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WORLD Effigy in Croatia, conversion therapy, Israel law
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2020-03-03

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Croatia President Zoran Milanovic condemned the burning of an effigy of two men and a child at a festival weeks after the country's highest court ruled that same-sex couples could foster children, Reuters reported. Organizers of the event in the town of Imotski "deserve the strongest condemnation of the public because hatred for others, intolerance and inhumanity are not and will not be a Croatian tradition," Milanovic posted on his verified Facebook page.

The United States, Canada, Chile, Mexico and Germany are among countries seeking to outlaw conversion therapy, The Jerusalem Post reported. Worldwide, only Brazil, Ecuador and Malta have national bans on conversion therapy—condemned as ineffective and harmful to mental health by more than 60 associations of doctors, psychologists or counsellors globally, an ILGA study said. U.S. suicide-prevention group The Trevor Project said 42 percent of LGBT+ 13- to 24-year-olds who underwent conversion therapy reported a suicide attempt in the last year—more than twice the rate of those who did not have the treatment.

On a related note, in Canada, the Calgary city council unanimously voted to support a conversion therapy ban, with many councillors sharing their personal feelings on the controversial practice, CBC.ca reported. The notice of motion was brought forward to council by Ward 8 Coun. Evan Woolley, with Mayor Naheed Nenshi and councillors Druh Farrell, Gian-Carlo Carra, Jyoti Gondek and Peter Demong. Coun. Jeromy Farkas tried to hold back tears when sharing his own experience as coming out bisexual.

Israel's top court unanimously struck down a law that blocks single men and same-sex couples from using surrogacy to have children—giving the Knesset a year to pass a new law, The Times of Israel reported. A summary of the decision publicized by the High Court of Justice said current surrogacy laws "disproportionately violate the right to equality and the right to parenthood of these groups and are illegal." Attempts in recent years to expand access to surrogacy to the LGBT community have faced vehement opposition from Haredi political parties.

GLAAD held a press conference call with The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries to help to amplify the news of two prominent Ugandan newspapers—Trumpet News and Red Pepper—that published inflammatory headlines with photos suggesting a same-sex marriage was performed in the pro-LGBTQI church, The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries Uganda. In addition, LGBTQI-affirming Christian organizations called Grenell's 2019 campaign to decriminalize LGBTQ people "a failure" in Uganda, and launched 'Our freedom is Your Freedom' campaign to stop persecution of LGBTQ people in that country, a press release noted. Sexual Minorities Uganda's Executive Director Frank Mugisha said, "The TFAM church in Uganda was founded about the same time as the "Kill the Gays" bill was exhumed by the Ugandan Parliament. Outsiders infiltrated the worship services and collected videos and photos for a campaign of hate."

A report from Sweden's Board of Health and Welfare confirmed a 1,500-percent rise, between 2008 and 2018, in gender dysphoria diagnoses among 13- to 17-year-olds born as girls, The Guardian noted. The recent report also found that 32.4 percent of 13 to 17-year-olds with gender dysphoria registered at birth as women also had diagnoses for anxiety disorder, 28.9 percent had depression, 19.4 percent had ADHD and 15.2 percent had autism. The Guardian also reported growing divisions between well-known trans activists; while Lukas Romson warned that children will have even more anxiety because of an increasing backlash against gender reassignment, Aleksa Lundberg is backing the call for more research.

On March 1 in Poland, several dozen activists protested in front of a Warsaw church guarded by police as a Catholic archbishop, criticized for his anti-LGBT language, celebrated mass, OpenlyNews.com reported. Last year, in a sermon, Archbishop Marek Jedraszewski said Poland was under siege from a "rainbow plague" of LGBTQ-rights campaigners who he compared to Poland's former Communist rulers. Same-sex marriage and adoptions by same-sex couples are not legally recognized in Poland, where the Catholic church is hugely influential.

LevelK acquired the Icelandic gay vampire movie Thirst, which will world premiere at the Nordic Film Market of the Goteborg Film Festival, Variety noted. Thirst, directed by Gaukur Ulfarsson and Steinbor Hroar Steinborsson, takes place in a small town where evil is lurking around and strange crimes and brutality frequently occur. The plot is as follows: Hulda—a woman who is suspected of being responsible for the death of her brother, Steindi—befriends an elderly man who turns out to be a 1,000-year old, single and gay vampire who brings her brother to life, leading to terrible consequences.

A regional chief Imam in Ghana, Sheihk Muumin Abdul Haroun, has said that homosexuality is "evil" and he will not allow a "demonic" LGBT+ conference to "even step foot" in the country, PinkNews noted. The Pan Africa ILGA ( International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association ) is set to hold its 2020 annual conference in Accra, Ghana, in July. It will be the organization's first conference held in West Africa.

After coming out last year, Argentinian soccer player Nicolas Fernandez is talking about why more gay players aren't doing the same, Instinct Magazine noted. Last June, Fernandez came out through a Facebook post—making him the first openly gay football/soccer player in Argentina. Fernandez told Tiempo about how toxic masculinity has taken over the sport of soccer/football, adding that women's soccer is "much more open" than the men's league.

However, South African soccer player Phuti Lekoloane revealed that coming out as gay in 2015 almost put an end to his career, PinkNews reported. "I risked everything to live my truth, but I wouldn't advise anyone to come out now because of the stereotype. There is a lot at stake," he told TimesLIVE. Lekoloane—who plays for Makapanstad RFC, in the ABC Motsepe League—added, "My sexuality has robbed me of my career."

Russian athlete/businesswoman Maria Sharapova announced her retirement from tennis, The Guardian reported. The five-times grand slam champion and former world number-one player struggled with chronic shoulder problems and dropped to 373 in the rankings. In an emotional essay on vanityfair.com, Sharapova, 32, wrote: "How do you leave behind the only life you've ever known? ... I'm new to this, so please forgive me. Tennis—I'm saying goodbye."

BTS and Green Day joined other musical artists who have canceled concerts over coronavirus concerns, CNN.com noted. BTS canceled four concerts in Seoul that had been scheduled for April, saying it was "impossible at this time to predict the scale of the outbreak" and citing the "increasing uncertainty about the cross-border movement of concert staff and equipment." "We have unfortunately made the difficult decision to postpone our upcoming shows in Asia due to the health + travel concerns with coronavirus," Green Day tweeted; the band's website indicated the tour would resume in May with a show in Moscow.

Roman Polanski, 86, won best director at France's Oscars for his film An Officer and a Spy—prompting several actresses attending the awards to walk out in protest of his recent and past rape allegations, Page Six noted. Polanski did not attend the 2020 Cesar awards in Paris, but his being honored still prompted protests inside and outside the Salle Pleyel concert hall. Polanski is still wanted in the United States for the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl in 1977; he pled guilty but fled the country while awaiting sentencing.

Madonna reportedly had a mishap during her Madame X show at the Le Grand Rex in Paris on Feb. 27—and the incident allegedly brought her to "tears," Hollywood Life noted. The singer was apparently in pain when she fell off a chair during one of the show's dance sequences during her time on stage and was helped up by one of her dancers, according to The Sun. She carried on despite the struggle and ended up finishing the show, but the incident comes after she's already spent several months trying to recover from knee injuries.


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