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WORLD Historic marriage, anti-trans attacks, Jamaica fire, Latin America news
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

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Two women tied the knot just minutes after midnight in Austria—making them the first same-sex couple to get married on the day it became legal, Gay Star News noted. Nicole Kopaunik and Daniela Paier, both 37, got married in the southern town of Velden at five minutes past midnight on Jan. 1.

Four men attacked transgender women in Pakistan's capital city of Karachi, threatening to kill them, reported. A man and his three sons entered the home of two of the victims, identified as Noor and Nargis, and beat them with sticks, Samma TV reported. The men also attacked other members of the trans community, threatening to kill them if they didn't leave the region.

In late December, transgender woman Nicolly Banks, 26, was shot 11 times and killed on her way to the gym in Brazil, Gay Star News reported. Police seized 11 380-caliber firearm capsules and took Banks to the city's Medical Legal Institute. The victim is said to have received several threats to leave the city, and she also survived being shot at in November.

The fire department is investigating the cause of a blaze that destroyed the St. Andrew headquarters of Jamaican pro-LGBT lobby group J-FLAG, The Jamaican Gleaner reported. The department said that the entire building was engulfed ( although no one was injured ) and a unit from the York Park fire station was subsequently sent to the scene to provide support. listed what it considered to be the top 10 LGBT issues in Latin America in 2018. A few of the items included an unprecedented international AIDS crisis exploding in Venezuela; the murder of Brazilian Afro-descendant lesbian Marielle Franco; the Cuban government deciding at the last minute to go slowly on same-sex marriage; and the Chilean film A Fantastic Woman, featuring trans actress Daniela Vega, winning the 2018 Oscar for Best Foreign Film.

Intersex people in Germany can now legally identify themselves as such under a new law adopted in December, reported. People who do not fit the biological definition of male or female can now choose the category "diverse" on official documents. Those choosing the option will need a doctor's certificate to register. Austria's constitutional court made a similar ruling to Germany's in June, while Australia, New Zealand, Malta, India and Canada have all passed similar measures.

Mark Bingham and gay rugby are again taking center stage in the rugby world—this time with a new documentary from World Rugby, reported. Bingham was one of the passengers on United 93's flight on Sept. 11, 2001, who helped take down the plane before it was able to reach its target in Washington, D.C.; he was gay and an active rugby and flag-football player. The new hour-long documentary—Legacy: The Mark Bingham Story—spends time with various people in International Gay Rugby as well as Bingham's mother, Alice Hogland, who has embraced the gay-rugby movement since her son was killed.

A 19-year-old Indian man who frequently donated blood drank rat poison after learning that his own blood had transmitted HIV to a pregnant woman, reported. The man was not aware that he was HIV-positive when he donated. The young man questioned how the blood banks and hospitals had missed such a diagnosis in their screenings.

A gay Anglican bishop married his partner at a cathedral in Toronto, according to Gay Star News. Bishop Kevin Robertson wedded partner Mohan Sharma at St. James Cathedral in the Canadian city; the two have been a couple since 2009. The Diocese of Toronto posted a notice congratulating the couple.

In Israel, Supreme Court President Esther Hayut criticized the state's position on surrogacy for gay fathers, and said that the solutions that apply to women should also apply to men, noted. "This could be blatantly unconstitutional," she said in a hearing on a petition filed by Etai and Yoav Pinkas-Arad that calls to amend Israel's surrogacy law in a way that would allow gay men—both couples and individuals—an equal chance at parenthood. The state was granted 30 days to submit a clear response on the question of whether the law discriminates before the court rules. The Association of Israeli Gay Fathers—which had submitted the petition along with attorney Hagai Kalai—was pleased with the hearing.

A Japanese lesbian couple is planning to hold weddings in all 26 countries where same-sex marriage is legal to protest their nation's lack of marriage equality, PinkNews noted. University students Misato Kawasaki, 21, and Mayu Otaki, 22, will post pictures of the ceremonies on their blog during their six-month journey in an effort to convince readers that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry in Japan, The Asahi Shimbun has reported.

Nigerian actor Alexx Ekubo wrote an open letter on New Year's Day addressing Nigerian youth and preaching tolerance and respect, according to PinkNews. Ekubo published the nearly 400-word message on all his social media accounts—including Instagram, where he has 1.5 million followers. In the letter, the actor referenced a number of issues that are the subject of people's criticism or negativity, including being gay.

A Brazilian soccer player is returning to the sport after quitting because of his sexuality, PinkNews noted. Douglas Braga quit around at age 21 because he realized he is gay, telling the BBC, "It was a choice that either you're yourself, or you're a footballer. It just wasn't possible to be both." However, 15 years later, Braga has joined a gay amateur club called BeesCats in Rio and is playing football again; there's no openly gay footballer in the top tiers of Brazilian soccer.

David McKinstry has released a memoir about his journey to become a father 20 years after he became the first openly gay Canadian man to adopt children, Gay Star News noted. The book—Rebel Dad: Triumphing over Bureaucracy to Adopt Two Orphans Born Worlds Apart—charts McKinstry's quest as he battled governments from Canada and abroad in order to raise a child of his own. It wasn't until 1997 that he was even given the chance to adopt, after being given a phone call by the then-immigration minister Lucienne Robillard.

In Saudi Arabia, Netflix removed an episode of Patriot Act With Hasan Minhaj after the country expressed complaints about material in the show, The Huffington Post reported. "Now would be a good time to reassess our relationship with Saudi Arabia. And I mean that as a Muslim and as an American," says Minhaj in the episode titled "Saudi Arabia," in which he also discusses the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The episode is still available on Netflix in the United States, and Saudi users can still find it on the show's YouTube page.

Two days before London Fashion Week Men's Autumn Winter 2019 shows—and after a three-year battle with cancer—noted British fashion designer Joe Casely-Hayford OBE passed away at 62, Evening Standard reported. He was known by most for the British label Casely-Hayford. In 1993, he was also the first designer to collaborate with Topshop and, in 1995, Princess Diana sat front row at his show.

In London, a survey of West End theaters found an average of one ladies' lavatory per 38 female audience members—barely half the number recommended as the industry standard, The Telegraph noted. Female theatergoers would need a 57-minute interval if all were to visit the restroom mid-performance, according to research conducted by The Stage newspaper. Celebrities, including actress Glenda Jackson, are getting behind a campaign to improve things.

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