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World news: HIV study; action against Malawi; Gucci's policy
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2016-03-22

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In Scotland, a University of Glasgow study shows that gay men and other men who have sex with men ( MSM ), including those believed to be at "high risk," are not getting HIV tests frequently enough, Scotsman.com reported. The study found that while national guidelines suggest all MSM test annually for HIV and those "at higher risk" every three months, neither recommendation is being met. The research is the first to explore the frequency of HIV testing among MSM in the United Kingdom.

Malawi and other developing nations will be sidelined from World Bank funding for actions against gay people, Nyasa Times reported. Malawi recently attracted the wrath of the United Nations regarding the withdrawal of a case against People's Party ( PP ) publicist Ken Msonda, who was charged with inciting people to kill gay people. The UN said the discontinuance of the case sends a bad message to the society that killing gay individuals is legal in Malawi. The World Bank provides loans to developing countries for projects, assists in their development and creates infrastructure to help tackle poverty.

A video series originating in Toronto analyzes LGBT men and body image. It is a six-part series looking at how gay men view their bodies and how that affects hooking up, dating, sex, masculinity, relationships and more issues. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3yny-nYOp2w&feature=youtu.be.

Italian fashion house Gucci has announced that it will extend its domestic-partnership benefits to same-sex couples in registered partnerships, Gay Star News reported. This includes allowing them 15 days of honeymoon leave if they have married abroad. Italy has been the last country in Western Europe to pass legislation allowing gay couples to enter into civil unions, having faced stiff opposition from the Catholic church and right-wing politicians.

Members of the Scottish Parliament ( MSP ) and human-rights campaigners have called on the Scottish government to confront Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama about his country's abuses of its lesbian and gay citizens, according to a Gay Star News item that cites The Guardian. A meeting with opposition leaders was cancelled. He also reportedly received muted applause as he listened to First Minister's Question Time ( FMQs ) in the Holyrood chamber. Gay sex is illegal in Ghana, punishable by up to three years in jail if it is consensual; it's not clear if female homosexuality is illegal.

Australian Family First Senator and marriage-equality opponent Bob Day hit out at same-sex marriage, saying that most gay men in relationships are unfaithful to their partners, Gay Star News reported. During the second reading of the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill, the senator for South Australia started his speech calling it "shameful that activists for marriage equality assume that opponents must be bigots." He rhetorically asked the chamber why not allow three people to marry if same-sex marriage is to be legalized.

Faroe Islands, a self-governing archipelago part of Denmark, has rejected same-sex marriage, Gay Star News reported. It remains the only Nordic country to not have adopted same-sex unions in any form. Last year, Sonja Jogvansdottir became the first member of the LGBT community elected to the Faroese parliament. Denmark legalized same-sex marriage in 2012.

Female British soldier Lance Corporal Hannah Heslop, 25, was sentenced to seven years in prison and faces a dishonorable discharge from the army for sexually assaulting a female colleague following a night out, Gay Star News reported. In March 2015, Heslop and the victim were part of a course held at Leconfield Barracks in Yorkshire. During a night out with other soldiers, Heslop targeted the victim and openly said that she would make her gay while the group was playing drinking games.

Botswana's appeal court ruled that the government was wrong to refuse to register an organization that represents LGBT people, in a case testing the country's anti-homosexuality laws, Times Live reported. Activists launched the legal battle after the Home Affairs ministry rejected an application to register the Lesbians, Gays, and Bisexuals of Botswana ( LEGABIBO ) organization. In so ruling, the court dismissed Home Affairs Minister Edwin Batshu's argument that registration might encourage members of LEGABIBO to break the law.

The British military is investigating an incident in which members of the Queen's Guard were made to sexually assault each other as part of an initiation ceremony filmed on cellphones, according to NewNowNext, citing The Sun. Two young soldiers say they were ordered to perform a series of sex acts on each other last September at Pirbright Barracks in Surrey, England. An Army spokesman confirms that the incident did take place, and that the Royal Military Police is investigating, but says there were no allegations of coercion or force.

Northern Ireland's Court of Appeal has ruled that Stormont's health minster, and not UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, should decide on whether to lift the lifetime ban that is currently in place to prevent gay and bisexual men from donating blood, Gay Star News reported. Previous Northern Ireland Health Ministers Edwin Poots and Jim Wells had decreed that the ban should stay in place, but current Health Minister Simon Hamilton has previously indicated that he is prepared to lift the ban if the government advisory body says it is safe to do so. Northern Ireland is a constituent unit of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in the northeast of the island of Ireland.

The gay British movie Weekend, directed by Andrew Haigh, was a recent surprise box-office hit in Italy after the Vatican attempted to ban the film, The Washington Blade reported. The movie, which stars Tom Cullen and Chris New, was released in theaters in the United Kingdom in 2011 and is currently available for streaming on Netflix in the United States. The film follows two men who begin a romantic and sexual relationship one week before one of them leaves the country.

Russian authorities says they have received a number of complaints for a new ad for Calvin Klein perfume CK2, PinkNews reported. The advertisement, which features two same-sex couples, has been reported to authorities in the country for allegedly containing "elements of propaganda of homosexuality and pedophilia." The ad features a same-sex male couple riding on a motorcycle shirtless, while a lesbian couple bare their breasts on a highway. If found guilty, Calvin Klein could be fined up to 1 million rubles ( $15,000 ).

LGBT advocates in Mexico are protesting a newly released film titled Pink that they say are filled with anti-LGBT stereotypes, anti-gay caricatures and negative messages about same-sex couples adopting children, Gay Star News reported. Directed by Paco del Toro, the Spanish-language film is currently showing in over 200 theaters across Mexico via Cinemex and Henry Cinemas, although Cinepolis has refused to show the film. Pink is said to tell the story of a gay couple who adopt a child; one of the protagonists of the film stopped being gay through the Bible while his partner is diagnosed with AIDS.

The UK government has dropped its plans to ban poppers, Gay Star News reported. British politicians voted to approve a ban on "legal highs" in January, with it set to become the law April 6. However, Home Secretary Theresa May conceded a review of poppers would happen before the law came into effect.


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