International News: May 3-9, 2019

International News: May 3-9, 2019

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Armenian trans woman gets threats after parliament speech

A transgender woman, whose address to the Armenian parliament caused uproar, says she has received death threats and is avoiding leaving her home because of security concerns.

Lilit Martirosian, who founded the transgender organization Right Side, told parliament’s human rights committee recently that her group had recorded more than 280 instances of violations of transgender rights.

The three-minute speech brought immediate criticism in parliament. The head of the human rights committee complained Martirosian violated the session’s agenda and disrespected parliament.

The next day, hundreds protested outside parliament, demanding that the podium where Martirosian spoke be fumigated.

Many Armenians resist recognizing rights of sexual minorities.

“I received many calls with threats directed against me personally. People would say I needed to be murdered, butchered,” Martirosian said.


Brazil bank ad featuring a transgender woman and black Brazilians taken off air

A bank commercial that featured a transgender woman and several young black Brazilians has been removed after Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro intervened.

Bolsonaro, a former army captain with a long history of disparaging comments about minorities and gays, took office Jan. 1. Since then, he has frequently weighed into cultural wars.     

In a statement April 26, Banco do Brasil said the ad was taken off air after Bolsonaro spoke with the state-run bank’s president, Rubem Novaes. The statement said the director of marketing had been fired but did not provide further details.

The president’s office declined comment.

Set to music, the ad shows several Brazilians going about their day.

News of the ad’s removal comes a day after Bolsonaro reportedly said Brazil should not become a “gay paradise.”


Party leader calls LGBT rights an imported threat to Poland

The chairman of Poland’s conservative ruling party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, has called the LGBT rights movement a foreign import that threatens the Polish nation.

Kaczynski, a member of parliament who wields tremendous influence as leader of the Law and Justice party, also said during a lecture on patriotism that “everyone must accept Christianity” in Poland, and questioning the Roman Catholic Church is unpatriotic.

The positions Kaczynski expressed April 24 in the central city of Wloclawek came as Poland’s powerful Catholic Church is under scrutiny for child sex abuse by clergy and superiors who might have covered up for pedophile priests.

Poland also has two elections this year: the vote next month to elect the country’s representatives to the European Union parliament and a national election in the fall.

With his remarks, Kaczynski seemed to be tapping into the belief held by some Poles that liberal values have been forced on them as a result of Poland joining the EU 15 years ago.

Kaczynski’s Law and Justice party won the last general election in 2015 — the height of Europe’s mass migration crisis. The party’s campaign included portraying Muslim refugees as a threat to Poland.

In recent weeks, Law and Justice has described the LGBT rights movement as another danger to Polish families and children. LGBT rights have become increasingly visible as more Polish cities and towns hold gay pride parades, even places known as bastions of the church and conservative values.

Miroslawa Makuchowska, from the group Campaign Against Homophobia, said she thinks the party chairman’s anti-LGBT message was meant to distract attention from corruption scandals in the Catholic Church and in the Polish government.


Study finds Germans increasingly hostile to asylum seekers

A study has found that Germans are increasingly hostile toward asylum seekers, whereas prejudices toward other minorities such as the homeless and LGBT populations have declined.

The Friedrich Ebert Foundation, which commissioned the survey, said April 25 that 54.1 percent of respondents expressed negative opinions about asylum seekers, up from 49.5 percent in 2016 and 44 percent in 2014.

Germany saw a significant increase in migrant arrivals in 2016, with almost 746,000 people seeking asylum that year. Numbers have since declined again, with about 186,000 asylum requests last year.

The representative telephone survey, which is conducted every two years, involved 1,890 respondents and took place between September and February.

The study also examined, for the first time, how receptive Germans are to conspiracy theories. It found about that 46 percent of respondents believed secret organizations influence political decision-making.

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