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World news: Lesbian app, Malta PM, 'Wonder Woman'
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2017-06-06

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China's leading lesbian app, Rela, was shut down recently following a viral incident at Shanghai's marriage market in People's Park in which a group of mothers of LGBT children were kicked out by police while trying to raise awareness for gay rights, Shanghaiist reported. The app is no longer available on the Apple or Android app stores, where it counted more than 5 million registered users. Existing users are no longer able to log into their accounts.

Also in China, police in Xi'an detained nine LGBT activists, NewNowNext.com noted. Members of the group Speak Out wanted to hold an LGBT rights conference in the city, a major tourist destination in China. Authorities questioned organizers for nearly eight hours—forcing them to turn over their phones, provide administrator access to their social media, and hand over a list of speakers—before eventually letting them go. Homosexuality was decriminalized in China in 1997.

Newly sworn Malta Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has pledged to introduce a marriage-equality law when Parliament convenes in the next few weeks, LGBTQ Nation noted. Malta introduced civil unions in 2014, and Muscat's decision to move ahead on gay marriage recognizes election pledges by the major parties to extend full marriage rights to homosexual couples. Socially conservative, Malta was the last European Union country to pass a divorce law, in 2013. Abortion remains illegal.

Warner Bros.' Wonder Woman has been officially banned in Lebanon shortly before the film was scheduled to screen in the country's cinemas, Deadline reported. The ban was prompted by Lebanese group Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel-Lebanon because Gal Gadot, the film's lead actress who plays Diana Prince aka Wonder Woman, is an Israeli and a former soldier in that country's army. Lebanon exhibitor Grand Cinemas announced the ban was official on its Twitter feed.

Also in Lebanon, it became the first Arab country to celebrate gay pride—but the opening event in a landmark run of festivities was canceled after Islamists threatened violence, Reuters reported. Proud Lebanon dropped a cultural event after threats reportedly came from the Association of Muslim Scholars in Lebanon, a Salafist group. Polls show the vast majority of Lebanese reject homosexuality; however, Beirut is taking steps towards decriminalization.

Sir Ian McKellen joined hundreds of protesters outside the Russian embassy in London to voice anger against a "purge" of gay men in Chechnya, The Evening Standard reported. The Lord of the Rings actor, who's openly gay himself, described it as "a matter of principle" to demonstrate outside the Kensington Gardens consulate on Friday to demand that Moscow takes decisive action against those responsible for the brutal persecution. Reports emerged in April of gay people being abducted, tortured and even killed in a "purge" in the Russian federal republic.

A family of a British gay man is fighting for their son's body to be shipped home after a hospital in Egypt turned his life support machine off, PinkNews reported. Adrian Nicholas King, 39, was on holiday in Egypt when he fell into a coma because of kidney failure. He was hospitalized on May 25 and taken off life support less than a week later. The hospital is refusing to release King's body until the bill is paid.

Ireland's governing Fine Gael party elected Leo Varadkar, the gay son of an Indian immigrant, as its new leader and the country's likely next prime minister, LGBTQ Nation noted. Varadkar defeated rival Simon Coveney in a contest to replace Enda Kenny, who resigned last month. He is highly likely to become prime minister in Ireland's coalition government, although not immediately. At 38, Varadkar would be Ireland's youngest prime minister, as well as the first from an ethnic-minority background and the first openly gay leader.

Lesbian Australian tennis star Casey Dellacqua has responded to anti-gay comments from Australian tennis icon Margaret Court to say she is "normal," PinkNews noted. Court, who has won more Grand Slam titles than any other player, sparked controversy recently when she said she was boycotting Qantas Airways because of its support for same-sex marriage. Condemnation from lesbian grand slam champion Martina Navratilova, Australian number one Sam Stosur and world number one player Andy Murray has followed, but the legend has not backed down. "I hope that if there are people out there and they are struggling with those issues, hopefully, I can be a role model in that sense and they can see it's OK to be happy and be loved and in a loving relationship," Dellacqua said.

Madrid is preparing to host an international LGBT pride celebration by installing "inclusive" and "gender equal" traffic signals across the city, LGBTQ Nation noted. Figures of women or girls, identified by skirts and ponytails, have gone up at intersections that previously featured the familiar figure of a man in mid-stride to let pedestrians know when to cross. Other walk/don't walk signs are designed to show couples—some same-sex and some opposite gender—holding hands.

Hollywood's A-list descended on the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc for the Golden Age of Hollywood-themed amfAR gala to cap off yet another event-filled Cannes Film Festival, People.com noted. The event—which raises funds for AIDS-research programs—featured Leonardo DiCaprio, David Beckham and Bella Hadid. The younger sister of Gigi Hadid also walked in the annual Cinema Against AIDS runway show, which had its entire collection of dresses auctioned off for 3 million euros ( about $3.36 million ).


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