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WORLD Marriage in Greece, UK politics, cruise death, HRC grants
by Andrew Davis
2024-02-02

This article shared 1835 times since Fri Feb 2, 2024
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The Holy Synod of the Church of Greece unanimously agreed at a recent meeting that it is "strongly opposed" to the Greek government's promised bill on same-sex marriage and adoption, Balkan Insight reported. The conservative New Democracy government has promised to bring forward a bill allowing same-sex civil marriages, although it is still unclear when it will be tabled. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told the public broadcaster ERT that the bill will also give same-sex couples the right to adopt, although they won't be able to have children through surrogacy.

In the UK, openly gay Conservative MP Mike Freer will step down at the next general election after dealing with arson at his constituency office in December and receiving death threats, PinkNews reported. Last year, Freer, who came out to colleagues in 2013, urged his own party to end "toxic" debates over LGBTQ+ issues, stating that human rights are "not debatable" in this day and age. As MP for Finchley and Golders Green since 2010, Greer has faced several death threats and was even targeted by Ali Harbi Ali, the man who murdered Southend West MP Sir David Amess in 2021.

In the UK, LGBTQ+-rights activists have praised Labour leader Keir Starmer for promising to bring in a trans-inclusive conversion therapy ban if the party wins the next general election, PinkNews reported. Starmer vowed to tackle "psychologically damaging abuse" by passing a law that would extend the proposed safety net to transgender people. LGBT Humanists co-ordinator Nick Baldwin told PinkNews, "I commend Keir Starmer for his promise to safeguard the rights and wellbeing of vulnerable LGBT people. Banning conversion therapy is not only a matter of legal necessity but also a moral imperative."

During the "world's biggest gay festival at sea," a passenger aboard the Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas, chartered by Atlantis Events (which specializes in cruise vacations for gay men), unexpectedly died, The Advocate reported. The death (reportedly of a Chicagoan) occurred during the Oasis Caribbean Cruise that took place Jan. 21-28; the cruise originated and concluded in Miami. The Oasis of the Seas had about 5,200 guests, according to Atlantis Events' website. In 2022, a passenger died on the same ship during another Atlantis Events chartered cruise.

The Human Rights Foundation has awarded grants to 25 LGBTQ+-rights organizations around the world, per The Washington Blade. The organizations, in 24 countries, will receive 2023-24 Global Innovation Small Grants of up to $5,000 through the HRC Foundation's Global Partnerships Program; Queer Youth Uganda, Transgender Equality Hong Kong, Estonian Trans Alliance, Equal Namibia, PFLAG Panama and China's Anonymous Organization are some of the recipients.

Two Russian courts have handed out the first convictions in connection with what the government calls the "international LGBT social movement" that was designated as extremist last year, per NBC News. One court in the region of Volgograd found a man guilty of "displaying the symbols of an extremist organization" after he posted a photograph of an LGBTQ flag online, and fined him 1,000 rubles (about $11 US). Also, a court in Nizhny Novgorod sentenced a woman to five days in administrative detention; she had been in a cafe when a man approached her and demanded she remove her frog-shaped earrings that displayed rainbows, according to the LGBTQ+-rights group Aegis.

In Canada, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith announced that the province will ban hormonal treatment, puberty blockers and gender-affirming surgery for children 15 and younger, per the CBC. Top and bottom gender-reassignment surgeries will be banned for minors aged 17, although bottom surgery is already limited to adults. Also, parents will need to provide permission before a student 15 or younger can use a name or pronoun at school other than what they were given at birth.

U.S. transgender swimmer Lia Thomas has asked a Swiss sports court to overturn World Aquatics rules that prohibit her from competing in elite women's races, saying the policies are discriminatory, per ESPN. The Court of Arbitration for Sport said that it had registered Thomas' request, but no date for a hearing was decided. In 2022, World Aquatics agreed on rules that banned trans women who have been through male puberty from competing in women's races; the organization also created an "open" category for transgender athletes. Rules were agreed to months after Thomas—then a student at the University of Pennsylvania—won a national college title in the 500-yard freestyle.

A UK court ruled that British actor/conservative activist Laurence Fox had no right to call a drag queen a "pedophile" in a libel case, Out noted. In 2020, Fox had tweeted against regional supermarket chain Sainsbury's for supporting Black Lives Matter. When people, including Crystal and ex-Stonewall chair Simon Blake, called him a racist for the tweets, he replied by calling them pedophiles. Fox had countersued Crystal and Blake as well as actress Nicola Thorp, claiming being called racist was libel; however, the court dismissed his counterclaim, saying the tweets were unlikely to cause serious harm to his reputation.

Longtime songwriting duo Sir Elton John and Bernie Taupin will share this year's Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, NPR noted. "I've been writing songs with Bernie for 56 years, and we never thought that, one day, this might be bestowed upon us," John said in a statement. "It's an incredible honor for two British guys to be recognized like this." This is the third time the Gershwin has been awarded to a pair of artists since the prize was established in 2007; Gloria and Emilio Estefan were jointly honored in 2019, and Burt Bacharach and Hal David won the award in 2012. A televised tribute concert for the pair is scheduled to be broadcast nationally on PBS stations on April 8 from Washington, D.C.

A play about gay British artist Derek Jarman (who was behind films such as Blue and Caravaggio) was recently performed at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre, per The South China Morning Post. Jarman was an LGBTQ+-rights activist in Britain who some say was demonized in the press. Playwright Mark Farrelly found him intimidating—until he read his diaries; inspired, he wrote a one-man play about the avant-garde artist's life. Jarman succumbed to AIDS-related complications in 1994 at age 52, when Farrelly was a teenager.

