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World: Gay couple killed, Indonesia crackdown, 1st Aussie wedding
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

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A gay couple were killed in a massive fire at a luxury five-star hotel in Loch Lomond, Scotland, PinkNews reported. Simon Midgley and Richard Dyson, who are believed to be from London, had ben staying at the Cameron House Hotel. According to Towleroad, Midgley was a freelance writer for the London Evening Standard, covering travel and culture for the lifestyle section; he also ran his own PR company. Dyson was a TV producer who had worked on shows such as reality TV show Tumble and Gareth Malone's The Naked Choir.

Several people are going to prison for participating in a gay sex party in Indonesia, according to an item that cited The Daily Mail. On Dec. 21, 10 men were each sentenced to two years in detainment, following a May police raid of a sauna in the country's capital, Jakarta. At least 141 were initially rounded up in the raid, although the majority were released. In addition to receiving prison time, each was also fined a billion rupiah—the equivalent of about $73,700.

Australia's first same-sex marriage has taken place a week after the historic bill was passed, The Independent reported. Lauren Price, 31, and Amy Laker, 29, made history when they tied the knot in Sydney on Dec. 16. They had initially planned a civil union but were granted an exemption from the mandatory 30-day waiting period ( as the couple had relatives traveling in from Wales ). The first same-sex weddings were expected to begin on Jan. 9, after Australia's parliament passed a bill legislating for marriage equality on Dec. 9. Another exemption was granted to Amy, 36, and Elise McDonald, 28, who also had guests traveling from Asia and the United Arab Emirates.

In a wide-ranging New York Times report on President Trump's immigration policy published Dec. 23, President Trump allegedly said that Haitians "all have AIDS" and that Nigerians would never "go back to their huts" once they had seen the United States, according to New York Magazine. The Times reports that the two anonymous officials who relayed these accounts "found them so noteworthy that they related them to others at the time," but that other officials present did not recall President Trump using the words "AIDS" or "huts." Trump had reportedly been upset on a June day after being handed a list of how many foreigners had obtained visas to enter the United States in 2017.

A Dutch journalist asked new U.S. Ambassador Pete Hoekstra why he said there are "no-go" areas in the Netherlands, where radical Muslims are setting cars and politicians on fire—but Hoekstra denied it, and called the claim "fake news" ( and later denied using the term "fake news" ), The Washington Post noted. However, the report cut to a video clip of Hoekstra at a 2015 conference hosted by the David Horowitz Freedom Center saying that there are "no-go zones." Also, although the Netherlands is considered extremely gay-friendly, Hoekstra is opposed to same-sex marriage and gay rights, and, while in Congress, voted repeatedly to limit women's rights to abortion.

The United States imposed sanctions on five Russians, including Chechnya leader Ramzan Kadyrov, under a U.S. human-rights law, according to the Chicago Tribune. The five Russians were targeted under the Magnitsky Act, passed by Congress in 2012 in response to the death of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsk, who died in prison after exposing a tax-fraud scheme involving Russian officials. The Treasury Department said Kadyrov oversaw "disappearances and extrajudicial killings" and that he's believed to have ordered the killing of one of his political rivals; Kadyrov is also suspected in the abuses of many gay men.

One of Germany's most tireless campaigners against homophobia and anti-Semitism died at the age of 99 in an senior-living facility in Frankfurt, according to Deutsche Wolfe. Wolfgang Lauinger, who was imprisoned both by the Nazi regime and in post-war Germany for being gay, died without having been rehabilitated or compensated by the German government—even though he had helped win a campaign for a rehabilitation law this summer. Among other things, Lauinger was one of the leading campaigners against Paragraph 175, under which sexual activity between men was a criminal offense, and which was part of the German Criminal Code from 1871 until its eventual abolition in 1994.

In a clash with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, the UK's foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, has said the UK can't ignore problems faced by LGBTI people in Chechnya, Gay Star News reported. In a press conference, Johnson also discussed the countries' "difficult" relationship with cyberattacks on the West and activity in Ukraine. It was the first visit by a British foreign minister to Russia in five years.

A London man has gone to jail for breaking another man's leg simply because he was gay, Instince Magazine noted. Kamil Wladyslaw Snios, 29, was recently found guilty of slapping, beating and kicking a 36-year-old man in Tottenham, North London. Snios was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Canadian scientists have noticed that men who have older siblings are more likely to be gay—and they think they know why, noted. Researchers think it's possible that when a woman gets pregnant with her first boy, a particular Y-linked protein gets into her bloodstream. The mother's body recognizes the protein as a foreign substance, and her immune system responds, creating antibodies. If enough of these antibodies build up in the woman's body and she gets pregnant with another a boy, they can cross the placental barrier and enter the brain of the second male fetus. A 2006 study showed that with each brother, the chance that a man will be gay goes up by about a third.

Gay director Gus Van Sant's Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot is among the first several competition titles to be unveiled for the 2018 Berlin Film Festival, Variety reported. The film is based on the John Callahan memoir of the same title and stars Joaquin Phoenix, Jonah Hill, Rooney Mara, Jack Black and Udo Kier. The Berlinale previously announced that Wes Anderson's Isle of Dogs would open the fest.

An LGBT-focused online radio station, believed to be the first of its kind in the Arab world, started broadcasting in Tunisia, Japan Times reported. The outlet—set up by LGBT-rights group Shams—aims to tackle deep-rooted hostility in the North African state, where homosexuality is officially illegal. The slogan of Shams Rad station is "dignity, equality" and its presenters include prominent activists, but those behind it have reported receiving threats.

In the UK, openly gay soccer player Liam Davis has urged stars in the sport not to fear revealing their sexuality, The Independent reported. The Cleethorpes Town midfielder has admitted receiving abuse from opponents, but insists football's attitudes to homosexuality are increasingly progressive. Davis, 27, has spoken out encouraging gay footballers not to worry about coming out, sharing his own experiences as part of Uefa's Equal Game campaign, to foster greater inclusion and diversity in the sport.

EastEnders fans were left confused by the show's Mick Carter evening after he referred to "lesbian tea," The Belfast Telegraph noted. The character, played by Danny Dyer, told wife Linda Carter ( Kellie Bright ) to drink the mysterious beverage during the latest episode of the BBC One soap. On Twitter, @MatthewJHorn wrote, "For anyone vaguely interested, Urban Dictionary defines 'lesbian tea' as the fruit infusion teas you can get from all good retailers."

Air Canada celebrates the Canadian spirit with the launch of a new ad called "Our Home," according to Newswire. Running on television, online and in theaters throughout the holidays, the ad portrays what a press release calls "the deeply personal connections we have to the place we call home, brought to life in a heartfelt narration by Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds." The ad is at

The creator of the British show Mrs. Brown's Boys turned down a lucrative licensing deal after certain territories took umbrage with the sitcom's openly gay character, the Telegraph reported. The flamboyant Rory, who was replaced with a new actor after Rory Cowan stepped down from the role earlier this year, proved a point of contention for some countries who were otherwise interested in broadcasting Brendan O'Carroll's hit. However, Russia, in particular, didn't want to include Rory.

Grammy-award winning artist Lorde has canceled a scheduled concert in Tel Aviv following activists' calls for her to join the growing boycott, divestment and sanctions ( BDS ) movement targeting Israel, CNN reported. Eran Arielli, owner and founder of concert organizer Naranjah, which promoted the June show, confirmed the cancellation. News of the cancellation followed an exchange the New Zealand pop star had online with activists and fans who expressed disappointment that her Melodrama World Tour would stop in Tel Aviv.

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