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  WINDY CITY TIMES

WORLD Canadian groups, Moroccan refugee, LGBT+ Rights Ghana, trans heroine
by Windy City Times staff
2021-02-21

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From $400,000 in funding for a national initiative aimed at expanding two-spirit advocacy, to $239,000 to improve LGBTQ youth housing access in the Prairies, 76 Canadian community groups are being sent nearly $15 million from the federal Liberals to help build up their capacity to do things like hire staff and solidify organizational structures, CTV News reported. Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth Bardish Chagger and Minister for Women and Gender Equality Maryam Monsef made the announcement after the call for proposals went live last spring. Known as the LGBTQ2 Community Capacity Fund and first announced in the 2019 federal budget, the intent is to put federal dollars toward strengthening pro-LGBTQ+ groups.

A Moroccan man seeking asylum in the United Kingdom over alleged mistreatment due to his sexuality has said he faced homophobic abuse while housed in Wales, the BBC reported. Abderrahim El Habachi, 28, said he felt "unsafe" living alongside some men from North Africa and the Middle East after he arrived in Cardiff in 2017, and called for dedicated LGBTQ+ housing. El Habachi's application for asylum in the United Kingdom and a subsequent appeal have been rejected and a new application is pending.

The group LGBT+ Rights Ghana has opened an office in Accra. On Twitter, the group (@LGBTRightsGhana) posted photos of its opening night/fundraiser. The organization initially launched in 2018 online; according to its website, "the initial plan was to empower the LGBT community in Ghana to cause the change that we deserve." However, apparently not everyone is feeling the love and wants to empower the community; Executive Secretary of the National Coalition for Proper Human Sexual Rights and Family Values Moses Foh-Amoaning has called on the government to shut down the office, according to MyJoyOnline.com .

A transgender woman is being hailed as a hero after she stepped in to pay for a cancer patient's treatment, LGBTQ Nation reported. In a country known for being intolerant of LGBTQ people, Nigerian social-media influencer Bobrisky has become a symbol of generosity and empathy. When Kolawole Solomon Eguntola posted a photo of his withered body on Instagram in September along with a plea for help, Bobrisky stepped up to pay the 2.5 million naira ($6,000) for his chemotherapy; the average monthly income in Nigeria is about $500.

For decades, LGBT members of Britain's military were systematically dismissed from the ranks and stripped of their medals—but now, after years of campaigning by those targeted by the policy, the government has outlined a pathway for them to get their medals back, The New York Times reported. The military has not released figures on how many people were affected before Britain lifted a ban on gay people serving in the military after the European Court of Human Rights ruled in 2000 that the policy violated basic human rights. Until then, military personnel could be dishonorably discharged from service and stripped of their medals for their sexual orientation.

Korean same-sex couple So Seong-wook and Kim Yong-min filed a lawsuit against the national health insurance service (NHIS) over a canceled dependent status, according to a press release from Gagoonet. The couple—who have lived together since 2017 and had a wedding ceremony in 2019—couple inquired in February 2020 whether they can obtain a dependent status as a same-sex couple. The NHIS replied that Seong-wook is eligible for "a dependent status" through Yong-min. Through his employer, Yong-min applied for his partner's dependent status and Seong-wook obtained the dependent status on Feb. 26, 2020. The couple shared the story to the public through a media report on Oct. 10, 2020—and then NHIS immediately deleted Seong-wook's dependent status. The agency then imposed a new premium for Seong-wook on Nov. 23, 2020.

The new head of the UK intelligence service MI6 apologized publicly to officers who were thrown out of the spy agency before 1991, when it operated a "wrong, unjust and discriminatory" ban on LGBT staff in its ranks, The Guardian reported. Richard Moore, also known as C, released a short video statement acknowledging that "committed, talented, public-spirited people had their careers and lives blighted" because they were told gay people could not serve. Also, problems continued after 1991, Moore stated; LGBT staff who were employed when the ban ended were treated badly for not previously disclosing their sexuality, he said, and others who joined after 1991 were made to feel unwelcome.

