April Ashleyreportedly the first Briton to undergo gender-confirmation surgeryhas died at 86, according to an Out item that cited The Liverpool Echo. Ashley, who was born in Liverpool, was the first known trans model to appear in an issue of Vogue; she was shot by David Bailey in 1960 for British Vogue. In addition to modeling, Ashley began an acting career and appeared in The Road to Hong Kong. At 77, in 2012, Ashley was appointed an MBE for services to transgender equality.
Conservatives were outraged over an exhibit at a Bible museum in Germany that claimed there are LGBTQ themes in Biblical studies, and hosted a performance of a play presenting Jesus as a transgender female, Metro Weekly noted. The special exhibit, "G*tt w/m/d," first opened in June and closed Dec. 19 at the Bibelhaus Erlebnis Museum, and it explored "the diversity of gender identities from biblical and modern times." The Bibelhaus also hosted the play The Gospel According to Jesus, Queen of Heavena play written by British transgender author Jo Clifford in which biblical stores are "reimagined by a transgender Jesus"on Dec. 15.
Tunisian lawyers and rights activists filed an appeal against the imprisonment of two men for same-sex acts, part of efforts they hope can decriminalize homosexuality, The Times of Israel reported. The men concerned, who were sentenced to a year in prison since a lower court rejected their first appeal in July 2020, are appealing to the country's top court to overturn "a cruel sentence that violates international standards," said their lawyer, Hassina Darraji. Under the North African country's criminal code, a person found guilty of consensual same-sex acts receives up to three years in prison.
As of Jan. 1, people in Switzerland were able to legally change their gender by visiting the civil registry office, putting the country at the forefront of Europe's gender self-identification movement, Reuters reported. Switzerland now joins Ireland, Belgium, Portugal and Norway as countries on the continent that allow a person to legally change gender without hormone therapy, medical diagnosis or further evaluation or bureaucratic steps.
Gay Brazilian Olympic diver Ian Matos died at age 32 following a non-COVID-related lung infection, The Advocate noted. Matos had spent the last two months in the hospital fighting the infection until his death on Dec. 21, according to The Independent. The diver won three bronze medals in the 2010 South American Games, and placed eighth in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, where he competed in the men's synchronized three-meter springboard with diving partner Luiz Outerelo.
A Moscow court ordered the closure of the Memorial Human Rights Center, in the latest blow to Russian civil-society groups, CNN.com reported. The center was charged with multiple violations of Russia's "foreign agent" law and "justifying terrorism and extremism" in its publications, a lawyer for the organization, Ilya Novikov, told CNN. The decision came a day after Russia's Supreme Court decided to close its sister group, Memorial International.
In Britain, judges have been told that it is a matter of "common courtesy" in cases involving transgender people to use the personal pronoun and name that a person prefers, and that reporting restrictions could be used to prevent a previous name being disclosed, The Guardian reported. In updated guidance in the 540-page "equal treatment benchbook," they were also reminded that there is a high level of transphobic hate crime, which is believed to be greatly underreported, and that trans people may be apprehensive about coming to court, particularly when there was a risk of possible disclosure of their medical history.
Lesbian pop singer and pro-democracy activist Denise Ho was arrested Dec. 29 at her home by Hong Kong's national security police, and was released on bail the following day, The Advocate noted. Ho was one of seven people arrested during an operation targeting the pro-democracy online media group Stand News, per The Guardian. Police have accused Ho and the others of "conspiracy to publish seditious material," which CNN noted is a colonial-era crime.
Tennis player and number-two seed Alison Van Uytvanck, a member of the LGBTQ+ community, won the Open BLS de Limoges title in Limoges, France, with a 6-2, 7-5 win over number-eight seed Ana Bogdan in the final, WTATennis.com noted. Van Uytvanck, of Belgium, did not drop a set all week en route to the titleher third of the year following the Nottingham ITF W100 on grass in June and the inaugural Nur-Sultan 250 event indoors in September.
One of the stars of top Kenyan band Sauti Sol, Willis Austin Chimano, has come out as gaytelling a local outlet he no longer wants to live a lie, the BBC noted. Sauti Sol is one of Africa's biggest male bands and won the 2016 MTV Africa Music Awards. Same-sex relations in Kenya are punishable by up to 14 years in prison; a challenge to this law was rejected in 2019.
Recently, Cuba's first LGBTQ hotel welcomed guests after the island reopened its borders, Macau Business noted. The Gran Muthu Rainbow Hotel, in Cayo Guillermo, opened its doors for the first time in December 2019 before having to close them once again over the COVID-19 pandemic. With a hotel aimed especially at the LGBT community, Cuba is "taking important steps with the new family code," Marlis Delgado, head of sales at the lodging center, told AFP, according to BE Latina.
The Six Flags amusement park in Mexico City dropped a ban on "affectionate behavior" on its grounds, DW.com reported. The development came after criticism members of the LGBTQ community were singled out for kissing while in line for a ride. LGBTQ+-rights activists took to social media to call for a "kissathon" at the park before Six Flags said it was rescinding the policy.
In Britain, drag is set to become a regular fixture in north Kent, as a classic pub prepares to relaunch as an LGBTQ+-friendly venue, Kent Online noted. The Hufflers Arms, in Dartford, announced it will shut temporarily at the end of the month before returning Jan. 8, 2022. The new venue will be the first of its kind in that town, and has generated fanfare online.
Burmese model/actor Paing Takhon was sentenced to three years in jail for speaking out during protests in Myanmar, in the same week he was named the "Most Handsome Face" of 2021 by entertainment site TC Candler, Yahoo! News noted. He was arrested in April, following his public support of protestors on social media. (His social-media accounts have been taken down.) More than 7,000 people have been arrested and more than 1,000 killed in relation to the protests.