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Looking back: World news
Extended for the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

This article shared 3614 times since Tue Jan 5, 2016
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—The voters speak: A third-gender candidate made history by winning the mayoral elections in Chhattisgarh's Raigarh Municipal Corporation by defeating the nearest rival from the Bharatiya Janata Party ( BJP ). Madhu Kinnar, who contested as an Independent candidate, won the election by 4,537 votes against BJP's Mahaveer Guruji.

—Mexican marriage: Fernando Arias Amparo and Victor Aguirre Espinoza exchanged vows, ending nearly two years of legal wrangling to become the first gay couple to marry in Baja California, Mexico. The couple, together 10 years, married during an impromptu wedding outside the City Hall of the state's capital of Mexicali.

—Being frank: Speaking in the Philippines, Pope Francis made one of his strongest calls against movements to recognize same-sex unions as marriage. "The family is also threatened by growing efforts on the part of some to redefine the very institution of marriage," the pope said Jan. 16, hours after warning that Philippine society was "tempted by confusing presentations of sexuality, marriage and the family."

—Executions: Islamic State ( ISIS ) militants reportedly killed several men ( and even a 15-year-old boy ) for being gay—including stoning one to death who survived a push off a building.

—Irish eyes are smiling: In Ireland, former Fianna Fail minister Pat Carey has revealed he is gay—and said he was inspired to come out by Health Minister Leo Varadkar, who also recently came out about his sexuality. Carey, a 67-year old former Gaeltacht minister, said he "didn't have the courage" to speak about the issue previously.

—Intern affairs: One of the stars of one of Russia's biggest sitcoms has come out as gay. Odin Biron stars in the Russian version of Scrubs, titled Interny ( Interns ), in which he plays a U.S. exchange student at a Russian hospital. The actor—who is originally from Minnesota and who is dating a Kazakhstani director—said he wanted to do his best "to make this count" by coming out.

—Net gain: Two-time major champion Amelie Mauresmo was elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Mauresmo won both the Australian Open and Wimbledon in 2006. She was No. 1 for 39 weeks in her career, becoming the first Frenchwoman to reach the top of the computer rankings since they were introduced in the 1970s. Mauresmo is also an out lesbian, having come out in 1999.

—Out of fashion: In an interview with the Italian magazine Panorama, designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana of Dolce & Gabbana made some statements about same-sex families that caused a firestorm of controversy—including that babies born through in vitro fertilization are "children of chemistry, synthetic children. Uteruses for rent, semen chosen from a catalog." Many celebrities ( e.g., Elton John ) and non-celebrities angrily responded, causing Dolce to eventually apologize.

—Case reopened: The United Nations reopened the case of a plane crash that killed former Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold in 1961. Hammarskjold was on his way to what is now a part of Zambia to help broker peace between secessionist fighters in the Democratic Republic of Congo and UN troops who were trying to stabilize the newly independent country. Multiple sources have stated that Hammarskjold was gay, although he was not open.

—Rejected: France's openly gay pick to become its next ambassador to the Holy See met with Pope Francis—only to be reportedly told he was unacceptable for the job. Laurent Stefanini met with Pope Francis for a 15-minute audience, and was told that France's legalization of same-sex marriage in 2013 was part of the reason he could not accept him into the Vatican's diplomatic community. Stefanini was previously a deputy ambassador to Vatican City from 2001 to 2005.

—A sad ending: Bengali actress Disha Ganguly, known for her role in the popular sitcom Tumi Ashbey Bole, committed suicide via hanging on April 9. Officials believe she committed suicide due to social pressures regarding her lesbian relationship with another actress.

—Airing it out: The out gay leader of airline Qantas—one of Australia's biggest and most iconic companies—said advocating for marriage equality helps support its diverse workforce, and also appeals to a broad costumer base. At a business leaders function that the Australian Marriage Equality campaign organized, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said, "At Qantas, we call ourselves 'the spirit of Australia' and see ourselves as representing our community. ... As a gay man running the biggest iconic brand in the country, I believe Australia is a meritocracy. I don't know many countries in the world where you would say that happening—the national airline, this iconic Australian brand. … I'm Irish, and I'm gay, and I run this company."

—Lux life: Xavier Bettel, Luxembourg's first openly gay prime minister, married partner Gauthier Destenay in May. They had been in a civil union since 2010.

—Hate speech: In a speech about the nation's youth, the president of Gambia threatened to "slit the throats" of gay people living in the country. President Yahya Jammeh, who seized power in a military coup in 1994, made the threat apparently in response to Western leaders who have criticized the nation's regressive attitude to homosexuality. The dictator made the comments during a nationwide agricultural tour—one of a long line of shockingly anti-gay comments.

