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WORLD Gay leaders, Mexican trans women, Czech marriage bill
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2019-09-17

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In a notable meeting between two out heads of government, Prime Minister Xavier Bettel of Luxembourg hosted his counterpart from Serbia, Ana Brnabic, and discussed the possibility of Serbia joining the European Union, along with other matters, Advocate.com reported. Bettel, a gay man, has been Luxembourg's prime minister since 2013; Brnabic, a lesbian, was appointed prime minister of Serbia in 2017. While Luxembourg is progressive on many fronts, including LGBTQ rights, Serbia is not.

An NBC News item features a profile of Mexican trans women who continue their fight for justice as murders go unpunished. Mexico has become the world's second deadliest country after Brazil for transgender people—with 261 transgender women slain in 2013-2018, according to a recent study by the LGBTQ rights group Letra S. One advocate is Kenya Cuevas, who became an activist on Sept. 29, 2016—when her friend and fellow transgender sex worker Paola Buenrostro got into a client's Nissan and was shot multiple times. President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has promised his government will carry out "effective" investigations into LGBTQ hate crimes, but the grisly rate continues.

Several hundred people gathered in the center of Prague to demonstrate support for a bill that would permit same-sex marriage in the Czech Republic, Radio.cz reported. The event i was organized by the NGO We Are Fair! which has criticized the fact that, although the bill was submitted more that a year ago, the Chamber of Deputies has so far failed to debate it. The NGO has called for the lower house to debate the bill at its session in mid-October. If approved, it would make the Czech Republic the first post-communist state to permit same-sex marriage.

Former Welsh rugby star Gareth Thomas has revealed he is HIV-positive and has vowed to help "break the stigma" surrounding the illness, CNN.com reported. Thomas is believed to be the first British sportsman to announce that he is living with the virus. He was also the first professional rugby union player to announce that he was gay, when he came out in 2009. He said he was forced to announce his condition after being threatened with blackmail. Thomas said in an interview with the Sunday Mirror that he had been living with "this secret for years," and that the "shame" he felt from his diagnosis left him feeling suicidal. The sporting legend is now set to discuss his diagnosis in an upcoming documentary for BBC Wales.

Albert Nabonibo shocked many Rwandans in August when he revealed in an interview with a Christian YouTube channel that he is gay in a country where such a public assertion of homosexuality is unheard of, the L.A. Times noted in a profile. Nabonibo told the Associated Press that he came out in order to live normally. However, the reaction he has received, from family and friends to strangers, has been mostly "horrible," he said—underscoring the intolerance faced by LGBT people in many parts of Africa. Although Rwanda's penal code does not explicitly proscribe gay sex, same-sex marriage is banned.

In Australia, gay Anglican priests are fighting to get church's blessing of their same-sex marriage, ABC.net .au reported. Father John Davis and Father Rob Whalley met two decades ago in California, and recently tied the knot in a small civil ceremony in Melbourne. The Wangaratta Anglican Diocese voted in August to bless same-sex marriages, two years after Australia legalized the unions. However, the priests' union has now been referred to the church's Appellate Tribunal—which is the highest ecclesiastical court. The tribunal will consider if the blessings of persons married under civil law in church compromises the Anglican Church's constitution.

The Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte—known for past controversial anti-LGBT comments—recently said he would certify as urgent a bill seeking to protect LGBT rights, ABS-CBN News reported. The Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity or Expression ( SOGIE ) Equality Bill, filed by minority Sen. Risa Hontiveros, aims to prevent and penalize discriminatory acts against a person's sexual orientation. The bill has been undergoing hearings at the Senate, which came in the wake of the controversial detention of a transgender woman following an argument at a Quezon City mall last month over the use of a women's toilet.

Openly gay U.S. Ambassador to Bosnia-Herzegovina Eric Nelson was among the thousands of people who took part in the country's first-ever Pride parade, The Washington Blade reported. Media reports indicate more than 1,000 police officers were stationed along the parade route in anticipation of any potential violence or protests. The parade took place without incident.

