International News, March 8-14, 2019

International News, March 8-14, 2019

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China to remove LGBT scenes from “Bohemian Rhapsody”

The Freddie Mercury and Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” will have all overt LGBT scenes removed for its release in China, it has been reported.

At least a minute will be cut from the film in order to secure permission for it to be screened in Chinese cinemas, including scenes where Mercury (played by Rami Malek) kisses other male characters. Scenes of drug use will also be removed.

China’s reluctance to allow LGBT-themed films to reach cinema audiences was underlined when a domestic TV streaming service, Mango TV, was reported to have censored Malek’s acceptance speech for his Best Actor Oscar on Feb. 24, replacing the phrase “gay man” with “special group” in its subtitles.

Although a major commercial success all over the globe, “Bohemian Rhapsody” is likely to secure only a small-scale release in China — unlike Oscar-winners “Moonlight” and “Call Me By Your Name,” which failed to be released there at all. However, the live-action film “Beauty and the Beast,” with its brief  “gay moment,” was given a significant release in 2017, earning a reported $85 million.

“Bohemian Rhapsody” has already attracted considerable criticism for perceived “straightwashing” in its originally released form, with suggestions that it glossed over Mercury’s real-life hedonist persona. However, LGBTI activist Gary Nunn argued in the Guardian that the film was “inspiring” and a “job well done.”

Jerusalem pizzeria garners substantial fine for refusing to serve gay man

A Jerusalem pizzeria has been ordered to pay a $4,500 fine after refusing to serve a gay man who was wearing a rainbow T-shirt.

Sammy Kanter alleged that he was denied service at Ben Yehuda Pizza in Jerusalem, Israel, during the week of the city’s Pride Festival in August 2018.

The U.S.-born rabbinical student was wearing a rainbow T-shirt when he entered the pizza shop with a friend.

Kanter recalled: “After we entered the shop, the employee greeted us and handed out menus. Immediately, his demeanor shifted after looking at my shirt.

“He asked if I was gay. After responding ‘Yes,’ he simply said, ‘Get out.’”

The student took legal action against the pizza shop over the discriminatory treatment, and this week Jerusalem Small Claims Court found in his favor.

According to the Israel Religious Action Center, the court has ordered the pizza shop to pay 16,000 shekels ($4,500) in damages to Kanter.

In a release, Kanter said: “I couldn’t believe I was being discriminated against for who I am in the place where all Jews are supposed to feel at home. I was proud to take the fight public, to make sure businesses know this is not OK, and at the same time tell those who might be afraid to be who they are that it’s also celebrated in this land. After going through the trial and winning, I now feel like I truly belong here, to know that discrimination based on sexual orientation is truly against the law.”


Pakistan opens public school for transgender students

Pakistan has opened a public school exclusively for transgender pupils. The school is believed to be one of the first of its kind in the country.

Approximately 20 students will attend the school, which was established by the government-run literacy department in the Lodhran District, in the Punjab province.

Chief spokesperson of the chief minister of the Punjab in Pakistan, Shahbaz Gil, shared a video taken in the classroom of the school on Twitter.

He wrote: “Transgender school established in Lodhran city under Literacy department. Under Usman Buzdar’s leadership Punjab will grow and prosper inshallah.”

Last year, the region’s School Education Department directed authorities to make sure transgender children are treated as equals in government-run and private schools across the area.

Last May, Pakistan’s parliament passed a law guaranteeing basic rights for transgender people, in a move hailed by advocates as historic for the country.

The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act allows people to self-identify as male, female or non-binary and to have that identity recorded on official documents, including passports and identification cards.

Human rights activists praised the bill for helping to pave the way for greater acceptance and inclusivity at a time when members of the trans community continue face disproportionate violence and discrimination.

— Compiled by Larry Nichols

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