—Murders in El Salvador: A transgender woman who was a prominent activist in El Salvador was killed May 31. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, in a press release, cited local media reports that indicated Francela Mendez Rodriguez was murdered by a group of unknown assailants while visiting the home of a friend, Consuela Flores Martinez, who was also killed. Mendez Rodriguez, 29, had been a board member of Colectivo Alejandria, a Salvadoran trans advocacy group, since it was founded in 2010.

—Nightmare in Jerusalem: Yishai Shlissel—an Orthodox Jew who stabbed marchers at a Jerusalem gay-pride parade a decade ago—launched another knife attack at the same type of parade in the same city on July 30, stabbing and killing one person while wounding five others. In court, he said, "The pride parade must be stopped in order for the soul of Shira Banki to ascend to heaven."

—Swiss miss: Swiss soccer star Ramona Bachmann has revealed she is a lesbian. The 24-year-old has revealed she was in a committed relationship with Camille Lara, a 21-year-old student based in Sweden. The news has been welcomed by the mayor of Zurich, Corin Maunch—herself an out lebsian.

—Island love: The Pitcairn Group of Islands—a British overseas territory in the Pacific that's the smallest nation in the world—has officially passed same-sex marriage. The islands are home to 48 people.

—Conversion aversion: Ontario, Canada, has prohibited "conversion therapy"—attempting to change one's sexual orientation from gay to heterosexual—for children younger than 18. The province's Bill 77 received royal assent June 4, the day the Legislative Assembly approved it on its third reading. The Affirming Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Act amends the province's Health Insurance Act and the Regulated Health Professions Act of 1991.

—Sex-positive: Mozambique officially legalized gay sex June 29. The southern African nation has officially been added to the list of countries with no law against same-sex relations.

—Hate report: the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association ( ILGA ) launched, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, the 10th edition of its annual report on State-Sponsored Homophobia, a world survey of laws: criminalization, protection and recognition of same-sex love.

—No urge to merge: It was revealed that the potential merger in 2022 of the long-running Gay Games and the relatively new World Outgames had at least one staunch opponent: Jessica Waddell Lewinstein, the daughter of Gay Games founder Dr. Tom Waddell. She said, "I think the merger will ultimately diminish the experience that the Gay Games has successfully offered over the course of the last 30-plus years. The Gay Games have always revolved around sports, and I, along with many others, firmly believe that this new merger will detract from that."

—Luck of the Irish: Marriage equality became legal in Ireland after legislation passed by popular vote went into effect in November. More than 62 percent of the people voted in favor of the measure.

—Out of bounds: Pro-LGBT organizations and individuals responded to professional tennis player Sergiy Stakhovsky's comment that he would not want his daughter to follow in his footsteps because the women's tour reportedly contains a high proportion of lesbian players. WTA Chairman/Chief Executive Stacey Allaster said, "It's sad to think in this day and age there are people who are narrow minded and speak derisively about women based on sexual orientation."

—Recognition: In a historic ruling, the European Court on Human Rights decreed that all signatories to the European Convention of Human Rights—including countries like Turkey and Russia, where discrimination and violence against LGBT people has recently made headlines—should recognize same-sex partnerships. This ruling could impact 47 countries and 800 million people.

—Pro-trans move: In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, new regulations aimed to curb abuse of the transgender population within the state's 52 penitentiaries. Advocates hailed the rules that ban discrimination against Rio state's approximately 600 transgender prisoners and protect their gender identities while behind bars.

—Daley news: Openly gay British diver Tom Daley ( now engaged to screenwriter Dustin Lance Black ) expressed his "massive relief" at qualifying for the 2016 Olympics by easing into the 10-meter platform final at the World Aquatics Championships in Kazan.

—Venezuelan victory: Venezuela elected Tamara Adrian as the first openly transgender member of its National Assembly, in a vote that took place Dec. 6. She is a member of Popular Will, a left-leaning party, and will represent the capital city, Caracas. She is reportedly the first trans person elected to such a high office anywhere in the Americas.

—Million-dollar listing: The Arcus Foundation and the Novo Foundation announced a five-year philanthropic initiative focused on improving the lives of transgender people worldwide. With lead funding from Arcus, the Global Trans Initiative will deploy grants and philanthropic resources totaling at least $20 million to transgender activists and organizations as well as work intended to ensure that all transgender people live in a world where they are recognized, valued and supported by their families and in society.

—A part of history: Richard Blanco, a gay Cuban-American poet who took part in President Obama's second inauguration, was part of a ceremony at the U.S. Embassy in Cuba where the American flag was raised. Blanco recited a new poem during the ceremony that marked the official reopening of the U.S. embassy along Havana's oceanfront promenade that overlooks the Florida straits.