In England, Theresa May appointed to the House of Lords a Downing Street aide who was accused of placing a Pakistani whistleblower in "serious danger" by publicly outing him, PinkNews reported. n March 2018, Stephen Parkinson issued a statement in defense of the Vote Leave campaign after his fellow aide, Shahmir Sanni, revealed that the campaign had far exceeded its legal spending limit. The public statement disclosed that he and Sanni had been in an 18-month relationship, forcing Sanni to come out to his parents and putting his family in Pakistan in serious danger. The appointment of Parkinson to the House of Lords was made in the now-former prime minister's resignation honors list.

Thousands of gay and lesbian activists and supporters paraded in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, marking the city's first pride march, RFERL.org reported. Scuffles broke out toward the end of the Sept. 15 march, with right-wing demonstrators clashing briefly with police in a nearby park. Two police officers were treated for exposure to tear gas or pepper spray, authorities said, and 17 people were detained as a result.

A gay married couple in Maryland, Roee and Adiel Kiviti, are suing to challenge the State Department's refusal to recognize the U.S. citizenship of their infant daughter, who was born in Canada via a surrogate this year, The Japan Times noted. The federal lawsuit says a State Department policy discriminates against same-sex married couples and unlawfully treats their children as if they were born out of wedlock.

Gerald Matovu—a 26-year-old Londoner who was assigned male at birth and recently sentenced to 31 years for murdering a 54-year-old actor named Eric Michels—has since revealed that they also dealt drugs used in the crimes of recently convicted "Grindr serial killer" Stephen Port, LGBTQ Nation reported, citing The Guardian. Matovu has also expressed a desire to transition to female and be transferred to a women's prison. Matovu had poisoned at least 12 other victims in the past with the help of her now ex-boyfriend, Brandon Dunbar. Also, she also dealt GHB to Port—a 41-year-old who drugged, raped and murdered four men that he intoxicated with GHB.

Meghan Duggan and Gillian Apps—the Olympic medalists and married couple who played for Team USA and Team Canada, respectively—recently announced that they're expecting their first child, Outsports noted. In a tweet, Duggan wrote, "Baby Apps-Duggan is on its way! Coming February 2020 #MegsIsPregs." Apps won three Olympic golds playing for Team Canada in 2006, 2010 and 2014; Duggan won silver medals after Team USA finished second to Canada in 2010 and 2014, but her team eventually won gold in 2018.

U.S. man Andrew High—whose marriage to his Japanese husband is legally recognized in his country—sued the Japanese government for the same right to stay that a heterosexual couple would get, saying he was being denied a family life, Reuters reported. According to Japanese law, foreign nationals married to Japanese in heterosexual marriages are granted long-term residence status upon arrival in Japan, but those in same-sex marriages are not. High met his Japanese husband 15 years ago in the United States, and married him there in 2015.

In Jamaica, Montego Bay Mayor Homer Davis said the LGBT rights group Montego Bay Pride will not be granted permission to use the Montego Bay Cultural Centre for a series of events, The Jamaica Gleaner reported. Davis, who chairs the St James Municipal Corporation, made the declaration after Councillor Charles Sinclair brought the plans to the attention of the group's monthly meeting.

Guatemala's first openly gay congressman, Aldo Davila, was only elected two months ago and has yet to take up his seat—but death threats have already stopped him walking the streets of his own city, Reuters noted. "People have written messages, 'You want get to Congress on January 14th, you will die before,'" said the veteran LGBT+ rights activist, who lives with his partner in the capital, Guatemala City. LGBT+ people already have few legal rights in socially conservative, Catholic-majority Guatemala and Davila fears the situation is getting worse, driven by the growing influence of evangelical Christian groups in politics and society.

