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Thousands march for marriage in Taiwan

Thousands marched in Taipei Oct. 26, holding rainbow flags, colorful placards and balloons in support of a bill reviewing Taiwan’s stance on same-sex marriages.

The participants came from far and wide — from Taiwan, several Asian countries, the United States and Europe — for the 11th annual parade in Taipei’s business district.

Albert Yang, a spokesperson for the event, said the event’s “theme is ‘The voice of the sexual sufferer,’ which was the main appeal for our very first parade. We want to show support for those who are still suffering or being discriminated against for their sexualities.”

The rally came as Taiwan’s Parliament on Oct. 25 decided to begin reviewing a bill to amend the Civil Code in order to allow same-sex marriages.

The bill, proposed by opposition Democratic Progressive Party lawmakers, is set to be debated by the Parliament’s judiciary committee.

In August, Taiwan authorities agreed not to revoke the marriage status of a local transgender couple, in a move activists called a “benchmark” ruling for opening the door to same-sex marriages.

Following that, in September, more than 1,200 activists in Taiwan took part in a mock “wedding banquet” in a bid to press for an amendment to the Civil Code.

Nobel Prize winner targeted by antigay clerics

Bangladesh’s only Nobel Prize winner, Muhammad Yunus, has been lambasted by state-backed religious hard-liners for supporting gay rights.

The Islamic Foundation, a government religious body, called for mass protests to be held against Yunus on Oct. 31.

The perceived crime of the 73-year-old was to sign a joint statement along with three other Nobel laureates in April 2012 criticizing the prosecution of gay people in Uganda.

Sara Hossain, a top lawyer and LGBT-rights activist, said, “It’s unfortunate that he’s facing the kind of campaign that I faced in 1994,” adding that she was “forced to leave the country because of the campaign by the fundamentalists, which the then-government actively supported.”

As a professor of economics, Yunus developed the concepts of microcredit and microfinance. These loans are given to entrepreneurs too poor to qualify for traditional bank loans. In 2006, Yunus and Grameen Bank received the Nobel Peace Prize ”for their efforts through microcredit to create economic and social development from below.”

Critics of Yunus have accused him of “sucking the blood” from the poor.

Gay med student kills self in Italy

A 21-year-old man has taken his own life in Rome, with investigators saying he talked of suffering homophobia in a letter written before his death.

Police have identified the man as Simone D (last name unknown), a medical student at the University La Sapienza.

It’s claimed he suffered homophobic bullying at the university.

The young man climbed onto the roof of a former pasta factory in Rome and threw himself off the 11th floor during the early hours of Sunday morning.

“I’m gay,” he said, in a note discovered after his death.

”Italy is a free country but homophobia exists and whoever has this attitude must deal with his own conscience,” the letter added.

The man’s grieving parents say they were not aware he was gay nor that he had been suffering from problems.

It is the third case in Rome in less than a year of a young gay person taking his own life.

A 14-year-old boy threw himself off a balcony in August, and another teenager died in November 2012 by hanging himself.

Iconic lesbian bar to close in London

On Oct. 21, Candy Bar, London’s only bar primarily catering to lesbians, announced it will shut down for good in January. The iconic bar on Carlisle Street is being forced to shut down due to the cost of rent, skyrocketing by nearly 50 percent.

Since Kim Lucas opened the establishment in 1996, Candy Bar has changed hands many times, but remained the go-to place for lesbians in the Soho district of London to meet and hang out with other women. However, this will not be the case come January as current owner Gary Henshaw is reluctantly planning to move the women into the basement of Leicester Square’s gay bar, Ku Bar, on neighboring Fifth Street.

Candy Bar, which has been hugely popular over the years, was even featured on U.K. TV’s Channel 5 in 2011, in what was promoted as a “brand-new documentary series revealing the lives and loves of the staff and regulars at the world-famous Candy Bar in London, a lesbian night club with a reputation for decadence.”

— compiled by Larry Nichols

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