—There he is: It may not have rivaled the Miss Universe kerfuffle, but Mr. Gay World, Klaus Burkart, resigned. In a letter, Burkart wrote, in part, "I'm very sad to announce that due to personal changes in my life, I will no longer be able to live up to the expectations and serve the community to the extent that the title requires to do so." First runner-up Emmanuel Mass Luciano, Mr. Gay Hong Kong, now has the crown.

—Hirst in line: Keegan Hirst, a British rugby league player, was the first professional in his sport to come out as gay. Hirst told the Sunday Mirror, "At first I couldn't even say 'I'm gay' in my head, let alone out loud. Now I feel like I'm letting out a long breath that I've held in for a long time." Hirst, a father of two, plays for the Batley Bulldogs.

—Daya's demise: Daya Rani Kinnar, a transgender politician who ran for the presidency of India, was shot dead at her home in Ghaziabad. She made national headlines when she contested the 2009 general election as an independent on a transgender platform.

—State of sorrow: In a historic first, the United Nations Security Council was briefed on the plight of LGBT people in territories in Iraq and Syria under the control of the so-called Islamic State. Among other things, Subhi Nahas—who was able to flee Syria via Lebanon and Turkey, eventually reaching the United States—gave testimony of examples of ISIS violence: "At the executions, hundreds of townspeople—including children—cheered jubilantly, as at a wedding."

—Ouster: Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who refused to allow a vote for marriage equality in the Parliament, was ousted from his position and replaced by Malcolm Turnbull through a leadership ballot.

—Crown royal: Queen Elizabeth II, 89, became the longest-ever reigning British monarch ( being on the throne for almost 64 years )—and has passed 22 LGBT rights into law. Just a few of the legal developments that have occurred since Elizabeth has ruled are the passing of the Adoption and Children Act 2002, the repeal of Section 28 and same-sex marriage being legalized in England, Scotland and Wales.

—The vein event: Argentina lifted a 15-year-old ban that prevents gay and bisexual men from donating blood. France ( with a policy that mirror the United States' ) adopted a policy in which men who have sex with men in France will be able to donate blood if they have not had sex with another man for 12 months.

—Dismissal: The Vatican dismissed a priest from his post in a Holy See office after came out to a newspaper as gay and wanted the Catholic Church to change its stance on homosexuality. Monsignor Krzystof Charamsa, a 43-year-old Polish theologian, was removed from his position at the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith after working there for 12 years.

—Isle be there: The chief minister of the Isle of Man opened about his sexuality as discussions begin about same-sex marriage. Manx Chief Minister Allan Bell told the Guardian, "People know that I'm gay. I've never made a secret of it, but no one has ever asked me."

—Justin time: Canada got a new prime minister, and he has a familiar last name. Justin Trudeau, 43—the eldest son of former Prime Minister of Canada Pierre Trudeau ( 1919—2000 ) and Margaret Trudeau—became the country's new prime minister after his Liberal Party won a majority of Parliament's 338 seats. It's been said that Trudeau's win will ease tensions with the United States, and the party is a staunch supporter of what it calls "LGBTQ2 rights."

—Court news: A Philippine court convicted U.S. Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton for the death of transgender Filipina woman Jennifer Laude. Pemberton's lawyers told local media that he admitted to choking her in a nearby hotel room after discovering she was transgender, but claimed she was alive, though unconscious, when he left her. Because Pemberton was convicted of homicide instead of murder, his sentence will be six to 12 years instead of 40.

—PrEParation: France became the first country outside the United States to approve the use of PrEP for those most at risk of transmission of HIV. Health Minister Marisol Touraine announced that fully reimbursable PrEP would be available from mid-December on the national health system.

—Bar none: Terrorist Salah Abdeslam—who was on the lam since the attacks in Paris—was a regular in gay bars in Brussels, Belgium, where he lived. However, in an interview with the Sunday Times, a bartender at one of those clubs reveals the staff assumed he was a hustler. Earlier, authorities indicated they believed Abdeslam was trolling the bars to find easy targets or steal passports.

—Witch perfect: Two male witches tied the knot in the UK's first pagan same-sex marriage. Tom Lanting, 34, and Iain Robertson, 39, who had been together for 12 years, were married in a ceremony in the 16th-century vaulted cellars of Marlin's Wynd in Edinburgh, Scotland.

—Hops to it: British brewery BrewDog has launched what has been called the world's first "non-binary, transgender beer." The beer, named No Label, is created with hops that have "changed sex," according to the company's promotional materials.

This article shared 3614 times since Tue Jan 5, 2016
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