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WORLD New HIV news, Catholic event, conversion therapy, Hungary anti-trans bill
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2020-05-27

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A global trial stated that a new HIV drug injected every two months effectively reduces the rate of infection, and provides longer and stronger protection, than taking pills, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. The four-year trial—conducted by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the United States and six other countries—injected a drug called cabotegravir every two months into 4,570 men and transgender women who have sex with men and are at high risk of contracting HIV. The finding—in which a third fewer people became infected on cabotegravir compared with the other drugs ( tenofovir/emtricitabine, sold as Truvada )—"marks the first time a large-scale clinical trial has shown a systemic, long-acting form of HIV prevention to be highly effective," the study report said.

Lockdowns globally are preventing some LGBT+ people with HIV from getting the life-saving treatment they need—and potentially putting their compromised immune systems at risk if they contract COVID-19, according to HIV/AIDS organizations, Openly News reported. From Uganda, Kenya and Mozambique to Lebanon, Kyrgyzstan and Trinidad and Tobago, rights groups report hearing of sexual minorities forced off treatment due to stay at home orders despite some government and NGO efforts to try to help them. Nearly 38 million people worldwide are currently infected with HIV, with the AIDS pandemic killing about 35 million people worldwide since it began in the 1980s.

Hundreds of Catholics from all over the world will be praying together on Zoom to celebrate LGBTQ Pride Month on Sunday, June 14, 2-3 p.m. CT, a press release announced. The virtual prayer service and global discussion will take place on the Catholic Feast of Corpus Christi ( Body of Christ ) and will focus on the theme, "We, Though Many, Are One Body" ( 1 Corinthians 10:17 ). The gathering is being sponsored by New Ways Ministry, a U.S.-based Catholic ministry of justice and equality for LGBTQ people in church and society. For more information and to register for the Zoom event, visit NewWaysMinistry.org/pride/.

Albania's Order of Psychologists announced it will prohibit members from offering "conversion therapy," Human Rights Watch reported. The decision effectively bans conversion therapy in Albania, as registered therapists are required to be members of the group in order to legally practice. Lawmakers in many countries around the globe are considering bans on the practice, including in Australia, Canada, Chile, France, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain and the United States.

In Canada, Calgary has joined other Alberta cities with a bylaw banning the business practice of conversion therapy, LiveWire Calgary reported. After some council debate, the bylaw was passed 14 to one at the May 25 city council meeting; Coun. Joe Magliocca was the lone dissenting vote in both the second and third readings, after it was unanimous on the first reading. Truth Wins Out Executive Director Wayne Besen issued a statement saying, in part, "Conversion therapy should be banned across the planet, because it is a dangerous and anachronistic form of torture that teaches people to lie and deny who they are. We thank the terrific LGBT advocates in Calgary and across Canada for their life-saving work to make the dream of banning conversion therapy a reality."

Following weeks of international outcry, the Hungarian Parliament rolled back trans rights, voting 133-57 to approve an omnibus bill—one article of which replaces the category of "sex" on the civil registry with one of "sex assigned at birth," ILGA-Europe noted. ILGA-Europe Advocacy Director Katrin Hugendubel responded to the vote: "Legal gender recognition is the bedrock of access to equality and non-discrimination for trans and intersex people. Without it, these populations are subject to immense stigma, discrimination, harassment and violence every time they use their identity documents—be it at the bank, when going to the doctor, when applying for a job, or even when applying for a cellphone contract."

China's LGBT-rights activists have stepped up their campaign to have same-sex unions legalized after a parliamentary official said the country "insisted on heterosexual marriage" only and dismissed public comments on the issue, the South China Morning Post reported. The legislature began its annual meeting in Beijing on May 22 and is expected to enact the country's first civil code. It had sought public opinions on the marriage and family section of the code in November, receiving more than 200,000 suggestions; however Huang Wei—an official with the Legislative Affairs Commission of the National People's Congress Standing Committee—said comments about legalising same-sex marriage had been sent in "an organized act." LGBT activist Sun Wenlin said he was not satisfied with the parliamentary official's justification for rejecting gay marriage.

