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Windy City Times 2023-12-13



WORLD Thai marriage law, French bill, Miss Universe, IKEA, activist dies
by Andrew Davis

This article shared 2099 times since Fri Nov 24, 2023
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Thailand Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said that the cabinet approved a draft law on marriage equality and that it would be brought to parliament during a session starting in December, Reuters reported. If the draft law is approved by parliament and receives royal assent, Thailand would become the third place in Asia—after Taiwan and Nepal—to recognize same-sex marriage. In 2022, Parliament debated four laws including same-sex civil unions and marriage equality, but did not come to a final vote before the session ended.

French senators were slated to discuss a bill acknowledging France's role in the persecution of gay people and offering compensation to those still alive, echoing steps taken elsewhere in Europe, France24 reported. The proposal put forward by Socialist Senator Hussein Bourgi tackles a little-known subject in French history—the judicial repression of gay men carried out by the French state both in wartime and after the country's liberation from Nazi rule. An estimated 60,000 gay men were convicted by French courts between 1942 and 1982 under laws that were repealed just four decades ago.

This year's Miss Universe pageant—held in San Salvador, El Salvador—marked several firsts, including having two trans contestants, USA Today noted. They were Miss Portugal Marina Machete, who placed in the top 20; and Miss Netherlands Rikkie Valerie Kolle. Also, Miss Nepal Jane Dipika Garrett was the pageant's first body-inclusive (aka plus-size) contestant and also finished in the top 20; and there was finally a Miss Pakistan, Erica Robin, who wore a pale-pink, floor-length caftan for the swimsuit competition. Miss Nicaragua Sheynnis Palacios won the title, while Miss Thailand Anntonia Porsild was named runner-up and Miss Australia Moraya Wilson placed third.

A Polish court ordered IKEA to reinstate employee Janusz Komenda, who was fired for posting homophobic remarks on the company's internal messaging system—including quoting biblical passages suggesting that gay people deserve to be killed, according to Notes from Poland. IKEA's lawyers plan to appeal to the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, Komenda's attorneys called the ruling "a milestone [toward] protecting religious freedom."

Chilean LGBTQ+-rights activist Luis Larrain died at age 42 after a battle with blood cancer, per The Los Angeles Blade. In 2013, Larrain, along with writer Pablo Simonetti, co-founded Fundacion Iguales. Larrain was the group's president until he stepped down in 2017 to run for the Chilean Congress.

In South Africa, an opera celebrates the life of South African anti-apartheid and LGBTQ+-rights activist Simon Nkoli, who organized Africa's first Pride march in 1990 and who died 25 years ago, according to Reuters. Nkoli: The Vogue-Opera—a mix of classical music, hip-hop, protest songs and dance—tells the story of Nkoli, who helped to enshrine LGBTQ+ rights in the constitution of South Africa, making it the first country on the continent to do so. The opera, directed by Rikki Beadle-Blair, premiered at Johannesburg's Market Theatre on Nov. 17-19.

PinkNews ran a piece on Argentina's new president, far-right politician and former TV celebrity Javier Milei. Milei—a climate-change denier who has described himself as a "tantric sex instructor"—won with 55.69% of the vote on Nov. 19, with center-left finance minister Sergio Massa conceding. According to Outright International, Milei's election poses risks to the country's LGBTQ+ community, with the Donald Trump-endorsed politician previously speaking out against progressive LGBTQ+ policies. Among the people who celebrated his win were Trump, former Brazil president Jair Bolsonaro and X owner Elon Musk.

The Russian Supreme Court will hear a lawsuit filed by the Justice Ministry that calls for the "international LGBT movement" to be designated "extremist" and its activities in Russia banned, RFE/RL reported. The lawsuit will be heard on Nov. 30, according to the ministry's website. In 2013, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the country's so-called "gay propaganda" law, which introduced harsh restrictions against the positive depiction of or raising awareness of homosexuality, which was decriminalized in Russia in the 1990s. Since then, LGBTQ+-rights campaigners and hate-crime researchers have reported increases in violence and harassment against LGBTQ+ people.

And speaking of Russia, a court in that country sentenced lesbian artist Alexandra Skochilenko aka Sasha to jail for seven years after being found guilty of spreading "false information" about the Russian military by replacing a handful of supermarket price tags with messages criticizing the war in Ukraine, Al Jazeera noted. Skochilenko is one of thousands of Russians to be detained, fined or jailed for speaking out against Russia's invasion of its neighbor amid a crackdown on free speech and opposition to President Vladimir Putin. Skochilenko was arrested in her St. Petersburg in April 2022 after a customer at the supermarket found the slogans on the price tags and notified the police.

Amid the war ruins of Gaza, an Israeli soldier unfurled a rainbow flag, reigniting a debate around "pinkwashing" as activists accuse Israel of deploying its liberal image as a tool against Hamas, The Business Standard reported. Israel has the most liberal legal approach to homosexuality in the Middle East, in marked contrast to the Palestinian territories, including the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, where it remains taboo.

