LGBT ally and former British rugby player Ben Cohen has credited Elton John for "changing his life" by convincing him to get a hearing aid, according to Pink News. Cohen, 34, said he had been told by doctors that he had lost a third of his hearing, and had tinnitus in his mid-20s; however, he refused to wear an aid because he thought they were "cumbersome and ineffective." After introducing himself to Cohen, John sent him to get "state-of-the-art hearing aids."
Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan has pardoned an allegedly gay man who was sentenced to jail for sodomy, according to Gay Star News. Bello Magaji, a former military officer, was sentenced to five years in prison for allegedly raping four male teens. Magaji was one of a dozen convicts who had earned the president's pardon.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is calling for a ban on foreign gay couples adopting Russian children, Gay Star News reported. Putin has instructed the government and Supreme Court to prepare amendments to the current procedure by July 1. U.S. citizens are already banned from adopting Russian children, which was enforced Jan. 1.
In Saudi Arabia, a journalist and editor at a daily newspaper was arrested in Riyadh for planning to attend a "gay party," using make-up and possessing alcohol, according to Gay Star News. The kingdom's religious policeknown as the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vicearrested the unnamed man. It is unclear what charges will be brought against the man, but it is unlikely that he would be trialed for sodomy, which could be punishable by death in Saudi Arabia.
The BBC has apologized after labelling South African civil servant Rufus Lekala "Gay Marriage" in an on-screen caption, according to the Guardian. Lekala, chief harbormaster at Transnet, South Africa's national transport company, spoke to BBC World News about a summit in Durban. He was accompanied by an on-screen graphic that read "Gay Marriage," presumably due to confusion with coverage of the debate in the United States over legalizing marriage equality.
The Irish state is refusing to issue new birth certificates to transgender people, despite recognizing such documentation from people born outside the country, according to IrishCentral.com . In setting out its policy on allowing transgender people to marry a person of the opposite sex, the Irish government has described the work as "in progress" on this issue, adding that "gender reassignment is not yet recognized in Ireland." Transgender people can have passports and driving licenses reissued in their new gender, but not new birth certificates.
In England, more than 200,000 people have signed an online petition on SumOfUs.org demanding the Daily Mail reform the publication and fire columnist Richard Littlejohn over his connection to the death of transgender schoolteacher Lucy Meadows, according to a press release. "Lucy Meadows' tragic death clearly touched a nerve with people in the UK and across the globe," said Kaytee Riek, SumOfUs.org Campaign Manager. "Richard Littlejohn crossed a line he shouldn't have been anywhere near when he attacked Lucy, and he needs to be held accountable. However, the Daily Mail holds ultimate responsibility for what it prints, and must reform itself to ensure no other lives are ruined by what it publishes."
In Brazil, a research survey carried out by Connecta/Ibope revealed that nearly half of the residents support same-sex marriage while two-thirds of Brazilians are in favor of adoption by gays and lesbians, according to Gay Star News. The online research was based on a sample of 2,363 respondents.
Russian soccer player "Hulk" Givanildo Vieira de Souza has spoken out about homophobic and racist fans of his club, according to Gay Star News. Zenit St. Petersburg made 40 million euros ($51 million) to bring he Brazilian champion to Russia; however, a leading Zenit fan club soon published a manifesto against the club signing Black or gay players. In an interview with R-Sport, de Souza said, "I respect fans of any skin color and any sexual orientation. The people who are talking about dark-skinned people and gays are just not thinking."
Tim Cook, the openly gay chief executive of Apple, took the unusual step of apologizing to Chinese customers over the company's warranty policy and said he would improve customer service in the country, the New York Times reported. China Central Television criticized the U.S. company's after-sales iPhone customer service in China because it only gives a one-year warrantywhile in China the law is two years. It also said that phone owners have to pay about $90 to replace a faulty back cover.
In other Apple-related news, the company has rejected a Vancouver publisher's vintage gay graphics book, according to Straight.com . The book in question is Lust Unearthed, by university professor Thomas Waugh (first published in print in 2004). Responding to Arsenal Pulp Press associate publisher Robert Ballantynewho wanted the book uploaded as an eBookApple sent its guidelines that ban works with "explicit or objectionable content."
In Uganda, a gay hate march was held near slain gay-rights activist David Kato's burial ground and home, in the village of Mukono, on Easter, according to Gay Star News. Pastor Solomon Male and Rev. Thomas Musoke led a group of about 100 people who demanded that "promoters of homosexuality" be prosecuted. Pepe Julian Onziemadirector of the group Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), who was present at the protestsaid that Male claimed Uganda's government is not doing enough to pass the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.
In the wake of Carly Rae Jepsen's cancellation of her Boy Scouts of America (BSA) performance due to the group's exclusion of gay people, Scouts Canada is reaffirming its stance on inclusivenessand says the "Call Me Maybe" singer can attend its jamboree, according to CTVNews.ca. The co-ed Scouts Canadawhich is distinct and separate from the BSAclearly stipulates it "does not discriminate for reasons of gender, culture, religious belief or sexual orientation." In May, the BSA's 1,400-member National Council is expected to consider easing the ban.
Two transgender women have added their voices to the We Are Jamaicans campaign to encourage respect and understanding for LGBT people, Gay Star News reported. "I am not a threat to society," says Whitney in her video, while Tiana Miller says, "I don't have life easy. I feel alienated, always being bashed by society, but that doesn't change who I am or who I want to be" in another clip. The group's videos can be seen at www.youtube.com/user/EqualityJA.
LGBT activists in Nepal are reporting increased public and police harassment in recent months, according to Gay Star News. Human Rights Watch have said that attacks have escalated from threatening text messages and being followed by people wearing masks to abductions and arrests. In the past two months, national LGBT organization the Blue Diamond Society has documented dozens of arrests of LGBT people under the Public Offense Act.
The Uruguay Senate passed marriage equality legislation April 2, according to Advocate.com . Experts see the development as a sure sign Uruguay will become the fourth nation in Latin America to establish marriage equality in some sense, as President Jose Mujica intends to sign the measure (which has to return to the lower house to approve changes) into law. The country currently allows civil unions for same-sex couples.