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WORLD Human Rights Watch items, Indian prince, British Vogue
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2020-08-05

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A Human Rights Watch report says that gay and bisexual men in Syria, along with transgender women, have been suffering horrific sexual violence in that nation during its civil war, Out.com noted. ( The report is based on interviews conducted in Lebanon with 40 individuals, along with 20 caseworkers and representatives of humanitarian organizations. ) "Since the Syrian conflict began in March 2011, men and boys and transgender women have been subjected to rape and other forms of sexual violence by the Syrian government and non-state armed groups, including the extremist armed group Islamic State ( also known as ISIS )," says the report "They Treated Us in Monstrous Ways": Sexual Violence Against Men, Boys, and Transgender Women in the Syrian Conflict. The full report is at https://www.hrw.org/report/2020/07/29/they-treated-us-monstrous-ways/sexual-violence-against-men-boys-and-transgender.

Along a similar line, a Yemeni man living in Saudi Arabia was sentenced to prison, a fine and deportation after he posted a video expressing support for LGBTQ+ rights onto Snapchat, Out.com noted, citing Human Rights Watch. Mohamad al-Bokari, who is living in Riyadh, received 10 months in prison, a fine of 10,000 Saudi Riyals, and deportation following months of alleged beatings and mistreatment by guards and fellow prisoners.

The Indian Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil is now joining global calls to end conversion therapy after revealing he was a victim of the debunked practice that is still legal and widely practiced in India, Out.com noted. Gohil is the first out gay prince in India and runs the LGBTQ+ Lakshya Trust charity, which he helps fund through his vast wealth. His 2006 coming out was a national scandal.

For its much anticipated September issue, British Vogue has dedicated space typically dedicated to celebrities in its biggest fashion push of the year to 20 changemakers—and among the individuals are Janet Mock, Professor Angela Davis and Patrisse Cullors-Brignac, Out.com noted. The cover is multipart, with the main cover being model and activist Adwoa Aboah and Marcus Rashford on the central panel. The package then folds out into the additional two panels which feature the aforementioned names as well as the likes of Joan Smalls, Jesse Williams, Riz Ahmed, Bernice A. King and more. They make up "20 inspirational activists dedicated to making a change," according to the publication. In addition to the cover, British Vogue has launched the series "Speaking Up," which features conversations with the change-makers.

Five-time British trampoline gymnastics champion Luke Strong has come out as bisexual, Out.com noted. "It doesn't bother me," Strong told the BBC. "I feel sorry for people like that who are close-minded and still think it's offensive to be called gay—because it's not." While Strong never was in the closet, this marks the first time he has spoken about his sexuality publicly.

In the Cayman Islands, two Cabinet ministers, exercising a "conscience vote," decided against the Domestic Partnership Bill, ensuring its defeat by one vote ( nine to eight ), Cayman News Service reported. Education Minister Juliana O'Connor-Connolly and Health Minister Dwayne Seymour joined the opposition benches. However, Premier Alden McLaughlin predicted the imposition of same-sex marriage by the United Kingdom within the month as a result of the defeat. Immediately after the bill's defeat, Gov. Martyn Roper issued a statement outlining his concern about the failure of the Legislative Assembly to address its legal obligation to provide a framework to end discrimination against same-sex couples and said he would be consulting with the United Kingdom.

The British government is moving to make homophobic soccer chants illegal, as lawmakers admitted to their own "slow progress" on the matter, PinkNews noted. Squashing homophobia has long been left for individual teams and stadium organizers to handle, being that legislation around public disorder during games doesn't include anti-gay abuse. However, the Department for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport detailed plans to tinker the Football Offences Act 1991 to make hurling homophobic slurs illegal.

The European Union will not provide funding to six Polish towns that have declared themselves "LGBT-free zones"—a rare financial sanction of a member nation for issues related to the equal treatment of its citizens, The New York Times reported. While the amounts of money being withheld are modest—from $6,000 to $29,000—the exclusion of the towns from funding for a program that connects local communities across Europe was intended to have a deeper symbolic resonance.

Elton John's ex-wife, Renate Blauel, is seeking an estimated $3.8 million in damages over claims the singer broke the terms of their divorce agreement, Deadline reported. Blauel, who was married to the star for four years in the 1980s, is suing over sections of John's 2019 memoir Me and hit movie biopic Rocketman. She claims these revealed details of the marriage, breaking an agreement they made when they divorced in 1988, and that her mental health was impacted by the disclosures. John's defense team acknowledged the existence of the divorce agreement, which both parties signed, but denied any breaches or causing "psychological harm."

The Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival's 2020 edition recently took place, as the city remains in lockdown due to the spread of coronavirus, Variety noted. Now in its 11th year, Kashish is South Asia's biggest LGBTQIA+ themed film festival. The newly christened Kashish 2020 Virtual ( which ran July 22-30 ) screened 157 films from 42 countries, of which 52 competed in nine categories.

Cate Blanchett, who was named jury president of the 77th Venice Film Festival in January, will remain at the helm, Page Six noted. The fest—the first major global film event to go ahead in person since the coronavirus pandemic hit—is now meant to take place Sept. 2-12. Jurors include French actress Ludivine Sagnier as well as a number of international directors.

In the United Kingdom, BAFTA staged the TV/film industry's biggest TV awards since the coronavirus pandemic swept the globe, with Submarine director Richard Ayoade hosting a 90-minute virtual ceremony from a studio as winners stayed at home, Deadline noted. It was a night of surprises, as Fleabag was beaten to best comedy by Channel 4's Stath Lets Flats and The End Of The F***ing World outmaneuvered The Crown to best drama. Pre-awards favorite Chernobyl claimed two prizes: best miniseries and leading actor for Jared Harris. The leading actress award was won by Glenda Jackson for her performance in BBC drama Elizabeth is Missing—her first television role for more than 25 years and the second BAFTA of her career. A few of the other winners included projects Strictly Come Dancing and The Left Behind as well as actor Idris Elba ( who received a special award for his role in championing diversity and new talent in the industry ).

Alan Parker—the director of the movies Midnight Express, Evita and Fame—has died at 76, an Advocate.com noted, citing the L.A. Times. The English writer and director, who began his career penning commercials, was acclaimed in cinema. In total, his productions garnered six Oscars, 10 Golden Globes, and 19 BAFTAs.

Max Parker and Kris Mochrie were cast as brothers in the long-running British soap opera Emmerdale—but off-screen, they are dating, Out.com noted, citing The Sun Online. Parker and Mochrie played brothers Luke and Lee Posner in Emmerdale, the ITV British soap opera that has been running since 1972. Mochrie's character, Lee, was a serial rapist who was killed after raping brother Luke's love interest.

Fleabag creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Oscar-winner Olivia Colman and producer Francesca Moody ( Fleabag ) are launching The Theatre Community Fund, which will provide grants to UK theater professionals who have been struggling economically during the coronavirus pandemic, Deadline noted. Among first donors to the fund—which has, to date, received combined pledges of 1 million pounds—are Tom Hiddleston, Gillian Anderson, Danny Boyle, Emilia Clarke, Richard Curtis, Kit Harrington, Ian McKellen, Daisy Ridley, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Thompson and Rachel Weisz.

Japanese fashion designer Kansai Yamamoto—known for his avant-garde and colorful work that included flamboyant costumes of late rock icon David Bowie—died at 76 of leukemia, ABC News reported. Yamamoto debuted in 1971, becoming the first Japanese fashion designer to hold a show in London. Yamamoto designed the costume for Bowie's Ziggy Stardust alter ego, and also developed friendships with top artists including Elton John and Stevie Wonder.

Indian filmmaker Onir has an issue with the creators of Amazon Pride Video's series Made in Heaven, Out.com noted. On Twitter, Onir wrote about his response to learning that many aspects of his award-winning, queer-themed 2011 anthology film I Am ( including a steamy sex scene in a car ) were lifted, nearly shot-for-shot, by the makers of Made in Heaven. Made in Heaven, which premiered on Amazon's streaming service in March 2019, follows the lives of two wedding planners in Delhi and even features the same actor—Arjun Mathur—playing a queer character.

In a new Movistar+ documentary about her ( The Point ), now-retired Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova has revealed the toll the doping ban took on her life. She said, ""After the press conference, I deleted all social networks from my phone, to protect myself, keep sanity and protect myself from opinions and judgments. I think I have never been concerned with what people think of me, but suddenly this happens and you see that you care what they know. And that disgusted me; it was a very unpleasant feeling." The Grand Slam champion served a 15-month suspension after testing positive for a banned substance.


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