Argentina residents Claudia Victoria Salas and Carla Segovia were among those in a group of transgender people—among about 1,200 poor and homeless people—who attended the lunch on the Church's World Day of the poor and had lunch with Pope Francis, Reuters noted. To her surprise, former sex worker Salas found herself seated opposite the pope, who is also Argentinian, at the main table in the auditorium, where the pontiff holds his general audiences in winter. Recently, the Vatican's doctrinal office issued a statement saying trans people can be godparents at Roman Catholic baptisms, witnesses at religious weddings and receive baptism themselves.

Luxury Travel Magazine unveiled five destinations that are perfect for same-sex couples. The countries included Italy, Mexico, Greece, Canada and Iceland. Regarding the latter, the article suggests, "Rent a car in Reykjavik and drive the Golden Circle Route, Iceland's most scenic route, passing through top tourist sites like the Geysir Geothermal Area, Gullfoss Waterfall, and Thingvellir National Park." The full article is at

In the UK, the North Hertfordshire Museum decided that because of historical research and accounts, it will reclassify its displays about Roman Emperor Elagabalus to identify the Emperor as a woman with the pronouns "she/her," according to Out. According to reports from historian Cassius Dio, who lived around the time of Elagabalus, the emperor was "termed wife, mistress and queen," and told a lover "call me not Lord, for I am a Lady."

Actor Bella Ramsey received the Gay Times honor of On-Screen Trailblazer, the publication announced. According to Gay Times, "The Last of Us was faithful to the source material by depicting Ellie as queer. Episode seven memorably saw the beloved character embark on a romance with their friend Riley (Storm Reid). Alongside their acclaimed acting career, Ramsey has continued to use their platform to leverage coverage and spotlight the LGBTQIA+ community." Many also know Ramsey, who identifies as non-binary, from their role on the Game of Thrones series as Lyanna Mormont—the outspoken 10-year-old head of House Mormont.

In the world of tennis, for the first time in the event's history, Canada is the Billie Jean King Cup champion, ESPN noted. Led by Leylah Fernandez and previously unheralded 18-year-old Marina Stakusic, the Canadians claimed the title with a 2-0 victory over Italy in Seville, Spain. Also, the Canadian team collected a record-setting $2.4 million check—the same amount that the men's champions will receive at the upcoming Davis Cup.

Drag Race Germany crowned its first ever drag superstar—and she's Pandora Nox, a World of Wonder press release announced. (Nox was also the first-ever assigned female at birth (AFAB) contestant to win Drag Race, per Out.) As part of the top three finalists for the inaugural season of Drag Race Germany, Pandora Nox went up against Metamorkid and Yvonne Nightstand in the final episode. The full season of Drag Race Germany is now available to stream on WOW Presents Plus.

Openly gay, conservative U.S. billionaire Peter Thiel spoke out against Britain's National Health Service (NHS) while visiting there, The Guardian noted. Back in January, Thiel—the co-founder of Palantir, which just secured a NHS data contract—said, "Highways create traffic jams, welfare creates poverty, schools make people dumb and the NHS makes people sick." Palantir, which Thiel still chairs, immediately distanced itself from the comments and said he was making them as a "private individual." Max Chafkin, the author of a recent biography of Thiel titled The Contrarian, told Time magazine, "Thiel is very committed to the idea of being able to say the unpopular thing."

Amazon is making A Very Royal Scandal—a limited series about Britain's Prince Andrew's disastrous interview with Newsnight journalist Emily Maitlis, Variety noted. Michael Sheen will star as Prince Andrew, while Ruth Wilson will play Maitlis. The series follows on Amazon's past successes with A Very English Scandal, starring Hugh Grant and Ben Whishaw; and A Very British Scandal, with Claire Foy and Paul Bettany.

Icelandic musician Bjork and Spanish singer Rosalia have joined forces to release the new single "Oral," per a press release. Produced by the artists alongside Sega Bodega, "Oral"—which marks the first collaboration between the two—aims to shed light on the cruelty and consequences of open-pen ocean salmon farming in Bjork's native country, Iceland. Bjork rediscovered the song—which she wrote between 1997's Homogenic and 2001's Vespertine—after being reminded of its name whilst on tour in Australia in March 2023, the same month a report was released about the impact of poorly regulated, Norwegian-owned commercial salmon farming operations on Iceland's native ecosystems. People can read more at

Taylor Swift postponed a recent concert in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, because of extreme temperatures, People noted. The decision came a day after an attendee died ahead of her previous night's show. On her Instagram Story, Swift wrote, "The safety and well being of my fans, fellow performers and crew has to and will always come first." Weiny Machado—the father of the unfortunate fan, Ana Benevides—told Brazilian newspaper Folha de S.Paulo, "I have no words to express my pain. She left home to fulfill a dream and came back dead."

This article shared 2099 times since Fri Nov 24, 2023
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