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WORLD Finland official, homophobia report, Ghana musicians, Justin Trudeau
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2019-12-17

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Sanna Marin—the 34-year-old Finnish prime minister acknowledged as the youngest government leader in the world—said that she was raised by two moms, LGBTQ Nation reported. Born in 1985, she told Menaiset that the topic of homosexuality was taboo when she was growing up, adding that not feeling free to discuss her "rainbow family" made her feel "invisible" at school. Marin succeeds Antti Rinne, who faced criticism for his handling of strikes.

On the occasion of Human Rights Day, ILGA World ( The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association ) launched an update to its latest state-sponsored homophobia report. There are currently six UN member states that actually impose the death penalty on consensual same-sex sexual acts, and a further six where such a punishment is technically possible. Also, "as of December 2019, 70 States continue to criminalize same-sex consensual activity," said Lucas Ramon Mendos, senior research officer at ILGA World and author of the report.

Rappers and singers are using music videos to embrace LGBT+ life and fight homophobia in the conservative West African nation of Ghana—which bans same-sex relations, Reuters reported. "Definitely this is the strongest way to create change," said Emmanuel Owusu-Bonsu, part of the rap duo FOKN Bois. Known for controversial social commentary, the group FOKN Bois was offered $100,000 by an investor this year to tone down its "gay vibe"—but they refused the money.

In a letter to the country's justice secretary, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated that banning the controversial practice of attempting to forcibly change people's gender or sexuality must be a "top priority," The Independent reported. He said the minister of justice and Attorney General David Lametti must work to "amend the Criminal Code to ban the practice of conversion therapy and take other steps required with the provinces and territories to end conversion therapy in Canada."

According to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS ( UNAIDS ), 37.9 million people around the world were living with HIV at the end of 2018, USA Today noted. UNAIDS reported 1.7 million people worldwide were newly infected in 2018. Worldwide, 770,000 people died from AIDS-related illnesses last year.

A bisexual British veteran who was kicked out of the navy because of his sexuality will become the first of many to get his medals back and an apology from the British military for the way he was treated, Reuters reported. Joe Ousalice, 68, had served for almost 18 years as a radio operator when he was discharged in 1993 after a court martial found him guilty of "conduct prejudicial to good order and naval discipline." He was stripped of his medals—some earned for duty in Northern Ireland and the Falklands war—and of his long-service benefits.

The African country of Gabon has passed a law against same-sex relations—becoming the 70th country to do so, OpenlyNews.com noted. A government official who declined to be named confirmed the change, which happened in July but was not widely reported. Punishment for violating the law includes a penalty of up to six months in prison and a fine of 5 million CFA francs ( $8,521 ).

The Federal Court of Canada ordered the Canadian Human Rights Commission to reassess a work discrimination case of a man who claimed he was discriminated against—because he's straight, the New York Daily News noted. In April 2017, Aaren Jagadeesh filed a complaint with the commission, saying that his manager at the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce ( CIBC ) in Toronto repeatedly turned him down for promotions because he wasn't gay or bisexual. The human rights commission originally dismissed his claims of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation; however, a federal court judge has ordered the commission to open a new investigation on the case.

Estanislao Fernandez— the 24-year-old son of newly inaugurated Argentina President Alberto Fernandez—wore what looked like a rainbow-colored handkerchief to his father's inauguration, Queerty noted. FernÃíndez moonlights as drag queen Dyhzy, who specializes in cosplay-style drag. President Fernandez has referred to his son as "his greatest pride," and commended him for his "contribution to the queer community."

Amnesty International condemned efforts by South Korea to drop LGBTQ protections, Advocate.com reported. Conservative members of the South Korea National Assembly proposed amendments to the National Human Rights Act of Korea that would remove protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and stop recognizing gender identities different from those assigned at birth, according to The Guardian.

