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Australian foreign minister slams Russia; athlete breaks out rainbow nails again
World news: Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2013-08-28

This article shared 4503 times since Wed Aug 28, 2013
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Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr has condemned Russia over its anti-gay law, according to Gay Star News. In a letter to Sydney state independent MP Alex Greenwich, Carr wrote, "The Australian Government is deeply concerned about the recent passage of legislation in Russia banning the 'propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships' to minors. Australia believes that human rights are universal, indivisible and interdependent and that all people—regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity—are entitled to respect, dignity, and legal protection."

Also in Australia, billionaire Clive Palmer claims former Liberal MP Mal Brough asked him to fund a sexual-harassment case by a male staffer against the speaker of the Australian House of Representatives, according to Gay Star News. Palmer says Brough met him at his Palmer Coolum Resort last year where he detailed the allegations against Speaker Peter Slipper. (Brough denies this.) Staffer James Ashby claimed Slipper harassed him in the workplace; the Federal Court threw out the case last December after Slipper argued the action was "vexatious and an abuse of the legal process."

Swedish high-jumper Emma Green Tregaro—who competed during qualifying heats of the World Track and Field Championships in Moscow with rainbow fingernails in support of gay rights—sported them again during the DN Galan Diamond League meet in Stockholm, ESPN.com reported. Green Tregaro competed with red nails in the finals at the worlds after track officials said she might be in violation of the meet's code of conduct. "Now I mostly just [had the rainbow nails] because it felt boring not to do it," she said.

In the Canadian province of Newfoundland, a group of men attacked a gay man (Pattrick Blackburn), according to Gay Star News. A work colleague found him lying bleeding under a bush, but Blackburn remembers nothing between seeing his attackers and waking up in hospital. The attack left him needing a blood transfusion and 18 stitches. Blackburn was also robbed, but police do not have any suspects so far.

In England, Mark Hawthorn—known as Tilly in cabaret acts Glitter Lips and The Tourettes—has been ordered to serve six months in jail after being convicted of benefits fraud, according to the UK Mirror. It was found that Hawthorn swindled taxpayers out of 88,000 pounds (about $137,000) after claiming he needed round-the-clock care. However, investigators discovered a YouTube video of the 49-year-old performing on stage as a drag queen. The footage, called "The Legend of Aunt Tilly," shows him in drag belting out hits by Tina Turner and Diana Ross; he was also filmed working out at a gym and lifting heavy weights.

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission issued a statement mourning the death of Cameroonian LGBTI-rights activist Eric Ohena Lembembe, according to a statement. Executive Director Jessica Stern stated, "Though the Cameroonian LGBTI movement remains strong, the death of Eric, who was a journalist and the executive director of the Cameroonian Foundation for AIDS (CAMFAIDS), is a tragic loss." The activist died July 15; signs of bruising on Lembembe's body, including burns from irons pressed into his legs, suggest he was tortured.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree banning demonstrations and rallies for two and a half months in Sochi around the 2014 Winter Olympics, according to ABC News. The Rossiyskaya Gazeta, the official government newspaper, published the presidential decree, listing various measures tightening security in the Olympic host city, including the ban on public assemblies. Some have speculated that Putin's decree could be aimed at heading off demonstrations against Russia's ban on alleged gay propaganda. The Winter Olympics is taking place Feb. 7-23, 2014, in Sochi while the Paralympics are March 7-16.

The Auckland Unitarian Church made history last week, hosting the first same-sex marriage in New Zealand, according to uuworld.org . The Rev. Dr. Matt Tittle pronounced Natasha Vitali and Melissa Ray "wife and wife" Aug. 19. The ceremony was the culmination of a radio contest called "The Fabulous Gay Wedding." On April 17, the New Zealand House of Representatives voted to legalize same-sex marriage 77—44.

