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WORLD Blood-donation ban, Kenyan refugees, trans activist, club COVID-19 outbreak
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2020-05-12

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The top court in Brazil ruled the country's ban on men who have sex with men ( MSM ) from donating blood is unconstitutional, The Washington Blade noted, citing Reuters. Seven of the 11 judges who sit on the Brazilian Supreme Court ruled in favor of lifting the ban, which prohibited MSM from donating blood for 12 months. The issue had been before the Supreme Court since 2016.

Police attempted to disband a protest of about 60 LGBT refugees outside the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee's office in Kakuma, Kenya, The Bay Area Reporter noted. Some of the demonstrators, who wore rainbow face masks, brought their children. They orchestrated a peaceful sit-in outside the office that started April 27; a few days later, police moved in, using tear gas and batons. The protesters were demanding quick relocation to LGBT-friendly countries and increased security inside Kakuma Refugee Camp.

A transgender woman set herself on fire in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi in protest over a lack of support for trans sex workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, Metro Weekly noted. Madona Kiparoidze was with other trans sex workers outside Tbilisi's city hall on April 30 protesting stay-at-home measures —including a nighttime curfew—that have prevented the women from earning money, Reuters reported. Kiparoidze was seen running down a street with her jacket on fire, as police chased her; she was stripped of her jacket and subsequently arrested.

South Korean officials scrambled to contain a new coronavirus outbreak, searching for thousands of people who may have been infected in a cluster of cases linked to nightclubs and bars in the capital of Seoul, Openly News reported. As of midnight on May 10, officials reported 35 new cases—and 29 of the new cases were linked to several Seoul nightclubs and bars, many of them catering to members of the LGBTQ community. That development has raised complications for officials trying to track those who might be infected in a nation where homosexuality is often taboo and LGBTQ people face discrimination.

Marriages between people of the same sex can become legal in Costa Rica starting on May 26, when the Civil Registry will begin to process the registration of these unions, Q Costa Rica reported. Luis Guillermo Chinchilla—senior civil officer of the Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones ( TSE ), to which the Civil Registry is attached—assured that the necessary changes have been made. Legalizing same-sex marriage was a major campaign promise by President Carlos Alvarado Quesada, who took office in May 2018.

Volunteers from LGBT groups in Taiwan embarked on a signature campaign to petition the government on laws that restrict same-sex marriage between couples from different countries, under certain circumstances, FocusTaiwan.tw reported. The initial goal is to obtain 10,000 signatures on the petition, which asks government to remove the restrictions so that all same-sex couples would have the right to get married in Taiwan, said one the groups, the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights. Since the same-sex marriage law took effect May 24 last year, more than 3,500 same-sex couples have registered their marriages in Taiwan as of May 1.

Germany's parliament passed a law banning so-called "gay conversion therapy" for young people nationwide, BBC.com reported. The legislation is intended to stop groups offering the service—which claims to be able to change a person's sexual orientation—to those younger than 18. Those breaking the new law can face up to a year in prison or a 30,000-euro ( $32,535 ) fine. German Health Minister Jens Spahn ( who is gay himself ) said a robust law was needed to protect it from court challenges, adding that most people who attended treatment were young people forced to do so by others.

A gay man from Cuba who lives in Maryland said he fled persecution because of his sexual orientation and HIV status, The Washington Blade reported. Yosmany Mayeta Labrada, among other things, was a member of the Patriotic Union of Cuba ( UNPACU ), one the country's most prominent opposition groups. Mayeta told the Blade that, last year, Cuban police detained him after he publicly criticized a National Center for Sexual Education ( CENESEX )-affiliated activist who insulted him on social media; he said authorities later fined him the equivalent of $11.67 and banned him from leaving the country. CENESEX is a group directed by Mariela Castro, the daughter of former Cuban President Raul Castro who spearheads LGBTQ issues in Cuba.

Reports of Tunisia becoming the first Arab country to recognize a same-sex marriage have put LGBT+ people in danger, Gay Star News reported. Tunisian LGBT+ organization Mawjoudin—"We Exist"—told GSN the reports are wrong and "disappointing," admitting that officials in Tunisia may have made an administrative mistake. A marriage took place in France between a French man and a Tunisian man; however, Tunisian officials allegedly noted it in the birth certificate of the Tunisian man, allowing him to obtain a visa for family reunification.

