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WORLD Zambia pardon, fashion house, HIV+ mayor, Costa Rica marriage
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2020-06-01

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Zambia's president pardoned a gay couple sentenced to 15 years in prison in November under colonial-era sodomy laws in a case that caused a diplomatic conflict with the United States, Reuters reported. Japhet Chataba, 39, and Steven Sambo, 31, were among nearly 3,000 inmates pardoned by President Edgar Lungu last Friday to commemorate Africa Freedom Day. A Lusaka High Court judge had sentenced them to 15 years in prison under laws that forbid sex between couples "against the order of nature"—a ruling that drew criticism from then U.S. ambassador Daniel Foote.

Kenyan trans refugee-led fashion organization Lunko House ( formerly Lunko Haute Couture ) adjusted its production output to include the fabrication of masks in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, a FITZ Media press release noted. The fashion house, led by trans non-binary refugee Caitlyn Lubega, is hoping to create a mixture of masks both for free distribution to fellow refugees and for commercial sale to support the group and its ongoing enterprise. The group managed to procure a sale to the UNHCR Livelihood Department earlier in May, but the funds from that sale were confiscated in an unrelated raid by local police. Interested supporters can donate via the Powerhouse Global Missions in support of Lunko House; see PHGlobalMissions.org .

As Britain's first openly HIV-positive mayor, Philip Normal said his responsibilities stretch far beyond his constituents in Lambeth, Openly News reported. The new mayor ( an artist and designer who runs his own fashion store in Lambeth's trendy Brixton area ) has received thousands of congratulatory messages following his election by fellow councillors last month—with many applauding him for being open about his HIV status. Normal was born Philip Burr; he said changing his name was a creative act he did years ago—"similar to the way actors do it."

Daritza Araya Arguedas and Alexandra Quiros Castillo became the first same-sex couple in Costa Rica to wed May 26—the first day gay marriage became legal in the country, NBC News reported, citing local news reports and the advocacy group Si, Acepto. In San Isidro de Heredia—a town outside the capital, San Jose—Ana Cecilia Castro Calzada officiated at the ceremony, wearing a red coronavirus mask as the lesbian couple wore white dresses and a livestream carried the sounds of chirping nighttime wildlife.

Malaysia's top court allowed a man to challenge an Islamic ban on sex "against the order of nature," in a test case for gay rights in the mostly Muslim country, Openly News reported. The Muslim man ( in his 30s ), whose name has been withheld by his lawyer to protect his privacy, filed the lawsuit after he was arrested in 2018 for attempting gay sex, which he denies. ( He was among 11 men arrested on suspicion of attempting gay sex during a raid in a private residence in Selangor. ) The man's lawyer said he expected the court to hear arguments by the end of the year, and hoped it could bring changes to other Malaysian states with similar laws.

In Turkmenistan, men who have sex with men are still arrested and imprisoned on sodomy charges, Human Rights Watch stated. In mid-April independent media in the region reported the arrest of a popular entertainer as well as those of numerous other men who move in Turkmenistan's show-business world. Some were able to secure their release. On May 7, a Turkmen court sentenced the entertainer, and several others to two years' imprisonment on sodomy charges.

Students in Poland were subjected to hours-long police interrogations after they reported a professor for teaching anti-LGBTQ+ lessons, Out.com reported. In February 2020, a group of students filed a formal complaint that Dr. Ewa Budzynska, an associate sociology professor at the University of Silesia, was pushing "anti-choice ideology, homophobic views, anti-Semitism, denominational discrimination, information incompatible with modern scientific knowledge and promotion of radical Catholic views," according to PinkNews. Budzynska resigned in protest after the university opened an investigation into the complaint, but Polish authorities also grilled the students—leaving them shaken and in tears, noted the Center for Monitoring Racist and Xenophobic Behaviors, which is providing legal support for the students.

An unruly passenger was sentenced to six months in prison for the sexual assault of a male flight attendant, LGBTQ Nation reported. The passenger, Gavin Capps, was flying with EasyJet from Manchester, U.K., to Iceland for work this past January when he attacked the flight attendant. A flight attendant who was serving another passenger said that he felt Capps "take hold of his left buttock and squeeze with a lot of force. He could feel his fingers between buttocks," prosecutor David Calder told the court.

In the most recent episode of her web series The Secret Life of Lele Pons, Venezuela social-media star Lele Pons opened up about the time she learned her dad was gay after she accidentally walked in on him with another man, Queerty noted. "I came to his room and I saw him actually, like, sleeping with a man. And I was, like, 10 years old, and that for me was, like, 'Oh, my God. I can't believe it. Like, I saw… my dad,'" the 23-year-old recalled. Pons added she and her father have worked through their issues and are "so close," even joking that be's since gotten revenge on her—by walking in on her and someone else.

In the 1980s, long-running British soap opera EastEnders cut a planned romance between two gay characters due to the introduction of anti-gay legislation, Metro Weekly reported. The show, which has been airing since 1985, caused public outrage in 1987 when it aired a relationship between characters Barry Clark and Colin Russell. Actor Gary Hailes, who played Barry, revealed that their relationship was expected to progress much further—including Barry coming out to his family and receiving homophobic backlash—but the storyline was axed after the government passed the anti-gay measure Section 28.

Bollywood filmmaker Apurva Asrani celebrated buying a house with his partner after being forced to hide their relationship for 15 years, PinkNews reported. Asrani is an award-winning filmmaker best known for Satya ( 1998 ), Shahid ( 2013 ), and the human rights biopic Aligarh ( 2016 ). His drama-comedy series Made in Heaven featured a gay man as a leading character and was widely praised for normalizing homosexuality on Indian television.

Kino Lorber announced the DVD and digital release of Out of My Head—the award-winning documentary by Jacki Ochs and Susanna Styron investigating the complex neurological disease migraine, which afflicts nearly 1 billion people throughout the world, a press release noted. The June 9 release is timed to coincide with National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month. Out of My Head will become available on DVD with a SRP of $19.95, with bonus features including seven exclusive bonus scenes, audio description, and subtitles in multiple languages.


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