In Wales, a 13-year-old boy has been arrested in connection with attacks on members of a LGBT youth club, the BBC reported. The club—in Caernarfon, Gwynedd—was temporarily suspended after one person was assaulted at a nearby bus stop after leaving Caffe Gisda in July. More than 150 people have been using the club since it launched in November 2017; it aims to help people increase their self-confidence and be able to interact with the community.

Slovakia ombudsman Maria Patakyova has said her country lags when it comes to LGBT rights, BalkanInsight.com noted. Slovakia is one of only six EU countries that do not allow legal partnerships or adoption of children by same-sex couples. Since becoming ombudswoman in 2017, the former vice-chancellor of Comenius University in Bratislava has stood up to populist politicians in trying to change that. However, the government has so far refused to accept her arguments.

Edmonton LGBTQ gym Queerflex has temporarily closed its doors due to safety and security concerns after a member of a far-right group posted names and photos of gym members and trainers online, as well as links to their Facebook accounts, TheStar.com reported. The individual accused of the doxxing ( posting personal information about individuals online with malicious intent ) is Ryan Dean, a man who was previously a member of far-right extremist groups Wolves of Odin and Canadian Infidels, and is now reportedly a member of The Clann, a group with a similar far-right ideology. Dean was one of several men who went to Edmonton's Al-Rashid Mosque in January and confronted worshippers outside while wearing toques that said "infidel."

At Sea Life London Aquarium, two female penguins are set to raise the first "gender neutral" chick, OpenlyNews.com noted. Over the past few years, gay penguin couples at zoos in London, Berlin and New York have made global headlines, with two male penguins hatching Sea Life Sydney Aquarium's first sub-Antarctic chick, following a successful trial with a dummy egg. Homosexuality in nature is relatively common, with same-sex pairings observed in beetles, dolphins and sheep, among many other species.

Australians in Film ( AiF ) announced the initial 2019 honorees for the 8th AiF Awards Gala and Benefit Dinner—an annual fundraising event celebrating Australian talent in the entertainment industry, a press release noted. Actress Ruby Rose ( The CW's Batwoman ) will receive the Create NSW Annette Kellerman Award, while Sarah Snook ( HBO's Succession ), Dacre Montgomery ( Netflix's Stranger Things ) and director Anthony Maras ( Hotel Mumbai ) will each be honored with the Screen Australia Breakthrough Award. This year's event will take place at Intercontinental Los Angeles on Wed., Oct. 23.

Prince Philip's cousin Lord Ivar Mountbatten will be fighting the elements after joining the cast of this year's Treasure Island with adventurer Bear Grylls, Metro.co.uk reported. Mountbatten, who is a member of the extended Royal Family, has previously made history as being the first in the bloodline to be in an open same-sex relationship. Mountbatten married James Coyle last year, and given away by his ex-wife Lady Penny Mountbatten, with whom he has three daughters.

The film Shakira In Concert: El Dorado World Tour—from Trafalgar Releasing, Sony Music and Shakira Entertainment—will be in theaters globally on Nov. 13, according to a press release. Following the release of Shakira's album El Dorado—which eventually earned her a Grammy for Best Latin Pop Vocal Album and a Latin Grammy for Best Contemporary Pop Vocal Album—she returned to the world stage, performing recent smashes such as "Chantaje" and "La Bicicleta" as well as hits from her 20+ year repertoire, including "Hips Don't Lie," 'Waka Waka ( This Time for Africa )" and "Estoy Aqui." See Shakira.film.

British Grammy-winning singer Sam Smith will use the pronouns "they/them" after coming out as gender non-binary earlier this year, ABC News noted. They tweeted, "Today is a good day so here goes. I've decided I am changing my pronouns to THEY/THEM [heart emoji] after a lifetime of being at war with my gender I've decided to embrace myself for who I am, inside and out..." In an interview with The Good Place's Jameela Jamil for her "I Weigh" movement back in March, Smith explained, "I'm not male or female. I think I float somewhere in between."


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