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World news: Pop star comes out; London candidates; pope's moves
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2015-06-16

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A Norwegian pop star came out as gay in a music video featuring simulated gay sex with a priest—and the Church of Norway is upset, according to The Huffington Post. Tooji, an Iranian-Norwegian singer living in Norway and a participant in the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest, came out when announcing the release of his new music video titled "The Father Project." In a statement, the bishop of Oslo condemned the video as a desecration. NewNowNext.com added that the controversy has caused Tooji to lose his job as the host of Melodi Grand Prix Junior, a Eurovision spinoff for teenagers that airs in Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

Among those running to replace Boris Johnson as mayor of London is Andrew Boff, according to The Telegraph. Boff, who is openly gay, is a Conservative member of the London Assembly and was first elected in the 2008 election. Boff, 57, works as an information technology consultant. Also vying for the mayoral spot is gay-rights campaigner Ivan Massow, a financial-services entrepreneur and media personality. Massow became the first Conservative to announce his candidacy for the 2016 elections.

The pope is reportedly set to meet with an LGBT-rights group in Paraguay next month, according to PinkNews. Pope Francis, who has been hailed as more progressive than his predecessors despite having made some anti-LGBT comments since being appointed, is set to meet representatives of SomosGay in Paraguay. The LGBT-rights group said the pontiff will meet Simon Cazal, its co-founder and executive director, on July 11.

In other pope-related news, he has accepted the resignation of two bishops in the United States who face charges of failing to protect children from a pedophile priest, The Independent reported. Prosecutors in Minnesota had charged the archdiocese of St Paul and Minneapolis over an alleged sex abuse cover-up. The archbishop of St Paul, John Nienstadt, and a deputy bishop, Lee Anthony Piche, offered the pope their resignations under a code of canon law.

An investigation by the World Bank of the former president of its LGBT-employee organization has led to his demotion, according to an Advocate.com item. The report says Fabrice Houdart was accused of leaking "sensitive information" to an outside agency; however, Houdart claims his demotion is retaliation for whistle-blowing. The leak in question occurred in 2014, and involved a draft of new human rights and environmental "safeguards."

On June 3, Mexico's supreme court ruled that it is unconstitutional for the country's states to prohibit same-sex marriages, ABC News reported. ( News of the decision only recently became public. ) However, the ruling is more symbolic than actually legal, experts say. Since the decision does not actually invalidate any state laws, same-sex couples denied the right to wed would have to turn to the courts individually. Same-sex marriage is legal in some parts of Mexico, including Mexico City and the northern state of Coahuila.

In Australia, a Canberra couple have vowed to get a divorce, ending their "sacred" 10-year union, if the country legalizes same-sex marriage, according to LGBTQ Nation. Nick and Sarah Jensen say that widening the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples threatens the sacred nature of the union and leaves the door open to polygamy. Nick Jensen concluded his article saying he and his wife "know we are not alone" in their decision to divorce in protest of marriage equality.

A Norwegian player was penalized for calling an opponent "gay" as part of new guidelines to crack down on the use of homophobic language, The Guardian reported. Baerum SK midfielder Simen Juklerod was sent off by referee Anders Gjermshus after Norway's head of referees previously warned players that using the word "in an insulting or offensive manner" would result in a red card. "There was a second I was not thinking, and said the second word [gay], yes," said Juklerod. "Of course it's completely lame. But I still think that's not a red card."

Lithuania President Dalia Grybauskaite has expressed her displeasure with Ten Walls after the Lithuanian musician compared homosexuality to pedophilia, according to PinkNews. The Lithuanian producer and musician posted an anti-gay rant to Facebook, referring to LGBT people as people of a "different breed" and likening them to pedophiles. Grybauskaite said, "I believe the incident benefits the state in a way that, in this country, we are becoming more and more open in our discussions about how insular we are, our intolerance of people who are different, as well as homophobia."

An Indian advertisement showing two lesbian women in a loving relationship has gone viral, The Telegraph reported. The ad, called "The Visit," was created by clothing brand Anouk Ethnic. It depicts a lesbian couple kissing and discussing how to come out to one of the women's parents. Avishek Ghosh, one of the ad's producers, told the Times of India that the goal of the video was to breakdown stereotypes and discrimination. In India, homosexuality is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

In the United Kingdom, Nick Gibb, the schools minister, has announced that he is to marry his male partner after a secret 29-year relationship, The Telegraph reported. He revealed that he will marry Michael Simmonds, the chief executive of the Populus polling organisation, in November, having just told his family he was gay. Gibb, 54, said the forthcoming wedding had necessitated the "practical" step of informing his 79-year-old mother and other relatives.

British broadcaster Stephen Fry and husband Elliott Spencer say they were forced to abandon a honeymoon destination due to "homophobia," PinkNews reported. The couple, who married in January—two weeks after they first revealed their engagement—went to Honduras as well as a number of other destinations. The couple claimed they were forced to leave the Central American country early over homophobia, but declined to specify what had happened.

Colombia has adopted a new gender-recognition law that allows trans people to gain legal recognition without undergoing surgery or seeing a psychiatrist, PinkNews reported. The Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of the Interior in the South American country signed a decree reforming the laws that previously required individuals to undergo psychiatric or physical examinations before gaining legal rights.

In Britain, former Strictly Come Dancing star James Jordan has said he thinks it is "wrong" to allow same-sex dance partners on the show, according to PinkNews. The popular BBC dance show pairs celebrities with professional dancers, but had only allowed opposite-sex partners. However, judge Craig Revel Horwood recently confirmed changes will take place in the next two seasons to remove the gender rules. Jordan, a ballroom dancer who was dropped from Strictly in 2014, responded to the announcement to say he thought the show would lose viewers.

A Thai university's dress code has gone viral after it published a series of posters that inform students—including transgender pupils—what to wear, according to The Daily Mail. Bangkok University's School of Fine and Applied Arts has set a precedent by allowing its students to dress according to their identity, rather than in traditional "male" and "female" uniforms. The school took to its official Facebook page to publish gender-inclusive images of its correct dress codes, which included trans options for "ladyboys" and "tomboys."


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