International News

A group of international lawyers researching the criminalization of homosexuality has met with the Vatican secretary of state and urged the Holy See to publicly oppose such laws and “conversion” therapies for gays.

The Vatican said Cardinal Pietro Parolin promised the delegation members he would relay their research to Pope Francis.

Being gay can still get you killed in many places around the world. News reports on Brunei’s latest decision to implement Sharia law against gays and lesbians made the nation seem like an outlier.

Homosexuality was already punishable in Brunei by a jail term of up to 10 years. Under the new laws, those found guilty of gay sex can be publicly whipped or stoned to death.

Brunei is not alone. Eight countries have similar Sharia laws against homosexuality. In those eight countries, the laws include the death penalty for being gay or lesbian. Worldwide, 76 countries have laws against sexual activity by LGBT people. That is nearly half of the world’s 195 countries.

George Clooney calls for boycott of hotels over anti-gay law

George Clooney is calling for a boycott of nine hotels in the United States and Europe with ties to the sultan of Brunei, which next month will implement Islamic criminal laws to punish gay sex by stoning offenders to death.

The Hollywood actor wrote March 28 in Deadline Hollywood: “Are we really going to help fund the murder of innocent citizens?”

Australian man contracts HIV despite taking PrEP drug

An Australian man has been diagnosed with HIV despite taking a pre-exposure prophylaxis medication known as PrEP.

Steven Spencer, 27, from Sydney tested positive for HIV in December, despite diligently using PrEP “on demand” before and after sexual encounters in line with the advice of doctors.

He is believed to be the seventh person globally to be diagnosed with HIV while adhering to a PrEP regimen.

Group concerned over arrest of Egyptian transgender woman

An international rights group is voicing concern over the safety and well-being of an Egyptian transgender woman arrested during a police raid on her home in Cairo.

Amnesty International said that Malak el-Kashef was arrested March 6 and her whereabouts are unknown.

 March 8 marks International Women’s Day (IWD). It’s a day to recognize the achievement of women and the ongoing struggle for equality around the world.

The history of IWD is rooted in women’s fight for political, social and economic justice over more than a century. In some countries, like the United States and throughout the U.K, and Europe International Women’s Day is a day of protest. But it is also a day to celebrate the accomplishments of women and promote gender equality — IWD is more than just a social media hashtag.

British Airways joins wave of airlines introducing “non-binary” gender options 

British Airways is the latest international airline to announce it will offer a non-binary gender option when booking tickets for passengers who identify outside of male or female.

The British carrier’s announcement follows similar moves from major U.S. airlines, as well as Air New Zealand, which recently said it was looking to introduce more gender options.

Japanese same-sex couples sue for equal marital rights

Thirteen same-sex couples on Feb. 14 in Japan filed the first lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the country’s rejection of same-sex marriage.

The Valentine’s Day lawsuits, filed in Tokyo and in other courts around the country, argue that the law violates the constitutional rights to equality for same-sex couples. The couples want the government to follow the example of many other nations in guaranteeing marital freedom.

Hong Kong court denies male status to three transgender men

Hong Kong’s High Court has refused to allow three transgender men to be recognized as males on their official identity cards because they have not undergone full sex-change operations.

The Feb. 1 ruling was seen as a blow to the fledgling LGBT movement in the semiautonomous Chinese city of 7.4 million people, which is preparing to host the 2022 Gay Games.

The three, identified as Henry Tse, Q and R, are shown on their ID cards as having been born female, but are undergoing hormone therapy. A full sex change would require the removal of female sexual organs.
The decision follows a recent ruling by Japan’s Supreme Court upholding a law that effectively requires transgender people to be sterilized before they can have their gender changed on official documents.

Greek bishop convicted over comments attacking gays

A Greek court has convicted a prominent Orthodox Church official of violating laws against racism and abusing his office over an anti-gay blog posting.

Amvrossios, Bishop of Kalavryta and Aigialeia in the southern Peloponnese region, received a seven-month sentence, suspended for three years.

Amvrossios urged readers in his 2015 posting to “spit upon” homosexuals, adding: “They are not human beings, they are rejects of nature.”

The three-judge court in the southern town of Aigio unanimously found against the bishop, who is one of the most conservative in the powerful Church of Greece. A lower court had acquitted him, but the case was appealed.

Lawyer Kleio Papandoleon, representing a group of citizens seeking legal action against the bishop, hailed the Jan. 28 ruling, saying it set limits to “inflammatory and racist speech.”

Cuban evangelicals push back against gay marriage

A Cuban government push to legalize gay marriage has set off an unprecedented reaction from the island’s rapidly growing evangelical churches, whose members are expected to widely reject a state-proposed constitutional reform in a nationwide referendum this month.

The reform is almost certain to pass by a broad margin of Cuba’s seven million voters — language opening the door to gay marriage is only one element of the reform — but the evangelical vote could shave hundreds of thousands of votes from its victory.

With many pastors promoting “no” votes from the pulpit, the swelling evangelical rejection of the constitution is a novel development for a state that prides itself on projecting an image of ideological unanimity. Cuban government-endorsed candidates and proposals typically receive “yes” votes well above 90 percent.

Noted Indian transgender activist shakes up Hindu festival

Indian transgender activist and Bollywood TV star Laxmi Narayan Tripathi has shaken up the male-dominated monastic orders that run the Hindu Kumbh Mela festival — held from January through March in northern India and is expected to draw as many as 150 million pilgrims.

The Kumbh takes place every three years at one of four sites Hindus consider sacred. It’s a series of ritual bathings led by 13 all-male Hindu monastic orders.

Though Hinduism’s ancient Vedas scriptures describe transgender people as integral, for centuries they have been marginalized, forced to leave their family homes as children and often sold into sex trafficking.

Tripathi is capitalizing on the ruling Hindu nationalist party’s emphasis on India’s Hindu roots to claim a place for transgender people among the nation’s religious elite.

Former landscaper pleads guilty to eight murders in Canada

A former landscaper charged with killing eight men with ties to Toronto’s gay village is said to be pleading guilty.

The former landscaper, Bruce McArthur, said Jan. 29 that no one is pressuring him to enter the guilty plea to eight counts of first-degree murder.

The police last year found the remains of seven of the men in large planters at a property where McArthur had worked. The remains of the eighth victim were found in a ravine behind the same property in midtown Toronto.

The 67-year-old McArthur was arrested after an investigation into several disappearances in a gay neighborhood of Toronto.

Compiled by Larry Nichols

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