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LGBTQ+ International: Polish Schools Progress, Qatar Arrests Gay Activist — And The Week’s Other Top News

LGBTQ+ International: Polish Schools Progress, Qatar Arrests Gay Activist — And The Week’s Other Top News
Laura Valentina Cortés Sierra, Sophia Constantino and Bertrand Hauger

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:

  • A cyberbullying tragedy in Armenia
  • Rishi Sunak’s mixed track record
  • A double dose of cute proposal
  • ... 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.

​🇵🇱 New Poll Shows Poland Schools Are More LGBTQ+-Friendly

Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza reports on a recent poll that saw 14,000 students from all over Poland answer questions about their schools' attitudes towards LGBTQ+ students.

On the basis of questions such as “Can gay couples come to prom? Do your teachers respect preferred pronouns for transgender and non-binary students? Can you get in trouble for wearing a rainbow pin? Did your school celebrate "rainbow Friday"?, an LGBTQ+-friendly ranking was created, with five of the 10 best-ranking schools located in the capital Warsaw.

The poll also focused on the sense of security LGBTQ+ students feel at school. And despite showing that about half a million students still don’t feel safe in their educational environment, the poll highlighted that 83% of the respondents indicated that they have at least one person to turn to for help in case of problems.

🇰🇷 South Korea Grants Asylum Over Sexual Orientation-Based Persecution For First Time

For the first time in Korean justice history, a court has granted refugee status to a person over sexual orientation-based persecution. The suit had been filed by a trans woman from Malaysia who had fled her country after being arrested, fined and briefly detained in 2014 over her sexual identity. She had sought asylum in Korea in July 2017, but the Korean Immigration Service denied the application.

A lower district court then ruled in favor of the immigration office, arguing that the woman had been employed in Malaysia as a transgender person and thus did not suffer persecution. She appealed the decision and the appellate court this time recognized her record of arrest and punishment as persecution as defined in the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. "The complainant has been arrested and punished for revealing her sexual identity and she is currently not in a position to be able to seek state help against the threat she faces," Seoul High Court concluded.

​🇲🇽 Mexican State Of Guerrero Approves Same-Sex Marriage

At the Mexico Pride march


The Mexican state of Guerrero approved same-sex marriage on Tuesday, becoming the thirty-first state out of the country’s 32 to do so.

The state Of Durango had preceded Guerrero back in September. This leaves Tamaulipas as the last state in the country that has not yet given its green light to same-sex marriage.

​🇨🇴 Colombian Trans Man Shares Journey To Give Birth

We face discrimination and danger at all levels — from society, the healthcare system, and even from our own communities. In the independent Latin American online investigative magazine Volcánicas, Iván Danilo Donato Castillo, a Colombian trans man, shares his story—from the moment he first asked himself, “Do I want to bear a child?” to the other questions it triggered. “Am I a freak? Do I have to hide my pregnancy? Can a trans activist hide a pregnancy? And if I don't hide, will they reduce me to entertainment and discard me and my baby once we are no longer entertaining?”

Read the full story here, translated from Spanish by Worldcrunch.

🇺🇸 New York LGBTQ+ Film Festival In Top Form

It’s a wrap for the 34th Annual New York LGBTQ+ Film Festival! The annual festival, founded in 1988, includes narrative, documentary and short films, TV series, panel conversations, and parties with a goal to provide a platform for LGBTQ+ stories.

This year’s festival received over 1,000 submissions, a 30% increase from last year. David Hatkoff, the festival’s director, was thrilled to receive so many. "It means that queer filmmakers are telling their stories and slowly getting more access to the resources they need to make their films,” he said.

🇶🇦 Qatar Arrests Prominent Gay Activist For Denouncing Human Rights Abuse Ahead Of World Cup

There’s no shortage of social, environmental, and human rights issues threatening to derail the 2022 world cup in Qatar — not least of which is the status of LGBTQ+ people in the Gulf state. Qatari police arrested activist Peter Tatchell on Tuesday for a one-man protest in which he denounced Qatar’s “homophobic, sexist and racist dictatorship.”

Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar, and can be punished by prison terms and even the death penalty, and LGBTQ+ persons face harassment and physical abuse, according to Human Rights Watch. Tatchell’s whereabouts are currently unknown.

