In a landmark ruling, a Japanese court ruled that the government's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, NPR noted. Article 24 of Japan's constitution defines marriage as based on the "mutual consent of both sexes," which is currently interpreted to mean it is legal only between a man and a woman. However, the Sapporo District Court found that banning same-sex marriages violates Article 14 of the Japanese constitution, which bans discrimination due to "race, creed, sex, social status or family origin." The victory was partial, though: The court said that there was no violation of Article 24 because it relates to opposite-sex marriage only, and it rejected the six plaintiffs' demand for government compensation.
A group of local merchants proposed changing the name of Montreal's historic Gay Village to simply "The Village" or "Montreal's Village" in an effort to be more inclusive of the entire 2SLGBTQ community, The Advocate reported. The Montreal Village Business Development Corporation (SDC) is pushing for the change due to widespread use of the term "2SLGBTQ+" in the country (with "2S" standing for "two-spirit"). "Gender and gender inclusion and diversity are very important to me," the SDC posted on social media in an Instagram post about the change. "So here I am, Montreal Village, the largest 2SLGBTQ+ village in the world!" Chicago recently did a similar thing, renaming its historic Boystown to Northalsted to be more inclusive.
In Turkey, a transgender teen was the victim of a vicious acid attack, allegedly by her ex-boyfriend, that has left her blinded and covered in third-degree burns, out.com noted. According to a report in Bianet, Asya Ceyahira Syrian refugee living in Istanbul who recently celebrated her 18th birthdayhad stepped outside her home on March 9 when a man threw hydrochloric acid over her face and upper body. Friends told Bianet that while Ceyahir is receiving proper medical care, she is being subjected to homophobic abuse and treatment from staff.
With last month's repeal of the anti-sodomy law in the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, the number of countries with anti-LGBTQ laws dropped to 71down from 92 early in this century, according to 76Crimes.com . This month, Jamaican/Canadian activist Maurice Tomlinson has been in court arguing to overturn Jamaica's laws against same-sex intimacy. Other Caribbean activists are preparing or have already filed lawsuits challenging the buggery and indecency laws in Barbados, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada and Saint Lucia.
In China, three attorneys and a law professor have launched the country's first non-profit foundation dedicated to training legal talents and offering legal aid to the LGBTQ community, Global Times reported. According to the founders, one major reason they wanted to start the non-profit is because many members of the LGBTQ community in Chinawhich has more than 70 million members, according to estimateslack access to useful information about the law and legal aid when they experience discrimination and unequal treatment at places such as campuses and workplaces.
In Tunisia, an appeals court released a prominent women's-rights defender and LGBTI activist who had been jailed on charges of "insulting police and abuse of morals," haaretz.com reported. Rania Amdouni, 26, a member of the human-rights group Damj, Tunisian Association for Justice and Equality was arrested this month in Tunis, the country's capital. Activists said Amdouni had increasingly been targeted since February as she became a visible part of the daily protests in the capital.
Following an announcement from Pope Francis and the Vatican that the Catholic Church will not bless same-sex unions, singer Elton John tweeted a scathing call-out of the church, out.com noted. "How can the Vatican refuse to bless gay marriages because they 'are sin,' yet happily make a profit from investing millions in 'Rocketman'a film which celebrates my finding happiness from my marriage to David?? #hypocrisy," the "I'm Still Standing" singer posted. According to reports, the Vatican contributed close to $1 million to the film, which includes gay sex scenes.
EU ambassadors approved sanctions against two Chechen officials accused of involvement in the repression of LGBTQ+ people in Chechnya and other individuals suspected of being opponents of the Moscow-backed leader of Russia's North Caucasus region, Ramzan Kadyrov, RFE/RL reported. Several EU sources said, under condition of anonymity, that Abuzayed Vismuradov and Ayub Katayev were targeted with asset freezes and visa bans under the EU's new human-rights sanctions regime that took effect in December.
Religious Zionism chairman Bezalel Smotrich said that he has "a problem with LGBT culture," and appeared to compare same-sex marriage to incest, The Times of Israel reported. Smotrich, who has a history of controversial statements on the issue, was asked in an Army Radio interview for his reaction to comments made by his far-right party's No. 11 candidate, Eldad Rabinovich. Rabinovich had spoken out against the openly gay Public Security Minister Amir Ohana (Likud) and said the Religious Zionism party would work to "restore naturalness" to Israeli society.
