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World news: HIV poll; Disney art project; Putin's claim
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

This article shared 9268 times since Tue Dec 9, 2014
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Survey results from the U.K.'s National AIDS Trust ( NAT ) show that ignorance about HIV is a global problem, according to . The survey of nearly 2,000 people showed that a third of the public were in the dark about how HIV is transmitted. Twenty-eight percent identified an incorrect path of transmission, while 45 percent of the population were able to identify all correct paths of transmission. In addition, two-thirds thought that there was no way to prevent an HIV-positive mother from transmitting the virus to her unborn child and 25 percent did not know HIV could be transmitted by sharing needles.

Aladdin, Prince Eric and John Smith are just three of the Disney princes who are stripping down for a new World AIDS Day campaign, courtesy of an Italian artist and activist, according to the Huffington Post. The "Hello Boys" project, which puts a humorous and sexually conscious spin on eight Disney princes, is the brainchild of artist aleXsandro Palombo. "We live in a society that bombards us with explicit messages and this has radically changed the sexual habits, especially those of young people who often change partners nowadays," Palombo said in a statement. "People who have a relationship are younger and younger, and they don't use condoms."

Russian President Vladimir Putin has reiterated his claim that his country is not anti-gay, according to On Top Magazine. The Russian leader said during an address that "healthy family" and traditional values were among Russia's top priorities. Last year, Putin signed into law bills that prohibit the promotion of "homosexual propaganda" to minors and ban adoptions by gay parents. Putin denied the nation was anti-gay, calling such criticism "a label forced on Russia by other countries which have criminal responsibility for people of non-tradition sexual orientation."

After backlash over the Sochi, Russia, games—overshadowed by the host country Russia's anti-gay laws—the International Olympic Committee ( IOC ) has made another attempt at formally declaring its inclusiveness of the LGBT community, MSNBC reported. Members of the IOC unanimously approved a measure to rewrite the Olympic Charter's non-discrimination policy, adding sexual orientation to the list.

A Latvian politician has stepped down after a series of anti-gay tweets, according to . The New York Observer translated the tweets from Inga Priede, the head of the Unity party in the Kandava Region, where she said, "Thank God Nazis shot gays." Priede went online to discuss same-sex marriage with her fellow party members as the controversial topic may well come up in the Parliament. But her tweets, directed toward Latvian gays, caused a firestorm as she wrote that Latvian villagers were "in shock" after hearing that same-sex marriage could be legalized.

Poland's first-ever openly gay mayor, Robert Biedron, has officially taken up his office, according to Pink News. Biedron garnered 57 percent of the ballot ( 15,308 votes ) to become the mayor of Slupsk, which has 90,000 residents. The 38-year-old beat other candidates, including Zbigniew Konwinski of the ruling party. Speaking at his swearing-in ceremony at Slupsk City Hall, he told AFP, "Poland is changing; it's undergoing a large transformation. Poland will continue to open up."

Global registry-services provider Afilias announced the first phase of the introduction of a new generic top-level domain that is dedicated to the LGBT community and those who serve it: dot LGBT or .LGBT, according to Business Wire. The first phase is the "sunrise" period, which is limited to eligible trademark holders and is open Jan. 5-Feb. 4, 2015. The .LGBT domain also has a strict acceptable-use policy that protects the community from possible misuse of the space.

His Majesty King Letsie III and Her Majesty Queen 'Masenate Mohato Seeiso of Lesotho were among those participating in World AIDS Day, attending an event the AIDS Healthcare Foundation ( AHF ) sponsored at the Thaba-Bosiu cultural grounds, according to Business Wire. AHF hosted more than 160 events around the world to promote testing and treatment of HIV/AIDS; international commemorations will launch global campaign to connect 20 million HIV-positive people to treatment by the end of 2020.

To celebrate World AIDS Day, and help put an end to the stigma surrounding the disease, England's Prince Harry agreed to unveil a secret as part of his "Feel No Shame" campaign, according to the Huffington Post. "I get incredibly nervous before public speaking no matter how big the crowd or the audience," Harry said in a video posted to YouTube, "and despite the fact that I laugh and joke all the time I get incredibly nervous—if not anxious, actually—before going into rooms full of people when I'm wearing a suit." Backed by Sentebale, which Harry co-founded, initiative organizers hope to get celebrities and advocates to open up in the future.

Ireland's taoiseach—the country's equivalent to a prime minister—has been photographed enjoying a drink in a gay bar, according to Gay Star News. The photo was taken and posted on social media by gay rights activist Rory O'Neill, better known by his drag name, Panti Bliss. The taoiseach, Enda Kenny, joined the Fine Gael LGBT group, who were having a Christmas get-together drink in Pantibar in Capel Street, Dublin.

