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WORLD Tokyo tackles bias, ex-Vietnam ambassador, confab shut down
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

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The Tokyo Metropolitan Government passed a bill to tackle discrimination against the LGBTI community ahead of the Olympics in 2020, Gay Star News noted. "This act upholds the goal of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government to make Tokyo a city that upholds the human rights values of banning any sort of discrimination as stated in the Olympic Charter," the law states. Japan has recently made some moves to improve the lives of its LGBTI people, including issuing a guidebook on LGBTI issues to teachers in 2016.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Ted Osius joined the chorus of criticism over a new State Department policy that requires partners of foreign mission personnel and employees of international organizations to be married in order to qualify for a diplomatic visa, The Washington Blade reported. "To date, only 12 percent of U.N. member states have embraced marriage equality," said Osius. "Denying visas to the partners of diplomats who represent 88 percent of the world's nations will divide families and harm diplomats whose only intention is to serve their countries."

On Sept. 29, Lebanese security forces from the General Security Directorate shut down a regional gender-rights conference in Beirut, an OutRight Action International press release stated. The conference, known as NEDWA, is organized annually by the Arab Foundation for Freedoms and Equality ( AFE ) and brings together more than 100 activists from the Arabic-speaking Middle East and North Africa region. OutRight Executive Director Jessica Stern said, "In spite of ten years of positive court decisions, there have been several attacks on the basic rights of the LGBTQ community's freedom of association over the past year. The crackdown on LGBTQ organizations is serious and the international community has to speak out." Stern's full account of her experience is at

Romania has rejected an effort to amend language in its constitution that would have changed the definition of spouses to one man and one woman due to low voter turnout, noted. At least 30 percent of the electorate had to vote on the referendum in order for it to be valid, but only about 20 percent of registered voters appeared. Romania has not legalized marriage equality; had the referendum succeeded, it would have made that possibility even more difficult to achieve in the future.

Taiwan will hold a referendum on same-sex marriage, PinkNews reported. The referendum, set to be held Nov. 24, will decide the country's approach to same-sex unions in the wake of a landmark court ruling. In May 2017, Taiwan's constitutional court ruled that same-sex couples must have the right to marry, giving politicians two years to introduce the reform through the legislature before the right to marry automatically comes into effect. However, the Central Election Commission seeks to throw a roadblock in the way of reforms by creating a new segregated form of legal union for same-sex couples.

In the Cayman Islands, Chief Justice Anthony Smellie has ordered the civil action brought by two women ( Chantelle Day and Vickie Bodden ) who were refused the opportunity to marry by the registrar to be heard in February 2019, Cayman News Service reported. There was no indication from the attorney general's representative, Reshma Sharma, concerning the grounds on which government plans to fight the same-sex couple's goal to marry.

Iceland's Centre for Communicable Disease Control may let gay men donate blood again—provided they are required to abstain from sexual activity at least six months before donating, according to a Grapevine item that cites RUV. In addition to the mandatory six-month sexless waiting period, donated blood from gay men would also be tested for HIV, hepatitis B and C, and syphilis. Icelandic queer-rights activists have long contended that the current blood-donation laws—which place an outright ban on gay men from donating blood—are outdated and discriminatory, although some may argue the new proposed policy is not much better.

Thousands of Canadians are pressing the federal government to ban "conversion therapy"—the controversial practice of counseling LGBT youth to become straight, reported. An online petition that will be presented in the House of Commons, signed by more than 2,500 people so far, urges the Liberals to outlaw the act. Ontario was the first province to pass a law banning "conversion therapy" on LGBT children and preventing medical practitioners from billing the provincial health insurance plan for it.

England's Queen Elizabeth's first openly gay footman has stepped down after being demoted for "courting publicity," The Sun noted. Ollie Roberts, 21, was told he could no longer walk Her Majesty's dogs, take in her mail or pass her a blanket for her knees. His demotion to ordinary footman—meaning he could not be seen near the Queen in public—followed a string of articles about him by gay newspapers and websites.

British singer Alison Moyet—whose music with the group Yaz became a staple in gay bars in the '80s—has apologized for signing a letter spearheaded by trans-exclusionary radical feminists ( TERFS ), which called out the charity Stonewall for supporting changes to Britain's Gender Recognition Act that accommodate trans people, according to an item that cites PinkNews. The letter from TERFS—including outspoken anti-trans activist Julie Bindel— to the British LGBTQ charity Stonewall alleged that the inclusion of transgender people is "undermining women's sex-based rights and protections."

A TV series is in development about Renaissance genius Leonardo Da Vinci which will portray him as a "gay outsider," according to a Washington Blade item that cites Variety. Italy's RAI and Lux Vide have tapped showrunner Frank Spotnitz ( The Man in the High Castle ) and writer Steve Thompson ( Sherlock ) to helm Leonardo, an eight-part, English-language series.

In South Africa, The 8th annual Durban Gay and Lesbian Film Festival ( which screened 57 titles ) has announced the jury awards for 2018, reported. The British movie Faces won Best Feature Film in Competition, while George Michael: Freedom was named Best Feature Documentary Film. A few of the other winners included China's Becoming a Queen ( Best Short Documentary Film ), South Africa's Vossie Vergas Homself ( Best Short Film in Competition ) and The Netherlands' Something About Alex ( Best Trans Short Film ).

Orion Pictures has picked up the remake rights to Rokkur ( Rift ), a gay-themed psychological horror movie hailing from Iceland, The Hollywood Reporter noted. The company has also set Erlingur Thoroddsen, the rising genre auteur who wrote and directed the 2017 movie, to pen the English-language screenplay. The movie follows two men whose broken relationship is tested as they are haunted by a supernatural entity awakened by their grief.

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