The Church of Sweden reportedly removed its LGBTQ+-inclusive altarpiece over fears it may be perceived as anti-trans, Out.com noted. The issue stems from a depiction in which a transgender person is holding a snake—a figure that, in the Bible, is a stand-in for Satan. While the Church of Sweden claimed that the fact that there "are two gay couples in the artwork is completely uncontroversial," it feared the altarpiece ( displayed in St. Paul's Church, in Malmo ) could be mistaken as an endorsement of transphobia.

The Sheraton Buganvilias Resort & Convention Center in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, has allegedly refused to host the same-sex wedding of Josh Rimer, the winner of Mr. Gay Canada 2019, and his fiance, Heath, LGBTQ Nation noted. A spokesperson for Marriott, which owns Sheraton, has since apologized and promised to do what it can to avoid any similar situations in the future.

A Korean same-sex couple were recognized as family members by Korean Air's membership rewards program—a step hailed by sexual minorities' rights advocates, the Korea Herald reported. The female couple, who are in their 40s, completed registering as family members in Korean Air's SkyPass program after the country's largest airline accepted their marriage certificate, which had been issued in Canada. Same-sex marriage was legalized in Canada in 2005; Korea does not recognize legal partnerships of same-sex couples.

TIME magazine named Greta Thunberg its 2019 Person of the Year, USA Today noted. This is the first time the magazine has named a teenager, making 16-year-old Swedish climate change activist is the youngest person to ever be named. The record was previously held by 25-year-old Charles Lindbergh in 1927. U.S. President Donald Trump, another finalist for this year's honor, subsequently tweeted an attack, saying she needs "anger management;" however, she later changed her Twitter profile to read: "A teenager working on her anger management problem. Currently chilling and watching a good old fashioned movie with a friend," USA Today noted. A documentary about Thunberg will premiere on Hulu in 2020, Deadline noted.

Grindr announced new features for users in countries where the prevailing culture of homophobia, biophobia and transphobia puts them at risk, a press release noted. These new features include the ability for users to "unsend" messages that they want to remove from the conversation; the means to have personal photos disappear from a conversation as a protective measure; and screenshot blocking for photos, chats and profiles. In addition, Grindr has unveiled a Holistic Security Guide ( in English, Spanish, French, Arabic, Russian and Nigerian Pidgin ) that covers digital security, personal safety and emotional well-being.

In a similar vein, Fiocruz ( Oswaldo Cruz Foundation ) developed an app to map the areas of Brazil regarded as the most violent for the LGBT population, The Rio Times noted. The goal is to reduce the number of attacks recorded, mainly at night, on the country's streets and avenues. The tool will also feature a panic button; when triggered, it will send an automatic distress message to five trusted people registered by the victim.

In Malaysia, the first "intersex" mosquito—known to be a vector for Japanese encephalitis—was found in Kuala Lipis, Pahang, New Straits Times noted. It is believed that the discovery could pave the way for a novel bio-insecticide method in controlling the mosquito population. The mosquito, from the Culex sitiens species, was discovered by researchers from Universiti Malaya's Tropical Infectious Disease Research and Education Center.

It has been revealed that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson defended those who opposed gay people joining the military and the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet being arrested, The Guardian reported. Johnson has been repeatedly criticized for statements he made during his career as a columnist, writer and editor—including referring to Black people as "piccaninnies" with "watermelon smiles," and arguing that Islam has caused the Muslim world to be "literally centuries behind" the west.

For the first time, top beauty pageants—Miss USA, Miss Teen USA, Miss America, Miss Universe and, now, Miss World—have crowned Black women as their winners at the same time, Fox8.com reported. When Toni-Ann Singh of Jamaica was crowned as Miss World on Saturday, she joined a historic group of Black women, along with 2019 Miss USA Cheslie Kryst, 2019 Miss Teen USA Kaliegh Garris, 2019 Miss America Nia Franklin and 2019 Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi. Beauty pageants early in their histories, some dating back to the 1920s, barred women of color from participating.


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