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World: Trade deal criticized; intersex poll; Tutu's honor; gay Indian prince
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2016-02-09

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Pride at Work issued a statement condemning a pact the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations signed ( marking the largest regional trade deal in history ) in New Zealand, saying the agreement undermines the U.S.'s commitment to LGBTQ equality and the fight against HIV/AIDS. Pride at Work Executive Director Jerame Davis said, "Though the Administration and Ambassador [Michael] Froman, in particular, have tried to spin this trade deal as 'progressive,' we fail to see how throwing LGBTQ people and those living with HIV/AIDS under the bus can possibly meet that standard. There is nothing progressive about giving countries like Brunei and Malaysia—where LGBTQ people are beaten, jailed and, in some cases, killed—preferential access to our economy."

A survey into intersex Australians has shown high rates of suicide and poverty, along with a lack of information around invasive surgeries intended to "fix" ambiguous sex characteristics, Buzzfeed reported. The survey of 272 people, from the University of New England, is the largest survey of intersex people ever conducted in Australia. It is estimated that between 0.5 percent and 1.7 percent of the population are born with intersex traits.

The 33rd Annual International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association ( IGLTA ) Annual Global Convention will take place April 14-16 in Cape Town, South Africa. There will be speeches and breakout sessions such as "Business of Corporate Diversity & Inclusion." In addition, Archbishop Desmond Tutu will receive the IGLTA Chair Award 2016. See https://www.iglta.org/convention/.

In India, gay prince Manvendra Singh Gohil, who has been at the forefront of the LGBT movement in the country, welcomed the Supreme Court decision referring the petition challenging section 377 of the Indian Penal Code to a five-judge bench for hearing, The Times of India reported. The prince said that section 377—which criminalized certain sexual acts, including homosexuality—breached an individual's right to privacy. "The law is colonial and may have been created to suit the British. It needed to be seen in the present context. The fight is not about gay rights, but human rights," Gohil said.

Also in India, one of the most prominent lesbian politicians in office in the English-speaking world has been honored at the holiest site of the Sikh religion in an unprecedented event, Gay Star News reported. In the Golden Temple in Amritsar, Kathleen Wynne ( the Liberal Party leader of her Canadian province ) took part in the Sikh ritual of preparing a communal vegetarian meal that is shared at Sikh temples with Sikhs and non-Sikhs alike, wearing traditional Punjabi clothes. Wynne was welcomed in the temple's visitor's center by senior officials at the temple and was presented with a gold-plated image of the temple to celebrate her visit.

Conservative Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva vetoed a bill giving adoption rights to same-sex couples in one of his last political moves before newly elected Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa takes office, Yahoo! News reported. The law allowing gay couples to adopt passed through parliament Dec. 18, 2015, and was one of socialist Prime Minister Antonio Costa's campaign promises. The 76-year-old Silva, who served two terms as president, will be replaced March 9 by center-right TV pundit Rebelo de Sousa.

The openly gay pastor who performed the first same-sex marriages in Canada has been charged with sexually assaulting a male approximately four decades ago, TheStar.com reported. Brent Hawkes was summoned to court in Nova Scotia in relation to the assault that police allege occurred in the 1970s. He has been charged with offenses from that era's Criminal Code: indecent assault on a male and gross indecency. Hawkes, 65, is married to John Sproule, a retired computer programmer; they have been together for 34 years. Hawkes has proclaimed his innocence.

Monique Coverson and girlfriend Larissa may spend the next 25 years of their lives in a Kuwaiti prison, the Pontiac Tribune noted. After serving in the United States Army for seven years, Monique and Larissa returned to Kuwait as military contractors. Last May, police kicked in their door and found an ounce of a suspicious tobacco-like substance that turned out to be K2—which is legal in Kuwait. However, Monique's family claim that something changed after receiving the initial results, with it now being claimed the two had one pound of hash. Monique's mother has started a petition on Change.org asking for the U.S. government to look into the possibility of the wrongful imprisonment of her daughter and her girlfriend.

Randy Berry—the United States' first special envoy for the rights of LGBT people—has said that Southern Africa is moving toward a greater acceptance of sexual and gender minorities, although there is still a long way to go, Voice of America noted. Berry, an openly gay senior U.S. diplomat, was speaking at the end of a 10-day visit to Malawi, Namibia, Botswana and South Africa one year after his appointment. "I believe, in all of these countries, there are seeds of hope," Berry said to journalists. "With government representatives, I found them to be sensitive to the issues, wanting to engage very clearly. ... After these consultations, I am quite hopeful."

A gay couple have tied the knot in Australia—even though the country/continent has yet to legalize marriage equality, PinkNews reported. James Hanley and Dan Waknin have taken advantage of a legal diplomatic loophole—meaning they could wed despite in the British consulate in front of their loved ones Feb. 5. As Hanley currently possesses dual citizenship—he is both a Australian and British citizen—he was able to marry his partner of two-and-a-half years at the British consulate in Sydney.

A same-sex kiss featured on the cover of the International New York Times was blanked out in the Pakistani edition, PinkNews reported. The U.S. newspaper had featured a gay couple from China on the cover of its international edition after a Chinese court accepted a same-sex marriage lawsuit. However, in the edition published in Pakistan, the image was removed—leaving a conspicuous large blank square. A caption underneath the blank square stated, "This picture was removed by our publishing alliance in Pakistan.

British actor/singer Will Young has admitted being addicted to porn and alcohol as he struggled to cope with the "shame" of being gay, The Daily Mail noted. The 37-year-old singer said he suffered "17 years of shame" before coming out at 21 and turned to a range of vices to fill the void. He said, "I was a love addict, I still am an addict, addicted to porn, certainly addicted to alcohol. I'd never been on a date without having at least two drinks before I'd left the house and I didn't even notice that was a problem."

Facebook will be a sponsor of Sydney's Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras celebrations, and will also enter a float in the world-famous parade, mUmBRELLA reported. It is the first time Facebook has officially partnered with the festival which claims to have the biggest nighttime parade of its kind in the world, attracting 10,000 participants. The Mardi Gras parade happens on March 5, while the festival contains other events, including Fair Day on Sunday, Feb. 21.

A transgender man will appear as the cover model for the April issue of Germany's Men's Health magazine, according to a NewNowNext item. Fitness model Ben Melzer opens up about his transition in the upcoming issue, and says he would like his time in the spotlight to give hope to those who may be in similar situations. Last year, trans man Aydian Ethan Dowling was a top contender for the cover of the U.S. version of Men's Health; Dowling ultimately didn't win the contest, but was proud of the visibility it provided to the trans community.

Lesbian-owned Brazil Ecojourneys and GaySurfers will once again host South America's only LGBT surf camp in Santa Catarina, South Brazil, on April 30-May 7, according to a press release. The first camp was held in 2013, and introduced international LGBT travelers to t surfing in the region where the local LGBT community has been hitting the waves since the 1980s. Visit gaysurfbrazil.blogspot.com .br/2015/10/gaysurfbrazil-lgbt-surf-camp-2016.html or email marta@brazilecojourneys.com .


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