🇺🇸 Iconic Gay Comedian Leslie Jordan Dies In Accident At 67

U.S. comedian Leslie Jordan in 2022

Wikimedia Commons

U.S. queer icon and comedian Leslie Jordan has died on Oct. 24 at the age of 67 after he crashed his car into a tree in Hollywood. Jordan was best known for his longtime role as Beverly Leslie on Will & Grace as well as his appearances on American Horror Story and Call Me Kat.

But the Emmy-winning comedian also rose to fame during the pandemic on social media, where he posted warm-hearted jokes and updates, amassing nearly 6 million followers on Instagram.

The Society of LGBTQ+ Entertainment Critics had awarded Jordan its “Timeless Star” career achievement honor last year.

🇷🇺 Brittney Griner Loses Appeal, Days After Sharing Message From Russian Jail

Russian courts have rejected the appeal made by Brittney Griner against her nine-year prison sentence, after she was arrested for possession and smuggling of drugs in February.

The U.S. basketball star and LGBTQ+ icon was found with vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in the Moscow airport, which are banned in Russia. She was sentenced on Aug. 4 to nine years in a penal colony.

This comes just days after Griner sent a message of thanks to her supporters on Tuesday, which was her 32nd birthday. “Thank you everyone for fighting so hard to get me home. All the support and love are definitely helping me,” it read, released through her lawyers, Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov.

🇱🇺 Soccer Captain In Netherlands Refused To Wear Rainbow Armband

Orkun Kökcü, soccer play sensation in the Netherlands, refused to wear a rainbow armband in support of the LGBTQ+ community last week and cited religion as his main reason. “I fully understand the importance of this action, but because of my religious beliefs, I don’t feel [I’m] the right person to support this'', he said.

Kökcü added that he did not want to disappoint anyone but felt the need to stay true to his beliefs and hope that his choice for religious reasons will also be respected, “I think it’s important to emphasize that I respect everyone regardless of religion, background or preference. I believe that everyone is free to do what they want or feel.”

He is not the first athlete to decline wearing rainbow paraphernalia. In recent months, multiple members of the Tampa Bay Rays pitching staff did not wear a rainbow on their uniforms during Pride Night and said it was a “faith-based decision”. Following this, numerous athletes across the world have refused to wear rainbows on their uniforms.

​🇦🇲 Tragedy In Armenia As Young Gay Couple Commits Suicide After Online Bullying

A young Armenian gay couple committed suicide by jumping off a bridge together on Oct. 20, in Armenia’s capital Yerevan. Just before, they posted pictures of their relationship; the photos went viral on social media, triggering hateful and offensive comments.

The tragedy has triggered renewed discussion around the state of homophobia in the country, writes Pink Armenia. The prominent LGBTQ+ rights organization said that “LGBT people are very familiar with the feeling of isolation and misunderstanding of family and society. This tragic incident proves once again that LGBT people in Armenia are not safe and not protected by society or the state.”

As highlighted by Global Voices, Armenia's poor track record on LGBTQ+ rights was most recently captured in an annual Rainbow Europe Map and Index, according to which Armenia was near the bottom, ranking 47th out of 49 countries on the list.

🇧🇷 What Sunday’s Election Means For Brazil’s LGBTQ+ Diaspora

Photo of a hand holding a sign with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's face, with the slogan "Out Bolsonaro!!!""Out Bolsonaro"

Aleandro Biagianti/Avalon/ZUMA

Portugal became a refuge for the Brazilian LGBTQ+ community who faced real danger following Jair Bolsonaro's victory four years ago. Some of those who left say that if Lula beats the right-wing incumbent in Sunday's presidential election, they would move back home, reports João Damião for Lisbon-based news website Mensagem.

In the past year, 316 LGBTQ+ people were killed in Brazil, according to data from the LGBTQ+ Death and Violence Observatory. ANTRA, the country's main trans association, reports that Brazil is the country where the most trans people are killed each year.

🇭🇳 Transgender Woman Activist Killed In Honduras

The murder of activist Melissa Núñez, 42, in Honduras, marks the 34th homicide this year of an LGBTQ+ person in the Central American country. She was allegedly shot by hooded men, a few months after having asked for Asylum in the U.S, country she was deported from when trying to go back in, in July, according to Indyra Mendoza, General Coordinator of Cattrachas, Lesbian Feminist Network.

As highlited by The Washington Post, Núñez lived for about 25 years in the U.S and developed a strong activism career for the rights of sexual dissidents, particularly trough social media, where she had over 20,000 followers on Tik Tok alone. Several Honduran media did not respect the assumed name by the activist and misgendered her, causing outrage by the LGBTQ+ organizations that want her memory to be respected.

