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World: Swedish stamp, Saudi Arabia report, marriage allowed in Norway, Colombia
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2016-04-12

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PostNord, Sweden's postal service, announced it will be issuing a rainbow-flag stamp celebrating the LGBT community next month, NewNowNext.com reported. It's believed to be the first time a country has put the symbol on a stamp. "By issuing a stamp with the Pride flag, we want to emphasize the equal value of all people and the strength represented by people's unique qualities and differences," said PostNord's Per Ljungberg. Artist Lisa Rydell, who came up with the design two years ago, said letterwriting is something of a national pastime. Created by activist Gilbert Baker, the rainbow flag, as a symbol of LGBT pride, dates back to the late 1970s.

A published report indicates that people who come out online in Saudi Arabia could face the death penalty, according to a Washington Blade item. Oraz, a Saudi newspaper, reported that prosecutors in the city of Jiddah have proposed the penalty in response to dozens of cases they have prosecuted over the last six months. These include 35 people who received prison sentences for sodomy.

Same-sex couples have the right to marry in Colombia, the South American country's highest court ruled, Gay Star News reported. The six-to-three ruling by Colombia's Constitutional Court came nine months after hearings on the issue and more than five months after the same court extended adoption rights to same-sex couples. Colombia joins Argentina and just a handful of other nations in Latin America in allowing same-sex couples to marry.

The Church of Norway voted at its annual conference April 11 to allow same-sex marriage, with the Christian body joining the French Protestant Church, the U.S. Episcopal and Presbyterian Church ( U.S.A. ) denominations, among others, in now supporting same-sex unions, The Blaze reported, citing Reuters. Of the 115 delegates at the Lutheran denomination's synod, 88 backed embracing marriage equality, while also including a caveat for priests who do not wish to take part in same-sex weddings that allows them to opt out of doing so. The denomination itself called the institutional change "a historic decision that marks a shift in the church's teaching on marriage," with the vote reportedly receiving a standing ovation from most of the participants in attendance.

France has abandoned its plan to have a gay diplomat as ambassador to the Holy See, Gay Star News reported. President Francois Hollande originally proposed Laurent Stefanini, the president's head of protocol, for the Vatican position last year. However, the Vatican failed to confirm the proposed choice for months and months, with the delay attributed to Stefanini's homosexuality.

India's first out gay prince, Manvendra Singh Gohil, has recorded a video about coming out when his country still criminalizes gay sex, according to PinkNews. Gohil, the prince of Rajpipla, Gujarat, recorded the video with Come Out Loud. He says that growing up with means, and privilege, actually made it harder to come to terms with his sexual orientation. Now 40, the prince was disowned by his royal family, and had previously been married to a princess. He came out in 2007 while talking with Oprah Winfrey.

In Canada, gay Malaysian student Hazim Ismail has been granted refugee protection, The Winnipeg Free Press reported. After questioning Ismail for about 45 minutes, Immigration and Refugee Board member Ron Yamauchi said he'd heard enough and believed Ismail is a legitimate Convention refugee and entitled to Canada's protection. Ismail had told the tiny packed hearing room he faces persecution if he returns to Malaysia as a gay man who has been publicly outed. He's been cut off by his family and publicly outed by tabloids and online news groups in Malaysia.

A gay policeman has been found dead and dismembered in London, according to an LGBTQ Nation item that cites The Sun. Gordon Semple's dismembered corpse was discovered lying in a bathtub full of acid. Body parts had been dumped into the River Thames after attempts to boil his flesh away. Suspect Stefano Brizzi, 49, appeared via videolink at Bromley Magistrates' Court on April 11, and was charged with murder, BBC News noted.

The Mexican national soccer team—also known as Seleccion de futbol de Mexico—recently released a video as part of its "Let's Hug for Soccer" campaign to promote tolerance among its fans, Aplus.com noted, citing Fusion. The video is helping Team Mexico take on the use of the word "puto," the Spanish term that many equate to the anti-gay slur, "faggot." It is regularly chanted during soccer matches, with Fusion reporting that it's often directed toward the goalie of the opposing team during penalty kicks.

The religious authorities in Malaysia decided to raid a private dinner hosted at an upscale hotel in Kuala Lumpur for transgender women and detain its organizer—a development that has come under fire by the transgender community. The religious authorities are claiming that the dinner hosted a beauty pageant, which is prohibited under religious laws for Muslim women. A 1996 fatwa issued by the National Fatwa Council prohibits Muslim women from joining beauty contests. The religious edict has been taken as law.

The archbishop of Wales has offered an "unreserved" apology to same-sex couples for prejudice within the church, Gay Star News reported. Dr. Barry Morgan, the head of the Church in Wales, spoke at a meeting of the governing body in Llandudno; however, as part of the meeting, it was agreed the church would continue to refuse to allow or bless same-sex marriages. Morgan apologized to gay people for the "persecution and mistreatment they have endured at the hands of the Church" and said he hopes the church is a "safe place" for all gay and lesbian people.

In New Zealand, a Wellington taxi driver who told a passenger he needed "God's help" because he was gay will face no disciplinary action, Stuff.co.nz noted. Joe Nieddu filed a complaint with Capital Taxis after he was left "disgusted" by a female driver's comment once she discovered he was gay. Capital Taxis managing director Tim Lau said the comments were not discrimination and the company would not be taking disciplinary action against the driver.

A mural of Kanye West kissing himself has been destroyed in Australia after the creator allegedly received a $100,000 donation from a mysterious benefactor, PinkNews reported. Artist Scott Marsh had unveiled the 20-foot artwork in Sydney last month, featuring an image of the rap star locked in a passionate kiss with himself. The artwork was based on an image of West kissing his wife Kim Kardashian.

First Dates has had its fair share of odd people taking part, but the British TV show left people's heads scratching after a gay guy admitted he doesn't like gay men, according to Gay Star News. Linford, who is the reigning Mr. Leicestershire, met Greek-born romantic Xanthi on the TV show. During the date, Linford said, "I don't like gay people. I've always wanted to be straight—even now I wish I was straight." He said he admitted that he gets a buzz from his friends, a lot of them straight guys, encouraging him to go to bed with women. Linford was heavily criticized on social media.


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