There's speculation that Finland might elect a gay DJ as its president next month, per LGBTQ Nation. Pekka Haavisto is also the country's former minister of foreign affairs, and he will be in a runoff election against former Prime Minister Alexander Stubb. "You could see that people could never imagine that gay men could be elected. But this has been changing," Haavisto said during one of his campaign events. The rallies feature popular musicians and a set by the 65-year-old (who performs under the name DJ Pexi) that features his favorite songs from the '60s and '70s.

Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras 2024 has announced the headliners for the 2024 festival, PinkNews noted. Out singer Adam Lambert will be leading the Mardi Gras Party at the Hordern Pavilion on March 2 at the annual Pride event, with singer-songwriter Ultra Nate supporting. Also, the festival will also feature "Finally" singer CeCe Peniston and queer Aussie singer-come-actor Keiynan Lonsdale performing. The announcement comes as festival organizers behind the festival voted to throw out police-run "public decency inspections."

The International LGBTQ+ Travel Association (IGLTA) Foundation presented its second annual LGBTQ+ Travel Symposium in New Delhi that will be focused on expanding LGBTQ+ tourism in India, per a press release. The LaLiT New Delhi hosted the symposium for the second consecutive year. Nakshatra Bagwe (he/him)—a filmmaker and founder of The BackPack Travels—was the 2024 India Symposium Fellowship recipient.

Iconic British duo Pet Shop Boys have released the uplifting and reflective single "Loneliness," out via Parlophone, per a press release. They also announced their upcoming 15th studio album, Nonetheless, arriving April 26. The announcement also marks their return to Parlophone Records, the label that released their iconic and massively successful material from 1985 to 2012. Also, this year marks the 40th anniversary of their classic debut single "West End Girls," which was their first global #1 hit. In addition, Pet Shop Boys Dreamworld: The Greatest Hits Live at the Royal Arena Copenhagen is coming to screens worldwide for an exclusive two-night event that concludes Feb. 4.

Kim Kardashian is producing and will be featured in a documentary series about Elizabeth Taylor for the BBC, Deadline noted. Searching for Sugar Man producer Passion Pictures is behind Elizabeth Taylor: Rebel Superstar [working title], which is being shopped globally by Fremantle. Kardashian is one of a range of high-profile stars—including Joan Collins and Margaret O'Brien—who knew Taylor personally and will appear in the three-part box set series for BBC Two and iPlayer. Kardashian recently starred in Ryan Murphy's latest installment of American Horror Story and she is re-teaming with Murphy for a Hulu legal drama; she is also starring in and producing female-driven comedy The 5th Wheel.

The U.S. Figure Skating team will receive a gold medal for their team event at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics after Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva received a four-year ban over a long-running doping controversy, CNN noted. The ban is backdated to Dec. 25, 2021—when the sample was collected; the skater was 15 at that time. Valieva, now 17, had led the Russian Olympic Committee to first place in the team event ahead of the United States and Japan before her doping test came back positive for the performance-enhancing substance trimetazidine.

British actor Tom Hollander has played a murderous gay vacationer in The White Lotus, and he will once again play gay as famous writer Truman Capote in the upcoming FX limited series Feud: Capote vs. The Swans, Out noted. Talking with Vanity Fair about the importance of LGBTQ+ actors playing queer roles, Hollander said, "My own sexuality is sufficiently liberal to have encompassed many different experiences, which are not anyone's business. … As an actor, you have to be able to imagine something and do it with seriousness and take it seriously, approach with a sufficient sort of solemnity and plausibility, and then you imaginatively put yourself into those shoes."

Ireland's The Inn at Dromoland, in County Clare, has been confirmed as the host venue of the world's only LGBTQ+ matchmaking festival for the next five years, according to Clare.fm. The Outing' is expected to attract more than 1,000 LGBTQ+ and straight singles and couples during Feb. 9-11. The hotel's website is www.theinnatdromoland.ie/ .

Pending law-enforcement cases are among the key actions and outcomes from the groundbreaking online protection service put in place to support match officials and players across men's Rugby World Cup 2023, a press release noted. More than 900 social-media accounts—including those belonging to all match officials with public-facing social accounts (including their families) and World Rugby's official channels—were comprehensively monitored by Signify Group during the seven-week tournament held in France. Among the key findings were that match officials received 49 percent of total tournament abuse and that more than 2,000 comments were verified as abusive.

Italian reality stars Alex Migliorini and Manuel Pirelli recently celebrated their one-year anniversary, Queerty noted. "A year of you, of me, of us! A year of real life. I never thought I would feel happy and complete, but you came along and turned everything upside down!" Pirelli captioned a photo of the couple taking a mirror selfie. Migliorini posted, " A year of us. No tear-jerking note. I just want to say thank you for turning my life upside down, thank you for making me a better person and above all thank you because every day you make me feel so special and make me feel like a prince. Love you to death."

At the Louvre in Paris, two environmental activists threw soup at the Mona Lisa, per ARTnews. The orange concoction was splashed across the bulletproof glass protecting the famous painting and there was no damage done to the work. (The canvas has been behind glass since a visitor splashed acid on it in the 1950s.) Written across one of the protestors' T-shirts were the words "Riposte Alimentaire" (Food Response). Riposte Alimentaire is part of a larger coalition of protest groups known as the A22 movement, which also includes Extinction Rebellion and Just Stop Oil.

Also, speaking of the Louvre, art enthusiasts should expect to spend more to see the Mona Lisa next year—when Paris will host the Olympics—as the Louvre will raise its entrance fee by 29 percent, ARTnews also noted. Admission will rise from 17 to 22 euro—the first hike of its kind since 2017. Per a statement from the art venue, the new price will offset rising expenses related to energy and help fund free entry for visitors under 18, students and journalists.


This article shared 1835 times since Fri Feb 2, 2024
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