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LGBTQ+ International: Lithuanian Fairy Tales, Egypt Dating App Gangs — And Other News

Photo of someone holding a phone

Screenshot from BBC documentary "how the police and gangs hunt LGBT people in Egypt"

Laura Valentina Cortés, Inès Mermat, Renate Mattar and Hugo Perrin

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:

  • Top athletes coming out
  • Scotland’s trans violence
  • EU defends inclusive fairytales
  • … 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.

🇪🇬 In Egypt, Gangs and Police Target LGBTQ+ People Using Dating Apps

The new BBC investigative documentary Queer Egypt Under Attackhas revealed how criminal gangs and Egyptian police officers are using dating apps to target the LGBTQ+ community.

In a two-year-long investigation, journalist Ahmed Shihab-Eldin uncovered the tactics used to lure, and eventually prosecute, LGBTQ+ people in Egypt, where no explicit law against homosexuality exists, but where queer people are more and more at risk of abuse and extortion.

Gangs meet their potential victims on dating apps, where they pretend to be regular people looking for a date, then rob, beat, and extort their victims for money, usually filming these acts and using them to humiliate the victims. The videos often end up online and get millions of views, or they are directly sent to the victims’ families and friends. The police are using the same methods.

While there is no explicit law against homosexuality in Egypt, the crime of debauchery, which is originally a sex work charge, is commonly used to prosecute the LGBTQ+ community. Some of the witnesses interviewed by Shihab-Eldin also declared that they were promised freedom if they in turn became informants and named some of their peers that had the same “perversions”.

🏈 Change Afoot? Top Athletes Come Out In Basketball, Rugby, Tennis

Photo of Daria Kasatkina of Russia at the 2023 Australian Open Grand Slam

Daria Kasatkina of Russia during the second round of the 2023 Australian Open Grand Slam

Rob Prange/AFP7/Zuma

A number of high-profile athletes came out this week, such as former pro Australian basketball player Trevor Torrance. Torrance said that he never considered coming out during his career, which coincided with the peak of the AIDS epidemic. “I suffered from anxiety,” he says. “I know I had moments of bouts of depression.”

Russian Tennis Champion Daria Kasatkina also says that being able to come out was a relief to her. “Living in the closet is impossible. It is too hard, it is pointless,” she stated. Kasatkina has also been a vocal critic of the Kremlin and Russia’s war against Ukraine. She officially came out as queer this past summer, but shared in an interview with the Guardian this week that coming out “helped her” and that she is “happy with the outcome.”

Former New Zealand prop Campbell Johnstone has also come out as the first gay All Black. Johnstone said that he has been “leading a double life” and “living a lie” when he came out on television this Wednesday. His coming out has been praised and regarded as “pretty courageous”, especially by All Blacks loose forward Ardie Savea: “He probably doesn’t realize how many people he’s helped internally with what he’s done, so big ups to him.”

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 Report Shows Explosion Of Trans Hate Crimes In Scotland In Past 10 Years

Hate crimes committed against trans people in Scotland are rising faster than any other type of hate crime, according to new government statistics published recently, with a 68% increase from 2020–2021 to 2021–2022. Hate crimes targeting the sexual orientation of minorities almost doubled since 2014.

At the center of debates is the Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC), which allows trans people to be recognized properly on many legal certificates. In the UK, trans people must submit a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria before they can obtain one.

In December 2022, Scotland passed legislation that would have removed it to make the process simpler and more accessible. In January, the UK government blocked the reform for women and children protection.

🇮🇳 Delhi Lawyer Denied Judge Position Because Of “Attachment To Gay Rights”

The Union government has denied Saurabh Kirpal, a New Delhi Lawyer, the position of Delhi High Court judge because of his sexual orientation and “passionate attachment to the cause of gay rights,” which the government claimed could prejudice his rulings.

Kirpal, whose appointment as high court judge has been pending for the past five years, is appalled by the matter and claims that the bench is composed of upper caste, heterosexual men – all of whom are biased, which is not a reflection of the society he lives in.

🇱🇹 EU Says “No” To Warning Label On Lithuanian LGBTQ+-Inclusive Fairy Tales

Photo of the cover of a children's book containing LGBTQ+ inclusive fairy tales

Cover of a children's book containing LGBTQ+ inclusive fairy tales

Les livres interdits

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that imposing a warning label on a children’s book because it contains LGBTQ+ inclusive fairy tales is unjustifiable and violates the right to freedom of expression.

In 2013, the Lithuanian University of Educational Sciences published late lesbian writer Neringa Macaté’s book Gintarinė širdis (“Amber Heart”), containing six fairy tales, two of which had storylines about relationships and marriages between persons of the same sex. After it was published, complaints were submitted and the Lithuanian courts agreed that the book could cause harm to children because of the LGBTQ+ inclusive fairy tales

The Inspectorate of Journalistic Ethics concluded that the book has a negative effect on minors and therefore recommended that the book be labeled with a warning that it might be harmful to children under 14 years of age. But in 2019, the author, who passed away in 2020, took the matter to the European Court of Human Rights. On Tuesday, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that imposing a warning label on a children’s book because it contains LGBTQ inclusive fairy tales is unjustifiable and violates the right to freedom of expression. The court also ordered Lithuania to pay €17,000 to the author’s mother to cover damages and litigation costs.

🇲🇽 Mexico Police Arbitrarily LGBTQ+ People On Grounds Of “Lack Of Morality And/Or Good Manners

In the State of Mexico, phrases such as "lack of morality" are used by the police to harass, extort and arbitrarily detains LGBTQ+ people in public spaces. The findings are shown in an analysis of the 125 municipal governments of the State.

