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World news: Homicide conviction; France and PrEP; terrorist
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times.

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A Philippine court convicted U.S. Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton for the death of transgender Filipina woman Jennifer Laude, according to BuzzFeed. Pemberton's attorneys said he hired Laude for sex after the two met at a club on Oct. 11, 2014. Pemberton's lawyers told local media that he admitted to choking her in a nearby hotel room after discovering she was transgender, but claimed she was alive, though unconscious, when he left her. Because Pemberton was convicted of homicide instead of murder, his sentence will be six to 12 years instead of 40.

France has become the first country outside the United States to approve the use of PrEP for those most at risk of transmission of HIV, Gay Star News reported. Health Minister Marisol Touraine announced that fully reimbursable PrEP would be available from mid-December on the national health system. Professor Jean-Francois Delfraissy, director of Paris-based HIV/AIDS research organization ANRS, hailed the decision as "of huge significance."

Terrorist Salah Abdeslam—who has been on the lam since the attacks in Paris—was a regular in gay bars in Brussels, Belgium, where he lived, according to NewNowNext. However, in an interview with the Sunday Times, a bartender at one of those clubs reveals the staff assumed he was a hustler. Earlier, authorities indicated they believed Abdeslam was trolling the bars to find easy targets or steal passports. Abdeslam is now reportedly going under an assumed name, Yassine Baghli, and sporting glasses and a wig.

Canada's Liberal government isn't elaborating about how officials will confirm a gay Syrian refugee's sexuality, citing concerns over compromising the resettlement program's integrity, according to The Huffington Post. "The assessment of whether a Syrian refugee is a member of the LGBTI community will be based in part on information provided by the refugee when he registered initially with the UNHCR [United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees]," Citizenship and Immigration spokeswoman Nancy Caron said. Single men "identified as vulnerable due to membership in LGBTI community" are considered priority refugees eligible for government sponsorship.

As many as 21 students were arrested in Nigeria for engaging in gay sex, according to PinkNews. The students from two state-owned universities in Asaba, Delaa state, were arrested for allegedly having gay sex for money. Among other things, the "investigation" reportedly showed that "homosexuality has been on the rise" at the universities, blaming "various cult groups."

A court heard opening arguments in a case calling for textbooks published by China's Ministry of Education to alter or remove sections calling homosexuality a disease that can be cured, NBC News reported. Student Qiu Bai ( a pseudonym ) discovered the issue two years ago when she looked through medical textbooks seeking answers about her own sexual orientation. The Chinese Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders in 2001; however, a 2014 survey conducted by China's Tong Cheng Gay and Lesbian Campus Association found that 40 percent of textbooks published in the country after 2001 still classified homosexuality as a psychological disorder.

Transgender people in Vietnam will be recognized under the law and have all relevant rights to their new gender, according to Thanh Nien News. Earlier on the same day, the National Assembly's Standing Committee submitted a report on the issue, saying that gender reassignment should be allowed to "meet the demand of a group of citizens." The Civil Code will take effect in 2017.

Gunmen attacked patrons at a gay festival in Acapulco, Mexico—killing three people and wounding another five, reported. Attackers stormed the "Reina Gay" festival in Tres Palos on Nov. 29, opening fire on the crowd. Authorities suspended classes at some rural schools near Acapulco in recent weeks and installed security at others because of an increase in violence near the port, which has the highest homicide rate of any city in Mexico.

Human-rights lawyer/activist Eric Gitari—outed in his home country of Kenya in May—talked with The Guardian about the discrimination the LGBT community in the country faces. Regarding anti-LGBT violence, he said, "Some gay men complain to the police. We have reports of lesbians being raped. There is a lot of violence against trans people at the hands of the police, also against effeminate gay men and butch lesbians." However, he added, "I would not leave Kenya. Kenya is my home and where my family is. I won't run away from home. My mission is to make the building fireproof—not run away from a burning building."

Mr. Gay World, Klaus Burkart, has resigned, according to the contest's website ( ). In a letter, Burkart wrote, in part, "I'm very sad to announce that due to personal changes in my life, I will no longer be able to live up to the expectations and serve the community to the extent that the title requires to do so." First runner-up Emmanuel Mass Luciano, Mr. Gay Hong Kong, now has the crown.

An LGBT activist in Uganda has accused the Vatican of running away from the issue of homosexuality and LGBT rights before the pope prepared to visit the country, Newsweek reported. Frank Mugisha, executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda, said he and other members of the Ugandan LGBT community received no response after petitioning the Vatican to allow them to meet with the pope and discuss the issue. Homosexuality and LGBT rights is a hot-button issue in Uganda: the country's parliament passed a bill in December 2013 that allowed life imprisonment for "aggravated homosexuality."

A report says that the persecution of millions of people in Commonwealth countries where homosexuality is a criminal offense is worsening the AIDS crisis, the UK Independent stated. In what the report describes as a "British colonial legacy," 40 out of 53 Commonwealth countries criminalize same-sex relationships. The Human Dignity Trust and the Commonwealth Lawyers' Association briefing was prepared ahead of the Commonwealth heads of government meeting in Malta.

In South Africa, the Constitutional Court refused to hear an appeal by a gay church minister who claimed she was the victim of unfair discrimination by the church, Times Live reported. The court said if it were to decide the unfair discrimination claim, it would do so as a court of first and last instance. Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke said he was persuaded by the church's submissions that arbitration would be the ideal forum for the former minister and the church.

The ultra-Orthodox family of a deceased Israeli transgender activist has appealed to the country's Supreme Court against a lower-court ruling, which approved the cremation of her body as requested in her will, according to The Times of Israel. The Jerusalem District Court had ruled on Nov. 18 that Peleg's body could be cremated, as she had arranged and paid for in her last will and testament. Peleg, who served as head of the executive committee of Jerusalem's Open House LGBT community center, committed suicide. Her ultra-Orthodox mother asked the Supreme Court to overturn the District Court decision, requesting she be allowed to bury her daughter's body.

Same-sex couples living on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus look set to gain all of the same relationship rights and obligations as married couples if President Nicos Anastasiades signs a bill that legislators passed, Gay Star News reported. Thirty-nine lawmakers voted in favor of the civil-partnerships bill while only 12 voted against it and three abstained. Cyprus' capital, Nicosia, hosted its first-ever LGBTI pride march in May of last year.

Brazilian actor Bruno Gagliasso says he kissed fellow actor Joao Vicente de Castro on live television to protest homophobia, according to On Top Magazine. Gagliasso and De Castro locked lips during the GQ Men of the Year Awards 2015 at the Copacabana Palace in Rio de Janeiro. "It was a kiss of hope, of love," Gagliasso, 33, told Quem ( Who ). "[It was] to show that we are working against intolerance, small-mindedness and hypocrisy."

Assi Azar, an openly gay Israeli television star and LGBTQ activist, was heckled and threatened by anti-Israel protesters during an appearance last week at Goucher College in Baltimore, according to . Azar was screening his 2010 documentary Mom and Dad, I Have Something To Tell You—about Israelis coming out of the closet—when he noticed 15 audience members had their mouths covered with pink tape. After the screening, the protesters took the duct tape off their mounts, stood up, waved their placards, and shouted anti-Israel slogans.

LGBT website NewNowNext recently profiled Egill Eyjolfsson. By day, Eyjolfsson handles international trade agreements for Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway as an an officer of the European Free Trade Association—and, by night, he's the oft-shirtless primary dancer of Iceland's biggest party band, FM Belfast. "You're negotiating space on stage without explicitly making those decisions," he said, comparing similarities between his two jobs.

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