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World news: Gay South Africans, Nigerian arrests, gay-panic defense
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2016-05-24

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In honor of International Day Against Homophobia, Zalebs.com listed five openly gay South African celebrities. They include TV figure/choreographer Somizi, singer Toya De Lazy, former Yo.TV presenter Sade Giliberti, singer Thandiswa Mazwai and entertainer Bujy Bikwa. Somizi recognized IDAHOT by posting a picture on Instagram of a rainbow flag with the message: "Keep calm and be proud of who you are."

Six men, ranging in age from 20 to 24, were arrested by anti-vice officials in Benin City, Nigeria—with police bragging they had apprehended the "gang," who confessed to committing what police referred to as the "crime of homosexuality" since 2006, Out reported, citing Gay Star News. The youngest individual who was arrested allegedly came forth with accusations against an older member of the group, saying he was raped—but it is believed that this was a manipulation on the part of the police.

In Australia, Father Paul Kelly has started an online petition to abolish the gay-panic defense—and it has been signed by nearly 250,000 people, UK Metro reported. Kelly said, "I'm a Catholic priest and 8 years ago a man called Wayne Ruks was bashed to death in my Brisbane churchyard. Unbelievably, his killer's convictions were downgraded to manslaughter, using 'gay panic' as a defense." Kelly has also been backed by comedian Tom Ballard, who has released a video supporting the campaign against "gay panic."

The New York Times reported that Russia, Cameroon, Tanzania, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, a 57-nation bloc, objected to the participation of 22 nongovernmental organizations ( NGOs ). Their initial list included 39 groups. Lobbying by the president of the General Assembly, Mogens Lykketoft, a Danish diplomat, trimmed it to 22. In a statement, GHMC CEO Kelsey Louie said, "The General Assembly is stifling essential voices from a critical conversation. Blocking groups that work with the lesbian, gay and transgender communities, as well as groups representing drug users, works against the goal of getting to zero new AIDS cases."

Police in the former Soviet republic of Georgia detained 10 gay-rights activists who were painting graffiti on the fence of the Georgian Orthodox patriarch's office, ABC News reported. The Georgian Orthodox Church has spoken against gay marriage, and men of the cloth have been spotted attacking gay-rights protests. The capital, Tbilisi, this year is hosting the conservative World Congress of Families.

Victoria has become the first government in the world to formally apologize to people convicted under historical laws against homosexual sex, The Guardian reported. Before homosexuality was decriminalized in 1981, men could be sentenced for up to 15 years in prison for having consensual sex with other men. In September, the Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, introduced legal reforms to help those affected by the old laws to expunge their criminal convictions.

Also in Australia, more than a thousand men have signed up for trials of PrEP in New South Wales, Gay Times Magazine noted. Truvada, the Pre-exposure Prophylaxis drug which can reduce the risk of contracting HIV during intercourse, was approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration in Australia earlier this month. The Kirby Institute's trial, which has currently signed up over 1,100 men, is the largest of its kind in Australia, and the institute are hoping to recruit 3,700 men by the end of 2016.

Out actor Colton Haynes was attending a comic convention in Birmingham, England, when he helped a fan who had a seizure and collapsed, according to NewNowNext.com . Louise Dempsey, 31, told the Birmingham Mail she actually had two seizures in a row. "I came out of one and went into another one. Colton was behind me and, at one point, he had his arms around me… He actually helped me up as well." Dempsey thanked Haynes on Twitter.

A 45-second television advertorial featuring two gay men sharing a kiss over a dinner table has sparked outrage among South African viewers, according to IOL.co.za. A number of broadcasters have reportedly also refused to air the controversial spot, aptly named "Kiss." Many social-media users have branded the commercial—which promotes safer sex—"inappropriate," "offensive" and disgusting," while concerns about family and younger viewers have also been raised.

In England, Manchester swore in its first openly gay lord mayor in the 124-year history of the role, The Guardian reported. Labour councillor Carl Austin-Behan has said he will use his year in the ceremonial post to highlight prejudice toward the trans community and work to make HIV testing more readily available in Greater Manchester. At 44, Austin-Behan is not only the city's first openly gay lord mayor, but also the youngest.


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