, the Edmonton Eskimos announced they were cutting the Alabama Crimson Tide alum immediately. Jones had tweeted, among other things, "Man ain't suppose [sic] to be with a man. A women [sic] is not suppose [sic] to be with another women [sic]." When Jones was confronted by outraged fans, he doubled down and said he would never apologize—although he later did.

The UK's Royal Mint and Bravado announced that Elton John will be celebrated by The Royal Mint with a new official commemorative coin, according to a press release. The design is the second of The Royal Mint's Music Legends series that recognizes Britain's most iconic musicians. In addition to the coin collection, The Royal Mint and Elton John are also working together to create a special one-off collector's piece that will be auctioned later this year to help raise funds for the Elton John Charitable Trust.

Novak Djokovic and his wife have tested negative for the coronavirus 10 days after announcing that the couple had contracted the disease, Tennis.com noted. Djokovic was the fourth player to contract the virus after participating in the matches in Belgrade and Zadar; the others were three-time Grand Slam semifinalist Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki.


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