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World news: Chechnya, Elton John, South Korean army, Church of Scotland
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

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Amid news that gay men are being rounded up and tortured in concentration camps in the Chechyna region of Russia, President Vladimir Putin's spokesman is denying the reports, noted. "We do not have any reliable information about any problems in this area," Dmitry Peskow said, according to ABC News. Chechen authorities have also rejected the reports, claiming that gay people do not exist in the region. GLAAD has called on Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, to speak out and investigate the claims—and she has since criticized Chechnya.

Elton John joined the Amnesty International petition in fighting the reported abduction and killing of gay men in Chechnya, Entertainment Tonight reported. The petition came after reports emerged that Chechnya has opened gay concentration camps. Celebrities like Tyler Oakley, Nyle DiMarco and Xavier Dolan have spoken out against this on Twitter, calling for the U.S. government to investigate and condemn the act.

South Korea's military is facing allegations of gay-baiting soldiers through fake accounts on an online dating app, reported. Lim Tae-hoon, who heads the civic group Center for Military Human Rights, said that army investigators used the app to "trap" soldiers into contacting the accounts, and then tracking down the individuals, local news service EDaily reported. According to Lim, investigations began after the army claimed a video of a soldier on active duty and an officer having sex surfaced on South Korean social networks.

Scotland's first openly gay minister has welcomed plans for the Church of Scotland to apologize for its "history of discrimination" against gay people, The Scottish Sun reported. A call to deliver a formal apology to the LGBT community will go before members of the General Assembly next month. Rev. Scott Rennie—minister at Queen's Cross Church, Aberdeen—praised the watershed move, the details of which are contained in a new report by the Theological Forum on the theology of same-sex marriage.

Two gay Indonesian men have been arrested and face 100 lashes in a case that is drawing international attention to the enforcement of controversial new Islamic bylaws in the semi-autonomous Aceh province, The Guardian reported. Mobile phone footage—showing vigilantes slapping one of the young men as he sits naked on the ground awaiting arrest by local sharia police—has been shared on social media in the world's largest Muslim-majority country. Human Rights Watch has demanded their immediate release, saying their possible punishment—a public beating with a stick—constitutes torture.

Activists in the Dominican Republic who attended an LGBT conference in their country's capital say former U.S. Ambassador James "Wally" Brewster's departure has left a deep void, The Washington Blade reported. Rosalba Karina Crisostomo—a lesbian activist who is the executive director of Comunidad de Lesbianas Inclusivas Dominicanas—was among the more than 300 people from across the region who attended the conference that the Gay and Lesbian Victory Institute co-sponsored with Diversidad Dominicana and Caribe Afirmativo. Crisostomo told the Blade that Brewster "has had a big impact in the country."

The Games of Thrones actor who played Hodor may go into politics to over the issue of same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland, PinkNews reported. Kristian Nairn played the lovable giant in HBO's hit show until his heartbreaking untimely death during the last season. He has called Northern Ireland's failure to pass same-sex marriage legislation "a disgrace." Nairn, who has said he's happy to help fight stereotypes, commented that because of the issue, "of course I have had thoughts about going into politics."

Twenty years after laws criminalizing homosexual activity in the state were repealed, the Tasmanian government has officially apologized for the pain the LGBTI community suffered, .au reported. Acting Attorney-General Matthew Groom told the Tasmanian Parliament, "We are sorry. We hope those affected will accept our acknowledgement that those laws were wrong." Tasmania was the last jurisdiction to decriminalize sex between adult men in private, in 1997, after decades of campaigning by the gay community.

In the United Kingdom, a man who allegedly claimed he was "the only one who could turn" a lesbian with disabilities heterosexual is in court for sexual assault, reported. It has been claimed that the incident occurred in the so-called "tin bin"—a shipping container at the Ardossan Academical Rugby club during a Christmas party. Innes Frazer, 30, has pled not guilty and claims his actions with the 18-year-old were purely consensual.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has said he opposes same-sex marriage—after previously declaring he would consider legalizing it, according to BBC News. Duterte said that he had "nothing against gays," saying several of his relatives were gay. His latest remarks were made to Filipino expatriates in the Burmese capital of Nay Pyi Taw while on an official trip to Myanmar.

Thought leaders from around the globe will converge in Miami for the 4th Global LGBTQI Human Rights Conference on May 26-29 as part of World OutGames Miami 2017, a press conference noted. The conference will offer a world view of human rights with representation from Brazil, Cuba, Canada, Miccosukee Reservation, St. Lucia, Thailand, Tonga, Uganda, the United Kingdom, the United States, Venezuela and others. Special guest speakers will include Amini Fonua ( Tonga ), Alessandra Ramos ( Brazil ), Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz ( USA ), Omar Sharif Jr. ( Egypt/Canada ) and Mark Tewksbury ( Canada ), among others.

Speaking of the Outgames, Zorros Mexico is an LGBT soccer team hoping to compete in next month's international soccer tournament at the World Outgames in Miami—but it needs some money, Outsports reported. The team is fundraising on Dreamfuel ( ), with a goal of $1,000. Zorros is already running into problems getting visas due to new restrictions under the Trump administration, and some players have already been denied.

An Indian state is set to hold the country's first ever meet-up for trans sports people, with competitors taking part in a variety of races and events, PinkNews noted. Organized by the Kerala State Sports Council, it will be the first event for trans sports people at a state level in the country. Events at the April 28 meet at the Palayam Central Stadium will include 100- and 220-meter sprints, shot put, long jump and relay.

Confrontational former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad filed papers to contest next month's elections—a long shot bid to regain his post that stunned even veteran political observers, The L.A. Times reported. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had advised Ahmadinejad last September not to run again and the ex-president said he agreed. As president, Ahmadinejad was prone to aggressive and sometimes demonstrably false statements, such as denying the Holocaust and stating there were no gay people in Iran.

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