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LGBTQ+ International: “Gay Propaganda” In Russia, Gruesome West Bank Murder, Madonna Out — And The Week’s Other Top News

Screenshot of Madonna's 5-second TikTok video in which she alluded to her possible queerness

The Queen of Pop being cryptic on TikTok

Laura Valentina Cortés Sierra, Sophia Constantino and Laure Gautherin

Welcome to Worldcrunch’s LGBTQ+ International. We bring you up-to-speed each week on a topic you may follow closely at home, but can now see from different places and perspectives around the world. Discover the latest news on everything LGBTQ+ — from all corners of the planet. All in one smooth scroll!

This week featuring:

  • Tokyo introducing same-sex marriage registration
  • Cleveland’s ban on conversion therapy
  • One awkward joke/hacking in the world of Spanish soccer
  • … and more

✉️ You can receive our LGBTQ+ International roundup every week directly in your inbox. Subscribe here.

TW: This content may address topics and include references to violence that some may find distressing.

🇺🇸 Cleveland Bans Conversion Therapy

Street art in Cleveland, Ohio

Paul Moody

On Monday, the city council of Cleveland, Ohio, passed a ban on conversion therapy for LGBTQ+ youth. It also imposed criminal penalties for mental health professionals who provide it. Any mental health professional providing conversion therapy to those 17 and younger in Cleveland could be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and six months in jail.

The ban, proposed by Councilman Brian Mooney, applies to talk therapy, electroshock therapy and any other type of therapy or mental health treatment for children administered by professionals, and intended to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

🇯🇵 Small Step Forward: Tokyo Introduces Same-Sex Marriage Registration

Tokyo has opened a system for applications to register same-sex partnerships. Although this system does not offer the legal benefits of marriage for same-sex couples, it has been welcomed by LGBTQ+ groups as a small step forward for Japan.

Japan is the only country and major democracy in the Group of Seven (G7) that doesn’t allow either same-sex marriage or civil unions – despite polls showing that the public is largely in favor of such a change.

The system is open to couples of whom at least one partner lives, works or studies in Tokyo, and where both are at least 18 and are not already married or in a partnership.

🇵🇸 Gay Palestinian Found Beheaded In West Bank

Police have arrested a suspect after a 25-year-old Palestinian man was found beheaded in the West Bank city of Hebron. LGBTQ+ groups say that the victim, identified as Ahmad Abu Marhia, had been receiving threats in the Palestinian Territories because he was gay, and had spent two years in Israel waiting on an asylum claim to escape abroad.

It is unclear how Abu Marhia ended up in Hebron, where he was found decapitated, but Israeli media has quoted his friends saying he was kidnapped from Israel and brought to the West Bank. Although homosexuality is scorned by both Palestinian and Israeli religious groups, gay people in Israel are able to live freely. Around 90 LGBTQ+ Palestinians live as asylum seekers in Israel, the Times of Israel said.

🇨🇳🇺🇸 The Chinese Same-Sex Couples Getting Married In Utah Over Zoom

Michael Foley Wedding Officiant

Who’d have thought that the heavily Republican state of Utah would become the virtual safe haven for same-sex couples looking to tie the knot? Certainly not the Mormon Church which holds a strong power locally.

And yet, over the past two years, more than 200 LGBTQ+ couples from China have married online through a licensed marriage officiant in Provo, Utah.

Other mixed and foreign couples have managed to get married in this way through video conference by taking advantage of a loophole in the wedding legislation of the State: Utah has no residency or citizenship requirements for marriage licenses — and since the pandemic, the city of Provo allows online international marriages.

Though not recognized back in the countries where same-sex marriage is still illegal (like China), this ceremony is of great symbolic value for those couples eager to officially enshrine their commitment.

🇬🇧  J.K. Rowling Backs Protest Over Scottish Gender Bill

British author J.K. Rowling posted a selfie on Twitter showing her wearing a t-shirt that called Scotland’s Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon a “destroyer of women's rights” as a way to support the protests against the Scottish government’s proposed Gender Recognition Reform.

According to Scottish lawmakers, the bill would simplify the existing process for trans people to get a Gender Recognition Certificate, by, for instance, removing the need for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria.

Campaigners opposed to the legislation are concerned it will undermine the safety of women-only spaces and services by opening them to people "with male anatomy." The views of the Harry Potter author on trans right (which she’s said undermines progress of women’s rights) have sparked a backlash since 2020 when the author had sarcastically responded to an article on the topic “Creating a more equal post-COVID-19 world for people who menstruate.”

🇦🇷 Fears And Acceptance As LBTQ+ Summit Opens In Conservative Argentine City

The 35th Plurinational Meeting of lesbian, trans, bisexual, intersexual and non-binary women opened in the traditionally conservative city of San Luis, Argentina. This year’s edition included a plea for the release of Mapuche women arbitrarily detained, as well as a focus on the protection of trans lives.

There were fears in the small city of San Luis, regarding the mass arrival of LGBTQ+ groups and feminists, with WhatsApp conversations encouraging business owners to close their doors, and even advising men not to leave their houses. Yet Presentes Media reports that some of the 105 workshops planned for the first afternoon of the meeting had to be repeated, as there were too many people attending.

🇺🇸 Did Madonna Just Come Out?

Madonna’s latest TikTok video has the whole word talking. Has the iconic singer, known for her very early support to the LGBTQ+ community, officially come out? In the 5-second snippet, she is seen holding a pair of pink underwear, with a caption that reads “If I miss, I’m gay.” She aims at a bin, throws the knickers and … misses. The Queen of Pop then throws up her hands and walks away.

