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WORLD Gay Muslim MP, LGBTQ mayor weds, pro-trans ruling, ambassadors
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2019-12-24

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In Britain, the world's first openly gay Muslim MP has been elected as part of Boris Johnson's new government, PinkNews reported. Imran Ahmad-Khan made history when he was elected as MP for Wakefield in Yorkshire, having beaten the incumbent MP by 3,358 votes. His election marks the first time that the constituency has voted for a Conservative politician since 1931. The gay Muslim MP is now among 24 Tories who identify as LGBT+—the most out politicians of any party.

Claudia Lopez, the first woman and LGBTQ person elected mayor of the Colombian capital of Bogota, married Angelica Lozano Correa, her girlfriend of three years, Towleroad noted. Lopez tweeted, in part, "Heading to the happiest moment of my life! I love you my divine Angelica! Thank you for existing and for always loving me." AFP has noted, "Although the country is deeply religious and conservative, same-sex marriage is legal and gay couples have the right to adopt children—whether or not they are the biological children of one of the partners."

A transgender woman employed by the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry in Japan successfully sued her employer for denying her the right to use the bathroom that aligns with her gender identity, according to LGBTQ Nation. A Tokyo district court awarded 1.32 million Japanese yen ( about $12,000 U.S. ) in damages to the woman for being forced to use a bathroom other than the women's bathroom on her office's floor, which District Judge Kenji Ebara says is illegal because it "constrains people's benefits of living their lives in accordance with their self-identified genders."

Just before adjourning for the holidays, the U.S. Senate confirmed Robert Gilchrist as the next the U.S. ambassador to Lithuania—making him at least the fifth openly gay person to serve in an ambassadorial role under President Trump, The Washington Blade reported. Nominated by Trump in July, Gilchrist—who, most recently, was director of the operations center at the State Department—is a career Foreign Service officer, not a political appointee like other ambassadors. His official title is ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Lithuania, per Congress.gov .

The United States has withdrawn its ambassador to Zambia, Daniel Foote, following a row with authorities in the southern African nation after he criticized the jailing of a gay couple, Reuters noted. Zambia's high court last month jailed the men for engaging in sexual relations "against the order of nature"—a move Foote said was horrifying. President Edgar Lungu said Dec. 15 that Zambia, a major beneficiary of U.S. aid, had sent a protest letter to Washington over the remarks by Foote and was awaiting a response.

U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft called on 69 nations—including Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Algeria—to stop their criminalization of homosexuality, The Jerusalem Post reported. Grenell, the most senior openly gay member of the Trump administration, launched the unprecedented international campaign in February to decriminalize homosexuality across the world.

Almost a month after the death of prominent Haitian LGBTI-rights activist Charlot Jeudy, under suspicious circumstances, he still has not been buried and no autopsy has been performed to find the cause, The Miami Herald reported. Jeudy, 35, was the leader and founder of Kouraj, or Courage, the country's leading LGBTI advocacy group. He also was a member of the Global Fund's Country Coordinating Mechanism in Haiti, chaired by the country's first lady. A Haiti police official said an investigation is underway; Kouraj, however, said, "nothing is being done."

A western Uganda woman was arrested for allegedly killing her boyfriend, 35-year-old Emmanual Tumusiime, at his home after she found him taking antiretroviral drugs, HIVPlusMag.com noted. According to the Daily Monitor, Emmanual was hit on the head using an axe. The unidentified woman confessed to police that she had killed him after being "hurt and disappointed" that he could have "infected her" with HIV.

Brazil's far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, launched a homophobic attack on a journalist from one of the country's top newspapers in an apparent bid to divert attention from a spiraling corruption scandal involving his son, Yahoo! News reported. "You look terribly like a homosexual," Bolsonaro—who has previously boasted of being "proudly" homophobic—told the reporter, when asked about the politically explosive money-laundering inquiry that saw investigators raid a series of addresses linked to the leader's family. However, Bolsonaro's homophobic comment served only to further highlight the inquiry into whether Flavio Bolsonaro oversaw a corruption racket during his time as a lawmaker in Rio de Janeiro.

Cuba's Gran Muthu Rainbow Hotel—which opened Dec. 5 in northern Ciego de Avila in the center of the island—is the first property of its kind conceived expressly to serve clients from the LGBTI+ community, The Washington Blade noted. However, in September it became known that the Pernik Hotel, located on the eastern part of the island, denied services to transgender clients and had even allowed that discrimination in a manual for the property's employees. The National Center for Sexual Education ( CENESEX ), in the meantime, offered assistance to military-owned businesses in order to expand their hotel services and position itself in the LGBTI+ market.

