Sixty-four percent of respondents to a Kyodo News poll believe same-sex marriage should be recognized in Japan, the media outlet noted. In the telephone survey, 88.4% also said recent remarks hostile to LGBTQ+ people by a former executive secretary to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida were inappropriate. Japan remains the only country in the Group of Seven, or G-7, that does not legally recognize same-sex marriage or civil unions; many members of the conservative Liberal Democratic Party, headed by Kishida, have opposed the concept.
Anthony Albanese will be the first sitting Australian prime minister to march in Sydney's Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras when he joins the parade for the WorldPride festival, The Guardian reported. The prime minister said he will be joined by the foreign affairs minister, Penny Wong, the first openly gay woman in parliament, when he takes part in the event, which will span Feb. 18-March 5. In 2016, Malcolm Turnbull became the first sitting prime minister to attend the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, but he did not march in the parade.
A World Health Organization (WHO) committee met to decide whether the mpox outbreak, which began in May 2022, is still a global public-health emergencyeven though parts of Africa are dealing with historic infection levels, according to Nature. The outbreak has subsided in countries including the United Kingdom and the United States; however, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), for instance, has reported more than 1,000 suspected cases since October. But even those numbers are a "gross underestimation" of reality, said Dimie Ogoina, an infectious-disease physician at Niger Delta University in Nigeria. Before 2022, almost all of the world's human cases of mpox had been in Africa.
In a related matter, Mexico and most Latin American governments have decided against the mpox vaccination campaign that's helped drive down cases in the United States from more than 400 a day in August to nearly zero, according to a Politico item. Mexican health officials have claimed the shot hasn't yet been proven safe and effective, even though the CDC has found that people who had a dose of the vaccine, Jynneos, were 14 times less likely to be infected than those unvaccinated.
The British Journal of Sports Medicine ran an article entitled "Effectiveness of an educational intervention targeting homophobic language use by young male athletes: a cluster randomized controlled trial." The study involved Australian youth rugby teams; at baseline, 49.1% of participants self-reported using homophobic language within the past two�weeks and 72.7% reported teammates using homophobic language. The conclusions of the trial were that having professional rugby athletes educate youths about anti-gay language was not effective and that other options should be explored. See https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/early/2023/02/09/bjsports-2022-105916.
Czech Republic soccer player Jakub Jankto came out as gay in a video posted online, The Daily Beast noted. The 27-year-old athlete, currently on loan from Sparta Prague to Getafe in Spain, is the first openly gay player in the elite Spanish La Liga division. In part, Jankto said, "Like everybody else, I also want to live my life in freedom without fears, without prejudice, without violence, but with love. I am homosexual and I no longer want to hide myself."
First Minister of Scotland and Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon has resignedbut denied she was forced out by anti-trans backlash, PinkNews reported. Sturgeon has become the target of criticism for her support of trans rightsespecially after the rape-related conviction of trans woman Isla Bryson and her temporary incarceration in a women's prison. Sturgeon said the decision comes from a "deeper and longer term assessment" and that after eight years as first minister, it's time to step aside.
The drag queen who performed a storytelling event for children at London's Tate Britain that sparked a clash among protesters outside the museum said the readings teaching inclusivity were on "an important topic" that she hoped would enable children to begin "living with their true selves," artnet noted. Speaking after the protests surrounding Drag Queen Story Hour U.K., Sab Samuel (who performs as the drag artist and children's author Aida H Dee) said the readings for children were "awesome"but was astonished by how the event got "completely blown out of proportion" by the protesters.
In the latest setback for trans people in Hungary, the country's Constitutional Court issued a ruling that will continue to block new applications from transgender people for legal gender recognition, Human Rights Watch noted. The judgment creates two categories of trans people in Hungary: those who applied early enough to pursue gender recognition (before May 29, 2020) and those who did not. "The Hungarian government's practice sanctioned by the Constitutional Court is one of total disenfranchisement," said Eszter Polgari, the legal program director of Hatter Society, a Hungarian LGBTQ+-rights group.
Also in Hungary, U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Samantha Power met with three LGBTQ and intersex activists in the country's capital of Budapest on Feb. 10, The Washington Blade reported. Budapest Pride President Viktoria Radvanyi and Hungarian Helsinki Committee Head of Advocacy Andras Lederer were two of the activists who met with Power. Lederer described the meeting as a "very honest, sincere conversation on the situation of the Hungarian LGBT+ community."
The Lachlan and Sarah Murdoch Foundation plans to donate $1 million to fund Sydney's Queer museum Qtopia, The Star-Observer reported. Sarah said, "I hope our donation will encourage many more corporates foundations, and families to invest in what will be an amazing institutionan institution that not only protects, respects, and extends the quality of future queer lives, but saves the lives of many young Australians."
Yair Cherki, a religious affairs reporter for Israel's N12 network, came out as gay on his Facebook page, Instinct Magazine noted. The 30-year-old prominent Orthodox journalist used his social networks to announce that he "loves men and God. It is not contradictory. It is nothing new." Cherki also spoke about his faith and his sexuality and the supposed contradictions of the two.
The Russian subtitles for the new Harry Potter universe video game Hogwarts Legacy have reportedly altered a lesbian character's biography to downplay her identity, according to The Moscow Times. In the original version of the action role-playing game, 19th-century archaeologist Nora Treadwell is heard referring to the witch Priya Treadwell as "my wife." However, the game's Russian subtitles replace the word "wife" with "friend," according to a screenshot from Nikita Likhachev, communications director at the Mail.ru Group tech giant. It was not immediately clear if these were authorized Russian subtitles.
