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WORLD Report on LGBTQ groups, Costa Rica marriage, Kenyan HIV lab
by Andrew Davis
2018-08-14

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A report has found that nearly half of the world's countries do not allow LGBTQ groups to organize without threat of arrest or state violence, NewNowNext.com noted. Only 56 percent of countries—109 out of 194—freely allow such groups, according to data analysis from LGBTQ organization OutRight Action International, published Aug. 7. The report, "The Global State of LGBTIQ Organising: The Right to Register," is at https://www.outrightinternational.org/righttoregister.

Costa Rica's supreme court has given the country's legislature 18 months to change the law to allow same-sex marriage, StarTribune.com noted. The court voted to make same-sex marriage legal, declaring that existing laws banning it were unconstitutional. Magistrate Fernando Castillo said in a news conference that the laws were inconsistent with an opinion issued in January by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

Kenya's ministry of health and private-sector partners launched a state-of-the-art laboratory to enhance screening of the HIV virus amid a quest to eliminate the disease by 2030, XinhuaNet.com noted. Rashid Aman, chief administrative secretary in the ministry of health, said the launch of the advanced HIV testing equipment—through a partnership with Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche—will boost management of the HIV/AIDS pandemic that affects an estimated 1.5 million Kenyans. The new HIV diagnostic laboratory, called Cobas 8800, will be installed at Kenya Medical Research institute ( KEMRI ).

A local judge has given two women to six lashes of a cane for "attempted sexual relations" in Malaysia, Gay Star News noted. Police arrested the women, aged 32 and 22, in April the state of Terengganu for trying to have sex in a car. Judge Kamalruazmi Ismail said he gave the women the harsh sentence to also deter other members of society. Along with the lashing, the judge also ordered the women to pay a fine of RM3,330 ( US $814 ).

This year's World Meeting of Families ( WMOF ), the gathering promoted by the Catholic church, has caused a controversy by excluding a Catholic LGBTI group, according to Gay Star News. The Global Network of Rainbow Catholics ( GNRC ), launched in Rome in 2015, has been formally banned from the event taking place in Dublin on Aug. 22-26. WMOF Exhibition Coordinator Paul McCann said that GNRC was barred due to "uncertainties over the amount of space we will have available for exhibitions because of other logistical considerations."

LEO Varadkar has indicated that the HPV vaccine is to be rolled out for boys in 2019, The Sun noted. The Irish prime minister told how this will prevent "particularly nasty" diseases in men related to the human papilloma virus, such as anal, throat and oral cancer. A vaccine is already being offered to teenage girls.

Poland's defense mnister has called a Pride march in the country a "parade of sodomites," PinkNews reported. Mariusz Blaszczak, a prominent figure in the country's right-wing populist government, condemned the rally in Poznan, which saw 5,000 people march for equality in the western city. The Poznan tram company MPK Poznan placed rainbow flags on all its vehicles ahead of the parade—only to remove them when they were met with criticism.

Speaking of parades, a community in Wales has come together to plan its own Pride event on Sept. 1, PinkNews noted. The small coastal town of Llantwit Major—which has a population of fewer than 10,000 people—will welcome a choir for lesbian, bisexual and trans women and non-binary people, as well as dancers and a drag performer. The day will end in the Tudor Tavern, a local pub, where they will have a DJ and a drag performer.

Malaysia's deputy health minister has said that LGBT people suffer from an "organic disorder," PinkNews reported. Dr. Lee Boon Chye's comments come as queer people in the country are forced to deal with a drastic upsurge in anti-LGBT+ sentiment. Religious affairs minister Mujahid Yusof Rawa attracted global attention earlier this month when he ordered two portraits of LGBT+ Malaysian activists be removed from an exhibition.

Toronto police are seeking two people who painted a swastika and the letters "SF" over the rainbow crosswalk at Church and Alexander streets in a hate-crime investigation in the city's Gay Village, The Toronto Sun reported. According to media reports, "SF" could possibly stand for "storm front," a reference to a white-supremacy group.

While attending Vancouver Pride, Arrow star ( and Toronto-born actor ) Stephen Amell wore a shirt that sparked criticism—this time from LGBT community members and allies, Straight.com noted. His shirt stated "I'm not gay but $20 is $20"—a reference to being gay for pay, or straight guys being willing to engage in same-sex acts for money. While Amell is staunchly pro-LGBT, his shirt sparked debates online and in the comments sections of his social media, with some criticizing the message it conveyed and finding it offensive while others defended it as humorous.

English cricket player Ben Stokes has been found not guilty of affray ( fighting of one or more persons in a public place to the terror of ordinary people ) after an encounter at a Bristol nightclub, Gay Star News reported. Original news reports revealed Stokes got involved in the altercation after defending two gay men, Kai Barry and Billy O'Connor, from homophobic slurs.

British transgender activists frustrated by a lack of online representation are claiming Maine's new lobster emoji as their own, SunJournal.com noted. The group, Lobsters Against Transphobia, launched an online petition last month to push Unicode, a nonprofit consortium that signs off on new pictograms, for a pink-and-blue flag emoji. Until they get their own flag, the group urged supporters to turn to the lobster, one of 157 new emojis that Unicode approved this year, as a substitute. Lobsters can display both male and female traits

Team GB's only gay athlete will risk prison at Qatar's Track & Field World Championships next year after pledging to defend LGBT rights during the global showpiece, The Independent reported. Tom Bosworth is one of Britain's leading gold medal prospects for the Doha event after collecting a silver medal in the 20km race walk at the Commonwealth Games earlier this year. Bosworth, who came out as Britain's first gay athlete in 2015, is angry that a sport that prides itself on diversity has granted the hosting rights for its flagship event to a country that continues to criminalize homosexuality.

Logan, Hugh Jackman's third Wolverine spinoff from the X-Men film series, was the most complained-about film at U.K. cinemas in 2017, The Guardian noted. The British Board of Film Classification ( BBFC ), which administers the cinema ratings system, issued its annual report in which it said 20 complaints were received about the film. The second most-complained about film was the controversial Hindi-language epic Padmaavat, a historical drama about the celebrated 13th-century Indian queen Padmini. ( This compares with the 51 complaints received in 2016 for Deadpool, and 40 the year before for the James Bond movie Spectre. )

Stormy Daniels, the porn star who claims to have had an affair with Donald Trump, and Cheers actress Kirstie Alley are some of the names set to appear on the British version of Celebrity Big Brother, Page Six noted. The network is theming this summer's reality hit as "The Eye of the Storm," and is introducing housemates who have all been caught up in their own media controversies.


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