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World news: UN attempt, Taiwan items, gay British royal
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

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Two days before Christmas, a group of conservative states at the United Nations made a final attempt to stop the independent expert on the "protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity," by stripping the mandate of standard UN funding, an Outright International press release noted. Jessica Stern, executive director at OutRight Action International, said, "The fact that they resorted to an attempted undermining of the budget after they were unable to stop the mandate on content shows how desperate they are to stop any inquiries into the violence and persecution that LGBT people face around the world." African country Burkina Faso introduced the resolution.

Same-sex marriage could soon become a reality in Taiwan, as a bill to legalize it has passed a parliamentary committee, PinkNews noted. The Committee in Taiwan's Legislature passed an amendment to include same-sex marriage in the Civil Code of the country on Dec. 26. Article 972 will add the paragraph stating "an agreement to marry between people of the same sex shall be made by two parties involved."

Also in Taiwan, Taipei officially began to make life easier for same-sex couples today as it began to allow same-sex couples to apply for partnership certificates, according to PinkNews. The City Council is the second to allow the partnership certificates, after Kaohsiung did the same. Couples can apply for family-care leave and sign medical-consent forms on each other's behalf on the issuance of the certificate.

In England, the queen's cousin has become the first member of the British royal family to come out as gay, PinkNews noted. Lord Ivar Mountbatten has revealed that he is now dating a man after a lifelong struggle with his sexuality. Mountbatten is the queen's cousin, the great-great-great grandson of Queen Victoria and the great-nephew of Earl Mountbatten of Burma.

Northern Ireland's attorney general cannot refer back to the supreme court the case of a local bakery fined for refusing to bake a gay-themed cake, The Guardian reported. John Larkin QC's legal bid to get the supreme court to review court rulings against Ashers Bakery was deemed to have come in too late, Northern Ireland's lord chief justice said. In October, the court of appeal in Belfast upheld a conviction that found Ashers guilty of discrimination for refusing to bake a pro-same-sex marriage-themed cake.

In Canada, flyers posted around McGill University featuring anti-Muslim and anti-gay imagery, along with a call to "make Canada great again," are raising concern among students and faculty, noted. The posters, playing on Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again" campaign slogan, feature a maple leaf in the background and crossed-out symbols that represent Islam, communism and homosexuality. The posters include the web addresses of white supremacy sites and are signed, "brought to you by your local deplorables," a reference to a comment Hillary Clinton made about Trump supporters during the campaign.

Scotland may become the first place in the UK to allow men who sleep with men, and transgender people who were assigned male at birth, to donate blood restriction-free, Attitude noted. Currently, those affected by the restrictions must wait 12 months after their last sexual encounter to donate blood. A lifetime ban on blood donations for men who sleep with men, and trans people assigned male at birth, was in place from 1981 until 2011 in most of the UK, when the 12-month deferral policy was introduced. However, Northern Ireland didn't relax restrictions until September 2016.

The British government has revised its prison guidelines to to require prisons to recognize inmates who identify as gender-fluid or non-binary, according to . Last year, trans woman Tara Hudson successfully petitioned to be transferred to a woman's prison in a highly publicized case just a few weeks before a 21-year-old transgender woman named Vicky Thompson took her own life in an all-male prison in Leeds. The new policy—which includes requirements that prison staff receive training on how to protect the rights and safety of "all transgender and non-binary people, and not just those undergoing gender reassignment"—is significant, given that the UK still officially recognizes only two genders.

A gay couple who were subjected to a tirade of homophobic abuse on two consecutive nights on public transport across the British capital said: "This is London in 2016, it just did not make sense," The Evening Standard noted. Tower Hamlets councillor Chris Chapman and partner Jonathon Carter told of how they were branded "disgusting" as they shared a kiss on a Jubilee Line Tube train. Among other things, the couple were allegedly told "people do not want to see that here" after they kissed on the train between London Bridge and Bermondsey.

Lionel Blue—Britain's first openly gay rabbi, who was known for his popular early morning radio spots—has died at 86, reported. He was a frequent guest on BBC radio's "Thought for the Day" feature, part of the widely heard Radio 4 morning broadcast. Blue was known for the light, genial tone of his radio spots, which often shed light on Judaism and its application in modern day life. He frequently discussed his own failings and foibles.

An image of George Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, has been removed from a London university amid student concerns about his views on gay marriage, The Guardian reported. The picture is one of a number to be taken out of a "wall of fame" at King's College London ( KCL ), which said that the display "did not capture the diversity of our university community." The removal of Carey's image followed a campaign by students, who had voiced concerns about the church leader's opinions on same-sex marriage.

In the UK, a teenager who had recently come out took his own life after his relationship with his first boyfriend broke down, Metro reported. Zenon Bartlett, 16, struggled with his sexuality for three years as a result of rumours about him and his relationship with another boy. However, soon after his relationship ended, his mother found him hanged at their home in Botley, Hampshire.

Scotland's Marcliffe Hotel and Spa lost its five-star rating from VisitScotland earlier this year after the owner publicly bragged about not hiring gay people, NewNowNext noted. Stewart Spence MBE was attending a Hospital Industry Trust Scotland event when other guests claimed to have heard him spouting some anti-LGBT rhetoric. "I'm not a poof," he reportedly told the group. "I have never employed a poof and I never will," later apologizing and saying he was joking. VisitScotland also advised Spence that he and his employees can visit groups like Stonewall to help get proper training and support.

Chile has been given yet another stadium ban by Zurich-based soccer governing body FIFA after its fans failed to stop using homophobic chants at matches, PinkNews reported. The country has received two previous stadium bans during the 2018 World Cup qualifiers. As well as the ban, which means they will play two more games away from their Estadio Nacional, the country will be forced to pay 30,000 Swiss francs.

British TV presenter Richard Hammond has been criticized after making a joke about eating ice cream being gay while responding to a comment made by Jeremy Clarkson on The Grand Tour, noted. LGBT campaigner Peter Tatchell was among those who criticized Hammond; speaking on BBC 5 Live Daily, he's told Adrian Chiles that he thinks the comments "pander to prejudice."

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