On a related note, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling is claiming on a podcast that her anti-trans comments have been misunderstood, according to EW. The podcast The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling (available to stream Feb. 21) will feature interviews with Rowling conducted at her Scotland home as it examines "some of the most contentious conflicts of our time through the life and career of the world's most successful author." In the podcast's trailer, Rowling said, "I never set out to upset anyone" with her commentsbut she added, "I was not uncomfortable with getting off my pedestal."
And in another related item, the BBC received almost 200 complaints after a prominent news presenter failed to challenge a guest who claimed that J.K. Rowling is transphobic, Deadline noted. Talking with Evan Davis, trans woman Stacey Henley slammed Rowling's "nasty views" during a discussion about the video game Hogwarts Legacy on Radio 4's PM show. Rowling's views on transgender issues have drawn criticism over the years, including from some of the Harry Potter film franchise's biggest stars.
U.S. President Joe Biden and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, in a joint statement, declared their support of LGBTQ and intersex rights, The Washington Blade reported. "Both leaders noted they continue to reject extremism and violence in politics, condemned hate speech, and reaffirmed their intention to build societal resilience to disinformation and agreed to work together on these issues," reads the statement, which was issued after they met at the White House. "They discussed common objectives of advancing the human rights agenda through cooperation and coordination on such issues as social inclusion and labor rights, gender equality, racial equity and justice and the protection of the rights of LGBTQI+ persons."
Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, reportedly apologized after a Pride flag flashed up on a Church of England livestream moments after blessings for same-sex couples were approved by its governing body, Yahoo! News noted. He reportedly said, "To those who are offended by that, I would like to apologize sincerely on behalf of the Church for what should not have happened." The position on gay marriage will not change and same-sex couples will still be unable to marry in churchalthough senior figures in the Church have recognized the conversation on equal marriage is likely to continue.
The Metropolis of Chisinau and All of Moldova, known as the Moldovan Orthodox Church, asked the government not to recognize same-sex couples' partnerships as legal or bring in legislation to protect LGBTQ+ couples' rights in line with a recent European Court of Human Rights ruling, Balkan Insight reported. The Strasbourg-based court ruled on January 17 that Council of Europe countries must recognize and protect same-sex families under the law. As one of the members of the Council of Europe, Moldova must comply with the European Court of Human Rights rulings.
A top official at the UK LGBTQ+ organization Stonewall was told that her civil partnership of 15 years cannot be converted into marriage under law, PinkNews reported. Chief executive Nancy Kelley shared a photograph of herself and her wife Jenn Merrick on social media and outlined the setbacks they had trying to upgrade their union to a marriage.
Out actress Kristin Stewart said she was feeling the pressure of the responsibility of being jury president at the Berlin Film Festival, Deadline reported. "In full transparency, I'm kind of shaking. It's a not a weight that I don't fully understand and feel not buckling under, but I'm bolstered by a really beautiful, talented jury," she said. The Spencer actress added, ""It's an interesting thing to be, quote-unquote, 'in charge' of deciding what the best film is. It's such an ephemeral notion. It's quite obviously something that's quite subjective."
Out British actor Ben Aldridge (Knock at the Cabin) has become the latest person to express a desire to portray George Michael in a movie, Instinct noted, citing Attitude. "I would love to do a biopic about George Michaelbecause of his music and because I sing and would love to sing that, and also because I think there's a really, really interesting story in there," he told Attitude. Prior to Aldridge, Theo James (who is straight) also shared about his interest on playing the role of the late singer-songwriter.
Violet Chachki has become the first RuPaul's Drag Race alum to get a dedicated cover of an edition of Vogue, Out noted. Chachki covers Vogue Czechoslovakia's March 2023 issue that marks the 50th edition of the magazine, which was first launched in 2018. Chachki's close friend, collaborator and fellow Drag Race alum Gottmik recently appeared on a cover of British Vogue, notably tapped as one of the "Big Four" Vogue editions (along with the U.S., French and Italian versions of the magazine).
Australian actress/comedian Rebel Wilson discussed her relationship with her girlfriend, Ramona Agruma, on the Life Uncut podcast, Out noted. "My whole family has just been amazing," she began, "Ramona's family hasn't been as accepting. And so in many respects, it has been a lot harder on her to have to make the news public." Wilson came out last summer after the Sydney Morning Herald contacted her to let her know it was going to publish a story about her relationship with Agruma.
In other Rebel Wilson-related news, she and Carly Steel have launched Fluida new dating app designed to help everyone find their perfect match, regardless of their sexual orientation, and reflects Wilson's own journey of discovering love, a press release noted. "You can be on Fluid and be anywhere on the sexuality spectrum," said Wilson. "It's for everyone who is open to looking for love and connections in an inclusive space. Whether you identify as LGBTQIA+, straight or you're just interested in checking out a wider dating pool, we want everyone to feel comfortable using the app and feel like they belong to the Fluid community."
Just in time for Valentine's Day, Fenty Beauty released a new perfume commercial spotlighting the relationship between married couple Fabiola Valentin (a former Miss Puerto Rico) and Mariana Varela (a former Miss Argentina), Out noted. Valentin and Varela shared the Fenty Beauty ad on Instagram, stating, "What a special it was to work for the Fenty eau de perfum fragrance with my #FentyParfumPartner Mariana Varela. It's beautiful when two bodies come together with love." Recently, gay TikTok stars Nicky Champa and Pierre Boo also starred in a perfume commercial for Fenty.
Following the release of their new single "(You) On My Arm," rising Canadian singer/songwriter/artist Leith Ross (they/them) revealed their spring 2023 headline tour dates across North America, the United Kingdom and Europe, per a press release. On the meaning behind "(You) On My Arm," Ross said, "This song is about having a massive crush on someone. It happens, fortunately and unfortunately. I hope it can help with any yearning you may feel the need to do. That's what it has done for me. I love being gay."