In Spain, transgender-rights activists had planned on going on a hunger strike until the ruling left-wing coalition submits draft legislation to allow gender self-determination without a doctor's diagnosis, ABC News reported. Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's Socialists have been accused of blocking a draft for a new trans-rights law proposed by the minority coalition partner, the far-left United We Can. Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo, a Socialist, has said that allowing freedom to choose one's registered gender without a gender-dysphoria diagnosis and treatment could undermine the rights of other people, especially women.
In Australia, the City of Sydney recently ordered the removal of an image of St Mary's Cathedral from advertising of an LGBT concert after Sydney's Catholic Archbishop described it as "frustrating and upsetting," ABC.net .au reported. Events group Heaps Gay staged a "Live and Queer" variety show in the St Mary's Cathedral forecourt as part of an outdoor performance series being run by the council. On Facebook, Archbishop Anthony Fisher wrote that because Cathedral Square was council land, "the decision about the content of the concert and its advertising is unfortunately not ours to make."
Tanzania's COVID-denying president John Magufuli, 61, died amid speculation that he had contracted the disease, according to PinkNews. A divisive figure, he leaves behind a controversial legacy as one of Africa's most prominent coronavirus skepticsand a world leader in homophobia. Magufuli presided over a regime rife in LGBT+ intimidation and human rights abuses, including deportations, "witch hunts" and forced anal examinations. Samia Suluhu Hassan has succeeded him, becoming the country's first woman president; she will serve the remainder of Magufuli's second five-year term, which does not expire until 2025, Al-Jazeera noted.
After a three-way lip sync between Bimini Bon Boulash, Lawrence Cheney and Tayce, Cheney was named the winner of the second season of Drag Race U.K., out.com reported. Cheney is the first Scotland-based queen to win the crown and, in the finale, indicated that she has no interest in relocating to London. "I've said a lot of things this season so I'm going to keep this one short and swift: Who's ready for the purple reign?," Cheney said.
The International LGBTQ+ Travel Association (IGLTA) opened registration for its 37th Global Convention, set for Sept. 8-11 at the W Atlanta-Midtown, a press release noted. Registration includes an opening reception, daily networking opportunities, diversity/marketing sessions and a media networking event. Visit IGLTAConvention.org .
Queen Elizabeth is reportedly appointing a "diversity czar" after Meghan Markle accused the royal family of racism during her bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey, according to a Page Six item that cited The Daily Mail. In addition to the hire, the monarchy will reportedly engage in an upcoming "listen and learn" exercise in which the royals will "seek independent views" on how it can improve diversity efforts encompassing minorities and the LGBT community.
James Cameron's Avatar is again king of the all-time worldwide box office, having taken the title back from Avengers: Endgamethanks to a very robust China reissue, Deadline noted. The overseas gross is now an estimated $2.05 billion, with $2.81 billion worldwide. The current China re-release represents the highest reissue opening weekend in the market since movie theaters returned last July.
Multi-platinum-selling, and Grammy-, Brit-, Golden Globe- and Oscar-winning artist/songwriter Sam Smith released Love Goes: Live At Abbey Road Studios, on Capitol Records, a press release announced. The intimate 13-track set was Smith's only live performance of 2020 and marked an exclusive performance of music from their third album, Love Goes. Recorded with a full band at the iconic venue, Love Goes: Live At Abbey Road Studios includes new takes on "Diamonds," "Promises," "Kids Again," global hit "Dancing With A Stranger" and a special performance with collaborator Labrinth for the title track.
Africa's Mavin Records and the nonprofit organization (RED) are joining forces to fight COVID-19 with the launch of Dance (RED) Save Lives Vol. III, on April 2, according to a press release. Launched March 19 as the kick-off to the album pre-save campaign, Ayra Starr's "Ija" (TOKiMONSTA Remix) is available to stream and download worldwide, with proceeds going to support (RED)'s efforts to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on life-saving HIV/AIDS programs in sub-Saharan Africa. The album includes Aluna, Ayra Starr, Becky G, Burssbrain, Crayon, Chris Tucher, Di'JA, Fela Kuti, Felix Da Housecat, GuiltyBeatz, Johnny Drille, Kaku, Korede Bello, LADIPOE, LILO, Michael Brun, Moody Jones, RDD, Rema, Riel, Sigag Lauren, Simi, Sofi Tukker, Tiwa Savage, TOKiMONSTA, Tuyo, UNIIQU3, Virgil Abloh and Vitamin String Quartet.
Duran Duran's Nick Rhodes and British singer/violinist Wendy Bevan have released their debut album, Astronomia I: The Fall of Saturn, via Tape Modern, a press release noted. The albumreleased March 20, the spring equinoxis the first of a four-part series, each with 13 songs. See ada.lnk.to/Astronomia-I .