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World news: Couple tortured, 'Trans Day of Rage,' Bermuda marriage repeal
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

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A gay couple in Uzbekistan were arrested and tortured by police, who charged them with engaging in illegal sexual relations, NewNowNext reported. Male homosexuality is punishable by up to three years in prison in the majority-Muslim country, but the law is rarely enforced. In 2016, late President Islam Karimov condemned same-sex relationships as a "vile phenomenon of Western culture."

India's oldest Pride parade was preceded this year by a huge street protest calling for changes to the federal government's new bill on trans rights, Gay Star News reported Kolkata Rainbow Pride Walk, in northeast India, held its 16th parade on Dec. 9—but before the main event kicked off, a group of protestors marked what it called "Transgender Day of Rage." They were protesting the federal government's controversial transgender bill that was introduced last year.

Members of the Bermuda House of Representatives have approved a bill that would repeal marriage rights for same-sex couples in the British island territory, The Washington Blade reported. The Royal Gazette newspaper reported that legislators approved the Domestic Partnership Act—which would allow same-sex couples to enter into domestic partnerships, as opposed to get married—by a vote of 24-10. LGBT-rights advocates in Bermuda have sharply criticized the bill.

Victor Madrigal-Borloz was appointed the new United Nations independent expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity ( IE SOGI ), per a press release. The Human Rights Council formally confirmed his position as the IE SOGI in a plenary. Madrigal-Borloz follows human-rights expert Vitit Muntarbhorn in the position, as Muntarbhorn stepped down earlier in the year for health reasons. Madrigal-Borloz is a Costa Rican jurist residing in Copenhagen, and and his expertise lies more broadly in torture prevention, accountability and rehabilitation.

On International Human Rights Day, regional human-rights organizations praised the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights ( ACHPR ) on the adoption and launch of the summary version of the Report on the Law and Human Rights in the African Human Rights System: Key Challenges and Opportunities during ICASA 2017 in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, reported. The first-of-its-kind eport was developed by the Commission's Committee on the Protection of the Rights of People Living with HIV and Those at Risk, Vulnerable to and Affected by HIV ( HIV Committee ) through a process of extensive consultation and engagement with experts and civil society over a period of two years.

Australia's Federal Opposition and Labor Party Leader has revealed a plan to end HIV in Australia, according to Gay Star News. One of the key features of Bill Shorten's plan was to expand the multiple state PrEP trials; a PrEP trial would finally be started in the Northern Territory under the funding. The plan comes as Shorten prepares to get his party into government at the next federal election, likely to be held in 2019. His AU$53 million ( US$39,830,530 ) plan would involve dedicating funding to improve prevention, testing and treatment for hidden populations.

Seeking to stem a sharp rise in HIV cases among young people, Brazil began offering a drug this month that can prevent infection to those deemed at high risk of contagion, The New York Times reported. Brazil is the first country in Latin America, and among the first in the developing world, to adopt the drug, known as PrEP ( pre-exposure prophylaxis ) as an integral part of its preventive healthcare policy. The blue pill—which drastically reduces the risk of contracting the virus when taken daily—will be made available at no cost to eligible Brazilians at 35 public health clinics in 22 cities during an inaugural phase of the program.

In Australia, Tim Wilson, 37, an openly gay member of Parliament with the center-right Liberal party, spoke emotionally of the struggles he and his partner, Ryan Bolger, had encountered as a gay couple, The New York Times reported. "So there's only one thing left to do," Wilson said, his voice choking. He turned to the public gallery, where Bolger was sitting, and asked, "Ryan Patrick Bolger, will you marry me?" Bolger said yes in what was noted as the first member of Parliament to ever propose in the chamber.

Also, a Maori man has proposed to his Aboriginal Australia boyfriend during a live TV interview, PinkNews reported. Just days after the Australian Parliament moved to legalize same-sex marriage, the couple appeared on Kawekorero Reporters on Maori TV. Richard Haeata of Te Whanau-a-Apanui and his boyfriend Robert Stewart ( Iora Nation ) had been together for 18 years before the interview and the historic move by Australia.

As the first same-sex couples began registering for marriage in Australia, one woman was exercising another new right: being allowed to divorce, noted. Lawyers for the Perth woman filled out divorce papers a day after same-sex marriage became legal. The pair had wed in a European nation's consulate in Australia in 2015. The women, who cannot be named for legal reasons, could not divorce because they were not residents of the country that married them.

Two teenage boys have been arrested after a teenager was allegedly strangled and forced to apologize for being gay on a Tube train, Evening Standard reported. The 19-year-old's attackers threatened to stab him and placed him in a headlock as he travelled on a train, police said. British Transport Police said the suspects took the victim's phone as they strangled him and demanded that he apologize for being gay—which he eventually did as he was struggling to breathe.

In India, a child was abandoned by its parents after they discovered that her blood donor was a transgender woman, according to PinkNews. Rekha ( not her real name ) saved the anemic baby's life with a blood transfusion, but later found the baby outside her house with a handwritten note attached. The parents had deserted the child as they were worried she would become "one of them"—meaning a trans person—because a trans woman's blood was running through her veins. So Rekha decided to adopt and raise the baby herself.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made history as the country's first head to appear on the cover of an international LGBT magazine—doing so with Attitude magazine, the publication announced. In a world exclusive interview and shoot for the January issue of Attitude, Trudeau, 45, opens up about the growing fear and division in world politics, equality, his first two years in office, and how his work at a student sexual assault centre shaped his political career. In 2016, Trudeau made history as the country's first leader to march at a Gay Pride event.

Two unexpectedly high bills from the City of Vancouver have plunged the Vancouver Pride Society ( VPS ) into debt, Daily Xtra noted. The first bill came last October, when the city suddenly charged Pride $125,000 for parade-weekend services—more than double the bill from previous years. However, bill negotiations took a year, and VPS Executive Director Andrea Arnot said Pride was slapped with a new bill for $67,956 for 2017—just three days after finally receiving the adjusted bill for 2016.

The couple arrested in Thailand for exposing their naked rear ends in front of Bangkok's sacred Wat Arun temple have been released, and are heading back to the United States, PinkNews noted. Travis and Joseph Dasilva spent a week in a Thai jail for the "belfie" ( bum selfie ), which made global headlines. They faced the possibility of five years in prison, and a fine of up to 5,000 baht ( $154 ). However, the court threw out the charges, according to San Diego Gay and Lesbian News, and the couple were sent back to immigration services to be deported. The two men, who are both 38, pulled the stunt for their Instagram account @traveling_butts.

Netflix series The Crown portrays royal spouse Lord Snowdon as bisexual, PinkNews noted. The drama series, which stars Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth, charts the life of the monarch and her family across the years. But the second season made a controversial choice when it came to Antony Armstrong-Jones, Princess Margaret's husband, commonly known as Lord Snowdon—and, in one scene, the future royal spouse is seen engaging in a bisexual threesome with married couple Jeremy and Camilla Fry. Elsewhere, Princess Margaret and the queen are also shown speculating about his sexuality.

Ivanka Trump was accused of cultural appropriation after she wore clothes embroidered with Indian patterns that were created by Western designers during a recent trip to India, The Independent noted. At the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in the southern city of Hyderabad, she wore a dress covered with oriental-style flowers by British label Erdem, along with two outfits by U.S. designer Tory Burch. All featured patterns similar to those used in Indian embroidery, prompting criticism by some members of India's media.

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