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World news: Malaysian insurer; Ian Thorpe's shame; Nepal survey
World news: Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

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MetLife Inc.'s support for gay rights in the United States is drawing criticism to the insurer's partner in Malaysia, according to Bloomberg BusinessWeek. A group in the nation called for a boycott of AMMB Holdings Bhd.'s AmBank, citing MetLife's recognition as among the best places to work for LGBT individuals. MetLife, the largest U.S. life insurer, reached a $249 million deal in December with AMMB to expand in the country, where Islam is the most practiced religion. AmBank has distanced itself from the New York-based insurer's support for gay rights.

Ian Thorpe admitted he is ashamed he did not "break the lie" about his sexuality a lot earlier in life, according to .au. The 32-year-old Olympic champion's comments coincide with him awarded GQ magazine's "Man of Influence" for 2014 as he appears on the cover of the latest issue. "I'm a little bit ashamed that I didn't come out earlier, that I didn't have the strength to do it," he said. Thorpe revealed he was gay in a tell-all interview in July after rumors about his sexuality circulated throughout his career.

In a recent survey of sexual and gender minorities in Nepal, more than 60 percent of respondents reported experiencing abuse or discrimination, and over one-third reported discrimination or abuse in three or more public settings, a press release stated. The research methodology and study was implemented through the Williams Institute and the Blue Diamond Society. The study participants came from 32 of Nepal's 75 districts; spoke Nepali, Bhojpuri and Maithill; were primarily Hindu; and included individuals from 150 caste and ethnic groups.

The president of Gambia has signed a bill into law that calls for life imprisonment for some homosexual acts, making Gambia the latest African country to codify harsh penalties for the gay community, ABC News reported. A copy of the legislation that the Associated Press obtained indicated that President Yahya Jammeh signed it Oct. 9, although no government officials have yet publicly notified the country of the new law. Jammeh, one of Africa's most vocal anti-gay leaders, instructed gays and lesbians in 2008 to leave the country or risk decapitation.

The U.S. Senate confirmed an openly gay Foreign Service officer to become U.S. ambassador to Vietnam, The Washington Blade reported. Ted Osius, who was nominated by President Obama for the position in May, was confirmed by voice vote as part of a group of four ambassadorial nominees. Osius served in Asia for most of his 25 years in foreign service, working at U.S. embassies in Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and New Delhi, India. Osius is the seventh openly gay person nominated by Obama to serve as a U.S. ambassador.

Two Australian men are being tauted as a real-life version of the iconic cowboy couple seen in the 2005 film Brokeback Mountain, according to The Huffington Post. Australia's SBS Network recently profiled Dan Smith and Miki Velickovski, a gay couple who are defying stereotypes by living and ranching in North Queensland, Australia. "The coming out process was a bit different because I couldn't see myself living with a partner on the land, and farming and associating with other farmers and be gay at the same time," the 34-year-old Smith, who became active on the rodeo circuit in his teens, said. The pair now lives together on a 155-acre beef-cattle ranch.

Also in Australia, a Queensland court has rejected a property claim on the basis the applicant only engaged in a "friends with benefits" relationship with the man he lived with for seven years, Pink News reported. The younger man of the couple had claimed he was the de facto partner of the older man. Attorney Nicholas Stewart, acting for the older man, said his client did not engage in an exclusive relationship, and only welcomed the younger man "to share household duties and occasionally each other's beds."

Jin Tai has become the first Taiwanese singer to publicly come out as gay after years of interest in her sexuality, according to Gay Star News. The androgynous artist told the China Times that since turning 32 recently, she "wanted to honestly face her past and future, including her relationship status." Tai said she only found the courage to come out to her military father a few days ago, but his response—saying he hoped she would be "blessed and happy"—brought tears to her eyes.

In South Korea, the Seoul Metropolitan Government ( SMG ) postponed a public hearing on gay rights after approximately 200 activists opposed to fair treatment of LGBTs stormed into the capital's City Hall to stop the proceedings, according to The Korea Times. SMG officials initially planned to gather opinions from a range of experts during the hearing in an effort to draft a Charter of Human Rights for Citizens in Seoul. Experts are divided over whether to include a clause protecting sexual minorities in the charter.

Gay soccer fans may want to avoid traveling to Qatar for the 2022 World Cup, as same-sex relations there are illegal. Outsports reported that the Associated Press asked the country's sports minister, Salah bin Ghanem bin Nasser al-Ali, how gay people will be welcomed. He responded, "It's exactly like the alcohol question," in which he was asked if beer sales would be regulated. That answer was, "In the hotels and many areas we have alcohol but we have also our own system that people need to respect. As we bid for 2022, we will respect all the rules and regulations by FIFA. We can study this and minimize the impact on our people and tradition."

In Italy, a Catholic cardinal is warning that same-sex marriage may lead to the destruction of family structure if it becomes culturally accepted by the Catholic Church, according to Catholic Online. Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, the head of the Italian Bishops Conference, gave a warning Nov. 10 that gay marriage is "a Trojan horse" that will weaken the family. the mayor of Rome held a ceremony to recognize 16 gay marriages that had been performed outside of Italy, and this event may have prompted the cardinal's remarks.

Officials in a Polish town have opposed a proposition to name a playground after Winnie-the-Pooh due to the bear's unclear gender and immodest clothing, Fox News reported. Voice recordings of the meeting were leaked to the media in which officials in the town of Tuszyn complained that Pooh Bear is immodestly dressed and also lacks a clear gender. One called the bear a "hermaphrodite."

A former Mr. Gay UK-turned-police officer has been suspended after being convicted of attacking a man in a gay club, Gay Star News reported. Mark Carter, a police constable for West Yorkshire Police, was convicted of assault by beating by Manchester Magistrates court. In 2009, Carter was accused of two counts of sexual assault and raping a man in a Leeds hotel; once the charges were dropped, Carter returned to the police force in 2011. However, he was then charged with possessing anabolic steroids that he claimed he was using for medicinal purposes.

Benjy, the gay bull of Ireland, has been saved following a worldwide appeal backed by The Simpsons co-creator Sam Simon, Newser reported. Ireland's Animal Rights Action Network says Simon is helping pay for Benjy's transportation to an animal sanctuary in England. However, Gay Star News has reported, Benjy will be castrated when he arrives in England next month. Hillside Animal Sanctuary in Norwich sterilizes all of the animals it agrees to take in.

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