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WORLD Controversial kiss, Irish PM, LGBT singer dies
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

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The image of the two Brazilian men kissing romantically in front of an iconic shot of Rio de Janeiro, with Christ the Redeemer g in the background, is generating controversy, The Intercept reported. The photo was placed there, with quite deliberate intent, by Pedro Lotti, the 29-year-old manager of the company that manages the photo operation, Fotografica—and he has no intention of removing the image. Lotti himself is not gay, but said he viewed the use of the photo as an important opportunity to make the venue safe for LGBT people.

Irish PM Leo Varadkar will raise the subject of marriage equality with Pope Francis when the pontiff visits Ireland on Aug. 25, Gay Star News noted. The trip coincides with the World Meeting of Families event, taking place in Dublin Aug. 21-26. Its website says it celebrates family and marriage "as the cornerstone of our lives, of society and of the Church." Varadkar came out as gay in 2015.

One of Hong Kong's most popular singers, Joyce Ellen Loo, has died at the age of 32, Gay Star News reported. Loo died after falling from her building in the Happy Valley area of Hong Kong early on Aug. 4. Police said there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding her death. The pop star made waves last year when she revealed she had married a woman, cinematographer Fisher Yu. Loo came out publicly during an acceptance speech at Taiwan's Golden Melody Awards.

Russian police detained at least 25 LGBT-rights activists during a protest in St Petersburg to promote the rights of sexual minorities, noted. About 60 activists gathered at the main square in the city center, despite a ban being placed on the rally. In 2013, Russia passed legislation banning the spreading of what it described as gay propaganda.

A lesbian has said she was raped at age 15 by her father in order to "make her straight," PinkNews rpeorted. The South African woman, known only as Mubizana, also accused her uncle and his friend of raping her on the same day—when her grandmother had left home to visit relatives in Dennilton, Limpopo, in the northeast of the country. Mubizana said that every time she gets a new girlfriend, she has to explain why she's not a virgin, and that the trauma from the rapes often stops her during sex "because it reminds me of what my father, uncle and his friend did to me."

The Indian state of Kerala has said it will fund transgender people's gender reassignment surgeries, PinkNews noted. Kerala's chief minister, Pinarayi Vijayan, posted about his decision on Facebook, saying the state government would pay 200,000 rupees ( about $2,900 U.S. ) so that trans people can pay for their operations. It is the second Indian state to make such an announcement, after nearby Tamil Nadu.

A student organization in Singapore has hit out at a school for rescinding an LGBTI activist's invitation to speak at a TEDxYouth event, Gay Star News noted. In a statement released on Facebook, the Community for Advocacy and Political Education ( CAPE ) expressed "disappointment" with comments made by Leonard Tan, vice principal of Saint Joseph's Institution. Rachel Yeo, a research and advocacy director at Singapore's Inter-University LGBT Network ( IULN ), was supposed to give a TEDxYouth talk at the school—but was told a day before that she would not be permitted to speak.Tan justified the decision to disinvite Yeo by pointing to her being an advocate for the LGBT issue, elaborating that "any form of activism is socially divisive."

In the wake of controversial comments from Japanese politician Mio Sugita, the country's ruling party has come under fire, noted. Liberal Democratic Party ( LDP ) politician Sugita, an ally of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, wrote last month, "Can we obtain approval of spending taxpayers' money for LGBT couples? They don't make children. In other words, they lack productivity." Some 5,000 people protested outside the LDP headquarters in Tokyo recently, with similar demonstrations being planned in other cities.

Kenyan news outlet reported that Consumer Financial Protection Bureau CFPB ) "Acting Director" Mick Mulvaney appeared to agree with bans on LGBTQ+ intimacy and relationships in Kenya and throughout the rest of Africa. The outlet further reported, "Mulvaney hinted at plans by Trump administration to scrap a policy by his predecessor Barack Obama for promoting gay rights in Africa." At the same time, the Wall Street Journal noted that Mulvaney has brought "a softer touch" to the CFPB's enforcement of laws that protect consumers.

Actor/transgender-rights activist Living Smile Vidya has said that she does not "feel safe" in her home country of India, after an asylum claim she made to live in Switzerland was rejected, PinkNews reported. Vidya, who goes by the nickname "Smiley," said her asylum case was refused in June. Speaking to Indian news site The News Minute, Smiley said she feared for her life in India, adding that she had been receiving threats in response to her activism since around 2014.

Police in Toronto are investigating the vandalism of a rainbow crosswalk at the intersection of Church and Alexander, Gay Star News noted. On the crosswalk, in the city's gay neighborhood, someone spray-painted a swastika. Authorities have revealed no names in association with the vandalism.

Chick-fil-A, the notoriously anti-LGBTQ fast food chain, is celebrating its first major international expansion, in Canada, LGBTQ Nation noted. The company plans to open 15 locations in the Toronto area within the next five years; the chain already operates a location in the Calgary International Airport. Canadians, however, don't seem to care for the taste of "hate chicken"—and now they've taken to social media to protest, using the hashtag #BoycottChickFilA.

Special to the online edition of Windy City Times

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