A joint sitting of both houses of Bhutan's parliament approved a bill to legalize gay sex, making the tiny Himalayan kingdom the latest Asian nation to take steps toward easing restrictions on same-sex relationships, Reuters reported. Sections 213 and 214 of the penal code had criminalized "unnatural sex," widely interpreted as homosexuality. Lawmaker Ugyen Wangdi, the vice chairperson of a joint panel considering the changes, said 63 of the total 69 members of both houses of parliament had voted in favor of amending the code to scrap the provision; six members were absent. In a press release, OutRight Action International Executive Director Jessica Stern said, "For too long, the human rights of LGBTIQ people have not been recognized. Today, Bhutan chose to tell a different story and create a different future for itself. The decriminalization of homosexuality in Bhutan is a huge achievement."
Nearly two dozen North American companies have signed up to mentor LGBT+ refugees, preparing them to find jobs while overcoming obstacles like discrimination in their new homelands, Openly News reported. The companies will help with resume writing, cover letter reviews and interview skills, said the Tent Partnership for Refugees. An initial 23 companies committed to mentoring at least 50 LGBTQ+ refugees, totaling about 1,250 people over the next three years in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Among the participants are eyewear maker Warby Parker, the Hilton hotel chain and consulting and professional services company Accenture.
French Minister for European Affairs Clement Beaune publicly came out as gay in an interview with French gay magazine Tetu, in which he also promised to support LGBTQ communities in Poland, Politico reported. "I am gay, and I have no problem saying it," he told the magazine. Beaune promised he would visit a Polish "LGBT-free" zone early next year, as well as bringing his support to a Polish pro-choice organization.
The first gay Indonesian policeman to sue the conservative country's police force for wrongful dismissal due to sexual orientation was back in court, saying he wants to be reinstated, Reuters reported. Tri Teguh Pujianto, a 31-year-old former police brigadier, was fired in 2018 after 10 years on the jobafter police in a different town apprehended him and his partner on Valentine's Day when they were saying goodbyes at his partner's workplace. A survey by the Pew Research Center this year also showed that 80% of Indonesians believe homosexuality "should not be accepted by society."
Turkey is prosecuting 18 students and one academic for their participation in a Pride event at a local university last year. If convicted, they face up to three years in prison. Pride and all other LGBTQ+ events have been banned in Turkey since 2014, but a court lifted the ban and allowed last year's event to take place; however, police still ignored the ruling and responded violently to those who attended.
A group of LGBT people in Europe appealed to the Philippine government to allow Filipino LGBT and same-sex couples to enter the country, especially this Christmas season, ABS/CBN News reported. Through the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) Resolution No. 85, Filipinos and their foreign spouses and children are allowed to enter the Philippinesbut the travel advisory is not explicit whether it includes married same-sex couples. In an appeal to IATF, sent to different Filipino embassies in Europe, people said the government should clarify whether the term "spouse" in the advisory includes same-sex/LGBTQ partners who are legally recognized in many European countries.
Sir Elton John revealed it might be a while before fans get to hear another album from him, NME.com noted. The music icon told Record Collector Magazine that another record from him isn't needed "at the moment" and he's currently enjoying fatherhood after coronavirus derailed plans for his "Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour," adding, "I have no idea what the fuck I'm going to do nextand that feels great." And here's something people may not know about John: He owns more than 120,000 CDs and 15,000 vinyl records.
Qatar will allow Pride flags to be flown at the 2022 World Cupbut the deeply homophobic country will still expect visitors to respect its "culture," according to PinkNews. Homosexuality is illegal in the Arabic country, with same-sex relations being punishable with up to three years in prison or the death penalty for Muslims under Sharia law. World Cup Chief Executive Nasser Al-Khater told the Associated Press, "We are open and welcominghospitable. We understand the difference in people's cultures. … Just like our culture is a culture of this world, we also expect people to respect our culture. I think there's a balance and there's a feeling that people will respect people from everywhere."
Julia Hoggett has been appointed the first-ever out gay chief executive of the London Stock Exchange (LSE) in its more than 300-year history, PinkNews noted. Hoggett previously worked at the Financial Conduct Authority, where she was since 2014; she will start her new role in 2021. She is the second woman, following Dame Clara Furse, who ran the exchange from 2001 to 2009.
A gay man in Mexico made headlines after a recent TikTok video of him went viral, out.com noted. In the video, Henry Jimenez invited his mother to the upcoming wedding with his fiance; however, rather than welcoming the news, she called her son a sinner who was making her sicker and going to be the cause of her death. The call left Jimenez (a 21-year-old photographer and influencer from southern Mexico) and viewers in tears.