Western diplomatic missions in Baghdad have been slammed by the LGBTQ+ community for appearing to bow to Iraqi government and clerical pressure to remove Pride flags flying above their embassies as well as posts from their social-media accounts, Rudaw reported. In a gesture marking International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia on Sunday, the European Union, the World Bank MENA, and the Canadian and British embassies to Iraq all hoisted the iconic rainbow flag in Baghdad. However, the flags and social media posts were fiercely attacked by Iraqi politicians and clerics, who said the promotion of LGBTQ+ rights was incompatible with Iraqi society and insensitive during the holy month of Ramadan.

A Ugandan court ordered the release of 19 LGBT+ people jailed for almost 50 days for risking spreading the new coronavirus after public prosecutors withdrew the charges, Reuters reported. The 13 gay men, two bisexual men and four transgender women were arrested on March 29 when police raided an LGBT+ shelter on the outskirts of Kampala. Authorities claimed they were violating social-distancing rules banning gatherings of more than 10 people.

A U.S. diplomat acknowledged the coronavirus pandemic continues to have a disproportionate impact on LGBTQ people around the world, The Washington Blade noted. "The COVID pandemic really highlights the challenges for the LGBTQ community," said Acting U.S. Representative to the U.N. Economic and Social Council ( ECOSOC ) Courtney Nemroff during a virtual event organized by the U.N. LGBTI Core Group that commemorated the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia ( IDAHOBIT ). "We are particularly concerned about the fear, the real fear of discrimination against members of the community when they try to seek basic healthcare services."

The Swedish government has proposed a 100 million kronor ( $10.25 million ) boost for organizations that help vulnerable communities and combat loneliness among elderly people, TheLocal.se reported. Another 100 million kronor were previously promised to organizations working with vulnerable children and organizations working with women exposed to violence, children and LGBTQ communities, and against domestic violence and honor-related violence and oppression.

After the success of United At Home in Miami—which raised more than $750,000 for COVID-19 relief charities and drew more than 25 million viewers—David Guetta will host a live stream performance in New York on May 30 to raise spirits and money for the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City, Feeding America, the World Health Organization and Fondation Hopitaux de Paris-Hopitaux de France, a press release noted. Guetta's performance—which will begin after New York's "daily clap" for frontline and healthcare workers at 6 p.m. CT—will take place at one of New York City's most iconic locations, to be revealed during his set.

LGBTQ-focused streaming platform GagaOOLala officially launched worldwide in all territories except for China and North Korea, NBC News reported. The streamer is backed by Taipei-based Portico Media, one of the co-founders of the Taiwan International Queer Film Festival. GagaOOLala is now available worldwide for $6.99 a month. All films currently are equipped with English and Chinese subtitles, with other languages pending as the company monitors content popularity in different regions.

The 30th annual Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film Festival ( Inside Out ) revealed its full lineup of digital events taking place through June 30, a press release announced. Events include the 4th Annual LGBTQ Film Finance Forum, the digital exhibition "Out of the Archives/Inside the Community: 30 Years of Inside Out" and the Pitch, Please! Short Film Competition, among other items. This year's full festival, which was postponed due to COVID-19, will now take place Oct. 1-11. See InsideOut.ca.

Also in Toronto, the LGBTQ community lost a sanctuary as Club 120 closed for good, Toronto.com reported. The Church Street nightclub and its sister—live music and comedy venue 120 Diner—announced recently that they won't be opening again. "We tried very hard to navigate the system and hang in there … but with the way the world is turning, there is no sane or rational way that we can keep this space alive," co-owner Todd Klinck wrote in a lengthy Facebook post, where he noted that the businesses have monthly expenses of $90,000 when open at full tilt.

Crayola announced the launch of its "Colors of the World" crayons, WXYZ.com reported. The box includes 24 new specially formulated crayons that are designed to mirror and represent over 40 global skin tones across the world. The company said it conducted rigorous consumer testing and partnered with cosmetics expert Victor Casale to ensure "Colors of the World" crayons reflect an accurate and inclusive skin tone palette.

The governor of Italy's Veneto region, Luca Zaia, said that the Venice Film Festival will go ahead as scheduled in September, Deadline noted. Dates are Sept. 2-12 for the Lido event—and it would mark the first major film industry gathering not recently postponed or canceled amid the coronavirus pandemic.


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