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WORLD Conversion therapy, Lebanese group, Japanese marriage suit
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

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Two separate petitions launched earlier this year in Canada asking the government to ban conversion therapy have amassed a combined 70,000 signatures, PinkNews reported. The first petition calls on Canada's government to ban conversion therapy for minors, and also asks them to prohibit taking young people out of the country to take part in the practice. Meanwhile, It Gets Better Canada is asking the government to clearly state that Canada "opposes the use of conversion therapy and other related treatments," according to the BBC.

In Lebanon, the #NoLongerAlone campaign won the Wajih Ajouz award from the non-LGBT organization the Samir Kassir Foundation for best social-media campaign, Gay Star News noted. Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality ( AFE ) and Human Rights Watch created the campaign to show that LGBTI people in the Arab world exist.

Ten same-sex Japanese couples planned to jointly file a lawsuit against the government throughout the country in February for not recognizing marriage equality, The Japan Times reported. The couples argue that the government's position on same-sex marriage flouts equality under the law and freedom of marriage as protected in the Constitution. Article 24 of the Constitution says, "Marriage shall be based only on the mutual consent of both sexes"—which has been interpreted as being in favor of and against same-sex couples.

Police found no violations of Russia's gay-propaganda laws in confiscated children's drawings from a school art exhibition after parents complained that they depicted same-sex couples, the Moscow Times reported. Russia outlawed "homosexual propaganda" among minors in 2013, a move that allowed courts to ban pride events and led to an increase in anti-LGBT sentiment.

A team of French researchers may have found the next step in the fight against HIV/AIDS, according to an Instinct Magazine article. The Pasteur Institute in Paris published a study in the scientific journal Cell Metabolism titled "Cellular Metabolism Is a Major Determinant of HIV-1 Reservoir Seeding in CD4+ T Cells and Offers an Opportunity to Tackle Infection." Until now, treatment of HIV/AIDS has only been able to block the infection from spreading—but Pasteur researchers say they've found a way to eliminate the cells entirely.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe ( OSCE ) issued a report saying that authorities in Russia's Chechnya region have committed torture, enforced disappearances, extrajudicial executions, and other "very serious" human rights violations and abuses, noted. The fact-finding report said the victims included members of the LGBT community, human right defenders, lawyers, independent media and civil-society organizations. The report is at

Germany is to introduce a third gender option on official documents allowing people to be registered as "intersex," after its parliament approved government plans, The Independent reported. The new category will be included on birth certificates, driving licenses and other documents. Until now, the only alternative option for those who considered themselves neither male nor female was to leave the gender entry blank.

Brigitte Macron, the wife of French president Emmanuel Macron, has come under fire for posing in a photo with businessman Marcel Campion, Gay Star News noted. in September, video emerged of Campion calling city officials "gay perverts," as he believes the city officials are trying to push his funfair out of the city. He also said at the time, "I don't have anything against gays—except those ones who are a bit perverted." ( He later resigned. ) The controversy comes about after heightened political turmoil for Emmanuel Macron.

Spain is about to get its first LGBT+ retirement home, PinkNews noted. "This is going to be the first publicly funded residence of its kind in the world," Federico Armenteros Avila said. The residence will be managed by Armenteros Avila's organization, the 26th December Foundation, whose name serves as a reminder of the Spanish LGBT+ community's particularly difficult history of fighting for equal rights. ( On Dec. 26, 1979, Spain repealed a law that had been used to imprison people suspected of same-sex relationships during General Francisco Franco's fascist dictatorship, which lasted 1939-75. )

Powerful U.S.-based anti-LGBT hate groups, including the World Congress of Families ( WCF ), are working alongside global online petition platform CitizenGO to train, meet with and support three influential anti-LGBT groups in Italy, according to a Southern Poverty Law Center item that cites a Hatewatch investigation. Those three groups—Generazione Famiglia, Comitato Difendiamo I Nostri Figli and ProVita—now constitute the backbone of public activism against LGBT and reproductive rights in Italy. The result has been a spike in the legislation and lobbying challenging LGBT and reproductive rights in the country.

The family of Scott Johnson hope a new $1-million reward will help find the truth about his death and bring his killers to justice—30 years after he died in what has been found to be a gay hate crime, The Guardian reported. Johnson, a U.S. mathematician who was based in Sydney, was discovered at the base of a cliff below a gay beat near Manly's North Head in December 1988. His death was initially ruled to be a suicide; however, coroner Michael Barnes, last year, found the 27-year-old fell from the cliff "as a result of actual or threatened violence" by people who attacked him over his sexuality.

Canada is releasing a new $1 coin design to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalization of homosexuality, Gay Star News noted. However, the Royal Canadian Mint said it will not reveal its release date or artist name, saying it wants to "maximize the impact" of the official launch. Laws criminalizing gay sex between consenting adults ended in 1969.

German transgender singer Kim Petras will be among the artists performing at the Sydney 2019 Mardi Gras Party, which will take place March 2 immediately after the parade, Gay Star News noted. The festival will run Feb. 15-March 3. Award-winning Australian dance trio PNAU will also perform.

The Times of India has reported that upcoming actor Rajkummar Rao will play a gay man in a new Bollywood blockbuster due out next year, as Gay Star News related. The Film, Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga, literally translates as "This is how I felt when I saw one girl," and is due for release in February. It will be the first major Bollywood release to feature a gay character since the government legalized same-sex relationships in the country in September. However, Indian film director Sridhar Rangayan told Gay Star News that distributors remain reluctant to sell LGBTI-themed movies.

Michael Kors is changing its name to Capri, completing its deal with Versace, ABC News reported. The company announced the acquisition of the Italian fashion house Versace for more than $2 billion ( 1.83 billion euros ) in September—less than two years after acquiring Jimmy Choo, the shoemaker that rocketed to fame on Sex and the City. Capri Holdings Ltd. is projecting $8 billion in annual sales, with most of that coming from Michael Kors. Founder Gianni Versace's sister, Donatella Versace, will continue with the company, holding the position of creative director.

A screening of a BTS concert film was canceled in Russia over concerns that the group is gay, reported, citing The Moscow Times. The movie, BTS World Tour: Love Yourself in Seoul, was scheduled to play in the city of Makhachkala. Cinema Hall, the theater where the movie was set to be screened, canceled ticket sales a day after its opening, according to Russian newspaper Kommersant, following an online boycott campaign claiming the group promoted "over-the-top immoral behavior," and using an anti-gay slur to describe its members. The concert film is set to play in a number of Russian cities starting Jan. 26.

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