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WORLD Kazakhstan first, HIV news, intersex items, Chick-fil-A
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2019-09-10

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A controversial case that took a year and a half for Kazakhstan's court system to hear has turned out to be the first legal victory for LGBTIQ rights in Kazakhstan, ILGA-Europe.org reported. In January 2018, two young women ( unnamed for ethical reasons ) were filmed kissing at a cinema in the city of Almaty by a man, Eldar Mamedov—who posted the video to Facebook and asked questions such as "Have you not been killed yet?" The women filed a lawsuit in the Auezov District Court of Almaty claiming that the fact of the distribution of the video without their consent was illegal. They won in district court, while Mamedov won in appeals court; however, the supreme court overturned his win, saying the Court of Appeal "committed a substantial and gross violation of the right to self-portrayal under Article 145 of the Civil Code and infringement of the constitutional rights" of the lesbian couple.

Diagnoses of HIV in England have fallen to their lowest level in almost two decades, The Guardian reported. However, Public Health England ( PHE ) said challenges around the virus remain, with figures showing that almost half the people newly diagnosed last year were at a late stage of infection, increasing their risk of death. Diagnoses fell by just over a quarter ( 28 percent )—from 6,271 in 2015 to 4,484 in 2018—PHE said, adding that the continued decline in the virus was down to the success of preventive measures such as HIV testing, condom provision, more use of the pre-exposure prophylaxis ( PrEP ) drug and anti-retroviral therapy.

HIV diagnosis rates in Hong Kong have climbed over the past decade—unlike in other places in the world where there has been a consistent decline in the numbers of new HIV cases, according to a Washington Blade item that cites the South China Morning Post. Between 2010-2016, the annual number of new HIV diagnoses in Hong Kong increased by nearly 80 percent, to a total of 692 new cases in 2016. Hong Kong's annual government expenditure on HIV prevention policies has soared in an attempt to address this entrenched health scourge; by 2020, prevention costs are projected to reach a total of $400 million in Hong Kong dollars. Statistics show a solid majority of HIV diagnoses in Hong Kong have involved men who have sex with men.

Sept. 9 marked National African Immigrant and Refugee HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis Awareness Day ( @NAIRHHADay ), Poz.com noted. Though not yet nationally recognized, the day has been observed by a growing number of advocates, health care professionals and communities since 2014. According to the Hepatitis B Foundation, NAIRHHAD was launched by advocates in Massachusetts, New York and Washington, D.C.

An Indian state has banned gender-assignment surgery on babies whose sex is not clear at birth, in a first to protect intersex children, Reuters reported. The landmark move was made in response to an April order by Tamil Nadu's top court to prohibit such surgeries—which research suggests can cause long-term mental and physical damage—except in life-threatening situations. About 1.7 percent of children are born intersex—with reproductive organs, genitals, hormones or chromosomes that do not fit the usual expectations of male and female, according to the United Nations.

As a French parliamentary commission considers the reform of bioethics legislation, the government has been asked to put an end to the practice of surgically assigning gender to intersex babies, RFI.fr reported. The proposed bioethics law deals with such issues as making medically assisted reproduction available to lesbian couples, as well refining clauses on filiation and the anonymity of gamete ( sperm or ovum ) donors.

The Chick-fil-A store opening in Toronto is already going through its first wave of protests, as activists from LGBTQ- and animal-rights groups assemble to fight the restaurant chain, ThePostMillennial.com reported. One video shows a large group of people rallying around, chanting "Hey hey, Ho-ho, homophobia's got to go!" Many carried signs politely telling Chick-fil-A to "Cluck off."

In The Philippines, the Supreme Court dismissed a plea to legalize same-sex marriage in the country, CNN Philippines reported. The high court said it junked the petition for certiorari and prohibition filed by Atty. Jesus Falcis due to its "lack of standing" and for "failing to raise an actual, justiciable controversy." The court—despite acknowledging that the 1987 Constitution "does not define or restrict marriage on the basis of sex, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression"—said the legislature should address the recognition of same-sex unions.

