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World news: Leo Varadkar, South Korean army, Russia law, Boy George
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2017-06-20

This article shared 754 times since Tue Jun 20, 2017
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Leo Varadkar has taken office as Ireland's Taoiseach, after a confirmation vote in his favor, PinkNews reported. Varadkar was elected as leader of the governing political party Fine Gael last month, replacing Enda Kenny, who departed the role after 15 years. As he takes office, the new leader ( who is Indian ) is only the fourth openly gay head of government in recent global history. Ahead of the race, the politician went public with his partner of two years, doctor Matt Barrett; however, Varadkar insisted his partner would not take on a prominent role.

A South Korean soldier has come forward describing what it was like to be interrogated by his own military during its "gay witch hunt," Gay Star News reported. In April the Military Human Rights Centre of Korea ( MHRCK ) revealed South Korea's army chief of staff, General Jang Jun-kyu, ordered a hunt to identify gay military personnel. Last month, a military court in South Korea has sentenced an Army captain to six months in prison ( suspended ) for having consensual sex with another male soldier at a private residence. Military service is compulsory for all Korean men, but it is also illegal to be gay or have consensual sex with someone of the same gender.

The European Court for Human Rights ruled that Russia's law banning dissemination of so-called gay propaganda to minors violates the right to freedom of expression, a Hawaii News Now item stated. In the first major court battle for gay activists who have contested the law, the court found in favor of three gay advocates who claimed the law violated the rights to freedom of expression and prohibition of discrimination under the European Convention on Human Rights. The applicants were awarded some 50,000 euros ( $55,000 ) in total.

Boy George has re-recorded '70s hit "Y.M.C.A." to promote youth issues in Australia, TV3.ie noted. George told Australia's Daily Telegraph he was initially reluctant to put his own spin on such a well-known song, adding, ""t's the opposite of the original version. It needs to be, in order to work as a cover. Who'd want to be reinventing the Eiffel Tower in exactly the same way? I thought I would give it a jazzy tone." When the Village People released the track in 1978, representatives of the Young Men's Christian Association ( YMCA ) threatened to sue the band over copyright infringement; they settled out of court and have come to embrace the party tune, which is seen as a gay anthem.

On Aug. 15-17, Fierte Montreal Pride will host a National LGBTTIQA2S Human Rights Conference as part of the inaugural Canada Pride Montreal 2017, a press release noted. The conference will examine complex issues such as queer representation in the media; rape culture and sexual violence in the gay community; and parental advocacy under Trump/Trudeau. Visit FierteMontrealPride.com/en/conference2017/ .

Vietnam has built an LGBT-friendly medical center so the community can have safe access to health care, sexual health information and counseling, PinkNews noted. The center is working toward improving access to health care to trans people especially, as it is currently illegal for people to access hormone of surgery in the country. Although the country has put laws in place to decriminalize this, they will not take full force until 2019, at the earliest.

Out transgender model and LGBTQ advocate Andreja Pejic has marked another milestone, a press release noted. Pejic has landed the July cover of Glamour Spain, and it's her first cover that does not label her as transgender'and acknowledging her moreso as a model of the moment. In 2014, Pejic publicly announced her sexual reassignment surgery. In May 2015, she became the first transgender model to feature in American Vogue and has gone on to be the first to land the covers of Marie Claire Spain and GQ Portugal.

In India, the Central Industrial Security Force ( CISF ) has officially recognized as male a female constable who underwent surgery to change her sex and beat laws that don't allow same-sex marriages, The Hindustan Times reported. In February, three medical boards of the CISF, Central Reserve Police Force and All India Institute of Medical Sciences cleared him as a male officer after four years of bureaucratic vacillation in absence of a precedence and multiple fitness and gender tests. He joined the force as a woman in 2008.

Lesbian Christian rock star Vicky Beeching has been recognized by the Church of England for her contribution to worship, PinkNews reported. On Twitter, she shared an official letter from the office of the archbishop of Canterbury awarding her for her "contributions to contemporary worship music." Beeching told PinkNews, "It seems a very positive step that the Church of England gave an award like this to an openly gay person—and that they mentioned that aspect of my life on the award certificate, rather than brushing it under the carpet."

A Polish couple who were told to "cut their throats" after coming out as gay have defied the haters to marry, PinkNews noted. Polish journalist Jakub Kwiecinski and his partner, David, were subjected to abuse when spoke of their hopes to marry. After the couple were banned from marrying in Poland, they wed in Portugal.

Germany's opposition Greens are pledging not to enter any coalition government after the country's September election without securing a commitment to allow same-sex marriage, a Washington Post item stated. Germany has allowed same-sex couples to enter civil partnerships since 2001 but, while other European countries have since allowed full-fledged gay marriage, much of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative bloc remains reluctant to do so. The traditionally left-leaning Greens hope to be kingmakers after Germany's Sept. 24 election—although the chances of that are unclear.

The Vancouver Pride Society has not announced its StandOUT award nominees, but some local activists have already turned down the annual accolades, DailyXtra.com reported. Nominee Fatima Jaffer, founder of queer South Asian support group Trikone, says she does not know who nominated her but she will not enter the running for the Social Activist award. Jaffer has said the StandOUT awards, which replace the Pride Legacy Awards launched in 2013, seem to ignore the issues of race politics raised by groups like Black Lives Matter across North America. Transgender and sex-worker activist Jamie Lee Hamilton says friends asked for her permission to put her name forward too, but she declined as well.


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