A celebration of Black and LGBT culture was "hijacked" on Zoom, the BBC reported. The University of Edinburgh student union event was interrupted by racist slurs, the chanting of homophobic slogans and pornography. About 50 people were given a link to join but it was not password-protected; one guest speaker was reduced to tears. In a statement posted to Instagram, the university's African and Caribbean Society, which hosted the event with other student groups, said, "This was a horrible occurrence that should never be repeated."

Re the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, this year's theme is "Rise," celebrating resilience and strength in a year of challenge and hardship, according to 7News.com .au. Celebrations will culminate in the 43rd Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade on March 6, albeit in a COVID-safe way, this time at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG). British pop star Rita Ora will headline the event to be broadcast live by SBS. A maximum of 23,000 spectators will be allowed into the SCG, as the parade moves away from the traditional large floats and instead focuses on the sparkling costumes, puppetry and props.

An Australian newspaper, The Sydney Star Observer, has been accused of body-shaming and racism after a controversial social-media post, according to The Sydney Sentinel. The post, made on the outlet's Facebook page (before Facebook blocked the content of media outlets in Australia) reWCT: "Would you like to participate in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras march at the SCG this year? Star Observer is looking for 12 buff volunteers to join us on our float. If you fit the bill and would like to participate please call [number redacted*]." The post, which quickly ignited controversy, was deleted by the magazine a short time later—but not before being widely shared across LGBTQI social media pages and groups, and attracting comments slamming the publication for alleged body shaming, discrimination and reinforcement of outdated stereotypes. In 2019, Mumbrella reported that the Star Observer had been rescued from voluntary administration by its current owner, Out Publications.

In the United Kingdom, a member of Parliament received "vile, homophobic, disgusting" abuse after tweeting a Valentine's message to his boyfriend, the BBC reported. Luke Pollard posted a photograph of them together but was faced with some "pretty awful things" in response. There were homophobic comments in the replies to his tweet, as well as references to the age gap between Pollard and his boyfriend. "Quite a lot of people will find any reason to have a go," Pollard said. "Sydney is a few years younger than me, and, because he's from Chinese heritage, he looks a few years younger than that as well."

Sir Desmond Swayne is a Conservative Member of British Parliament with a history of anti-LGBTQ votes and rhetoric. In a recent posting to his blog, he blamed his past views on "intellectual laziness," Queerty noted. The 64-year-old Tory MP for New Forest West, who was a senior aide to former Prime Minister David Cameron, called his anti-gay past "shocking." Among other things, Swayne supported a ban on promoting homosexuality in schools in the 1990s and into the 2000s.

LGBTQ activists in Myanmar have joined the growing protest movement against the Feb. 1 coup that ousted Aung San Suu Kyi and her democratically elected government, The Washington Blade reported. Min Khant Zin—a drag queen who works at a gay bar in Yangon, the country's largest city—told the Blade that he and his friends received a lot of media attention after they decided to participate in the protests while in drag. Khant Zin, who identifies as queer, added this decision was deliberate.

A South Korean television broadcaster blurred some scenes of men kissing in the Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody and cut other scenes entirely, out.com noted. According to the Korean Herald, the Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS) cut two scenes that showed men kissing and also manually blurred men kissing in the background. However, South Korean influencers Backpack and Kim—who make up the TV Mango Couple channel on YouTube, where they vlog about their lives as partnered gay men—issued the Bohemian Kiss Challenge, asking their 211,000 subscribers to join them in posting pictures of themselves handing out smooches.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have been stripped of their duties, as Buckingham Palace confirmed the pair will not be returning to work as members of the royal family after they relocated to the United States, Deadline noted. In a statement on Friday, the Palace said the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will return to the royal family all their honorary military appointments and royal patronages.


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