International News

Special assignment: PGN spent last week in Stockholm for Pride and to learn about LGBTQ issues in Sweden.

When, as a child, Swedish Parliament member Barbro Westerholm first saw two gay men holding hands, her father told her, “They love each other in the same way I love your mother; there is nothing special about that.”

His words rang in her ears years later, Westerholm said, when she worked as director general of the National Board of Health and Welfare of Sweden. Thirty LGBTQ activists occupied the office’s stairwell, calling for the organization to declassify homosexuality as a mental illness. 

The murder of Yelena “Lena” Grigoryeva, 41, a prominent Russian LGBTQ-rights activist and journalist, allegedly wasn’t politically motivated or a hate crime — despite that her name appeared on a website that listed the personal information of Russian LGBTQ activists and offered cash prizes to those who “hunted” them.

Ecuador has first same-sex marriage, following court ruling

A lesbian couple has married in Ecuador in the first same-sex wedding since a landmark ruling last month by the country’s highest court.

Irael’s prime minister condemns his minister’s remarks on gay people

Israel’s prime minister is condemning remarks by his education minister in favor of “conversion therapy,” a controversial psychotherapy technique that seeks to turn gay people straight.

Japan grants refugee status due to homophobia for first time

The Japanese government granted refugee status to a foreigner in 2018 over fears of persecution owing to the person’s homosexuality.

Thousands join gay pride parades around the world

Thousands of people turned out for gay pride celebrations around the world June 29, including a boisterous party in the Mexican capital.

Thousands march for LGBT rights in Ukraine’s capital

Thousands of supporters of LGBTQ rights marched through the center of Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, despite a heavy police presence trying to separate them from opponents.

London police arrest fifth suspect in attack on lesbian couple

Police in London have arrested a fifth suspect on suspicion of punching two women on a bus because they are lesbians.

Authorities didn’t identify the victims in the May 30 attack, but Melania Geymonat posted an image on her Facebook page showing her bloodied face and that of her girlfriend’s.

Geymonat said in the post that they were on the upper deck of the bus when a gang of “hooligans” demanded that they kiss. The women tried to reason with them, but the incident escalated.

Police said June 8 all of suspects are 15-18 years old.

Detective Superintendent Andy Cox said that while attacks like this are rare on London buses, extra uniformed and plain-clothes officers will be on patrol this weekend to offer reassurance.

Warsaw’s pride parade comes amid fears and threats in Poland

Thousands of people are expected to join Central and Eastern Europe’s largest gay pride parade in Warsaw at a time when Poland is divided over the demand for LGBT rights.

U.S., Canadian and other Western diplomats will continue a recent tradition of joining the colorful Equality Parade on June 8 to show their support for what is considered a basic human right in many places. The Warsaw mayor will also take part for the first time.

While many Poles in Warsaw and other cities have grown increasingly supportive of gay rights, a backlash is also underway.

In recent months, officials from the right-wing ruling party, including party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, have portrayed the LGBT rights movement as a threat to families and children.

Court convicts three Germans of beating gay man to death

A court in the eastern German city of Chemnitz has convicted three men of manslaughter over the killing of a 27-year-old gay man.

The Chemnitz regional court on June 7 sentenced 26-year-old Terenc H. to 14 years in prison and 22-year-olds Stephan H. and Jens H. to 11 years each.

The men’s surnames weren’t released for privacy reasons.

The defendants were accused of brutally beating Christopher W. on a railroad yard in the nearby town of Aue last year.

A gay rights group, LAG Queer Network Saxony, criticized the court for failing to sufficiently recognize the role the defendants’ far-right and homophobic views played in the killing.

Jerusalem pride draws thousands of gay revelers and police

Thousands of people marched through the streets of Jerusalem June 6 in the city’s annual gay pride parade, a festival that exposes deep divisions between Israel’s secular and Jewish ultra-Orthodox camps.

Some 10,000 revelers waving rainbow and Israeli flags joined the procession Thursday, as thousands of police officers in plain clothes and uniform patrolled the crowd.

The gay community’s visibility in conservative Jerusalem tends to draw protest from the city’s substantial Orthodox population. Many ultra-Orthodox Jews reject the public display of homosexuality as an “abomination” that desecrates the biblical city and flouts Jewish law.

Police said they arrested 17 suspects who planned to disrupt the event, including a man carrying a knife near the parade route. At the 2015 march, an ultra-Orthodox extremist stabbed a 16-year-old girl to death.

Hong Kong court: Denying same-sex spousal benefits unlawful

Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal said June 6 the government cannot deny spousal employment benefits to same-sex couples, in a ruling hailed as a major step forward for same-sex equality in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.

The court overturned an earlier judgment, saying unanimously that denying same-sex couples access to spousal benefits is unlawful.

“It follows therefore that the `prevailing views of the community on marriage’ ... even if this can confidently be gauged in the first place, are simply not relevant to a consideration of the justification exercise,” the ruling said.

Although same-sex marriage is not recognized in Hong Kong, the Court of Final Appeal ruled last year that the same-sex partner of a British expatriate married abroad was entitled to equal visa treatment under immigration law.

Man-kei Tam, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong, called the June 6 judgment a “huge step forward for equality” that brings Hong Kong ``more in line with its international obligation to respect, protect and fulfill the rights of people with different sexual orientations.’’ 

Italy elects its first transgender mayor

 

General allegiances may lie with Matteo Salvini’s right-wing League party, but voters in a small town south of Milan have voted against the right-wing League candidate to elect Italy’s first transgender mayor.

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