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Ben Cohen issues 50th grant; group seeks to ban 'Warmest Color'
World news: Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

This article shared 5270 times since Wed Apr 2, 2014
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The Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation, the world's first anti-bullying foundation, announced it has issued its 50th grant—coinciding with the organization's third anniversary, according to Business Wire. The Foundation is a registered 501( c )( 3 ) grant-making non-profit in the United States and a registered charity in the United Kingdom, and the 50 grants have been given across both countries. Grants given total $358,000, including distributed and committed amounts as of March 2014.

Russia's League of Safe Internet is seeking to have the Palme d'Or-winning lesbian coming-of-age film Blue is the Warmest Color banned—claiming it constitutes child pornography, according to Gay Star News. The film depicts a relationship between 15-year-old Adele and Emma, an art school student, although both actresses were over 18 when the film was shot. However, the League of Safe Internet says this does not matter, despite the fact that if the girl's relationship was non-fictional it would be legal in France, where the age of consent is 15. Russia's age of consent was dropped to 14 during 1998-2003, but is now 16.

The first same-sex weddings have taken place in England and Wales after gay marriage became legal March 29, according to BBC News. British Prime Minister David Cameron said the move sent a message that people were now equal "whether gay or straight," but some religious groups remain opposed. Scotland passed a similar law in February; the first same-sex marriages are expected there in October. Northern Ireland has no plans to follow suit.

India's fledgling Aam Aadmi Party is betting that championing the rights of women and minorities and fighting against corruption will be winning issues for voters as the party seeks to elect its first lawmakers in the nation's parliament, according to Gay Star News. Also, Aam Aadmi announced that the re-legalization of homosexuality will be a priority in its election manifesto. Aam Aadmi was established only 18 months ago but won 28 of the 70 seats in the Delhi Legislative Assembly in 2013.

In Ireland, several complaints have been made to national broadcaster RTE over a "transphobic" new sitcom, according to Gay Star News. The Centre, which aired on March 24, features a trans woman, Nuala, who is part of the cast of characters living on a housing estate in Dublin. Transgender Equality Network Ireland has accused the sitcom of being a "throwback to the dark ages of television," with a "stock character of a 'man in a dress' played for cheap laughs."

A parliamentary committee in Romania rejected a bill ( by a vote of 105 to two ) that would have legalized same-sex civil partnerships in the country, according to LGBTQ Nation. The measure would have allowed both same and opposite-sex couples to register their partnerships, allowing them to "enjoy rights like the right to inheritance, the right to become a co-beneficiary on the other's health insurance, the right to apply for [housing] loans as joint debtors."

A gay Ugandan teen attempted to commit suicide after politicians enacted one of the most draconian anti-gay laws in the world, according to Gay Star News. The teen, 17, overdosed on pills and swallowed rat poison. Uganda LGBTI activist Pepe Julian Onziema said the adolescent is the son of Muslim parents who consider homosexuals to be "proof of sin itself" and "not people."

A former boxer claims to be Britain's first openly gay builder, according to The Daily Mail. Ray Bulloch, 49, goes to work wearing a pink hard hat, uses pink tools and even drives a pink van, which he boasts is "powered by fairy dust." Bulloch, who came out 15 years ago, founded R&G ( Ray and Gay ) Builders and Property Maintenance the following year because he was fed up with the level of homophobia in the construction industry.

In the Phillippines, two security guards are facing criminal charges for stopping a transgender individual from using the women's toilet, according to The Phillippine Star. Call center employee Mara La Torre ( John Gerard ), 22, filed a criminal complaint against May Pacheco and her supervisor Mineleus Llegunas before the Quezon City Prosecutor's Office for violation of a city ordinance prohibiting discrimination against homosexuals in the workplace.

The New York-based Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice has announced "Fueling the Frontlines," a comprehensive three-year, $20 million campaign for global LGBTQI rights, according to a press release. The campaign will continue Astraea's tradition of funding LGBTQI-focused organizations through supporting activism, education and philanthropy. Efforts will concentrate in six key regions: Latin America, North America, Africa, China, India and the Balkans.

Mexican pop star Juan Gabriel has released his own "gay blackmail tape," according to . The 64-year-old Latin-music star released a personal video—one that shows the singer flirting with an unseen male cameraman—rather than let a blackmailer use it against him. Widely rumored to be gay, Gabriel ( who has excelled in four decades in Latin music as a singer, songwriter, producer and arranger ) has never directly addressed his sexuality.

amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research; the International AIDS Society ( IAS ); and The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation ( ETAF ) are seeking nominations for the Elizabeth Taylor Human Rights Award, which recognizes an individual who has demonstrated excellence as a leader and advocate for human rights in the field of HIV/AIDS, according to a press release. The award will be presented at the 20th International AIDS Conference ( AIDS 2014 ) in Melbourne, Australia, on July 20-25. Nominations may be submitted online at, and will be accepted until 9 p.m. EDT on April 30.

A bill that would make it a crime to establish "a positive attitude towards non-traditional sexual relationships" has been introduced in the ex-Soviet country of Kyrgyzstan, according to Buzzfeed. The legislation goes beyond Russia's "homosexual propaganda" law, which bans "promoting non-traditional sexual relationships for minors" and is punishable by a fine. The Kyrgyz bill would make any statement that could create "a positive attitude to unconventional sexual orientation" a crime punishable by a jail sentence of up to one year for found guilty of doing so through the Internet, telecommunications, or the media.

The New Zealand group Love Your Condom has created its own version of the "First Kiss" viral video in an effort to promote safe sex between gay and bi men, according to . The video features 10 gay strangers who are asked to kiss for the first time as the Soko's song "We Might Be Dead by Tomorrow" plays in the background. The video features awkward giggles and hugs that break the ice as well as the kisses themselves.

In Australia, a Queensland restaurateur was caught painting a gay-related statement across a competitor's shop front, according to 9News. Peirre Bertino, 69, was seen strolling up to the window of popular café Nibbles and Bites before scrawling his message in large print on the store's window. The sign read "Gay," said café co-owners Ben Wood and Nev Sauer—but Bertino, who owns Mamas and Papas Pizzeria, claims he was simply "saying hello." Bertino was charged with vandalism.

To coincide with the celebration of International Transgender Day of Visibility, activist/model Geena Rocero launched her new global-awareness campaign, Gender Proud, which calls attention to the fact that there are only a few countries where transgender individuals are able to change their gender marker without having to first undergo surgery. In addition, Rocero's talk ( Technology, Entertainment and Design ) went live on March 31. Her talk marked the first time that TED ( which took place in Vancouver ) has tackled transgender rights issues on the main stage. As it launched, Gender Proud initiated a petition on that seeks to bring awareness to the issue at a broader level; simultaneously, an IndieGogo campaign will raise money.

Uganda President Yoweri Museveni led an anti-gay march March 31, according to Gay Star News. Speaking to thousands of supporters, religious leaders and politicians in Kampala, he said Uganda could live without Western aid. International outrage has led to around $118 million being halted or redirected in aid as punishment for the law that punishes homosexuality with life in prison.

A Nigerian Islamic court has acquitted two men who were accused of having gay sex because the judge decided there was insufficient evidence to convict them, Gay Star News reported. The men were part of a group who were arrested late last year after they were accused of belonging to a gay club. The judge found that the evidence presented against the men was insufficient to judge the men guilty under sharia law. President Goodluck Jonathan signed the so-called "Jail All The Gays" bill, further criminalizing homosexuality into law, in January.

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