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Lesbian murder in South Africa called ‘hate crime’

A lesbian who was raped and murdered in a South African township recently was clearly attacked because of her sexuality, gay advocates say.

Noxolo Nogwaza, 24, was found dead in an alley in Kwa-Thema Township, South Africa, on April 24. She was a prominent local gay-rights activist and a member of the Ekurhuleni Pride Organizing Committee, the key LGBT organization in Kwa-Thema.

Reports said she had been stoned and stabbed with broken glass, and there was evidence she had been raped.

Nogwaza was killed in the same town as Eudy Simelane, a lesbian footballer who was raped and murdered in 2008. Her death sparked international concern about so-called “corrective rapes” of lesbians in South Africa.

Human Rights Watch said it was likely Nogwaza was killed because she was gay.

“[Her] death is the latest in a long series of sadistic crimes against lesbians, gay men and transgender people in South Africa,” said HRW researcher Dipika Nath. “The vicious nature of the assault is a potent reminder that these attacks are premeditated, planned and often committed with impunity.”

Nogwaza was found dead after an altercation with some men in a bar. No witnesses have come forward and no arrests have been made.

Pakistani court OKs third-gender category

A landmark decision has been made in Pakistan to allow trans people to choose their own gender category on selected official documents.

The country’s Supreme Court has ruled that Pakistanis who do not consider themselves to be either male or female should be allowed to choose an alternative sex when they apply for their national identity cards.

The move was unexpected given the conservative climate in Pakistan, a country where trans people — known as hijras — are often ridiculed and forced to live in isolation. Many are unable to secure jobs other than sex work or begging, or even find a place to live away from their families.

Illiteracy rates among trans Pakistanis are also reportedly high.

With the new gender category comes new hope, and some trans men and women are already being employed by the government in the drive to crack down on tax evaders.

Brit PM: Ban gay TV kisses

British Prime Minister David Cameron wants to restrict same-sex kisses on television to late-night adult viewing hours.

The Conservative leader supports a ban on same-sex kisses during the “pre-watershed” viewing hours before 9 p.m. An independent review may recommend the restriction.

Brooke Vincent, who plays lesbian Sophie Webster on the soap opera “Coronation Street,” took to Twitter to accuse Cameron of not supporting equality. The 18-year-old actress tweeted, “I swear David Cameron’s meant to be supporting equal rights. I just think if same-sex kisses are what he is prioritizing and concentrating on changing, our country’s in trouble.”

IKEA ad draws Italian ire

A top Italian official thinks an ad for Swedish furniture-maker IKEA featuring a gay couple holding hands is “in bad taste” and in opposition to Italy’s constitution.

Secretary of State for Family Policy Carlo Giovanardi says he thinks it is “in bad taste that a Swedish multinational comes to Italy to tell Italians what they should think.”

The ad, which features two men holding hands, reads, “We are open to all families.”

Sweden has had marriage equality since 2009 and civil unions since the early ’90s. By contrast, Italy does not recognize same-sex unions.

“I think that many clients of Ikea will not find this pleasant,” said Giovanardi, adding that while the company has a right to court any type of customer it pleases, the ad “is in direct opposition to our constitution, which says that family is founded on a marriage.”

Facebook fans fund gay Bollywood film

Bollywood’s only openly gay director said his film, “I Am,” released April 29, was funded in large part through money he collected on his Facebook page.

Onir, who goes by a single name, said producers were scared off by the film’s risqué content, which includes child sexual abuse, police harassment of gay men and a single woman’s search for a sperm donor.

He said he raised about one-third of the $675,000 budget through donations, most of them from Facebook contacts.

Onir is no stranger to struggling to get his films made. His first film, “My Brother ... Nikhil,” sat for years because producers were bothered by the story of a gay Indian man who fights discrimination after being diagnosed with HIV.

— compiled by Larry Nichols

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