Queen guitarist Brian May said that although Wayne's World was released after Freddie Mercury died, the singer actually saw the band's iconic moment shortly before he passed away and "laughed and laughed" at the famous "Bohemian Rhapsody" scene, Yahoo! noted, citing SPIN. May revealed the tidbit during the premiere of Wayne's World Reunited ApartPARTY TIME! Many of the cast membersincluding Mike Myers, Alice Cooper, Dana Carvey and Aerosmith's Steven Tylerparticipated in the event. It turned out Myers gave a VHS tape to May, who recalled, "I took it round to Freddie not long before he went and showed it to him. He loved it, he laughed and laughed. He was very weak, but he just smiled and laughed."
Canada's Oscar entry for Best International Feature is the Sri Lankan queer coming-of-age film Funny Boy, directed by Deepa Mehta, according to a press release. With Ava Duvernay's Array as the distributor, Funny Boy follows Arjie from boyhood to his teens in Sri Lanka of the '70s and '80s. Raised in the elegant world of wealthy Tamils, a minority group in a largely majority Sinhalese country, Arjie loves dressing up like a bride for pretend wedding ceremonies with his girl cousinsalthough he knows of the whispers of his other relatives. When his magnetic, free-spirited aunt Radha returns to the family home and embraces Arjie for all that he is, the two develop an unbreakable bond.
On Dec. 5, Lunko Housea trans-led, community-based organization based in Kenya for gender diverse and sexual refugees, asylum seekers, and refugee and host-community youthshowcased its tailor-made 2020 fashion line at the East Africa International Fashion Week, according to a press release. The refugee run fashion house made a runway splash, resulting in an award of honor at the event. Executive Director Lunko Caitlyn Lubega said, "The opportunity for us being selected and considered to exhibit our work on a runway came at a time when we had just concluded our strategic plan to focus on skills development for our beneficiaries and clothing as an income-generating activity. We took it as a tool of refugee-host community integration so we may enhance our capacity to contribute productively to our host community, network, and expose our ability as refugees among others. We were honored and thrilled to present our work at East Africa Fashion Week."
Billionaire tech investor Peter Thiel backed a Berlin start-up aiming to make psychedelic drugs to treat mental-health disorders in a $125 million funding round, CNBC.com reported. ATAI Life Sciences, which describes itself as a drug development platform, was set up to acquire, incubate and develop psychedelics and other drugs that can be used to treat depression, anxiety, addiction and other mental health conditions. Earlier this year, media outlets reported that Thiel, who is openly gay, financially backed anti-LGBTQ+ Republican Kris Kobach (who eventually lost his race).
British actor Rupert Everett has apparently changed his tune about Madonna, Page Six noted. In his 2006 autobiography, Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins, the openly gay actor referred to Madonnawho he was close friends with before co-staring in 2000 box office bomb The Next Best Thingas a "whiny old barmaid." However, on a recent appearance on the Lorraine show, Everett said of the "Borderline" singer, "We are friends. I'm a great admirer of her as a person. I think she as well is an amazing woman. And where tenacity has taken her is unbelievable. And so I have great respect for her."
Canadian singer Shawn Mendes discussed rumors about his sexuality, according to Queerty, citing The Guardian. "There was a desperation for me to come out as being gay, which is such a ridiculous thing," he said. "I got upset because I know people who are gay who haven't come out yet and I know the suffering they experience because of that." In 2018, Mendes told Rolling Stone he was struggling with the feeling of trying to "convince" people he is straight.
Speaking of Mendes, he apologized to fellow singer Sam Smith for using the wrong pronouns at iHeartRadio's Jingle Ball, according to Page Six. Smith identifies as non-binary and uses the pronouns "they, them, and theirs;" Mendes called Smith "he" during the live show. "Oh @samsmith I'm so sorry for refferring [sic] to you as a 'he' for your jingle ball introduction," Mendes wrote on his Instagram Stories. "It absolutely slipped my mind. Wont happen again … Sending you so much love ! Also you absolutely are one of the funniest people I've ever met!" Smith appeared to have accepted Mendes' apology, writing back on their Instagram Stories, "We're all learning together. Happy holidays, all my love xx."
The International Olympic Committee announced that breakdancing, or breaking, will make its debut as an Olympic sport at the 2024 Summer Games in Paris, according to EW.com . Breaking was previously featured at the 2018 Summer Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires. The Paris Games will also feature skateboarding, sport climbing and surfingthree sports set to debut in 2021 at the Tokyo Games, which were postponed a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.