In Canada, officials and advocates are building a national monument in Ottawa to memorialize victims of the "gay purge," The Washington Post reported. The $5.6-million monument will be built with money from a $103-million government settlement to purge victims in 2017. An international design competition has been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, but builders still hope to complete it by 2024. Under policies that took root in the 1950s and continued into the early '90s, federal agencies investigated, sanctioned and sometimes fired lesbian and gay members of the Canadian Armed Forces, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the public service because they were deemed unsuitable, GlobalNews.ca added.

The International LGBTQ+ Travel Association has provided support to its members through weekly Google Meet conversations for the past month, offering as many as 12 different group calls each Thursday, a press release noted. The IGLTA Members Connect Series targets various regions and travel business types ( travel advisors, tour operators, CVBs, media ) and is offered in English, Spanish and Portuguese. On May 7, the organization featured Milan, Italy—which would have been hosting IGLTA's 37th Annual Global Convention last week.

A new survey from the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law and the Colombia Collaborative Project finds that the majority ( 72 percent ) of LGBT Colombians surveyed report at least moderate psychological distress, a press release noted. Fifty-five percent reported having suicidal thoughts during their lifetime and one in four ( 25 percent ) had attempted suicide at least once. Researchers analyzed data from a non-probability sample of 4,867 LGBT people from across Colombia, with respondents in 29 of Colombia's 32 departments and in the Capital District. The researchers sought to describe demographic characteristics, exposure to stress, discrimination and violence, and health status.

Ray Yeung's new film, Suk Suk, looks at the lives of two elderly gay men in Hong Kong—the "gay and grey" demographic—and has been garnering plaudits in Hong Kong and on the global film-festival circuit, The South China Morning Post noted. In an interview with the publication, Yeung talked about, among other things, difficulty of finding local actors willing to take on a gay role and the continuing difficulty in finding finance for similar films in Hong Kong.

Following the triple-song pack Have U Seen Her? ( Part II ) release, Finnish LGBTQ pop-punk singer ALMA shared her "Stay All Night-Day 16: Quarantine Video," a press release noted. Beyond notching 1 million-plus streams, "Stay All Night" continues to garner critical acclaim from the likes of PAPERMAG, Nylon, Billboard, Clash, Wonderland and many more. The track sets the stage for the arrival of her new album, Have U Seen Her?, which will be released on May 15 via Sony Music Germany/RCA Records.

Kino Marquee's New French Shorts 2020—the annual showcase of some of the new cinematic voices from France—will open Friday, May 15, in U.S. virtual screening rooms, a press release noted. Among the films is The Distance Between Us and the Sky ( La distance entre nous et le ciel )—the winner of Short Film Palme d'Or and Queer Palme at Cannes 2019. The full list of cities is at https://kinomarquee.com/new-french-shorts-2020.

More than 30 ballet dancers from 14 countries strapped on their toe shoes to perform for a virtual audience to benefit the struggling dance community, USA Today noted. American Ballet Theatre principal dancer Misty Copeland—the first dancer featured in the video—came up with the initiative with her former colleague, Joseph Phillips. "Swans for Relief " is designed to raise funds for dancers all over the world who have lost their jobs after ballet performances, like most public events, were shut down due to social distancing requirements to stem the spread of COVID-19. See https://charity.gofundme.com/o/en/campaign/swansforrelief.

Canadian singer Bryan Adams created a stir online—followed by an apology—after he posted an expletive-filled rant against the "greedy bastards" behind Chinese wet markets that he said produced the coronavirus and put his tour on hold, Page Six noted. He also played an acoustic rendition of his hit "Cuts Like a Knife" during the post where Adams shared he was staying at home with his family in isolation. Adams, is also an animal-rights activist, self-proclaimed vegan and supporter of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals ( PETA ). He reportedly got in a paddleboat to shield a whale while in the Caribbean last year, according to the Daily Mail.

Florian Schneider-Esleben, a co-founder of German electronic music pioneers Kraftwerk, died at age 73, Time.com reported. Citing fellow group founder Ralf Hutter, Sony said that Schneider-Esleben had been suffering from cancer. Tributes flowed in from musicians, including Spandau Ballet's Gary Kemp and Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark, CBS News added.


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