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WORLD China couple, Finland adoption, Pride masks, Morocco influencer
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

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A Chinese lesbian couple's landmark court battle over the custody of their two children has stirred debate over LGBT rights and put a spotlight on the absence of a same-sex marriage law, Reuters reported. Shanghai resident Zhang Peiyi split up with her partner last year; the partner has since broken off communication and taken their two toddlers away to an unknown location. So Zhang has turned to the courts, filing a case in the eastern province of Zhejiang. The case is the first of its kind in China and has attracted media attention.

The Rainbow Families Association Sateenkaariperheet confirmed that Finland's first two same-sex adoptions have taken place, News Now Finland reported. It happened three years after the Marriage Act was reformed to allow marriage equality and same-sex adoptions, and a female couple and a male couple have both adopted infants in the capital city region.

In Poland, Jakub and Dawid Mycek-Kwiecinski went viral for their campaign of handing out free face masks to the public that feature the Pride Flag, Queerty noted. "Many people call gay people a plague, so we thought we might change their mind by helping people overcome a real plague," the couple wrote on Facebook. "Our friends, dressmakers, were able to help us create 300, which we brought to the streets." Poland is rife with homophobia; same-sex couples do not enjoy the right to marry or legal recognition of marriages performed in other nations, and cannot adopt children.

A transgender Instagram influencer outed gay men in Morocco, making them targets for discrimination, family alienation and violence—and one of the men she outed died by suicide, LGBTQ Nation reported. However, Naoufal Moussa was unapologetic, saying, "I feel bad for those f****ts but I don't care." One man in Morocco told Business Insider that he quickly deleted his pics from Grindr because otherwise, he'd be "in a very dangerous situation right now."

About 20 companies in Japan will start accepting "partnership certificates" in July for same-sex couples issued by a nongovernmental organization as a way of providing employees with spousal and familial benefits available to straight married couples, Kyodo News noted. The certificates, to be created by Famiee Project, will be for use by participating companies including Mizuho Financial Group Inc., but is expected to raise awareness of difficulties LGBT couples have in a country where same-sex marriage is not legally recognized.

Photographer Shahin Shahablou died of coronavirus at age 56, BuzzFeed News reported. Shahablou had been a political prisoner in Iran, where he grew up. He left for Britain in 2011 in order to be himself—to be gay. "He really wanted someone that he could share his life with," said Kevin Lismor, who had begun dating Shahablo just months before his death. "He said he would never be able to find a partner there in Iran, that it would just be sex. But he wanted a partner for life."

A new study claims that half of Russia wants to either eliminate or isolate gay and lesbian people, LGBTQ Nation noted. The organization Levada Center interviewed a representative sample of 1,614 adults in Russia in February, asking them about what the country should do about various groups of people; the choices were to eliminate, isolate, assist, leave alone, or "don't know." Thirty-two percent said "isolate" while 18 percent chose "eliminate"—the latter figure being much higher than homeless people, people with HIV, alcoholics, the disabled, drug addicts, sex workers and feminists.

The United Kingdom's Minister for Women and Equalities Liz Truss announced a multi-pronged attack on transgender rights that could ban gender-affirming healthcare for transgender youth, LGBTQ Nation reported. Truss, a member of the Conservative Party, announced in a meeting with the Women and Equalities Select Committee that she would be putting forth amendments for the Gender Recognition Act, the 2004 law that allows transgender people to correct their legal gender.

Facebook users said that anti-LGBTQ extremist Christiaan Otto—known for his inflammatory and demeaning social media posts—has been secretly cruising Grindr, and they're publishing what they say is proof of their allegations, LGBTQ Nation reported. The group Expose Christiaan Otto is making news in South Africa after making the public allegations that Otto was using the popular gay hookup app with a photo-less account and the username "RBayDiscreet." In screenshots from a conversation with another user, the person identified as Otto shows photos of him with his shirt off and describes himself as "bottom/vers." Otto denied the allegations to local media after the group announced their discovery, saying, "I thought Grindr was something that you cut metal with."

Canadian singer/songwriter/pianist Theo Tams released the new video for "The Last Song," a press release noted. He has come out to his parents; won what would ultimately be the final season of Canadian Idol; and released the album Give It All Away and the follow-up EP Back Pocket. "The Las Song" is the last song on Tams' third and most recent album release, 2018's Call The Doctor.

Charlie Martin is aiming to become the first transgender racing driver to compete in the famous 24-hour endurance race at Le Mans, Openly News noted. The race, named after the French city that has hosted the event since 1923, was postponed from June until September due to the coronavirus outbreak. Drivers must raise up to 1 million pounds ( $1.25 million ) to compete at Le Mans, which last year was won by a car shared by Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso and watched by a crowd of more than 250,000. Martin is hoping financial backers from luxury-watch brands to electronic sports companies will back her to qualify.

British singer Marianne Faithfull was discharged from a London hospital more than three weeks after the singer tested positive for the coronavirus, Rolling Stone noted. Faithfull's longtime friend Penny Arcade said that the singer was sheltering in place following the United Kingdom's order to do so when she developed a cold; out of caution, Faithfull checked herself into the hospital, where she tested positive for COVID-19.

The UK's Film & TV Emergency Relief Fund maxed out its initial pot of grant funding after receiving $6.2M in applications since it opened April 15 Deadline noted. The Film and TV Charity, which is overseeing the fund, said close to 3,000 people had applied for relief and that it had now exceeded its initial limits, which was around $3.5M. The fund will provide one-off grants of between 500 ( $620 ) and 2,500 ( $3,100 ) pounds each to active workers in film, TV and cinema facing significant financial hardship as a result of COVID-19.

The Royal Albert Hall tribute to Andrew Lloyd Webber will be streamed online for free on Friday, May 1, according to . The 1998 event featured performers including Sarah Brightman, Michael Ball, Glenn Close, Antonio Banderas, Elaine Paige and Kiri Te Kanawa, and will run from 7 p.m. BST ( British Standard Time ). The show is the next in a new series of Webber's works that are being streamed for free online while a lockdown of UK households continues.

The H&M Group, C&A, Adidas/Reebok, Esprit, Marks & Spencer and Patagonia are the world's most transparent major fashion brands, according to the 2020 fashion transparency index from the campaign group Fashion Revolution, The Guardian noted. The annual report, now in its fifth year, ranks the amount of information companies disclose about social and environmental policies, processes and effects within their operations, and supply chains. The joint lowest-scoring brands included Bally, Jessica Simpson ( the pop star's label ), Max Mara, Mexx, Pepe Jeans and Tom Ford—all of which revealed nothing at all about their practices for 2020.

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