The LGBTQ+ news round-up: 17 April 2016

In the latest addition of The Queerness’ global news round-up Tom Ana shares some of the stories that might not have made headlines. From Argentina to Kenya, Australia to Norway; it’s your weekly selection of the week’s most important LGBTQ+ news.


Lawmakers in Tennessee, USA, passed new legislation that legalises the discrimination of LGBTQ+ individuals by medical and mental health professionals. The latest attack on LGBTQ+ minorities in the Southern United States will allow counselors and psychiatrists to deny treatment of sexual minorities on ‘religious grounds’. The change was widely condemned by activists and campaigners, who claim that it may help jeopardize the mental health care of LGBTQ+ individuals within the state.


A Jewish lesbian couple will become the first same-sex couple to marry in a religious ceremony in Argentina. Romi Charur and Vicky Escobar, who have been in a civil partnership since 2014, will hold their wedding later this month after recent changes in the country allowed same-sex couples to marry within religious services.


An American anti-gay group have attempted to foster bigoted attitudes in the Caribbean after holding a conference in Barbados  this week. The National Organization for Marriage, an evangelical Christian group that opposed several LGBTQ+ rights, held talks promoting ‘traditional marriage’ among Barbadian citizens. The recent event is the latest in the group’s attempts to spread their ideology in foreign nations, after they were revealed to have helped support opposition against repealing Belize’s anti-sodomy laws in 2013.


A study published by the Jamaican Forum for Lesbians, All-sexuals and Gays (JFLAG), has indicated that many Jamaicans hold significantly anti-LGBTQ+ views. The survey, conducted in 2015, shows that more than 80% of individuals were opposed to LGBTQ+ individuals working with children, while over 50% of Jamaican politicians were opposed to allowing LGBTQ+ individuals to become teachers. The study also concluded that a majority of Jamaicans would kick out their children if they were gay, lesbian or transgender.


A group of Australian “elders and allies” came together to protect a group of LGBTQ+ young people at a charity event held earlier this week. The formal event for queer youth group Minus18 became a target for online anti-gay protestors who attacked the group for their support of Australia’s ‘Safe Schools’ program. Despite much online trolling no protestors came to the actual event, where almost 600 young people were watched over by a group of supporters, most of whom dressed as ‘guardian angels’ for the occasion.


Switzerland’s ambassador to Nigeria is reportedly under investigation by state authorities after he was reported to be in a same-sex marriage with another man. The office of Eric Mayooraz, who took up the position last year, denied that the ambassador was currently married to another man, but did not confirm or deny his sexuality. Mayooraz, who has supported LGBTQ+ equality in the past, is not openly homosexual, but will likely be dismissed and deported to his home country if Nigerian authorities conclude that his sexuality is illegal under local laws.


Norway’s largest religious group, the Norwegian Lutheran Church, has voted to allow same-sex couples to marry in religious services. The decision now grants full marriage freedom for the 74% of Norwegians that identify as Lutheran, and was described by one activist as “the final stage of full marriage equality”.


Leading Turkish LGBTQ+ organization Kaos GL temporarily closed its offices following concerns over security. The Ankara-based charity raised concerns over the safety of their staff and facilities after Turkish intelligence services revealed that the group were potentially under-threat from ISIS terrorist plot.


Employees of travel company Air France have raised concerns over plans to resume flights between Paris and Tehran following the lifting of international sanctions. In Iran, homosexuality is illegal, leading to some employees to voice concerns over their safety. In response to the planned flights a petition was launched, calling upon management to rethink the decision, which gained over 2,000 signatures.


Human rights activist Deivis Ventura launched a bid this week to become the first openly gay member of congress in the Dominican Republic. Ventura, a teacher and activist for LGBTQ+ rights, hopes to be the first black gay man to hold the position if elected later this year.


Russian authorities have blamed the recent murder of a suspected gay journalist on a 21-year old neo-nazi. Dmitry Tsilikin was found dead late last month following a violent attack that is believed to have been motivated by his sexuality. According to Russian police Sergei Kosirev, who goes by the nickname ‘The Cleaner’, attacked the reporter after arranging a meeting while posing as a gay man online.


Research published the Ilia State University, Tbilisi, Georgia, has given new insights into the genetic roots of homosexuality. According to findings by Dr. Giorgi Chaladze, homosexuality is likely to have a strong connection to genetic makeup. Chaladze also concluded that the so-called ‘gay-gene’ may be found in as much as 50% of human population.


The UK’s All Party Parliamentary Group have claimed that more must be done by British authorities to support LGBTQ+ rights globally. According to the research and policy group, the UK’s foreign policy is failing to support local activists and campaigners in country’s in which LGBTQ+ identities are persecuted by state authorities.


An investigation by CBS News has linked the conservative US lobbying group Liberty Counsel to a number of recent anti-LGBTQ+ legislation changes across the country. According to the investigation, the Christian group, who have a history of standing against equal-rights for LGBTQ+ individuals, lobbied lawmakers and even suggested bill redrafts in a number of cases in which the rights of LGBTQ+ individuals were restricted.


Four activists were arrested at a Bengali New Year event held in Bangladesh earlier this week. The activists in question are believed to be connected to the pro-LGBTQ+ event, Rainbow Rally, which was cancelled earlier this week after police withdrew a permit due to security concerns. Threats against the rally and organisers made by Islamist groups were sited for the cancellation. Although charges are not yet known, it is believed the arrest is in connection to an attempt to promote LGBTQ+ issues at the traditional New Year’s celebrations.


Campaigners in Nairobi, Kenya, filed a legal case calling upon authorities to decriminalize gay sex across the country. Eric Gitari, the head of the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, hoped that his case would force Kenya’s high court to change the legislation that currently outlaws ‘carnal knowledge’.


The rejection of a landmark legal case in China’s Furong District has helped bolster the country’s LGBTQ+ community. Sun Wenlin and his partner Hu Minglang, failed to have their marriage legally recognized following almost a year of legal proceedings. Despite the court’s decision not to recognize the couple, the decision is reported to have helped foster an important dialogue surrounding same-sex relationships across the country.


Follow Tom on Twitter (@tom_ana_)

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