However, in a separate item, the Philippines' Iloilo Provincial Board ( in the province of Iloilo ) has expressed its support for LGBT rights, Visayas reported. The provincial lawmakers approved a resolution expressing "grave concern and strong condemnation" on all violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This development came after a transgender woman was arrested for using the women's comfort room inside a mall in Quezon City.

A group affiliated with Ethiopia's Orthodox Church is condemning what it calls the government's silence on homosexuality in the country, a Yahoo! News item noted. Speaking at a conference in the country's capital of Addis Ababa, Dereje Negash—of the Orthodox Church group dedicated to an Ethiopian saint—said the government's indifference on the issue is helping the LGBT movement in the East African country. Under Ethiopian law, same-sex acts are punishable with jail terms of up to 15 years.

A Christian politician in Finland is now being investigated for an alleged "hate crime" because she criticized LGBT Pride by citing a Bible verse, according to a DailyWire.com item that cites Fox News. "In the post, congresswoman Paivi Rasanen, a Christian Democrat, criticized the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland for participating in the Helsinki LGBT Pride events in June," reported the outlet. "Her criticism was alongside a picture of Romans 1:24-27 that describes same-sex relationships as 'shameful.'" The Finnish police have since been investigating the politician to determine if she was inciting hatred against LGBTQ individuals.

Serbian officials have blocked future access to same-sex couples forming families in the country after its first lesbian prime minister, Ana Brnabic, and her partner became parents earlier this year, the Bay Area Reporter noted. LGBT Serbians applauded Brnabic and her partner, Milica Djurdjic, who had the baby, viewing their family as a sign of hope. That was until a month later, when Health Minister Zlatibor Loncar banned all family planning for same-sex couples and people with a history of being in a gay relationship in the last five years.

A Brazilian judge has blocked attempts by Rio de Janeiro Mayor Marcelo Crivella to ban a Marvel comic showing two men kissing, BBC.com reported. Crivella, a former bishop, claimed the comic book Avengers: The Children's Crusade included content unsuitable for minors. But the judge granted an interim injunction against this, citing the right to freedom of expression. Also, Brazil's largest newspaper, Folha de S. Paulo, published a massive front page photo of the gay kiss, Towleroad noted.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservative Party lost its parliamentary majority after a member of parliament defected to the Liberal Democrats, The Hill reported. Phillip Lee, a 27-year veteran of the House of Commons, announced he would be leaving the governing party to join the anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats. Lee said his decision was prompted in large part by the Conservative Party's support of the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union, whether a deal is reached or not.

A benefit concert for suicide prevention featuring the music of the late EDM star Avicii is being planned for Dec. 5 in Stockholm, Sweden, Billboard reported. The concert will feature many of the singers—including Adam Lambert and Rita Ora—who were on Avicii's recordings and it will mark the first time many of them have been performed the songs live. Proceeds will support the work of the new Tim Bergling Foundation, named for the musician who died of suicide in April 2018. See AviciiTributeConcert.com .

In Britain, a DUP politician has said he will file a formal complaint to broadcast regulator OCFOM after appearing on a fiery episode of ITV's Good Morning Britain with host Piers Morgan, PinkNews reported. Jim Wells, an assembly member for South Downs in Northern Ireland, appeared on the morning talk show and argued that gay people shouldn't be shown on TV before the 9 p.m. watershed. But as a result of co-hosts Morgan and Suzanna Reid rebutting Wells' views, he said he is planning on complaining about it to OFCOM, according to News Letter. Morgan called Wells an "old bigoted dinosaur" in response to Wells' comments.

Spanish pop singer Joana Sainz Garcia was killed during the finale of a four-day music concert in Las Berlanas, Spain, after a cartridge from a pyrotechnic device used during the show struck her, Extra reported, citing EOnline.com and Newsweek. She was singing with the Super Hollywood Orchestra at the time the firework went off, knocking her unconscious. A doctor and nurse in the crowd tended to the singer's injuries before she was removed from the stage and rushed to a local hospital, where she was pronounced dead.


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