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World: British PM backs marriage; HIV+ teacher charged
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2012-12-11

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British Prime Minister David Cameron has confirmed that he supports same-sex marriage for religious institutions, according to Pink News. Speaking at an event, he said, "I'm a massive supporter of marriage and I don't want gay people to be excluded from a great institution." However, he added that he would not attempt to force any church, synagogue or mosque to host a same-sex wedding.

In Taiwan, Taipei authorities have charged a teacher with violating a law that criminalizes HIV-positive people who knowingly have unprotected sex, according to Gay Star News. The man (surnamed Feng), who was also arrested on an illegal drugs charge, faces five to 12 years in prison if convicted under the HIV Infection Control and Patient Rights Protection Act. After a blood test showed that Feng is HIV-positive, police took his computer and discovered he had contacted more than 100 people online, offering sex in exchange for drugs.

Los Angeles-based clothing company American Apparel has promised it will give away 10,000 "Legalize Gay" T-shirts in France in an effort to support the passing of a marriage-equality bill in that country, according to SouthFloridaGayNews.com . In a press release, the company stated, "As a company, American Apparel has been very public in its support of the legalization of gay marriage in the United States, and is now taking an international stand." France is set to vote next year on a bill to legalize same-sex marriage.

In Colombia, a bill legalizing same-sex marriage passed the first of four votes amid criticism from conservative groups, according to Gay Star News. The bill was approved 10-5 in the first committee of the Senate responsible for constitutional matters. The measure will now face a vote in the Colombian Senate.

In France, Europe's first gay-friendly mosque opened in the suburbs of Paris, located within the confines of a small room inside the house of a Buddhist monk, according to TheTakeaway.org . According to its founders, its doors are open to Muslims of all backgrounds and sexual orientations, including those who are transgender. Women will also be allowed to lead the congregation in Friday prayers.

Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu has urged Uganda to kill a controversial draft law that would send gays and lesbians to jail and, some say, put them at risk of the death penalty, the Christian Century reported. The Anti-Homosexuality Bill is expected to become law after Parliamentary Speaker Rebecca Kadaga offered it to the country's residents as a "Christmas gift." Tutu told the media at the All Africa Conference of Churches meeting that people do not choose their sexual orientation, and would be crazy to choose homosexuality "when you expose yourself to so much hatred, even to the extent of being killed."

Mexico's Supreme Court unanimously ruled that a law in southern Oaxaca state that bans same-sex marriages is unconstitutional, the Huffington Post reported. The court said in its ruling that to condition marriages to the union of one man and one woman "violates the principle of equality." This development paves the way for same-sex couples to marry in that state and possibly in the rest of Mexico.

In England, gay hairdresser Lee Howett was sentenced to two and a half years in jail for stabbing a man with scissors after he taunted Howett about his sexuality, according to Gay Star News. Judge David Owen Jones said that although the victim's anti-gay comment was "hurtful," he added that Howett "reacted very badly when it would have been easier to distance yourself from the group." Howett pled guilty to one count of wounding with intent.

In a related matter, UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has responded to the leak that revealed the government's proposals for same-sex marriage in England and Wales, according to Gay Star News. Clegg, the coalition partner and Liberal Democrat leader who pushed for same-sex religious ceremonies, said "I'm a supporter and always have been of same sex marriage, because I think marriage is a wonderful thing, a wonderful institution. ... It's very important to remember that in our plans we're not going to force any church or any religious denomination to hold same sex marriage ceremonies if they don't want to but I do think it's time that we allow any couple, no matter who they are, to marry if that's what they want to do."

Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo, who is openly gay, has said that he feels that his country has become a less tolerant place over recent years, according to Pink News. Di Rupo, who came out in 1996, told Belgian newspaper De Morgen, "Over the past three to four years, the atmosphere has been less free. There have been several victims." Incidentally, Antwerp, Belgium, will host the OutGames next year.

In Ireland, a jury is deciding a case involving a man who reportedly raped a woman after previously telling her he was gay, according to Pink News. The 46-year-old man pled not guilty at Westmeath country's Central Criminal Court. The charges were of rape, sexual assault, false imprisonment and making threats to kill at his home in Westmeath, Ireland, on Jan. 8, 2010.

Also in Ireland, a gay beauty-salon worker who beat a Dublin taxi driver, claiming he had made an offensive remark, has been found guilty of assault, Pink News noted. Sean Miller, 29, attacked Cathal Hawkes, 70, causing more than 1,500 euros ($1,941.30) worth of damage to his taxi in December 2011. Miller and his partner, Niall Byrne, were holding hands in the back of the cab when the taxi driver allegedly made the remark.

In Russia, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev is opposed to a pending national version of a "homosexual propaganda" law that has already been enacted in regions/cities such as St. Petersburg, according to Advocate.com . The leader of United Russia said during a TV interview that he believed the bill was unnecessary because "not all relations between people can be regulated by law." Medvedev's comments won praise from pro-LGBT advocates, including Lady Gaga.

The Australian DJs whose phone prank was linked to the suicide of British royal nurse Jacintha Saldanha have broken their silence. According to the New York Post, DJ Mel Greig told Australia's A Current Affair during a tearful interview, "[We] just had the idea for just a simple harmless phone call. ... We thought ... it was going to go for 30 seconds [and] we were going to be hung up on." However, radio rep Sandy Kaye said that Saldanha must have been depressed or suffering from mental distress if she melted down over a "harmless'' joke.

Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and a contender to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, released a statement regarding International Human Rights Day on Dec. 10 that attacks anti-gay discrimination, according to Advocate.com . In part, it reads, "As long as a family anywhere is tormented by a state-sanctioned killer; a peaceful agitator is hounded by a violent brigade; an artist is locked away for expressing what she thinks; an LGBT individual is harassed because of whom he or she loves ... all of our rights have been violated."

In Paraguay, the LGBT-rights group Somosgay hopes to open the South American country's first men's health clinic in May, the Washington Blade noted. Somosgay hopes to offer free rapid HIV/AIDS testing to those who access services at the clinic, which will be called "Kuimba'e" (which means "men" in the local Guarani language). The clinic will be located in the country's capital, Asuncion.


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