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WORLD Bollywood film, UK employers, assault, Rainbow Railroad
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2020-02-25

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The India film capital of Bollywood is releasing its first major romantic comedy with a lead gay character, Advocate.com noted. Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan ( translation: Be Extra Careful About Marriage ) stars Ayushmann Khurrana as a young man fighting anti-gay stigma in his society and family. While the queer subject matter is conveyed with comedy, writer/director Hitesh Kewalya told Agence France-Presse it was important not to make fun of gay people, as has been the case historically in Indian films.

Speaking of that film, the director said it has been banned in the conservative United Arab Emirates ( UAE ), home to a sizeable South Asian community, Openly News noted. "Yes, it's banned," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by text message, adding that he had no further details about the move. "I am just happy and proud that I live in a country where homosexuality has been [decriminalized] and we are able to make and watch films like these in a commercial space."

Newcastle City Council was named the most inclusive employer in the United Kingdom by LGBTQ charity Stonewall in its 2020 rankings, CNBC.com noted. The city council in northeast England was the first local authority to top Stonewall's annual list since it launched the rankings 16 years ago. ( Newcastle has been chosen as the host city for the national 2020 UK Pride celebrations. ) Housing association Gentoo Group came in second place, followed by Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service. Stonewall saw 503 UK companies apply to get a spot on its 2020 Workplace Equality Index.

Philip Sexton, 54, pled guilty to four charges of assault after his "unprovoked and nasty" public attack of a 22-year-old gay man, his boyfriend and his mother as the families were celebrating the 22-year-old's birthday in the UK city of Leeds, LGBTQ Nation noted. Sexton was sentenced to 12 months of community service and 100 hours of unpaid work. In a surveillance video of the attack, Sexton punched the young man in the face outside of Gino D'Acampo, an Italian restaurant; he continued to attack the boyfriend and the mother when a waitress ( who suffered a bruised nose and bloody face from his attack ) intervened.

Canada-based pro-LGBTQ charitable organization Rainbow Railroad released its 2020-22 strategic plan. In a media release, Executive Director Kimahli Powell said that, by the end of 2022, the organization plans to expand its service delivery mix, diversify the demographics it serves, improve its social deliver model, drive social impact through strategic advocacy, build a more sustainable fundraising mix in the United States and Canada, and enhance organizational capacity.

Indonesia is considering the Family Resilience bill—proposed legislation that calls homosexuality a form of "sexual deviation" and compares it to incest and sadomasochism, according to LGBTQ Nation. The bill would make LGBTQ citizens report to government-run treatment "rehabilitation centers" for "treatment." Also known as conversion therapy, the practice is a widely debunked form of psychological torture that purports to change someone's sexual orientation or gender identity.

A Polish mayor criticized the decision by a sister town in France to suspend 25-year official ties with her town because it declared itself an area "free of LGBT ideology," France24.com reported. The mayor of the southeastern town of Tuchow, Magdalena Marszalek, blamed the rare decision by the French community it had been twinned with, Saint-Jean-de-Braye, on campaigning ahead of local elections there. Saint-Jean-de-Brayen officials said in a statement that "France is committed to combating human-rights violations based on sexual orientation. ... We cannot accept that the ties that unite our two cities by a twinning oath be tainted. We condemn the position taken by our twin city of Tuchow."

LGBTI activists in Uzbekistan say that, despite high hopes for reform ever since Shavkat Mirziyoyev assumed the presidency in 2016, they continue to face routine violence and discrimination, IWPR.net noted. Observers say that not only does violence against LGBT people often meet with public approval in Uzbekistan, but local human-rights activists show little solidarity with those discriminated against for their sexual orientation. Following the collapse of the USSR, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan were the only Central Asian states not to decriminalize homosexuality.

In England, the life stories of long-dead people from the LGBT community are being told for the first time as part of a new project in Bristol, the BBC reported. The Drop Dead Gorgeous tours of Arnos Vale Cemetery are run by Sacha Coward and Sheldon Goodman to raise awareness of "histories that aren't spoken of," the outlet noted. The pair have run similar tours in London's Brompton Cemetery, which they called Queerly Departed.

In Liberia, an anonymous donor defrayed the cost of student Mohammed Sheriff's semester 2 tuition to enable him to complete high school, Front Page Africa noted. Sheriff ( not his real name ), a young gay man whose mother disowned him over his sexuality, stirred the hearts of readers when his story was published by journalRAGE and later run by FrontPage Africa. During a meeting, the donor urged Sheriff to remain steadfast and focus on his education as it is the only surest path to get out of his lowest moments.

Soccer player Shiho Shimoyamada has been encouraged by the response she has received since she became Japan's first openly gay professional athlete in February 2019, The Japan Times noted. With this summer's Olympics focusing the world's sporting attention on Japan, she is hoping that attitudes towards LGBT people in her home country can continue to evolve. Shimoyamada came out publicly while playing professionally in Germany, for SV Meppen.

An amateur soccer player in France was suspended for five years after biting the penis of an opponent during an altercation after a match, Bleacher Report noted. According to Le Republicain Lorrain, the attack occurred Nov. 17 after the 1-1 draw between Terville and Soetrich, with the victim requiring 10 stitches. A player from either side started a fight in the car park, and when a second member of the Terville squad stepped in to break things up, the Soetrich player bit the peacemaker; the victim was also suspended for six months for his role in the fight.

Designer Philipp Plein is facing backlash for a Kobe Bryant tribute included in his Fall 2020 runway show during Milan Fashion Week, Page Six noted. The presentation's finale featured a number of bedazzled Los Angeles Lakers-inspired jerseys adorned with the late basketball legend's number, 24, along with Plein's own last name; the looks were modeled by stars including Jada Pinkett Smith and Olivia Culpo. However, the controversy really erupted because Plein's runway was decorated with a duo of gold helicopters—a decision many on social media pointed out was exceptionally insensitive considering Bryant's cause of death.

Colombian reggaeton sensation Maluma denied gay rumors during an Instagram Q&A with his 49 million followers, NewNowNext.com noted. "People are stupid, aren't they?" the 26-year-old heartthrob replied, translated from Spanish. "How can they say that I am gay? If I were gay, I would have already talked about it." Maluma has collaborated with musicians such as Madonna and Ricky Martin.

British actor Harley Bird is leaving Peppa Pig after 13 years voicing the gay icon, PinkNews noted. Bird, 18, has voiced the cartoon character since she was 5. The queer seal of approval came following the release of Peppa's debut album last July—a 16-track, feel-good record crammed with uplifting bangers.


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