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World: AIDS conference; Grindr and China; Estonia partnership law
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2016-01-12

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The 21st International AIDS Conference will take place in Durban, South Africa, on July 18-22—and scholarships are available for the event, according to its website. The website says, "The conference organizers are committed to doubling the number of scholarships for AIDS 2016 to make the conference even more accessible to people from resource-limited settings, researchers, young people, community activists and civil-society representatives." Financial awards, including media scholarships, are available at http://www.aids2016.org/Scholarships/Apply-for-a-scholarship.

Grindr has sold a 60-percent stake to Chinese online gaming company Beijing Kunlun Tech for $93 million, according to Gay Star News. The Shenzhen-listed company announced that it had bought 98,448,000 shares in New Grindr—valuing the six-year-old startup at $155 million. Founder Joel Simkhai and his employees will hold the remaining shares.

A law allowing same-sex partnerships took effect in Estonia; however, couples are being advised to hold off on getting hitched until a series of legal issues have been resolved, according to the Associated Press. In 2014, Estonia became the first former Soviet republic to approve gay civil unions—but Parliament has not yet adopted laws required to implement that decision. While couples can enter into unions, the Estonian Chamber of Notaries has said there are legal uncertainties related to divorce, inheritance and other practical matters.

A trans woman was fighting for her life after being shot in Pakistan, Gay Star News reported. Lady Reading Hospital allegedly failed to provide immediate treatment, according to the group Trans Action Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The group claim doctors allegedly refused to help the victim for three hours as they believed "patients would be uncomfortable of a transgender person" being treated at the same time as them.

Two men have been arrested in Morocco after a video of them kissing caused outrage on social media, Gay Star News noted. The strong reaction to the viral video—which shows two silhouettes kissing inside the classroom of a high school—prompted authorities in the city of Inezgane to take action against the men Jan. 7. If convicted, the men could face up to three years imprisonment and a fine of about $120.

The pro-LGBT organization Athlete Ally has welcomed six new pro ambassadors—pro athletes who will work with the organization to promote LGBT equality in and out of sports, according to a press release. Among the new ambassadors is transgender U.S. military sergeant and bodybuilder Shane Ortega. The other new ambassadors are MMA fighters Jessica Aguilar and Nicole Upshaw, Chicago Red Stars forward Zakiya Bywaters, British blind ski racer John Dickinson-Lilley and Canadian/Australian soccer star Carmelina Moscato.

Continuing a war of words, a group of two dozen Dominican intellectuals and religious leaders have urged the country's government to declare the gay U.S. ambassador to the Dominican Republic "persona non grata," The Washington Blade reported. The letter sent to President Danilo Medina's administration and the Dominican Ministry of Foreign Affairs specifically cites the "intent" of the White House and the U.N. "to create the right conditions to morally deprive our adolescents in school by imposing upon them sexuality classes that have as basic text a manual that invites children to begin practicing gay and lesbian practices while in secondary school." Brewster has faced persistent criticism from Dominican religious officials since President Obama nominated him to represent the U.S. in the Caribbean country in 2013.

Phyll Opoku-Gyimah—one of the UK's most prominent queer Black activists—has rejected Queen Elizabeth II's MBE Award, according to Gay Times. In refusing, Opoku-Gyimah said that "LGBTQI people are still being persecuted, tortured and even killed" because of laws put in place by the British Empire. She co-founded UK Black Pride in 2005 and is a trustee for the Stonewall charity.

The prime minister of Fiji, Frank Bainimarama, has come out against marriage equality, saying his country "does not need that rubbish," according to The Huffington Post. He also said that there "will be no same-sex marriage in Fiji" in his lifetime, adding that same-sex couples who want to marry should "go and have it done in Iceland, and stay and live there."

The Netherland's Advertising Standards Board will not ban a series of posters advertising Squirt, a gay hook-up website and mobile app, according to Gay Star News. The advertising campaign, which includes advertisements in the print and online media, had reportedly attracted numerous complaints after posters were put up at major train stations across Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Utrecht and The Hague.

India's first transgender band has released its debut single: "Hum Hain Happy"—a Bollywood cover of Pharrell Williams' "Happy," according to Gay Star News. The act 6 Pack Band, who sing in Hinglish—a patois of Hindi and English—is composed of six transgender women from Mumbai and were selected from 200 people who auditioned.

Cartoon Network UK defended its decision to "modify" an episode of Steven Universe that depicted a dance between two female-presenting characters, Rose and Pearl Quartz, that may have been perceived as romantic, Instinct magazine noted. The network said, "'We do feel that the slightly edited version is more comfortable for local kids and their parents."

Russia has ruled that gay emojis are allowed to stay on iPhones, dropping a lawsuit against Apple, PinkNews reported. Moscow's City Court has thrown out a lawsuit that claimed emojis showing smiling same-sex couples was a violation of the law that prohibits "gay propaganda." Russian senator Mikhail Marchenko claimed the emojis "promoted non-traditional sexual relationships, denied family values and showed disrespect for parents and other family members."


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