LGBTI activists urge Vatican to condemn homosexuality criminalization laws

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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A group of more than 50 LGBTI rights advocates met April 5 with a high-ranking Vatican official and renewed their calls for the Catholic Church to condemn laws that criminalize consensual same-sex sexual relations.

ILGA World in a press release said the activists met with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s secretary of state, and presented him with “the preliminary findings of a research project” that focuses on the criminalization of consensual same-sex sexual relations in the Caribbean. National LGBT Bar Association Executive Director D’Arcy Kemnitz, ILGA World Co-Secretary General Luz Elena Aranda and IBM Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Tia Silas are among those who met with Parolin.

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Ellen DeGeneres, Billie Jean King support Brunei-owned hotel boycott

By : Mariah Cooper Of The Washington Blade, Courtesy Of The National LGBT Media Association
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More celebrities have expressed their support of George Clooney’s call to boycott hotels owned by Hassanal Bolkiah, the Sultan of Brunei, in protest of the country’s new anti-gay stoning law.

Brunei’s Sharia law-based penal code took effect on April 3. People found guilty of adultery or gay sex can be punished with death by stoning. Punishment for lesbian sex is 100 lashes with a whip.

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US ‘deeply concerned’ over arrests of LGBTI people in Azerbaijan

By : Michael K. Lavers Of The Washington Blade, Courtesy Of The National LGBT Media Association
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A State Department spokesperson on April 4 said the U.S. is “deeply concerned” over reports that indicate more than a dozen LGBTI people in Azerbaijan have been arrested.

Reuters cited an Azeri LGBTI advocacy group that said police this week arrested four transgender sex workers. Freedom House in a press release said police in Baku, the country’s capital, on April 1 arrested “at least 14 LGBT+ people.”

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George Clooney calls for boycott of Sultan Of Brunei’s hotels over anti-gay death law

By : Mariah Cooper OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Actor George Clooney has called for a boycott of nine hotels owned by the Sultan of Brunei in protest of Brunei’s new anti-gay stoning law.

Staring on April 3, a new law in Brunei will make gay sex punishable by stoning. In an op-ed for Deadline, Clooney urges the public not to patron The Dorchester (London), 45 Park Lane (London), Coworth Park (U.K.), The Beverly Hills Hotel (Beverly Hills), Hotel Bel-Air (Los Angeles), Le Meurice (Paris), Hotel Plaza Athenee (Paris), Hotel Eden (Rome) and Hotel Principe di Savoia (Milan).

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Ecuador Constitutional Court hears marriage case

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Ecuador’s highest court on March 31 heard oral arguments in a case that could extend marriage rights to same-sex couples in the South American country.

Judges on Ecuador’s Constitutional Court considered the case of Efraín Soria and his partner, Javier Benalcázar, a gay couple from the country’s capital of Quito who tried to apply for a marriage license last May.

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LGBTI migrants from Central America find refuge in DC

By : Michael K. Lavers Of The Washington Blade, Courtesy Of The National LGBT Media Association
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Dariana Méndez and her partner, Rony Alexander, were sitting next to each other on a large couch at Casa Ruby in Northwest D.C. shortly after 7 p.m. on March 26.

Méndez, a transgender woman from San Salvador, El Salvador, told the Washington Blade that she and Rony Alexander, a gay man from Honduras’ Lempira department, became a couple when they arrived in D.C. earlier this month. Méndez also talked about the discrimination and violence she said she suffered in El Salvador because of her gender identity.

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Mariela Castro’s group to honor Cleve Jones in Cuba

By : Michael K. Lavers Of The Washington Blade, Courtesy Of The National LGBT Media Association
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An organization the daughter of former Cuban President Raúl Castro directs will honor LGBTI rights activist Cleve Jones in Havana in May.

The Rainbow World Fund, a San Francisco-based organization that describes itself as “the world’s first and only all-volunteer, LGBTQ-based humanitarian aid organization,” on March 26 said in a press release that Cuba’s National Center for Sexual Education will honor Jones on May 10 during a gala at Havana’s Karl Marx Theater. The press release also notes Jones has been chosen as a grand marshal for a march that will take place in the Cuban capital the following day.

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Brunei to begin punishing gay sex with death by stoning

By : Wire Report
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ABOVE: Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah.

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) | Amnesty International slammed Brunei on March 27 due to the nation’s plans to implement what the rights group called “vicious” Islamic criminal laws such as stoning to death for gay sex and amputation for theft.

Amnesty said in a statement that the new penalties, which also apply to children, are provided for in new sections under Brunei’s Sharia Penal Code and will come into effect April 3. The legal changes were announced in a discreet notice on the attorney general’s website, it said.

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Chinese viewers balk at ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ film censorship

By : Wire Report
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BEIJING (AP) | A huge fan of rock legends Queen, Peng Yanzi rushed to see “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the biopic about the band’s late lead singer, Freddie Mercury, while he was traveling in Britain last October.

It was a touching film that made him cry hard, Peng says. He loved it enough to watch it a second time in his home city of Guangzhou after the film garnered a surprise China release.

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LGBTI migrants struggle to survive along Guatemala-Mexico border

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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TECUN UMAN, Guatemala | Gaudy Coutiño Valladares works for the Guatemalan Red Cross in Tecún Umán, a small city in the country’s San Marcos department that is across the Suchiate River from Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico.

The offices from which Coutiño and her colleagues work are behind a large metal gate on which posters that tell migrants the Guatemalan Red Cross will allow them to call their relatives and charge their phones for free have been placed. It also has a map of Central America that lists migrant shelters, railroads and highways on which migrants can travel to the U.S. border.

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Pope travels to Loreto shrine to sign youth document

By : wire report
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LORETO, Italy (AP) | Pope Francis has traveled to a major Italian pilgrimage site dedicated to the Virgin Mary to sign a new document dedicated to today’s youth.

Francis celebrated Mass on March 25 in Loreto’s cathedral and then signed the document in private. It will be translated and released in the coming weeks or months, providing Francis’ take on the October 2018 meeting of the world’s bishops on ways to better minister to today’s young people.

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Japan urged to stop requiring surgery for ID gender change

By : wire report
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TOKYO (AP) | Human Rights Watch urged Japan on March 20 to drop its requirement that transgender people be sterilized before their gender is changed on official documents.

A 2004 law states that people wishing to register a gender change must have their original reproductive organs removed and have a body that “appears to have parts that resemble the genital organs” of the gender they want to register. The Supreme Court in January rejected an appeal by a transgender man who wanted legal recognition without undergoing surgery, though the court acknowledged that the practice restricts freedom and could become out of step with changing social values.

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