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WORLD New museum, EU condemns gay 'cure,' trans lawmaker
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times.

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The European Parliament has overwhelmingly voted to condemn gay "cure" therapy and urged member countries to ban the practice, PinkNews reported. The EU body voted 435-109 to adopt text calling on member states to outlaw the discredited practice. Experts overwhelmingly agree that attempts to cure sexuality are futile, misguided and often extremely harmful; attempts to force people to repress their sexuality have been linked to depression, self-harm and even suicide.

If all goes as planned, the world's largest LGBTQ museum will be unveiled in just a few years—in London, LGBTQ Nation reported. The museum will be a brick-and-mortar building with the standard type of exhibits, but will also include a strong digital component, including video and audio interviews with "queer people of all backgrounds and ages." Queer Britain is the brainchild of Joseph Galliano, a journalist and charity communications strategist.

The country's first transgender lawmaker is also the first transgender member of the Armed Forces of the Philippines ( AFP ), ABS-CBN News reported. Bataan Rep. Geraldine Roman took her oath as a reservist officer of the Philippine military, and received the rank of lieutenant colonel. Defense chief Delfin Lorenzana administered the donning of ranks and oath-taking ceremony ,which was also attended by AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero as well as other defense and security officials.

The Catholic Church is reeling as dozens of allegedly gay priests have been exposed in a 1,200-page dossier prepared for the trial of Father Luca Morini in Italy on corruption charges, LGBTQ Nation reported. Father Morini was exposed by male escort Francesco Mangiacapra. After misrepresenting himself as a judge, Morini's lavish spending rang alarm bells for Mangiacapra once he discovered Morini was a parish priest instead. A news episode focusing on Morini included footage of the priest snorting cocaine and consorting with male escorts.

Pakistan has been taking steps to recognize its transgender citizens that would be considered far too radical for a supposedly tolerant nation like the U.S., according to an LGBTQ Nation piece. Pakistan's latest move is seen by some as especially bold: sending transgender youth to serve as volunteers for this year's hajj, the annual trek to Mecca, Islam's holiest site. The decision is a de facto challenge to conservative Muslims who adamantly oppose any form of LGBT rights. Other surprisingly progressive countries include Nepal and India, which both count the transgender population in their national records.

Lawyers in Trinidad and Tobago are challenging the conduct of the country's top judge, following questions about his relationship with a man who was shot in an ambush and is now seeking asylum in the United Kingdom, The Guardian reported. The Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago is investigating allegations involving the chief justice, Ivor Archie, after local media queried his conduct in relation to Dillian Johnson, 36, who survived a nighttime shooting outside his home in December 2017. Johnson fled Trinidad to the United Kingdom three weeks after the shooting and says he fears for his life if he is forced to return.

In Northern Ireland, a Belfast church has denied suggestions it is hosting an event aimed at "curing" gay people, saying it just wants to help them remain celibate and Christian, The Belfast Telegraph reported. Willowfield Parish Church on My Lady's Road is to host an Evangelical Alliance-led event on March 8 entitled "Is Your Church Biblically Inclusive?" It's claimed the course is designed for those who are, or want to be, a committed Christian but identify as gay.

The new Australian deputy prime minister, Michael McCormack, has distanced himself from a series of newspaper editorials in which he advocated for the death penalty, opposed anti-gay hate laws and compared women's soccer to an "egg and spoon" race, The Guardian reported. McCormack was the editor of Wagga Wagga's Daily Advertiser during 1992 to 2001, and wrote the editorials in 1993 as part of his weekly column "From the editor's desk." He apologized when he first ran for office in 2010, and again in August 2017, saying, "I have grown and learned not only to tolerate, but to accept all people regardless of their sexual orientation."

France's government has proposed setting a formal age of sexual consent after two-high profile cases involving 11-year-old girls, CNN reported. Equality Minister Marlene Schiappa said the government "has decided to set the age at 15," after consultations with the public and an expert panel. She said a new law would be presented to Council of Ministers—France's equivalent of a cabinet—on March 21. Two cases involving the 11-year-old girls provoked outrage in France after the alleged perpetrators were acquitted of rape.

Matija Stainer was recently evicted from the Big Brother Croatia house and, in his exit interview with the series host, he made allegations that he was attacked by another housemate during his time on the show, according to . Stainer claims producers allowed his attacker to stay in the house and "took no public action over the incident." He also stated that he was not only physically attacked, but also had to endure gay slurs and bullying from some of the other contestants in the house.

Three police officers in Tajikistan were detained for allegedly blackmailing a gay man in order to extort money from him, RFE/RL reported. Officials at the Anticorruption Agency said that Major Shoramazon Boronov, Captain Oyatullo Saifiddinov and Captain Narzullo Aslamzoda had been detained several days ago while receiving 3,000 somonis ( $340 ) from a gay man to buy the officers' silence regarding his sexual orientation. The agency said the officers were charged with extortion and abuse of office.

Out comedian Lea DeLaria crashed a lesbian wedding in Australia, where the cast of Orange is the New Black traveled to celebrate Sydney Gay And Lesbian Mardi Gras, according to . DeLaria, along with co-stars Danielle Brooks and Yael Stone, surprised OITNB superfans Tegan Hunter and Louise David at their ceremony. "I sang for the brides and danced with everyone," DeLaria wrote on Instagram. "Fucking living in Oz!"

Russian punk-protest group Pussy Riot posted an urgent message on Twitter Feb. 27, claiming that two of their members, Olya Borisova and Sasha Sofeev, had gone missing, Billboard reported. The alert said that the Russian security agency FSB ( the successor to the KGB ) "detained them several times," adding that "cops broke their phones and computers." However, just hours after the members were reported missing, Pussy Riot tweeted that Borisova and Sofeev had been found. Pussy Riot rose to prominence in 2011 with its outdoor performances critical of President Vladimir Putin and Russia's ruling elite.

The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras endured controversy over increased corporate sponsorships, according to the New York Times. ( Red Bull, Netflix, Absolut, retail bank ANZ, Airbnb and Tinder were some of the businesses involved. ) Organizers see corporate involvement as a sign of increased acceptance, an acknowledgment of gays' spending power and necessary to keeping the festival alive and growing. However, critics contend that corporatizing the event risks losing its activist roots and community spirit. The Mardi Gras ran Feb. 16-March 4, with Cher among those performing.

Australians Warren Orlandi and Pauly Phillips made history by becoming the first same-sex couple to get married on top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Huffington Post South Africa reported. The couple took their vows in front of family and friends gathered on the structure dubbed the "coat hanger" 439 feet above the city's main harbor—two days before the 40th anniversary of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. The wedding is a fitting personal milestone for Orlandi, especially; When he began losing weight in 2013, he was more than 815 pounds and set himself the goal of being fit enough to climb the famous bridge—and he lost 550 pounds.

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