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Macklemore and Ryan Lewis in UN campaign; Scotland passes marriage hurdle
World news: Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2013-11-27

This article shared 6162 times since Wed Nov 27, 2013
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United Nations Free & Equal—the UN human rights office's public information campaign for LGBT equality—announced that hip-hop duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis are joining the campaign as equality champions, according to a press release. U.S.-born rapper Macklemore and music producer Ryan Lewis are the latest artists to pledge their support for Free & Equal, joining Ricky Martin, South African singer Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Bollywood actress Celina Jaitly and Brazilian singer Daniela Mercury. Free & Equal was launched in South Africa in late July at an event featuring Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and South Africa Constitutional Court Justice Edwin Cameron.

In Scotland, supporters of the Marriage and Civil Partnerships Bill rejoiced after members of parliament passed the measure in a historic development, according to HeraldScotland.com . It was the culmination of a three-hour debate at Holyrood that heard personal testimony from gay, lesbian or bisexual MSPs such as Tory leader Ruth Davidson; the SNP's Marco Biagi, Kevin Stewart and Jim Eadie; and Patrick Harvie of the Greens. Health Secretary Alex Neil stressed there was "no duty" on any religious celebrant to solemnize same-sex marriages. The vote to pass was 98-15; the legislation is expected to be approved next year.

In Peru, a new billboard campaign in Lima shows some of the country's celebrities posing as if they were same-sex couples to show people that there is nothing wrong with being gay, according to Gay Star News. The billboards are part of the 'Imaginary Couples' campaign, which is modeled on a similar campaign from France by photographer Olivier Ciappa. Lawmakers have been seeking to legalize same-sex civil unions in Peru since 2010; however, the current government of President Ollanta Humala opposes them.

A three-month analysis of Australians' social-media habits found that articles with the word "gay" in the headline were the second most shared in 2012, according to Gay Star News. ( Only articles with the word "you" in them trended higher. ) The Share Wars project found that Australians tended to share stories about gay-rights issues in order to express moral judgement and what they saw as the social norm, and Australians most often shared stories about gay issues in order to show their support.

Winter Journey—a gay love story directed by Sergei Taramaev and Liubov Lvova—won the inaugural London Lion Award for Best Film at the Russian Film Festival in London, according to The Calvert Journal. The film tells the story of the love between a classical singer and a homeless petty criminal on the streets of Moscow. Regarding the prospect of distribution in Russia after fears the film would not get a permit from the Ministry of Culture, cinematographer Mikhail Krichman said, "We have recently made some positive progress in getting the film on to screens in Moscow and possibly elsewhere."

After a long confirmation process, Chicagoan James "Wally" Brewster, an openly gay businessman and fundraiser for President Obama, was confirmed Nov. 14 as ambassador to the Dominican Republic. Vice President Joseph Biden swore in Brewster in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 22. Brewster was nominated for the position in June. Bob Satawake—a managing partner at Jameson Sotheby's International Real Estate and Brewster's life partner—has stated that he and Brewster would be married shortly after the swearing-in ceremony.

The U.S. Senate has approved an extension of a program former President George W. Bush established to fight AIDS worldwide, LGBTQ Nation noted. By voice vote, lawmakers backed the bill to continue the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR. The program, which has been successful in combating HIV/AIDS, especially in Africa, expired Sept. 30.

A new study analyzing the facial differences between gay and straight men has found "significant morphological differences," according to an article in The Independent. Researchers from the Center for Theoretical Study at Charles University in Prague and The Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic conducted the study. Their results found that gay men were rated as more stereotypically "masculine" than heterosexual men, which they said undermined stereotypical notions of gay men as being more feminine-looking.

In another Independent item, scientists are now claiming the long-observed practice of insects and spiders mating with the same gender is actually accidental, despite up to 85 percent of male insects engaging in same-sex acts. The bugs are reportedly in such a rush to reproduce—one of the strongest evolutionary drives—they do not take enough time to inspect their potential mate's gender. The collaborative study—published by Dr. Inon Scharf of Tel Aviv University and Dr. Oliver Martin of ETH Zurich University—found spiders and insects have not evolved to properly discriminate in their mating choices.

Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a statement that's being received as tepid support for Russia's LGBT population, as he criticized what he called "xenophobia" against people of "nontraditional sexual orientation" in a meeting with local politicians, according to Advocate.com . Speaking with leaders of political parties not represented in the State Duma, Russia's parliament, Putin defended the law he signed in June that outlaws "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" in any venue accessible to minors.

An IKEA spokeswoman confirmed to the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet that the company has erased a lesbian couple from the Russian version of its catalog, according to The Guardian. The December issue of the magazine, which will be distributed in most countries in which Ikea operates, contains a long feature about the lives of British-based lesbian couple Clara and Kirsty, and their Ikea-filled interiors. Attorneys were concerned that showing a happy same-sex couple would violate the country's anti-gay propaganda laws.

Brazilian lawmakers are considering putting the issue of legalizing same-sex marriage to a popular vote, On Top Magazine reported. The Human Rights Commission of the Chamber of Deputies is considering three proposals related to gay unions. However, the head of the commission is Pastor Marco Feliciano, a well-known evangelical pastor and an outspoken opponent of LGBT rights who has called AIDS a "gay cancer."

A gay Russian news site has escaped being shut down and getting a huge fine, according to Gay Star News. Complaints were made to media regulator Roskomnadzor about Gay.Ru, with one claiming the Internet portal violates the federal law banning gay propaganda. However, because the site says it's for adults only, the regulator said Gay.Ru wasn't breaking the law.

A British soccer star accused of making an anti-gay gesture during a match is to face trial, Gay Star News noted. While playing for Blackburn Rovers, Colin Kazim-Richards allegedly made the gesture at Brighton and Hove Albion fans during a championship game back in February. The alleged incident happened in Brighton, a city known for its vibrant LGBT nightlife. The trial is slated for Jan. 14-15 at Brighton Magistrates Court.

Greece's Democratic Left party has introduced an amendment that would see the country's civil-unions program for opposite-sex couples who do not wish to marry extended to same-sex couples, according to Gay Star News. In early November, the European Court of Human Rights ordered Greece to allow same-sex couples access to the scheme by which the country has recognized the property rights of co-habiting committed opposite-sex couples since 2008.

George Smitherman—an openly gay liberal who Rob Ford defeated to become mayor of Toronto—is not surprised that Ford has admitted to smoking crack, insisting he's not an addict and refusing to take a leave of absence, according to The Miami Herald. Smitherman, currently Ontario's deputy premier, has his own admitted history of drug use; he told voters during his 2010 campaign that he had beaten a five-year addiction to unspecified "party drugs" back in the 1990s. Regarding Ford, Smitherman said, "For anyone who cared to look, all of the mayor's limitations and issues were there from the beginning, before he started campaigning, so I'm not surprised by what's happening at City Hall and with him—just deeply saddened."

Stockholm was announced as the host of LGBT sporting event EuroGames in 2015, Gay Star News noted. More than 200,000 visitors are expected to flock to the Swedish capital. The EuroGames were first held in 1992 by the European Gay & Lesbian Sport Federation with the aims of fighting discrimination and encouraging integration.

Ana Botella—the conservative mayor of Madrid, Spain—has been accused of trying to shut down Europe's largest LGBTI pride event after the organizers of the Madrid Pride Week were deluged with noise-code violation fines, according to Gay Star News. Botella, the wife of former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Mar�a Aznar, passed a new public noise code in 2011 under which the event has been fined four years in a row, forcing organizers of the annual event to go to court to try to have them dismissed.


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