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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Gareth Thomas in Cinderella; South Africa drops blood ban
World news: Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2014-06-04

This article shared 5331 times since Wed Jun 4, 2014
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Openly gay Welsh rugby legend Gareth Thomas will tackle a new challenge this Christmas—as he stars in a pantomime of Cinderella, according to Wales Online. Thomas will join fellow cast members Lee Mead, Linda Lusardi, Mike Doyle, Andy Jones and Sam Kane in the show at New Theatre in Cardiff. Thomas, who will star as Dandini, is considered one of the most iconic and respected figures in world sport, being voted BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year in 2005.

South African National Blood Service ( SANBS ) has dropped a ban that prohibited gay men from donating blood, according to LGBTQ Nation. However, a ban of six months will still be applied on anyone who had sex with a new partner, and there's a blanket ban on anyone with multiple sexual partners. Previously, SANBS viewed gay men as a high-risk group, and they could only donate if they had been celibate for six months or longer.

Oscar-winning Greek American actress Olympia Dukakis has expressed her support for Cyprus' first gay-pride parade, according to GreekReporter.com . The actress urged Cyprus' LGBT community to "keep going forward … [and] stay the course." When Dukakis, 83, was asked if LGBT people should have equal rights, she answered, "Even asking the question 'Should they have the right' is offensive." The first gay pride parade of Cyprus was held May 31 in Nicosia.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has publicly indicated his support of marriage rights for same-sex couples, The Washington Blade reported. "Marriage between homosexuals to me is perfectly acceptable and what's more I am defending unions that exist between two people of the same sex with the rights and all of the same privileges that this union should receive," said Santos to Colombian newspaper El Tiempo. "If these unions are called marriage or not is secondary to me. For me it is important that they have their rights."

A political party in Germany known for its opposition to LGBT rights claims to have changed its position, Pink News reported. The Alternative for Germany party ( AFD ) has previously been labelled anti-gay, sexist and racist. However, in the weeks prior to the recent European elections, AFD suddenly started featuring gay, women and immigrant supporters in its campaign. The party has also announced plans to establish a strategy group for gay issues, although some question if the organization's stance is genuine.

Nigeria Senate Majority Leader Victor Ndoma-Egba has defended last December's decision of that country's parliament to pass the Same Sex Marriage ( Prohibition ) Act, according to Pink News. Ndoma-Egba said, "Most jurisdictions criminalize sodomy, let alone same-sex marriage. However, the issue of same-sex marriage has elicited much discourse and concern in recent past." The law means same-sex couples entering into either marriage or cohabitation can face 14 years each in prison.

The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) delivered a letter to the Vatican on behalf of nine teachers who have lost their jobs at Catholic schools for either being LGBT or supporting an LGBT family member, according to a press release. The letter signed by the teachers and delivered to the Nuncio, or diplomatic representative of the Holy See, reads in part, "We have devoted years, some of us even decades, to serving our communities as teachers, leaders and role models. We have made a conscious choice to work within the Catholic Church because we strongly believe that a Catholic education prepares our young people to be responsible citizens, men and women for others. For each and every one of us, our employment was far more than just a job—it was a reflection of our core Catholic values."

Human Rights First praised the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights for issuing a resolution calling for established protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, according to a press release. Human Rights First's Shawn Gaylord said, "In the wake of new legislation under consideration across the continent that would negatively impact sexual minorities, this call to action is a reminder that there are leaders throughout Africa choosing to face this challenge head on." Resolution 275 was adopted during the commission's 55th Ordinary Session that concluded in May.

Throughout June, World Channel will broadcast a film produced by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's flagship show called Australian Story: On the Precipice, according to a press release. The half-hour documentary details Massachusetts resident Steve Johnson's 25-year quest to find justice for his gay younger brother, Scott, who was found dead at the bottom of a cliff in Australia. Johnson was originally told his brother committed suicide; however, in 2005, he discovered a police investigation code-named Operation Taradale had uncovered evidence that young thugs routinely preyed on men at gay meeting places called "beats" around Sydney—and ran some of them off cliffs. ( For more information, see "Justice for Scott Johnson" on Facebook. )

Some Vancouver parents are at the forefront of a campaign against a policy on transgender students in public schools in the city, long regarded as a bastion of progressive values, according to SCMP.com . The proposed policy advises teachers to protect transgender students' rights to decide who gets to know about their status, to use whichever bathroom they choose and to dress as they feel appropriate. However, Cheryl Chang said the policy represented an attempt to usurp parental rights, and there had been inadequate efforts to explain the plan. She added that the policy "goes to Chinese family values. ... The word has gotten out in the Chinese community faster because those were people at the forefront."

With the World Cup fast approaching, a survey of soccer fans from around the world has revealed widespread support for any international players thinking about coming out as gay, according to The Guardian. Approximately 30,000 fans in 29 countries responded. The results reveal that Sweden and Denmark—where 79 percent of respondents said they would be comfortable with a gay international—are the most supportive, closely followed by the United Kingdom, at 73 percent. The United States clocked in at 52 percent being supportive.

The University College London Union has banned a far-right student club after allegations it is "fascist" and "homophobic," according to Pink News. The group was originally known as Tradition UCL, but had changed its name to Nietzsche Club in honor of the German philosopher. A motion to ban the group read, ""[The club is] on the extreme-right, racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, homophobic, anti-Marxist, anti-worker and have had connections, direct or indirect, with Italian fascism and German Nazism."


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