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World news: Gay Iranian poet; Rome protest; petition; Elton's photos
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2016-03-15

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Israel has extended the visa of a gay Iranian poet until October as he seeks permanent refuge in the country, he told Newsweek. Payam Feili, 30, fled Iran because of his sexuality, moving to Turkey and then traveling to Israel where his novella I Will Grow, I Will Bear Fruit ... Figs was performed as a play in Hebrew at a poetry festival in Tel Aviv in December 2015. The 30-year-old received a three-month visa when he first arrived in Israel, but as it was coming to an end, he issued a plea for permanent residence.

With the gay-pride rainbow on their cheeks and holding banners which read "we want equality," "love counts" and "the law and its rights are for everybody," approximately 20,000 protestors gathered in Rome's famous Piazza del Popolo to protest government plans to implement a civil union bill which fails to recognize their right to legally marry and also adopt their partners' biological children, DW.com reported. Demonstrators say the proposal—which had been reined in in a bid to pass the senate, and is now being assessed by the lower house—only goes part of the way to securing rights for Italy's same-sex families.

Several bullet holes have been discovered in the facade of an LGBT history museum in Berlin, Advocate.com reported. The Schwules Museum reported that six gunshot holes—four in a window and two in a window frame—were found. Authorities are still searching for suspects. Founded in 1985, the museum was once a key gathering place for East Berlin's gay scene.

Almost 20,000 people from around the world have signed a petition to have a gay couple moved from Nauru to Australia because they live in fear for their safety, Gay News Network reported. Nima and Ashkan, both from Iran, met on Nauru after being processed and granted refugee status. The couple have since moved in together but have faced constant harassment and violence in the tiny island nation, where same-sex acts can be punished with up to 14 years imprisonment.

Rare vintage photos from the private collection of Sir Elton John are to go on show in a special exhibition at Tate Modern museum in London, BBC News reported. The Radical Eye: Modernist Photography from the Sir Elton John Collection will feature an "unrivaled" selection of images from the 1920s to the 1950s. It will include more than 150 shots and include pieces from artists such as Man Ray and Berenice Abbott. The collection will be shown Nov. 10, 2016-May 7, 2017.

An out gay politician in Sweden has been attacked in his home by a knife-wielding masked person, PinkNews reported. Police are treating the attack against 21-year-old Alexander Bengtsson as what they believe to be a hate crime. Authorities do not know who the suspect is and are appealing for witnesses, or those who may have information.

In Vienna, Austria, a taxi driver has been charged with assault after he threw a gay couple out of his cab for kissing and then called the police on them, Gay Star News reported. The taxi was passing by the city's Schonbrunn Palance when they exchanged a short romantic kiss—but this incensed their driver, who began to verbally abuse them. Among other things, the driver allegedly punched one of the couple in the face, and continued to abuse and attack the couple until the police arrived.

Utrecht, the fourth largest city in the Netherlands, has installed traffic lights that feature same-sex couples—becoming the first Dutch city to do so, according to NewNowNext. The Utrecht City Council approved of several new designs that depict two men holding hands and two women holding hands, all with hearts over their heads.

In England, transgender people face waits of up to 18 months or more for consultation at specialist National Health Service ( NHS ) gender-identity clinics, the BBC noted. Those seeking gender reassignment at one of England's eight centers face a further wait of more than three years. Under NHS guidelines, an initial appointment for hormone therapy and surgery should be within 18 weeks.

Kenya's first gay music video—swiftly banned by the country's film board —shows a well-toned, scantily clad young man leaning over his tattooed male lover in bed, Times Live reported. The song "Same Love" was originally recorded by U.S. hip-hop duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis during the 2012 campaign to legalize same-sex marriage in Washington state. A remix by Kenyan rap artist Art Attack set out to provoke similar debate in the conservative East African nation, where same-sex acts are punishable by up to 14 years in jail.

The headteacher of a Catholic primary school in England has refused to apologize to parents who were outraged after their children watched a "gay play" at school, Instinct reported, citing The Daily Express. Carrie Morrow, headteacher at Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School in Atherton, England had put on a gay-friendly workshop at the school to help teach children about diversity. Both the school and Ms. Morrow have refused to apologize for the workshop, stating that a very small percentage of parents actually voiced a complaint.

Hundreds of thousands of people have lined the streets of Sydney for the annual gay Mardi Gras parade, Al-Jazeera reported. About 300,000 people turned out to watch more than 12,000 people march and more than 175 floats take part in the 38th annual parade. The march kicked off with the "Dykes on Bikes" group revving their motorcycles through the streets. Conservative Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull—who vowed to hold the plebiscite if his government is re-elected later this year—risked a political backlash by becoming the first sitting prime minister to attend the parade.

British comedian Eddie Izzard said coming out as transgender has helped him prepare for everything life could possibly throw at him—including a grueling marathon challenge, Gay Star News noted. Currently in South Africa, Izzard is running 27 marathons in 27 days for British charity Sport Relief—with "27" marking the number of years Nelson Mandela was imprisoned. In a piece in The Guardian, Izzard said that he came out as trans "30 years ago, and that was tricky to do."


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