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World news: Gay athlete risking arrest; Cameroon activist killed
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2013-07-17

This article shared 5442 times since Wed Jul 17, 2013
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New Zealand speed-skater Blake Skjellerup, a gay athlete, will risk arrest and deportation at the Sochi Winter Olympics next year, according to Gay Star News. Skjellerup, 28, will be wearing a rainbow pin to show his support for the LGBT community in Russia. He told Vocativ, "The Olympics are an apolitical movement, however the Olympics is also a celebration of humanity and all sexualities are a part of humanity."

In Cameroon, authorities are investigating the torture and killing of LGBT-rights activist Eric Ohena Lembembe, according to a Human Rights Watch release. Lembembe, executive director of the Cameroonian Foundation for AIDS, was found dead at his home in Yaounde July 15. According to one friend, Lembembe's neck and feet appeared to have been broken, and his face, hands and feet had been burned with an iron. On June 26, unidentified attackers burned down the Douala headquarters of Alternatives-Cameroun, which provides HIV services to LGBTI people.

The U.S. ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, has said that the ban on gay propaganda contradicts the spirit of a democratic society, according to RapsiNews.com . "I am concerned by yesterday's legislative decision @dumagovru [the Russian State Duma]. Discrimination and intolerance contradict the spirit of a democratic society," he posted on Twitter in Russian. The lower house recently adopted in the second and third readings a law introducing administrative liability with a fine reaching 1 million rubles ($30,990) for gay propaganda among children.

A Russian court ruled that the recent St. Petersburg Gay Pride event that resulted in dozens of arrests was, in fact, legal, according to Gay Star News. Every person who attended the protest was arrested, with some even badly beaten by police, and around 60 people were left in custody.Dzerzhinsk regional court judges have now said the people who attended the rally had their right to freedom of assembly ignored.

British Education Secretary Michael Gove has declared war on the "utterly outrageous and medieval" use of the word "gay" as an insult, according to the Daily Mail. He plans to study current laws to ensure they are "properly policed" and could even "sharpen" them in a bid to stamp out offensive anti-gay language. Hate-speech laws in the United Kingdom are found in several statutes; expressions of hatred toward someone on account of that person's color, race, nationality, religion or sexual orientation is forbidden.

In Canada, Alberta's Court of Appeal has upheld the decision to declare a gay man the legal father of a 10-year-old girl—even though it was his former partner who inseminated the child's mother, the National Post reported. The man, known as Mr. H. to protect the girl's identity, raised her with his partner, Mr. R., for the first three years of her life; a part of Alberta's family law had denied him—and any other non-biological father who is not married to the mother—the legal status of "parentage based on intent." The girl lives with Mr. R., her guardian, and this new decision has no effect on her custody arrangements, although it gives Mr. H. standing to challenge them.

An adviser to Europe's highest court, the Court of Justice of the European Union (EU), has said that three gay African men afraid of returning to their home countries because of persecution should be allowed to remain in the EU, according to Courthouse News Service. The men—known only as X, Y and Z—are from Sierra Leone, Uganda and Senegal, respectively. They sought refugee status in the Netherlands, claiming that had a well-founded fear of persecution in their home countries because of their sexual orientation.

In Malaysia, a lawmaker in the state of Penang has appointed a transgender political secretary, considered the first of its kind in the state—or perhaps the entire country, Gay Star News noted. Democratic Action Party assemblyman Teh Yee Cheu has enlisted the help of Hezreen Shaik Daud, 33, to push for the transgender community's welfare. Hezreen—who speaks Malaysian, English, Mandarin and Hokkien (a Chinese dialect)—said she feels nervous and yet also excited about her new position.

A Colombian judge has approved what is considered to be the nation's first same-sex wedding, according to Gay Star News. Carmen Lucia Rodriguez Diaz, a judge with the municipal courts of the capital city of Bogota, has given gay couple Diego and Juan permission to obtain a marriage certificate July 24. Rodriguez Diaz has also written a five-page ruling where she defends her decision to grant the gay couple a legally recognized union, applying the same civil partnership laws used for heterosexual couples.

According to On Top Magazine, only 2 percent of the same-sex marriages in Mexico City end in divorce. As he hosted a mass wedding for 26 gay and lesbian couples, Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said, "The City of Mexico has today 2,513 marriages of people of the same sex. Only this year we have 373 marriages between people of the same sex. An important fact of these couplings: only 2 percent end in divorce." In 2009, Mexico City became the first municipality in Mexico to legalize gay nuptials.

Lesbian, gay and bisexual couples in England and Wales will be able to marry next spring, after the House of Lords gave Third Reading to the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, according to a press release from the organization Stonewall. Subject to consideration of amendments in the House of Commons, the bill will now receive royal assent and become law. Stonewall Chief Executive Ben Summerskill said, "It's impossible to express how much joy this historic step will bring to tens of thousands of gay people and their families and friends."

Researchers from the San Raffaele-Telethon Institute for Gene Therapy (TIGET) and Telethon in Italy have reportedly used HIV to successfully treat six children with two genetic disorders, according to Healthline.com . The scientists targeted two childhood disorders: Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome, which causes severe bleeding and infection because of defective immune function, and metachromatic leukodystrophy, which causes faulty production and maintenance of the substance myelin. The researchers realized that by stripping HIV of its harmful genetic data, they could use its delivery system to create a highly efficient vehicle for getting treatment directly into the DNA of cells.


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