​🇬🇧 New British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Mixed Track Record On LGBTQ+

New British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has vowed that the government will end new HIV transmissions by 2030, has condemned prejudice against trans people in the Conservative Party, and has said that he wants Britain to be “the safest and greatest country in the world to be LGBT+.”

But Britain’s not there yet: in the past year, hate crimes targeting sexual orientation were up 41%, and hate crimes targeting transgender people were up 56%. Some LGBTQ+ activists are calling for more ambitious action, like including trans people in the proposed ban on conversion therapy, and to stop sending LGBTQ+ asylum seekers to Rwanda. Additionally, the new PM is facing further criticism for saying that trans women aren’t women, and for having been absent as an MP on two prior votes for LGBTQ+ rights.

Adding pressure from the other side, fellow Tory Suella Braverman is urging Sunak to “tackle trans ideology” in schools.

​🇱🇺 Luxembourg Cardinal In Favor Of Blessing Same-Sex Unions

In an interview with Vatican media, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, S.J., said he believes Church blessings for same-sex unions, which the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has ruled against, is not a settled matter. This came In response to the question about the decision last month by Belgium’s Catholic bishops to support the possibility of blessings for unions of same-sex couples, in defiance of the Vatican, as reported by The Catholic news Agency.

Hollerich referred to the etymology of the Italian words for “to bless” and “to curse”: benedire and maledire. “If we stay with the etymology of ‘bene-dire,’ [‘say good’] do you think God could ever ‘dire-male’ [say bad] about two people who love each other?” Hollerich said.

🇺🇸 Double Cute: Gay Couple Share Simultaneous Proposal

When Corey Francis went down on one knee to propose to his partner Trevor Turk during a beachside sunset in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, he certainly didn’t expect Trevor to pull off a proposal on his own. Photographer Albert Harris captured the cute moment in a TikTok video. The American couple is planning to get married in 2024.


Wales Online reports on the LGBTQ+ choir that's giving people in Swansea a community and a home.

• A new study published in The Lancet shows that transgender teenagers who begin gender-afforming hormone treatments tend to continue as adults.

• LGBTQ Nation looks into the history of LGBTQ+ studies in the U.S. and what they owe to the campus turmoil of the 1960s.

• Looking for a spooky read? Here are 7 Queer Horror Books To Get You In The Halloween Mood.

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Brazil's Evangelical Surge Threatens Survival Of Native Afro-Brazilian Faith

Followers of the Afro-Brazilian Umbanda religion in four traditional communities in the country’s northeast are resisting pressure to convert to evangelical Christianity.

image of Abel José, an Umbanda priest

Abel José, an Umbanda priest

Agencia Publica
Géssica Amorim

Among a host of images of saints and Afro-Brazilian divinities known as orixás, Abel José, 42, an Umbanda priest, lights some candles, picks up his protective beads and adjusts the straw hat that sits atop his head. He is preparing to treat four people from neighboring villages who have come to his house in search of spiritual help and treatment for health ailments.

The meeting takes place discreetly, in a small room that has been built in the back of the garage of his house. Abel lives in the quilombo of Sítio Bredos, home to 135 families. The community, located in the municipality of Betânia of Brazil’s northeastern state of Pernambuco, is one of the municipality’s four remaining communities that have been certified as quilombos, the word used to refer to communities formed in the colonial era by enslaved Africans and/or their descendents.

In these villages there are almost no residents who still follow traditional Afro-Brazilian religions. Abel, Seu Joaquim Firmo and Dona Maura Maria da Silva are the sole remaining followers of Umbanda in the communities in which they live. A wave of evangelical missionary activity has taken hold of Betânia’s quilombos ever since the first evangelical church belonging to the Assembleia de Deus group was built in the quilombo of Bredos around 20 years ago. Since then, other evangelical, pentecostal, and neo-pentecostal churches and congregations have established themselves in the area. Today there are now nine temples spread among the four communities, home to roughly 900 families.

The temples belong to the Assembleia de Deus, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and the World Church of God's Power, the latter of which has over 6,000 temples spread across Brazil and was founded by the apostle and televangelist Valdemiro Santiago, who became infamous during the pandemic for trying to sell beans that he had blessed as a Covid-19 cure. Assembleia de Deus alone, who are the largest pentecostal denomination in the world, have built five churches in Betânia’s quilombos.

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