In the past, Madonna hinted at her possible identity as a queer person, despite only being in public relationships with men.

🇷🇺 Anti-LGBTQ+, Racist Propaganda Video Goes Viral In Russia

Screenshot of the Twitter video

A propaganda video circulating on pro-Kremlin social channels warning Russians that the United States is dangerously progressive has gone viral.

The video, which expresses supposed “American values,” shows a Russian couple confronted by LGBTQ+, Black, and vegetarian people on a plane bound for the U.S.

🇷🇺 Russia Fines TikTok Over “Gay Propaganda”

In the country’s latest crackdown on the Internet, a Russian court has fined TikTok for failing to delete LGBTQ+ material from its short-video sharing platform.

The Tagansky District Court in Moscow issued the 3 million ruble ($51,000) penalty to TikTok after a complaint by Russian regulators that a video published on the platform earlier this year breached Russian laws against promoting "LGBT, radical feminism and a distorted view on traditional sexual relations”.

TikTok has about 29 million users in Russia, a country that’s had a strict “gay propaganda law” since 2013 that bans the expression and spread of information on homosexuality to minors.

🇿🇲 Zambian Church Leader Calls For Anti-LGBTQ+ Crackdown

The Catholic Archbishop of Zambia Alick Banda has declared that he is worried about “an increase in the number of incidents and events that promote LGBTQ+ tendencies contrary to the Laws of Zambia and our Zambian culture.”

The Archbishop criticized the country’s politicians for ignoring these “incidents and events” and encouraged people to “act against the proliferation of LGBTQ+ and other vices,” which he blamed for a wide variety of social and political troubles in Zambia.

Under Zambia’s colonial-era penal code, those convicted of same-sex sexual activity face sentences of up to life in prison. According to Mamba Online, "Politicians and religious leaders in Zambia are fueling dangerous homophobic hysteria that’s seen at least one man sentenced to prison and growing fears."

Anold Mulaisho, a high-profile gay refugee from Zambia living in South Africa, told Mamba Online, LGBTQ+ people in Zambia are not safe anymore and they should “exercise caution on dating apps, in clubs and anywhere [they] meet.”

🇩🇪  Breakaway Church Allows Gay Former Monk To Marry

Anselm Bilgri (right) and his partner

TV Bayern Live screenshot

Anselm Bilgri, a former monk and prior at Germany's Andechs Abbey, has married his longtime partner in Munich in a ceremony presided by a priest of the Old Catholic Church. The breakaway church, which emerged in the Netherlands in the 19th century, allows priests to marry and approves of same-sex relationships.

Bilgri, who was ordained in 1980 by Joseph Ratzinger — the future Pope Benedict XVI — had left the Catholic Church in 2020 over the Vatican’s refusal to allow priests to bless same-sex unions, as well as sex abuse scandals in Germany. “I immediately thought: now I have actually received all seven sacraments, from ordination to marriage. And I would like it to become normal,” he told Reuters after the ceremony.

🇪🇸 Star Goalkeeper Iker Casillas’ Twitter “I’m Gay” Mishap

Former Real Madrid and Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas has deleted a tweet that said he was gay. In Spanish, he wrote: “I hope you respect me: I'm gay.” The tweet was live for more than an hour before being deleted. Casillas later tweeted: “Hacked account. Luckily everything in order. Apologies to all my followers.” He added: “Of course, more apologies to the LGBT community.”

Casillas’ former Spain teammate Carles Puyol had replied to Casillas’ “I’m gay”-tweet with “It’s time to tell our story.” That tweet has also been deleted and Puyol apologized: “I have made a mistake. Sorry for a clumsy joke with no bad intentions and totally out of place. All my respect and support for the LGTBIQA+ community.”


• Check out this great read by Jude Guaitamacchi on the QueerAF platform: “Non-binaryphobia is real. We need to talk about it.”

• "There were 15 or 20 people who tried to kill me": Jashan Preet Singh tells the BBC why, as an openly gay man living in a deeply conservative part of India, he had to flee.

• LGBTQ Nation focuses on The Lesbian Mothers’ National Defense Fund, an organization that helped over 400 lesbian mothers between 1974 and 1980.

• Advocate unpacks the “Age of Sexual Orientation Outness and Suicide Risk” research brief, and highlights the importance of support as young LGBTQ+ members come out at an earlier age.

• The Dork Side of the Force website compiled a list of Star Wars podcasts, videos and streams made by and for the LGBTQ+ community.

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FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War

Turkey-Israel Relations? It's Complicated — But The Gaza War Is Different

Turkish President Erdogan has now called on the International Criminal Court to go after Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu for war crimes, as the clash between the two regional powers has reached a new low.

Photo of ​Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan walking

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Elias Kassem

Since the arrival two decades ago of now President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s relationship with Israel has been a mix of deep ideological conflict and cover-your-eyes realpolitik.

On the one hand, Erdogan has positioned himself as a kind of global spokesman for the Palestinian cause. His Justice and Development Party has long publicly and financially supported Hamas, which shares similar roots in the 20th-century Muslim Brotherhood movement.

And yet, since 2001 when Erdogan first came to power, trade between Turkey and Israel has multiplied from $1.41 to $8.9 billion in 2022. Moreover, both countries see major potential in transporting newly discovered Israeli natural gas to Europe, via Turkey.

The logic of shared interests clashes with the passions and posturing of high-stakes geopolitics. Diplomatic relations have been cut off, then restored, and since October 7, the countries’ respective ambassadors have been recalled, with accusations flying between Erdogan and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Still, over the past 48 hours, Turkish-Israeli relations may have hit an all-time low.

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