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  WINDY CITY TIMES

World: German visas, Scottish Church OKs marriage, G-A-Y incident
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2017-06-13

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Germany has begun granting gays from Chechnya special visas on humanitarian grounds following reports that gay people are being tortured and killed in the Russian republic, NBC News reported. The Foreign Ministry told The Associated Press the first man arrived in Germany on June 6, and that four other applications for humanitarian visas are being reviewed. Gay-rights activists and others have been disturbed by reports accusing police in Chechnya of detaining and torturing about 100 men suspected of being gay.

The Scottish Episcopal Church has voted to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry in the church, making it the first major Christian church in the UK to do so, On Top Magazine noted. According to the BBC, the vote amends cannon law that says marriage is an opposite-sex union. It also places the Scottish Episcopal Church at odds with most of the Anglican Communion.

One of Britain's most famous LGBT clubs, G-A-Y, has been accused of refusing to let a man into the venue because he was carrying HIV medication, BuzzFeed News reported. The young gay customer, who is HIV-positive, said that late last month security staff searched his bag, found the pills and grilled him loudly about what they were—in front of many others in the line. When he informed them it was treatment for HIV, they denied him entry, the man claimed. Jeremy Joseph—who has embarked on several sponsored fund-raising events for HIV charities and who owns G-A-Y—said the fact that the incident took place at such a club was particularly disappointing.

Survey findings published the day before the recent Tel Aviv's Pride Parade showed that an all-time high of 79 percent of Israelis support same-sex marriage or civil unions, The Times of Israel reported. Respondents were asked, "Do you think same-sex couples should be permitted to marry or have civil unions in Israel? ( A civil union is not a marriage, but it grants similar rights and responsibilities )." The results indicated a three-point bump in support, as compared to the 2016 findings.

Speaking of Tel Aviv, the city's annual "Gay Pride" parade drew more than 200,000 people—making it the largest ever Pride parade in Asia and the Middle East, TheJC.com reported. This year's parade celebrated the theme of bisexuality and was intended to highlight the contributions bisexuals make to the city's LGBTQ community. Blogger and reality-television star Perez Hilton was this year's international ambassador for Tel Aviv Pride 2017.

Official government attacks on gay men in Indonesia—including the arrest and public humiliation of 141 men at a gay spa in Jakarta on May 22—were met by pickets at that country's consulates in New York and San Francisco, Gay City News reported. In a related development, Luthfi Madjid of the New York-based Satu Pelangi ( "One Rainbow" ) organization for LGBTQ Indonesians, hand-delivered a group letter to President Joko Widodo calling on him to "disband the West Java anti-LGBT unit and devote police resources to protecting minorities from vigilante groups," including in the Aceh province.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson issued a statement for Pride Month. Part of the statement reads, "In recognition of LGBTI Month, the Department of State affirms its solidarity with the human-rights defenders and civil society organizations working around the world to uphold the fundamental freedoms of LGBTI persons to live with dignity and freedom. ... Dignity and equality for all persons are among our founding constitutional principles, and these principles continue to drive U.S. diplomacy."

The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) expressed concern about reports that the Trump administration may withdraw the United States from the United Nations Human Rights Council ( UNHRC ), which has taken historic steps to protect and promote the human rights and dignity of LGBTQ people around the globe. In a press release, Director of HRC Global Ty Cobb said, "Turning away from the Council would signal to brutal regimes—and all those they oppress—that the U.S. is looking the other way. Without U.S. leadership, despotic leaders will be emboldened to control the agenda and push their own dangerous goals."

A gay London resident has been praised for a comments he made during an interview with the BBC after the London terror attack, Attitude noted. Richard Angell—who was at Borough Market during the attack—praised the people of Manchester for the unity they showed after last month's attack at an Ariana Grande concert, and said that London Mayor Sadiq Khan "symbolizes that unity and diversity that we love about London." Angell also said, "We're not going to let these people win. If me having a gin and tonic with my friends, flirting with handsome men, hanging out with brilliant women, is what offends these people so much, I'm going to do it more, not less."

Toronto's city council is taking the first steps to creating a plan to provide equal access and services to trans youth, DailyXtra.com reported. On June 7, the community development and recreation committee adopted a recommendation from city staff to create a working group made up of various city departments that would work with a trans youth advisory council to create an action plan. The motion will go on to city council for approval.

A transgender woman from India has finally been awarded compensation after she was attacked with acid and gang-raped two years ago, PinkNews reported. Sonia Sheikh, a trans woman living in Hyderabad, will receive the financial relief from the government following the 2015 attack. Sheikh formerly worked at dance events to earn a living, but she became dependent on her mother's support after the attack.

Dozens of Romanian rights groups jointly asked parliament to reject a proposed referendum to restrict the constitutional definition of family that would effectively rule out the possibility of legalizing same-sex marriage, Reuters reported. The grouping, Respect, claimed an initiative by the Coalition for the Family will eventually lead to an erosion of democratic rights and liberties. The Coalition also supports canceling subsidies for contraception and elective abortion, among other things.

The Toronto Blue Jays' Kevin Pillar is making a donation to two Toronto-area LGBT charities, On Top Magazine noted. Last month, the Major League Baseball player was given a two-game suspension for hurling an anti-gay slur at Atlanta Braves pitcher Jason Motte. Following the game, Pillar apologized to Motte—although he added during a press conference that such language was "part of the game." The money, approximately $6,066, will be donated to PFLAG and You Can Play.

More than 30 men were arrested in Isfahan, Iran recently and will reportedly face intrustive "testing" from the nation's authorities, Out in Perth reported. The Jerusalem Post reported a party in the Bahadoran District was raided in late April, where weapons were discharged before the arrests were made. Reports from Canada's Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees show that the men were arrested on charges of consuming alcohol, using psychedelic drugs and sodomy—all of which are against the law in the Middle Eastern nation.

Portugal was the top vote-getter in the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest, the annual festival traditionally watched by a television audience of an estimated 200 million people, RFERL.org noted. Portugal, behind singer Salvador Sobra, was declared the winner early on May 14 in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. Bulgaria was second and Moldova was third.


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