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World news: Pence, global rights, OutRight group, presidential elections
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

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A Washington Post article says that a Trump administration would like reverse the progress the Obama administration made regarding global LGBT rights. The piece points out that Trump said at the Republican National Convention ( a little more than a month after the June 2016 mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando ) that he would protect LGBTQ Americans "from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology"—but that he selected anti-gay Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his vice-presidential running mate. The article then discussion how Pence's positions are similar to Russian leader Vladimir Putin's and even those of the Islamic states.

OutRight Action International kicked off the global week of advocacy ( Dec. 5-9 ), during which 60 LGBTIQ activists from 27 countries came to participate in the organization's 5th annual United Nations Advocacy Week, a press release stated. Human-rights defenders met with government representatives and UN officials. Advocates met dignitaries such as United Kingdom Ambassador Matthew Rycroft, South African Ambassador Jerry Matthews Matjila and U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, as well as dignitaries from Denmark, Botswana, Thailand, Australia, Canada and other countries.

Gambian voters rejected their intensely anti-gay President Yahya Jammeh, who proclaimed that he invented an herbal cure for AIDS and once said he would rule for a billion years, noted. Jammeh, who has ruled the country since he took over in a 1994 coup, surprised many by conceding to his opponent. Part of his statement said, "As a true Muslim who believes in the almighty Allah I will never question Allah's decision. You Gambians have decided."

In Austria, far-right candidate Norbert Hofer conceded defeat against independent candidate Alexander Van der Bellen in a re-run election, UPI reported. In May, Van der Bellen, a 72-year-old former Green Party leader, defeated Hofer by little more than 30,000 votes in a tightly fought contest decided by mail-in ballots; however, Hofer and his party challenged the results. Van der Bellen, an economist whose parents spent time in a refugee camp before they settled in Austria, backs liberal migration policies and is an outspoken supporter of same-sex marriage.

A UK children's charity is receiving up to eight calls a day from trans kids, PinkNews noted. The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children ( NSPCC ) has revealed almost 2,800 children said they were transgender to counselors in 2015-16. Most of the children, some as young as 11, said they were born in the wrong body and that had driven them to suicidal thoughts and self harm.

In London, Judge Nicholas Hilliard sentenced crystal-meth addict Stefano Brizzi to life in prison with at least 24 years to serve for killing 59-year-old Gordon Semple, whose dissolving body was found in an acid bath, NBC News noted. Brizzi, a former Morgan Stanley IT developer, met Semple on a gay dating app. The 50-year-old Brizzi arranged a meeting at his apartment near London's Tate Modern gallery on April 1 and later tried to cover his tracks online.

In a country where Gay Pride parades require massive security and almost half the citizens think homosexuality is a disease, Serbia is drawing patients from around the world seeking gender-reassignment surgery, according to Offering experts in the field for a fraction of the cost in western Europe and the United States, Belgrade has become a surprising center for the complex operation. At Belgrade's Gay Pride march in 2010, hardline nationalists attacked participants and clashed with police, wounding 150 people and prompting officials to ban the parade for the next three years.

Senators from Mexico's leftist Democratic Revolution Party are defending a private party at which they took turns whacking a pinata in the shape of U.S. President-elect Donald J. Trump, Fox News noted. Those present also chorused an anti-gay chant traditionally yelled by Mexican soccer fans that has made the national team subject to fines. Former Mexican ambassador to the U.S. Arturo Sarukhan calls the incident "regrettable."

A Chinese student in Taipei said that she has been able to come forward as a gay person and a supporter of same-sex marriage since she came to Taiwan, because it is a "land of enlightenment" in terms of civil liberties, The Taipei Times reported. Speaking to reporters at a rally in support of same-sex marriage in Taipei, the woman, who asked to be called Su He, said she has been living her dream since she came to Taiwan as a student five years ago. Su He, who was at the rally with her Taiwanese partner, said she has been studying mass communication, observing press freedom, and living as an openly gay person in Taiwan without fear of recrimination—which would have been difficult in China.

An Iranian was almost stabbed to death in a Dutch migrant center after fellow asylum seekers reportedly found out he was gay, The Daily Mail reported. A 34-year-old Tunisian asylum-seeker is suspected of carrying out the attack on Sept. 15—details of which have only just emerged. The young Iranian man had just left the room of an Iranian family in the asylum center when the attack unfolded; he had been drinking to celebrate his 26th birthday the next day. When he walked out of the room after the small party, he was immediately attacked and a knife wound in the thigh, severed a main artery, according to reports.

Soccer's FIFA 17 could be banned in Russia after MPs suggested it was responsible for promoting "gay propaganda," The Independent noted. The game's manufacturer, EA Sports, recently introduced a feature allowing gamers to choose a rainbow-colored kit for their virtual players in support of LGBT rights group Stonewall's Rainbow Laces campaign to combat homophobia in sport. However, Russian MPs have written to the country's communications watchdog to suggest this is a breach of a 2013 law that banned "gay propaganda."

A full trailer for the biopic Tom of Finland has dropped, exploring the life of the king of homoeroticism, PinkNews reported. Influential artist Tom of Finland inspired the look of Freddie Mercury and the Village People with his iconic range of images, smashed through social taboos with portrayal of male eroticism and fetish culture. The artist, whose real name was Touko Laaksonen, died in 1991 but remains an influential figure in the gay art scene—and is one of Finland's most well-known LGBT figures. The film is set to be released in February.

The International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association received the Winq Travel Award, presented in association with United Airlines, at Rosewood London, a press release noted. The UK-based magazine's second annual event included nine awards: activism, culture, business, media, music, sport, travel, Man of the Year and an additional honor presented by the Elton John AIDS Foundation. The other winners included Dan Mathews of PETA, master perfumer Roja Dove, author/playwright Jonathan Harvey, journalist Owen Jones, singer/songwriter Bright Light Bright Light, Olympic gold-medalist diver Chris Mears, PrEP campaigner Dr. Will Nuttall and actor/director/writer Mark Gatiss ( Sherlock; Game of Thrones ).

Tens of thousands gathered at Copacabana beach on Sunday to celebrate the 21st Rio Pride Parade, LGBTQ Nation noted. Organizers said this year's parade was focusing on passing legislation in Brazil that would allow adults to legally change their gender on identity documents and eliminate bureaucracy involved in gender-confirmation surgery, reports the Associated Press. They called on the public health system ( SUS ) and private health plans to pay for hormonal therapy and surgery.

Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage unveiled a new anti-LGBTQ group, the International Organization for the Family ( IOF ), LGBTQ Nation noted. For its first act, Brown traveled to Cape Town, South Africa, where he introduced the Cape Town Declaration. PinkNews reports IOF includes conservative religious movements in Africa, and has support in Russia, Australia and central Europe.

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