In a related story, lesbian couple Lynley Bendall and Ally Wanikau made their own history when they got married on board a special flight to Auckland, celebrating the legalization of same-sex marriages in New Zealand, ABC News reported. Their children watched the couple walk up the aisle of the aircraft and take vows in the presence of actor and marriage-equality advocate Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family), who recently celebrated his own same-sex marriage to Justin Mikita. Bendall and Wanikau's wedding had many traditional New Zealand elements, such as pounamu (greenstone) rings, the Maori love song "Pokarekare Ana" and the New Zealand mountains just outside window seats.

Also in New Zealand, trans former member of Parliament (MP) Georgina Beyer said that the country isn't ready for a gay prime minister, according to Gay Star News. Gay Labour MP Grant Robertson is running for his party's leadership post after current leader David Shearer announced his resignation. Beyer said in a recent interview, "It's not because Grant isn't capable; I think he's very capable. ... But the stigma that rests over those of us who are out, proud and gay who get into public office becomes untenable because you never shake it off and you get pigeon-holed."

Belgian designer Kristof Buntinx has launched a new range of boxer shorts featuring Russian symbols that will be marketed to gay men, Pink News reported. On his blog, Buntinx wrote, "If you do not like the fact that I am homosexual, I can learn to live with it. But to humiliate, attack and torture people is really going too far. ... I myself have set to work with my graphic designer and I have made 17 patterns of Russian symbols and motifs for the creation of a collection of boxer shorts." A launch party for the "To Russia with Love" project is slated for Sept. 28 in Brussels, Belgium.

Jamaican Sandra Marcia Gordon—a career criminal with dozens of convictions for fraud, theft and other crimes—has been accused of playing the "gay card" in order to avoid deportation from Canada, the National Post reported. During pre-removal risk assessment (PRRA) in 2009—a process that ensures deportees are not being sent to face imminent death or torture—she outed herself as a lesbian, fearing persecution in her Jamaican homeland, where there exists grave discrimination against homosexual men. In 2001, citing her criminal history, the Canadian government ordered Gordon deported; however, she is still in Canada, constantly appealing every step of deportation.

In France, far-right Bollene mayor Marie-Claude Bompard has refused to officiate at the wedding of a lesbian couple, despite the government's recently passed same-sex marriage law, Pink News reported. Amandine Gilles, 33, and Angelique Leroux, 27, hoped to be married in their hometown Sept. 10; however, Bompard won't officiate, citing religious beliefs. She said she would also refuse to lawfully delegate another councillor to carry out the ceremony.

In London, a minicab driver working has had to leave his company after allegedly ejecting a gay couple from his vehicle when they held hands, according to the UK Telegraph. The men said they had taken a cab from the nightclub G-A-Y Late in central London but were called "dirty" and told to get out. The alleged incident became public when one of the men, Liam Kelly, wrote about it on Twitter and posted a photo of the minicab's license plate, from which the driver was identified.

Israel is planning to construct the country's first monument to gays whom the Nazis persecuted, according to an Advocate.com item. The monument will be erected in central Tel Aviv's Meir Park near the headquarters of the Gay Center before the end of the year. A pink triangle—the symbol Nazis used to mark gay people—will be displayed on a concrete triangle at the center of the monument, along with a bench and plaque that will display information about how gay men and lesbians were persecuted during the Holocaust.

Marriages for same-sex couples began taking place in Uruguay Aug. 23, according to an Advocate.com item. However, none of the newlyweds who tied the knot that day could claim they were the first same-sex couple to say "I do" in the South American country. That honor went to a couple (who wishes to remain anonymous) who was able to forego the required waiting period and was legally wed Aug. 5 because one of the men was dying of cancer.

Anna Grodzka, a trans member of Poland's Parliament, has said that she's received "numerous death threats," according to Gay Star News. "I've been shouted at many times, called names on the street, there has been numerous death threats on the Internet," she said. The 59-year-old, who has been a member of Parliament since 2011, said neo-Nazi groups were the "biggest problem in Poland," with an "aim at fighting and removing LGBT people from public life."


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