Sark became the last British Isle to allow same-sex marriage, the BBC reported. The changes are expected to come become law in February. Now the law change has been passed by Chief Pleas, it must go to the British Privy Council and Guernsey's Royal Court before it can be enforced.

British singer Robbie Williams opened up about how friend Elton John changed his life by checking him into rehab and helping him get sober, PinkNews noted. Speaking on The Jonathon Ross Show, Williams explained that during the early days of his alcohol and substance abuse, John forced him to get the help he needed. Williams has been to rehab more than once, but the 45-year-old said he has not had any alcohol for 19 years.

Authorities in Malaysia—specifically, the Malaysian Islamic Development Department, known as Jakim—released a three-minute video suggesting that sexual orientation can be changed with "extensive training and guidance," PinkNews noted. Malaysia still has British colonial-era laws criminalizing gay sex, with punishment including fines and up to 20 years in prison. LGBT+ people have no legal protections against discrimination in the predominantly Islamic country.

The International LGBTQ+ Travel Association will hold its 38th Annual Global Convention in Atlanta May 5-8, 2021, AJC.com noted. The meeting space has not yet been determined, but will be at a Midtown hotel, a spokeswoman said. The group will hold its opening event at the Georgia Aquarium; "Voyage," the annual IGLTA Foundation fundraiser held during the convention, will take place under the wings of a 747 in the Delta Air Lines Flight Museum.

A 67-year-old man who the Home Office said wasn't "gay enough" to stay in the United Kingdom received an early Christmas present: asylum status, courtesy of the government, PinkNews reported. Yew Fook Sam, known as Sam, lives in Liverpool and has lived in fear of being deported to Malaysia, where homosexuality is illegal, for the past three years. Home Office officials had previously said that they believed Sam was lying about being gay in order to stay in Britain—using the fact that he doesn't have a boyfriend as evidence.

Former Australian rugby player Israel Folau reportedly got a huge check, an apology from the league and the opportunity to play the sport anywhere he chooses—after being kicked out for a string of homophobic and transphobic remarks, LGBTQ Nation noted. Despite saying that homophobia "has no place" in the sport in 2015, the now-fundamental Christian has used his huge following on Instagram since then to promote hatred for gay people and transgender youth. After Folau took Rugby Australia to court for wrongful termination, a settlement was announced; it did not name any monetary figure, but both sides apologized for "any hurt or harm caused" to the other.

After the Premier League kicked off its "Rainbow Laces" campaign to support LGBT people this month, British soccer's highest division was flooded with abusive comments and feedback, CNN.com reported. One tweet said, "God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve!," while another widely liked Facebook comment read, "Take politics away from this beautiful sport." Stonewall said its 'Rainbow Laces' campaign was all about making sport "everyone's game." Robbie de Santos—director of sport of Stonewall, which is Britain's leading LGBT charity—said the abusive comments and reactions were "really upsetting to see."

GLAAD reached out to British writer J.K. Rowling's PR team after the organization said she tweeted support for Maya Forstater, a British researcher with a history of anti-trans activism who was fired from her job after writing a series of anti-trans tweets, a press release noted. Rowling tweeted, "Dress however you please. Call yourself whatever you like. Sleep with any consenting adult who'll have you. Live your best life in peace and security. But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real? #IStandWithMaya #ThisIsNotADrill." Jameela Jamil, Mara Wilson and Star Wars' Mark Hamill ( who apologized for initially liking Rowling's tweet because he didn't know what the hashtags meant ) are among the celebrities who have called out Rowling, LGBTQ Nation noted.

According to GayTimes, London-based drag queen Cara Melle is under fire for aggressively shoving an older woman off the stage during a performance, Instinct Magazine noted. While singing Mariah Carey's number one Billboard Holiday smash, "All I Want For Christmas Is You," Melle spotted an older woman ( who likely had too many cocktails ) enjoying herself a little too much on her stage—and pushes her. Among those criticizing Melle was Drag Race alumna Phi Phi O'Hara.

Grime artist Stormzy said Britain is "100 percent" racist—and that recently elected leader Boris Johnson is making matters worse, Politico noted. The musician ( real name: Michael Ebenazer Kwadjo Omari Owuo ) said the prime minister had emboldened racists with comments about "piccaninnies" and Muslim women looking like letter boxes. Johnson was repeatedly questioned during the election campaign about comments he made in various newspaper and magazine articles. He apologized for any offense he had caused but refused to engage on the substance of his words.


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