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WORLD Croatian couple, Church of England, detained in Mauritania, tennis
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

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In Croatia, the Social Welfare Center in Zagreb again rejected the foster care application submitted by Ivo Segota and Mladen Kozic, who are life partners in the country, Total Croatia News reported. By doing so, the center completely disregarded the Croatian Administrative Court's December historic 2019 binding judgment that allowed the couple to become foster parents after a long two-year court battle. The couple must now go through the same procedure again, and an appeal of the center's decision will be sent to the Croatia Ministry of Demography again.

The Church of England will not be withdrawing guidance that said sex is only for "heterosexual married couples," the BBC reported. However, the archbishops of Canterbury and York said they were "very sorry and recognise the division and hurt" the statement caused. The Church has been divided over how to deal with LGBT issues for decades and is in the middle of a large study of human sexuality, "Living in Love and Faith," that is due to be published later this year.

Prosecutors in Mauritania, where homosexuality is outlawed, have detained and charged 10 young men after a video presented as a "gay marriage" surfaced, Sunday Times reported. The 10 were involved in a ceremony on January 11, footage of which appeared on social media, in the local press and in that of neighboring countries such as Senegal. Article 308 of Mauritania's criminal code, which is based on the Sharia Islamic law, bans same-sex relations between Muslim adults, describing it as "acts against nature." ran a letter from lesbian icon Martina Navratilova stating that an Australian arena named after Margaret Court—the countrywoman who is a 24-time Grand Slam champion—should be renamed in light of her homophobic views. In part, she wrote, "Yes, we have free speech in a democracy, but that doesn't mean that free speech doesn't have consequences. When Margaret goes out of her way to single out a group of people and tell them they don't deserve equal rights, that they are less than good parents, that they are not godly, that's not merely free speech. It's hateful and hurtful speech, and it's injurious to countless vulnerable people."

In a related matter, Navratilova apologized for "breaking protocol" when she and John McEnroe unfurled a banner that read "Evonne Goolagong Arena" on Margaret Court Arena at the Australian Open, reported. After she and McEnroe showed their banner, Navratilova began addressing the crowd on Margaret Court Arena—only for the sound to be cut by officials. Navratilova said she stood by her suggestion that the court be renamed but admitted that the way she went about it was wrong. Margaret Court was presented with a special trophy in a ceremony 50 years after she won Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, the French Open and the Australian Open to complete the coveted calendar-year Grand Slam.

Thousands attended Azad Maidan for the annual LGBT Pride Parade—which was held minus the parade Feb. 1, The Indian Express reported. The organizers, Queer Azaadi Mumbai ( QAM ), had to shift to Azad Maidan—the designated protest venue in the city—after local authorities refused to give it permission to hold the parade at August Kranti Maidan. The QAM, instead, organized performances and talks by 30 speakers. The event ended with the people gathered reading the preamble of the Constitution.

The United States said it banned from visiting the country a Tanzanian official who announced a crackdown on homosexuality in Dar es Salaam in 2018, U.S. News & World Report noted. The U.S. State Department said it was taking the action against Paul Makonda, administrative chief of the Tanzania capital, "due to his involvement in gross violations of human rights, which include the flagrant denial of the right to life, liberty, or the security of persons."

London-based gay man Finn Davies alleged discrimination after an Uber driver told him to stop kissing his date, Queerty noted. His driver allegedly told him to stop "because she's Christian." Davies notified Uber immediately, and did receive a refund for the price of the trip. He says he wanted more. "I use [Uber] every weekend and I've never experienced anything like this before."

Coca-Cola purchased the covers of newspapers in Switzerland to deliver a pro-equality message, LGBTQ Nation noted. On Feb. 9, Switzerland will be voting on an initiative that could add sexual orientation to the list of protected identities in the country's anti-discrimination law. The U.S. soda giant bought the covers of several daily papers, including 20 Minutes and Die Weltwoche; over a rainbow background, the covers had an equality-based message in the form of a Coke bottle.

Pro hockey player Zach Sullivan, 25, of the UK team the Manchester Storm made sports history when he came out as bisexual, Queerty noted. He said he hopes, that by coming out, he "will give other hockey players around the country the same confidence to do the same." Sullivan's tweet was met with more than 5,000 likes, 800 retweets and 400 comments.

Out rugby legend Gareth Thomas has spoken out against an infamously homophobic player signing on to play in the United Kingdom, noted. On Twitter, the former Wales rugby star—who came out as gay in 2009 and revealed he is HIV-positive after being blackmailed last September—voiced his opposition to anti-gay Aussie athlete Israel Folau joining the Catalans Dragons, a Betfred Super League rugby team. Folau was fired from Australia's rugby league after claiming in 2018 that gay people will "go to hell" unless they repent.

A UK conference center says U.S. evangelist Franklin Graham is no longer welcome to preach at a Liverpool arena, citing statements the Christian leader has made that its staff deemed "incompatible with our values," HuffPost reported. Franklin Graham, who has called Islam "evil" and homosexuality a "sin," was scheduled to speak at the ACC Liverpool, an arena and convention center in northwest England, in June. But after protests from LGBTQ advocates in Liverpool, the arena's staff canceled the booking. In addition, he's been banned from Sheffield Arena as well, the Charlotte Observer noted.

Indian actor/model Ali Fazal—declared 2014's "Most Desirable Man" by the Times of India—went on his first-ever date with another man, on the Netflix reality series What the Love!, Queerty noted. In one episode, Rabanne, who is seeking a boyfriend in Mumbai, is paired with Fazal on a "practice date." Looking back on the experience, Fazal said, "To begin with, it was a very nervous experience, more for me because I've never been on a same sex date before. But I stayed on and was just having fun with him. I think that was quite a task and I actually feel good about it."

E-commerce platform Paddle8 announced an exclusive online storefront in collaboration with Swedish-German fashion designers LAZOSCHMIDL, a press release noted. "A Hunk's New Clothes: LAZOSCHMIDL x TOM OF FINLAND" will be live for two weeks and feature vintage Tom of Finland action figures dressed in archive LAZOSHMIDL looks. Developed in honor of Tom of Finland's 100th birthday year, the collection launched worldwide Jan. 30 exclusively on Paddle8, coinciding with last LAZOSCHMDIL's A/W 2020 runway presentation in Paris during Men's Fashion Week.

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