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WORLD Marriages in Brazil, chemsex, couple attacked, Gus Kenworthy
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2019-12-10

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The state Institute Brazilian Geography and Statistics said that same-sex marriages in Brazil grew 61.7 percent in 2018—a trend that grew from October, after President Jair Bolsonaro's victory in the last elections, Vanugardia reported. At the time of the election, many couples of the LGBT community decided to marry for fear of the approval of some type of law by the new executive that hindered the marriage union; however, it is guaranteed by the Brazilian judicial system.

Although only a minority of gay and bisexual men engage in chemsex ( the use of recreational drugs such as mephedrone, GHB/GBL and crystal meth before or during sex ), enough men are having difficulties with it in the Middle East and eastern Europe for activists to be working to create a response, AIDSMap.com noted. At the recent 3rd European ChemSex Forum in Paris, Elie Balan ( of M-Coalition and the Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality ) reported the first-ever regional data on chemsex among men who have sex with men in the Middle East and north Africa. In just two days, adverts on the hook-up app Grindr generated 1,003 responses. Around 28 percent were living in Egypt, with more than 10 percent each in Morocco and Kuwait, plus significant numbers of men from Algeria, Jordan, Tunisia, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia also taking part.

In the Paris suburb of Pierrefitte, a gay couple was brutally beaten by approximately 10 teenagers armed with iron bars, LGBTQ Nation reported. Court records reviewed by Le Parisien show that the victims, ages 19 and 22, made an appointment with a shop to discuss a dispute over a bag they purchased. When one of them got out of their car, he found himself in the middle of an ambush, which involved the attackers shouting homophobic insults while they beat the men and their car. One of the victims suffered severe injuries to his eye and was hospitalized.

Freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy, a two-time Olympian who has represented Team USA, announced he plans to compete for Great Britain's team in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing to honor his "#1 fan"—his mother, Time.com reported. Kenworthy, 28, said on Instagram that he was raised in the United States but born in the United Kingdom—and his mother is "British through-and-through." He and figure skater Adam Rippon were among the few openly gay athletes to compete at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Sweden's St. Paul's Church, in Malmo, unveiled the country's first-ever LGBTQ+ altarpiece, which replaces Adam and Eve with gay couples and a transgender serpent, according to Out.com . The painting, titled Paradise, shows queer couples wearing fig leaves in the Garden of Eden and was created by lesbian artist Elisabeth Ohlson Wallin in 2012. Wallin originally tried to donate the work to the Skara Cathedral in Sweden, which at the time was preparing to conduct the first same-sex wedding in its 1,000-year history—but it was declined.

Miss Myanmar Swe Zin Htet took part in the Dec. 8 Miss Universe pageant as the first lesbian in the event's history, Glamour noted. ( Miss South Africa won this year's Miss Universe title. ) "A majority of people in Myanmar are not accepting of this," Zin Htet said of her sexuality, coming from a country where same-sex relations are illegal. "But my goal is to make them look at me and others that are like me just the same." Also, last year Miss Universe had their first openly trans contestant and this year, for the first time ever, Miss America, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA are all Black women.

The Polish government announced that it will intervene to prevent a child from being adopted by a gay couple in the United Kingdom, LGBTQ Nation reported. Deputy Minister of Justice MichaƂ Wojcik said that the government will try to prevent the British government from allowing a boy to be adopted by a same-sex couple. The boy's mother, Aneta Zrobczynska, is from Poland and lives in the United Kingdom, and she lost custody of Harry when she left him in the care of his 13-year-old sister and he badly burned himself—but she doesn't want two fathers raising the child.

For the first time since the HIV/AIDS crisis began, more straight identifying men in Western Australia tested positive for HIV in 2019 than their gay counterparts, according to a Queerty item that cites DNA Magazine. HIV diagnoses among men who have sex with other men was down by 51 percent this year compared to the average over the previous five years; straight-identifying men saw a 21-percent increase in diagnoses.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics ( ABS ) recommended the government not put a new question on sexual orientation into the 2021 census, despite acknowledging that two federal departments need the data to deliver services and it would have "strong value across all levels of government," The Guardian reported. Documents produced to the Senate revealed that despite extensive consultation with LGBTI health groups about questions on sexual orientation and gender identity and an "identified need" for sexuality data, the ABS believed the potential new topics were too sensitive and could risk public backlash.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte—known in the past for anti-LGBTQ statements, but who has also publicly spoken in support of same-sex marriage rights—appointed a transgender woman to his government, The Washington Blade reported. Dindi Tan, a longtime LGBTQ activist in the Philippines, is director of the country's Department of Agrarian Reform. Tan told the Blade she is the first trans woman named to a position within the Philippine government.

