Iceland Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottirthe first out lesbian to head a national governmentwill retire when the parliamentary term ends next April, according to Advocate.com . "There is a time for everything, also for my time in politics which has been long and eventful," she said in a statement. "Now I believe it is time for others to take the baton that was passed to me following the crash. I have therefore decided to leave political life at the end of this term." She became prime minister three years ago.
The Jamaica AIDS Support for Life (JASL) and the Jamaican Forum for Lesbians, All-sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG) have decided to close the country's only LGBT drop-in shelter, according to Queerty.com . In August 2011, JASL Director Ian McKnight proposed the creation of such a shelter. However, J-FLAG's Dane Lewis recently said, "We have tried to conduct a drop-in center on a number of occasions, but we don't have the skills set and resources to deal with it." Activists and the center's young visitors were reportedly devastated over the news.
Hong Kong billionaire Cecil Chao Sze-tsung has offered a $65-million "reward" to any man who can woo his married lesbian daughter, Gigi Chao, the Huffington Post reported. In addition to the "dowry," Chao has also pledged to help the successful suitor launch his own business. Gigi reportedly eloped with her longtime female partner to France.
The new website NoHomophobes.com has announced that since July 5, "faggot" and variations of this word have been used more than 2.4 million times on Twitter, according to a University of Alberta (Canada) Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services press release. Other commonly used slurs include "so gay" (800,000 tweets), "no homo" (800,000) and "dyke" (300,000). "We never imagined the scale of casual homophobia that actually exists on social media," says Dr. Kristopher Wells, the institute's associate director.
In Tasmania, the state upper house defeated a proposed marriage-equality bill, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. The bill's fate was sealed when several key MPs (members of Parliament) raised constitutional doubts. Australian Marriage Equality spokesman Rodney Croome said lower house approval and some support in the council were great achievements. Tasmania was the last Australian state to decriminalize homosexuality (in 1997), according to Gay Law Reform.
A Turkish court has jailed a British man after he was found guilty of murdering his Russian transgender wife, Gay Star News reported. In 2010, Chris Collier knocked wife Julia unconscious with a heavy object and then smothered her to death while in their apartment in Kusadasi, Turkey. He was sentenced to 24 years in prison.
Mary McAleese, the former president of Ireland, has criticized the Catholic Church over its anti-gay stance, according to Pink News. McAleese, who led the country for 14 years, is also concerned by the high rates of suicide in Ireland's LGBT community, believing Catholic schools make things difficult for gay students.
In Canada, the office of Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney apparently took names from an online petition to send a message to gay residents, according to the National Post. The bulk email sent from Kenney's office to thousands was titled "LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) Refugees in Iran"; the letter then mentioned how the government is protecting the rights of said refugees. It turns out Kenney's office got the names from a 2011 online petition supporting a gay artist from Nicaragua who was facing deportation; however, Kenney's press secretary said only those who contacted the office received the email about refugees.
In Britain, the Old Vic Theatreled by actor and artistic director Kevin Spaceyhas donated the venue free of charge to Ugandan playwright Judy Adong so that a benefit reading of her play (Just Me You and the Silence) can be seen in London Nov. 4, according to a Kaleidoscope Trust release. "Silence," (set in Kampala, Uganda) follows the tragic story of Jacob Obina, an ambitious politician and family man. The play portrays the injustice and persecution gay and lesbian people suffer in Uganda.
In one of his last major public lectures before he steps down, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, admitted the Church of England's attitude to same-sex relationships has often been harmful to gay people, Pink News reported. Williams recently said that while the Church should have supported equality for gay people, Prime Minister David Cameron was wrong to embarrass the church over the issue of marriage equality.
In Australia, gay parents will be eligible for paid parental leave, putting them on par with heterosexual parents, the Huffington Post reported. The country's News Online said that this is the first time that the Australian government's "paid parental leave for fathers will be extended to dads whose partner is another dad." (Mothers with same-sex partners will be eligible as well.)
The Ukraine's parliament has voted to outlaw the promotion of homosexuality, according to GayToday.com . The draft law, which passed the first of two readings, does not clearly define what "promotion of homosexuality" means, but says it is a threat to national security. Homosexuality itself has been legal in the Ukraine since 1991; however, a recent poll showed that 78 percent of Ukrainians viewed homosexuality negatively.