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WORLD Turkish president, Honduras killing, Pope Benedict, Tom of Finland
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2019-05-04

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan supported Turkey's top Muslim cleric, who caused a firestorm by claiming homosexuality "brings disease and causes this generation to decay," NBC News reported. In his first sermon during the holy month of Ramadan on April 24, Ali Erbas also maintained that hundreds of thousands of people every year are exposed to HIV due to homosexuality and adultery and called on worshipers to come together to fight "this kind of evil." Opposition and rights groups condemned the comments by Erbas, who heads Turkey's Religious Affairs Presidency; however, in a public address following a Cabinet meeting, Erdogan said any attack on Erbas amounted to an attack on the state.

In Honduras, the body of Luz Clarita, a 23-year-old homeless trans woman, was found inside a vacant lot, PinkNews reported. She was bruised and bloodied, with two concrete blocks lying on either side of her. Clarita is the first recorded death of a trans or gender non-conforming person in the Central American country in 2020; however, her name is just one in an "endless list" of trans women killed in Honduras, LGBT+ rights group El Comisionado Nacional de los Derechos Humanos ( CNDH ) wrote in a statement.

Former Pope Benedict XVI has launched an attack on LGBT+ people in a new book, PinkNews reported. According to Italian outlet Corriere Della Sera, the 93-year-old pope emeritus—who became pontiff in 2005 but stood aside for Pope Francis in 2013—gave a rare interview to Peter Seewald for the publication of a new biography. Among other things, Benedict said, "100 years ago, everybody would have considered it to be absurd to speak of a homosexual marriage. Today, one is being excommunicated by society if one opposes it."

International celebrations are being planned for Friday, May 8, regarding what would have been the 100th birthday of the late artist Tom of Finland ( real name: Touko Laaksonen ), a Tom of Finland press release noted. There are current and upcoming exhibits focusing on the artist, such as "Tom of Finland: 100 Years" ( ), which is open online at David Kordansky Gallery through Tuesday, May 12; and Estonia's "Tom of Finland: The Darkroom" ( ), which offers an online tour, a recorded TV interview and podcast with curator Berndt Arell through Sunday, July 19. Also on May 8, Tom of Finland Foundation will announce the Tom of Finland Emerging Artist Competition; visit http://www.tomoffinland.org/programs/#3.

A court in Uganda rejected bail for 19 members of the LGBT community who were arrested for gathering in public in violation of the coronavirus lockdown, Voice of America reported. On March 29, police arrested 23 members of an LGBT shelter, the Children of the Sun Foundation, in the town of Kyengera. Their lawyer argues the men, aged 19 to 32, were targeted because of their sexual orientation.

Human Rights Watch ( HRW ) said a campaign of online harassment in Morocco has trampled the privacy of presumed gay and bisexual men, possibly subjecting them to physical harm, prosecution and discriminatory measures, according to its website. HRW added that people have been going on same-sex dating apps since mid-April 2020 to "out" other app users—disclosing their sexual orientation or gender identity without their consent. For LGBTQ people, this may lead to ostracization by their family and community, expulsion from housing by relatives and landlords, and dismissal from their jobs.

Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that assault-style firearms would be banned in the country, The Hill reported. The announcement followed Trudeau's vow to push for stricter gun control after a mass shooting in Nova Scotia ended with 23 dead on April 19. Approximately 1,500 makes and models of military-grade firearm weapons would be banned from licensed gun owners to sell, transport, import or use in the country, according to CBC News. Gun models like the M16, M4, AR-10 and AR-15 rifles are on the list of banned assault weapons.

Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro ( known for his right-wing stances ) shrugged off the rising coronavirus death numbers in his country, The Guardian reported. "So what?" Bolsonaro told reporters when asked about the record 474 deaths on one particular day. "I'm sorry. What do you want me to do?" Bolsonaro's 11-word response—the latest in a series of remarks belittling the pandemic—sparked immediate fury. "Bolsonaro wants to turn Brazil into the Republic of So What," political commentator Bernardo Mello Franco wrote in his column.

Singer Boy George has said that people "want to be offended" over transgender issues, PinkNews noted. George spoke about his views on trans issues to The Sunday Times magazine after facing a backlash in January for declaring pronouns a "a modern form of attention-seeking." At one point during the Times interview, he said, "So this transgender thing is new and, for our generation, it's just getting our heads [around] it. But people want to be offended, because they think that whatever's going on for them is much more important than anything else."

Artsploitation Films and Kino Lorber announced the Blu-ray and DVD releases of the highly controversial Dutch film We, a press release noted. The film, which enjoyed a long festival run ( including Rotterdam, Raindance and Rome ), is adapted from the novel Wij, by Elvis Peeters. The plot is as follows: During one hot summer, eight privileged but bored suburban teens begin to pull a series of harmless pranks which quickly escalate into increasingly depraved games. Their descent from innocence to ruthless predators involve arson, prostitution, pornography, assault and blackmail.

Kino Lorber also announced that I Wish I Knew, the critically acclaimed documentary by filmmaker Jia Zhangke ( A Touch of Sin; Mountains May Depart ) is now available on Blu-ray and DVD, a press release noted. Shanghai's past and present flow together in Jia Zhangke's portrait of this fast-changing port city. Restoring censored images and filling in forgotten facts, Jia provides an alternative version of 20th-century China's fraught history, as reflected through life in the Yangtze city.

The Locarno Film Festival announced the cancellation of its 73rd edition due to Swiss government restrictions, Variety noted. In its place, the festival has set up an initiative to support independent cinema. The prominent Swiss summer fest, originally scheduled to run Aug. 5-15, is known as a champion of international indie cinema and the industry behind it.

UK sensation Love Island has been canceled for 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, noted. According to UK reports, producers had planned to fly a group of contestants to the villa, test them for COVID-19, and isolate them all for two weeks and before filming started. "But even with these measures, insurance companies won't offer cover. ITV can't do the series without insurance," an "insider" reportedly said. The British version of the reality hit airs on Hulu in the United States.


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