The University of Birmingham, a British institution, stated LGBTQ staffers should hide their identity if they take a job on the Dubai campus, Advocate.com reported. Last year, the university officially opened a new campus in the United Arab Emirates, despite a long history of the nation detaining LGBTQ visitors. So the University of Birmingham Rainbow Network has told anyone visiting and taking a job in Dubai to stay closeted. The Rainbow Network even advises against wearing any rainbow pins, lanyards, or other items that would identify sympathy with LGBTQ advocacy.

The world's first sperm bank for HIV-positive donors has opened in New Zealand, Queerty noted. The initiative was launched in conjunction with New Zealand AIDS Foundation, Positive Women Inc and Body Positive. At Sperm Positive, it will be made clear to anyone seeking a donor that all of its donors are HIV positive but cannot pass on the virus.

Queer Eye co-host Jonathan Van Ness was unveiled as the latest cover star of Cosmopolitan U.K.—and he revealed he is the first non-female person to front the magazine in 35 years, Out.com noted. Van Ness, who came out as nonbinary earlier this year, appears in a Christian Siriano ruffled gown and a pair of Nikes. The cover's debut came on the heels of World AIDS Day; Van Ness revealed that he was living with HIV earlier this year, first in a New York Times profile, and then more extensively in his book Over the Top.

The International Skating Union apologized after it allegedly accidentally nominated a Holocaust-themed outfit for a best costume prize at its upcoming awards ceremony, People.com noted. The outfit in question was worn by Russian figure skater Anton Shulepov, and featured elements of prisoner and guard uniforms from Auschwitz—a Nazi concentration camp in which more than 1 million people were killed during World War II. Shulepov skated to the musical theme of Holocaust-set movie Schindler's List while wearing the costume, which featured a yellow Star of David and stripes.

A leading charity, Marie Stopes, recently recalled more than 1 million condoms distributed in Uganda following concerns about their safe use, the BBC noted. Tests had found some of the Indian-manufactured Life Guard brand contained holes or risked bursting, Uganda's National Drug Authority said. Nearly 6 percent of adults in Uganda live with HIV, the United Nations has stated.

Former U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama said she will donate more than $500,000 in proceeds from merchandise around her bestselling memoir to support girls' education worldwide, Yahoo! noted. Last year, The Obama Foundation, set up by Michelle and former U.S. President Barack Obama, launched the Girls Opportunity Alliance to support international efforts to ensure more girls have lasting access to education. She will travel to Asia this month with Today co-host Jenna Bush Hager, actress Julia Roberts and others as part of the foundation's work—spotlighting girls and organizations that empower them.

The Danish version of Dancing with the Stars has its first same-sex winners in comedian Jakob Fauerby and dancing partner Silas Holst, Out.com noted. When Fauerby, who is openly gay, was first approached to be on the show, he asked to be paired with a male dancer—something that hadn't happened in 16 seasons of the Danish version of the show, called Vild med dans. The first-of-its-kind couple were a favorite of fans and the judges from the very beginning, getting the highest scores in four out of the show's eight episodes this season.

David Atherton, 36—who won this year's The Great British Bake Off in November—told Attitude why he waited until he was 29 to come out as gay. "My family is quite religious, and [partner] Nik was brought up in Bulgaria, which is a very homophobic country.Growing up as queer in that environment was not easy," he said. "The show made us look so comfortable together, but Nik's the first partner who I've introduced my family." Growing up in rural Yorkshire, Atherton is one of seven children, and was brought up as an evangelical Christian, which he said led to a lot of shame.

At a recent concert in Moscow, British-born pop singer Charli XCX took a moment to thank her queer fans from the stage, NewNowNext.com noted. At one point during her show, she said, "To feel included in the [LGBTQ] community as an ally is really powerful. I love the LGBTQ community so much because they fucking keep my career alive." The moment was especially meaningful to Russian fans because of the country's infamously harsh laws and cultural attitudes deeming homosexuality taboo.


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