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World news: Indonesian arrest, lesbian MP dies, hate crimes in Scotland
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2016-10-18

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A gay couple were arrested in Indonesia for a photo showing them kissing that appeared on Facebook, PinkNews noted. A 22-year-old university student and his 24-year-old boyfriend were arrested on the island of Sulawesi after other Facebook users complained to police about the photo. Police in the city of Manado said that the couple could be prosecuted under the country's laws against "obscenity and pornography," despite homosexuality not being illegal.

The first lesbian MP in Norway has passed away at the age of 90, according to PinkNews. Wenche Lowzow was a pioneer in gay rights in the country and has passed away after complications that stemmed from long-term illness. Born in 1926, Lowzow was the first member of parliament to come out as gay, in 1979. ( She served in the Norwegian parliament during 1977-85. ) Lowzow declared her civil partnership with the writer and activist Karen Christine Friele in 1993.

Scotland's top police officer has said tackling hate crime is an "absolute priority" for his force, BBC.com reported. Speaking at the start of Hate Crime Awareness Week, Phil Gormley said he was determined to eradicate all forms of hatred in Scotland. A new network of LGBTI liaison officers has been established in a bid to improve the reporting of hate crimes.

The German government announced it would make reparations in the millions for more than 50,000 men jailed for being gay under the terms of Paragraph 175, which formed part of Germany's criminal code until 1994, Elle UK noted. Germany first criminalized homosexual acts in 1871, when it became a nation state, and intensified under Nazi Rule. During its criminalisation, more than 140,000 men convicted in both West and East Germany with many losing their livelihoods when their sexuality became known. While the criminal records of those imprisoned during the Nazi era were erased in 2002, they were never pardoned.

Thousands of opponents of same-sex marriage took to the streets of Paris, Business Insider reported. About 24,000 people took part in the demonstration, police said—far fewer than the several hundreds of thousands the group "Demo for All" mobilized in 2012 and 2013 in an unexpectedly strong show of opposition from conservatives, especially Roman Catholics. Police said 13 people were arrested after a scuffle at the protest, including six topless women from the activist group Femen; some of them had words "Hate is not a family value" scrawled on their chests.

Plans to hold a national vote in Australia on legalizing same-sex marriage were blocked by the opposition, BBC News reported. But for many supporters of same-sex marriage, this was a cause for celebration. While they want the law to change, they argued holding a non-binding plebiscite would be expensive, and risked unleashing anti-LGBT rhetoric. The government has accused the opposition of playing political games.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull may be banned from Sydney Mardi Gras after the collapse of negotiations on equal marriage, according to PinkNews. Turnbull had attempted to avoid a rift with his own ultra-conservative MPs by bringing forward plans to take same-sex marriage to the public in a non-binding plebiscite. However, talks fell apart after opposition parties pledged to block the vote, which they see as expensive and largely redundant, given overwhelming public support for marriage equality.

In the UK, a lesbian mother who left her wife and "abducted" their daughter to start a new life with a sperm donor has broken her silence to claim the 2-year-old is "better off with me," The Daily Mail reported. Lauren Etchells, 31, a teacher who grew up in South Tyneside, is the subject of an international arrest warrant after breaking a court order to fly out of Canada with daughter Kaydance. "This whole case has been about gay rights and not about what is good for my child," Etchells emailed to the Times. "At some point the system needs to look at the straight facts and see that Kaydance is better off with me instead of getting blinded and caught up in political correctness and bureaucracy."

Tokyo's Shibuya Ward, known as a front-runner in LGBT-friendly programs, has added Ryutaro Nagata to further the equality agenda, Asahi.com noted. Nagata, 41, who is gay, began a three-year stint last month as head of the ward government's section to promote gender equality and diversity after a previous career at the Japanese unit of the U.S. casual clothing chain Gap Inc. Last November, the ward's government became one of the first local governments in the nation to issue certificates recognizing same-sex partnerships.

A new trailer has been released for a biopic following the life of iconic gay illustrator Tom of Finland, Out in Perth noted. Born Touko Valio Laaksonen in 1920, Tom of Finland is known for some of the most recognizable homoerotic imagery of modern times. The film, directed by Dome Karukoski and called Tom of Finland, follows Tom as he returns from World War II to find that home also proves to be hostile for an out gay man.

The creator of new Doctor Who spin-off Class said the inclusion of a gay hero in the series "shouldn't be a big deal" in 2016, The National noted. Patrick Ness has penned the show about four students at Coal Hill Academy, the fictional London school that appeared in Doctor Who's first episode in 1963. The U.S. author said the lack of gay characters in stories he read growing up inspired him to make one of the Class students—Charlie, played by Greg Austin—gay.

British TV personality Simon Cowell has been criticized after making a joke during an episode of the Xtra Factor that some have described as homophobic—and he has apologized, The Telegraph noted. While introducing a feature on the X Factor spinoff show, co-host Rylan Clark-Lewis said, "I love a front door"—to which Cowell replied, "I thought you liked a back door." Cowell immediately apologized, saying, "I shouldn't have said that—sorry, sorry, sorry. That's why I should never do live TV."

British boxer Tyson Fury, being treated for depression and having tested positive for cocaine in two random drug tests last month, vacated his WBO and WBA heavyweight world title belts on Oct. 12, ESPN.com reported. Even if Fury had not vacated the belts, he likely would have been stripped by the sanctioning bodies because of the positive drug tests and inactivity; also, he faces the strong possibility of having his boxing license suspended or revoked by the British Boxing Board of Control. Fury, 28, was controversially nominated for the BBC's Sports Personality award last year—despite claiming that homosexuality and pedophilia will bring about the apocalypse, PinkNews noted.


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