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WORLD Non-binary ruling, Qantas grounded, trans actor, conversion therapy
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2020-03-17

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A British court ruled out adding a third option on passports for people who define themselves as neither male nor female, following a lengthy legal battle, Openly News reported. The Court of Appeal ruled in favour of the Home Office, or interior ministry, in a case brought by Christie Elan-Cane, who identifies as "non-gendered"; the court said that current passport rules do not constitute a human-rights breach. Elan-Cane—who first started campaigning for genderless people in 1992 after shedding a female identity—argued that passports should have an "X" option for those who do not identify as either male or female.

A drug commonly used to manage HIV was successfully used to treat a man with coronavirus, LGBTQ Nation reported. The Spanish newspaper El PaÃs reports that Miguel Ãngel Benitez, 62, was successfully treated for coronavirus at a hospital in Seville with lopinavir/ritonavir ( marketed as Kaletra ), a protease inhibitor. Protease inhibitors are antiviral drugs that bind to certain enzymes necessary to produce parts of the virus, inhibiting production of the virus in cells.

Qantas announced it was grounding most of its Airbus A380 fleet and its openly gay CEO, Alan Joyce, would forgo his salary as the airline slashed international flights in response to the coronavirus epidemic, Yahoo! News noted. "In the past fortnight we've seen a sharp drop in bookings on our international network as the global coronavirus spread continues," Joyce said. He will forgo his salary ( $15 million ) for the rest of the financial year; other Qantas executives will take a 30-percent pay cut, while management will not receive any bonuses.

A transgender actor has spoken of her disappointment and tears after she felt forced to withdraw from a high-profile musical because the main role of a trans woman was given to a cisgender man, The Guardian noted. Kate O'Donnell was to play the mother in Breakfast on Pluto, an adaptation of the Booker prize-shortlisted novel which tells the story of a trans woman's escape from rural Ireland at the height of the Troubles. However, after the lead role of Patrick/Pussy Braden was given to a cisgender man—the Northern Irish actor Fra Fee—O'Donnell decided she had no choice but to drop out of the production.

Justice Minister David Lametti added another bill to the government's agenda, tabling new amendments to the Criminal Code, to impose a ban on conversion therapy, CTV News reported. The legislation—a campaign promise and evolution on the government's position last parliament—is proposing to prohibit religious counselling seeking to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity, nationwide. The practice has been widely discredited and disparaged by several health and human rights groups, but these therapies are believed to still be offered in Canada.

Ghana's government will not allow a major gathering of LGBT+ activists to go ahead after an outcry from conservative Christian groups in the country, Openly News noted. The conference, scheduled for July, would be the first of its kind in West Africa and aims to bring together LGBT+ leaders to share ideas and work together on changing discriminatory laws, according to the organizers. Ghana is one of 32 countries in Africa that still criminalize same-sex relations.

A December date has been set for the Privy Council in London to hear the Bermuda government's appeal against same-sex marriage, The Royal Gazette reported. It will mark the final legal hurdle for marriage equality, which has been legal since a ruling in the Supreme Court opened the way for the unions in May 2017. The Privy Council's decision will also set a precedent for same-sex marriage across the UK's Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories, as well as a host of former territories.

Pixar's latest animation Onward has been banned by several Middle Eastern countries because of a reference to lesbian parents, the BBC reported. The family film will not be shown in Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, Hollywood media noted. Police officer Specter, voiced by Lena Waithe, has been heralded as Disney-Pixar's first openly gay character.

Bong Joon Ho's Oscar-winning drama Parasite broke records at the U.K. box office, becoming the country's highest-grossing foreign-language film of all time, with more than $15 million, Variety noted. Parasite overtook Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, which had held the foreign-language film record since 2004.

Malaysian rock band Bunkface defended its new song, "Akhir Zaman" ( "The End of Times" ), which has caused controversy over lyrics that urge the LGBT community to "go and die," The South China Morning Post noted. The song was released Feb. 26 at a time of political instability in Malaysia, following the resignation of Mahathir Mohamad as prime minister. Referring to the Malay Muslim LGBT community as a whole, Bunkface quoted a verse from the Koran and described the LGBT community as haraam ( sinful ). Malaysian LGBTQ-rights activist Numan Afifi took to Twitter the day the anti-LGBT song was released to encourage his followers to report the video on YouTube.

The most recent version of the Spartacus Gay Travel Index has been released, according to a press release. It gives an overview of the situation of LGBTQs in 202 countries and regions. The U.S. states are given a separate ranking again, that is topped by California. Among the most dangerous countries for LGBT travellers in 2020 are again countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Somalia and the Russian republic of Chechnya. The complete index can be downloaded at https://spartacus.travel/gaytravelindex.pdf.

Caitlyn Jenner was caught taking tens of thousands of dollars to promote a fake charity in a sting operation by a British news organization, LGBTQ Nation noted. The program Dispatches released a documentary called Celebs for Sale: The Great Charity Scandal, in which the news team set up a fake charity to catch celebrities taking money in exchange for promoting it. Jenner was paid about $25,000 to publicly support the fake organization CUPPA ( Cleaning up Plastic Pollution in Africa ). In a statement, Jenner's lawyer said, "It is well known to the public that sometimes celebrities are paid fees for doing promotional work for charities."

Madonna's Madame X Tour came to an abrupt halt due to new restrictions on public gatherings implemented in France amid the COVID-19 virus spread, Billboard noted. "Following official notification from the Office of the Police this morning prohibiting all events with an audience attendance of over 1000, Live Nation regrets to announce the final two Madame X performances previously re-scheduled to 10-March and 11-March are forced to be cancelled," read a note on Madonna's site. The "Vogue" singer previously canceled shows at Le Grand Rex on March 1 and 7 because of "ongoing injuries."

SAG-AFTRA members work on locations all across the globe, but the union told its members not to report to work on any production locations subject to CDC Level 3 Travel Health Notices because of the coronavirus outbreak—presently China, Italy, Iran and South Korea, Deadline noted. ( An updated list of Level 3 notices can be accessed on the Center for Disease Control's website. )

A 21-year-old Spanish football coach died from coronavirus, having been suffering from a form of leukemia, The Independent noted. Francisco Garcia, a youth team coach at Malaga-based club Atletico Portada Alta, had an unknown pre-existing health condition that resulted in him being more vulnerable to the virus than usual for an individual of his age, though he was only informed of having cancer after going to hospital with symptoms of coronavirus.

The European soccer championship has been shifted from 2020 to 2021 due to fears over the coronavirus pandemic, Deadline noted. The event pits the national teams of Euro countries against each other and is held every four years, in between World Cups. Organizing body UEFA made the decision following a video meeting of its 55 member states, said multiple soccer associations, which posted on social media that the tournament will now run June 11-July 11 next year.

The mayor of Bugliano, Italy, issued a statement prohibiting orgies and gang bangs anywhere inside the city limits, Queerty noted. Additionally, threesomes and sex involving more than two people is also banned for the foreseeable future. In a statement, Mayor Fabio Buggiani said: "As an additional measure for coronavirus containment, orgies and gang bangs are forbidden throughout the municipal territory of Bugliano"—with the penalty for violation being almost $1,000.

A new small insect from Nicaragua has been named after Lady Gaga, LGBTQ Nation noted. Kaikaia gaga is a type of treehopper; the bugs are known for their bright coloring and individuality in appearance. They "sing" to each other by vibrating plant stems. Brendan Morris—a graduate student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign—discovered the differences between the bug and other treehoppers, and was given the honor of naming the new species.


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