In Canada, Saskatchewan has changed its human-rights legislation to protect transgender people from discrimination and strike down a law that let landlords weed out gay renters, noted. The province updated its Human Rights Code to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity. Gender identity is also included in the human-rights legislation of the Northwest Territories, Ontario, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Greek Justice Minister Haralambos Athanasiou categorically said same-sex marriage was impossible under the current government, despite criticism from the European Court of Human Rights ( ECHR ), Gay Star News reported. He told Mega TV, "I will not discuss [same-sex marriage]; I will not even consider it." However, Athanasiou added Athens "cannot turn a blind eye" to a 2013 ECHR ruling that its failure to extend civil unions to gay couples violated the European Convention on Human Rights. He said a committee had been set up to review the laws governing marriage and explore the terms of civil unions but was limited to "issues concerning social security insurance, pensions and inheritances."

The Canadian Olympic Committee announced a new pro-LGBT initiative aimed at creating a safe and welcoming place for LGBT athletes, according to SheWired. This announcement came on the heels of the news that 2012 Olympic rhythmic gymnast Rosie Cossar has come out as openly lesbian. Cossar, who has recently retired from the sport, was captain of the Canadian team during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

Organizers of a Pride parade in Russia have been granted what some have called a paltry amount of compensation after their event was banned from going ahead, Pink News reported. A court in Kostroma ruled that activist Nikolai Alexeyev was entitled to "moral damages" after a Pride event he organized was forcibly cancelled. However, the amount turned out to be 3,000 rubles—or fewer than 60 U.S. dollars. The same court ordered authorities to pay Alexeyev more than 8,000 roubles ( about $150 U.S. ) in October as pecuniary damages and legal fees.

Canadian figure skater Eric Radford has come out publicly as a gay man, according to Gay Star News. Radford was part of the team that won the silver medal at the Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, this year. He and partner Meagan Duhamel are three-time defending Canadian champions in pairs skating and have won bronze at the World Championships the past two years. Radford told a Canadian reporter in Sochi that his boyfriend was among those there to support him; however, the journalist didn't mention the boyfriend in the article.

In England, a man and woman have been arrested in connection to what police describe as a "homophobically aggravated assault" in Manchester, according to Gay Star News. Jean Claude Manseau, 25, was beaten unconscious by a gang of 15 people after singing songs from the musical Wicked on the city's tram system. Last month, the Manchester Lesbian and Gay Chorus performed on Manchester's trams to "reclaim the city" for the LGBTI community.

Also in England, a gay man has died after being consensually wrapped in cling film during a sex session—leading to dehydration and a fatal heart attack, Gay Star News noted. The fetish, mummification, involves wrapping someone up in a material like duct tape or plastic to look like an Egyptian mummy. Back in August, Richard Bowler called for an ambulance when his partner—the mummified ( and ketamine and methamphetamine-fueled ) Alun Williams—fell ill. Bowler, as well as "informal carer" David Connor ( who was reportedly present at the scene ) are charged with Williams' manslaughter.

Warsaw's Tolerance Rainbow in Savior Square has been torched again in the latest arson attack on the symbol of LGBTI tolerance in the city, according to Gay Star News. A drunk 25-year-old set fire to the rainbow arch, located near the Church of the Holiest Savior. This incident is only the latest attempt to burn the installation since it was erected in Warsaw in 2012; it has been attacked six times and, in November 2013, it was reduced to ashes after it was burnt by Polish nationalists who were holding an Independence Day march.

Security guards at a gym in Austria are stripping off and going undercover—to stop men having sex in the sauna, Pink News noted. Staff at the Parkbad Fitness Center in Linz, Austria, decided to go on an all-out offensive to tackle the problem of same-sex hookups pushing away other customers. It is not known how the naked guards apprehend men—but staffers at the center say two pairs of men had already been caught having sex in the sauna. They have been banned from returning to the gym.

An actor has stripped off to fight homophobia and save an LGBTI Lithuanian movie project, according to Gay Star News. Denisas Kolomyckis hopes You Can't Escape Lithuania, a queer road movie, will challenge prejudice in the country that has a Protection of Minors law, which is similar to Russia's anti-gay propaganda legislation. Kolomyckis will star in the film and by getting naked is following in the footsteps of his movie's director; 24-year-old Romas Zabarauskas has already promised to strip off if the cash is raised to make the feature film via a crowd-funding campaign.

This article shared 9268 times since Tue Dec 9, 2014
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