Ricardo Torres, president of Fuera del Clóset A.C. explained “we have been documenting arbitrary arrests, extortion, and harassment by public servants, especially municipal police, for 10 years… And this is something that not only occurs in the State of Mexico, but throughout the country, which uses the figure of ‘lack of morality’ or ‘exhibitionism’ as the perfect excuse for the detention of LGBT+ people."

🇫🇷 France Mourns Bullied Gay Teenage Teenager Who Committed Suicide

Lucas, a 13-year-old gay boy committed suicide on Jan. 7 in Vosges, France. According to his mother, during a press conference last Monday, he was the victim of harassment in the form of teasing and insults due to his homosexuality. A march in memory of Lucas will be held Sunday, Feb. 5.

On Friday, Jan. 27, public prosecutor Frédéric Nahon announced that four students will be tried in the spring for harassing and pushing Lucas to suicide, He also announced the opening of an “incidental investigation against X for non-disclosure of ill-treatment of minors”. During Monday's press conference, broadcast live by the news channels, Lucas' mother said: "It's not just these four young people, it's not just them [...] But it will be the court that will decide. I just want my son to rest in peace and for justice to be done.”

The news has shaken the country with many institutions being scrutinized. One wrote to the French President: “Mr. Macron, stop saying that primary school is "far too early" to deal with questions of sexual orientation and gender identity.“

🇺🇬 Ugandan LGBTQ+ Rights Activist Margaret Sekaggya Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Photo of \u200bU.S. Mission Alumni Impact Awards Ceremony

U.S. Mission Alumni Impact Awards Ceremony

U.S. Embassy Kampala

The U.S. Mission in Uganda has given activist Margaret Sekaggya the Dorothy Ngalombi Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of her outstanding service and achievements as a human rights defender during the U.S. Mission Alumni Impact Awards Ceremony.

Before she founded the Human Rights and Peace Center, of which she is currently the executive director, Sekaggya served as the Chairperson of the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC), which she also helped establish. Sekaggya was also the first United Nations special rapporteur for human rights defenders.

Sekaggya is also known for having successfully opposed the 2010 Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda that would have imposed on an offender imprisonment of at least five years, and in the case of a non-governmental organization, the canceling of its certificate of registration and criminal liability for its director.

🇬🇧 London’s Trans Inclusive “Vagina Museum” Gets Eviction Notice – Again

The world’s only vagina museum dedicated to “vaginas, vulvas and the gynecological anatomy” currently located in London, UK, has been yet again asked to vacate the premises, less than a year after it moved into its Bethnal Green site.

The museum’s aim since it opened in Camden Market in 2019 has been to promote queer and trans-inclusive education about anatomy, which has subjected the venue to severe transphobia. After welcoming 40,000 visitors free of charge during the past ten months, the Vagina Museum will be closed to the public from Feb. 1 so it can vacate the premises.

🇺🇸 Utah Bans Gender-Affirming Medical Care

The Republican-dominated state of Utah has become the first U.S. state to ban gender-affirming care for young trans people. The new measure, passed into law on Jan. 28, will include gender surgery, puberty blockers, and hormone therapy for minors that had not been yet diagnosed with gender dysphoria.

Utah Governor Spencer Corx affirms that this ban was brought on by a desire for “more and better research” to understand the “consequences” of gender-affirming healthcare. But Brittney Nystrom, executive director of the ACLU of Utah, affirms that this bill “bans access to life-saving medical care for transgender youth in Utah”. Another 18 other states are currently considering similar legislation.

🇳🇱 Dutch Constitution Changed To Ban Sexual Orientation-Based Discrimination

The Dutch parliament has approved an amendment in the constitution to explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and disability. This new amendment, which still requires King William Alexander’s signature and the government’s final approval to be officially inscribed in the constitution, comes as a historic victory for LGBTQ+ people and people with disabilities in the Netherlands.

“A disability, or who you fall in love with, should never be a reason to be excluded,” said Habtamu de Hoop, member of the PvdA, a left-wing opposition party in the country.

🇺🇸 Trans Model Laith Ashley Stars As Taylor Swift’s Love Interest In New Music Video

Trans model and actor Laith Ashley is Taylor Swift’s love interest in her new music video. Laith Ashely co-stars as the singer’s love interest in the new music video for “Lavender Haze,” the second single from her 2022 album Midnights. Ashley has previously appeared in campaigns for Barney’s and Diesel, walked the runway for Marco Marco, and was the first out trans member of the “pit crew” on RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Swift’s choice of casting for a video she wrote and directed herself has been defined as “a big moment for representation” by Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation’s director of trans representation Alex Schmider.

OTHERWISE

• “Queer,” you say? MambaOnline unpacks the history of the word itself.

• If you’re familiar with the works of UK non-binary poet Kae Tempest, you know any interview with them is bound to be interesting.

• Openly looks back on the death of Kenyan LGBTQ+ activist and the inclusion-led movement it sparked for new generation of Africans.

• “Witchcraft is rooted in healing, rebellion, and rituals: all things that are intertwined with LGBTQ+ culture,” writes Nicole Lee in GCN.

• Disappointed by the Academy Awards nominees? Here are 10 Must-Watch LGBTQ+ Films That the Oscars Overlooked.

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Society

Why Every New Parent Should Travel Alone — Without Their Children

Argentine journalist Ignacio Pereyra travels to Italy alone to do some paperwork as his family stays behind. While he walks alone around Rome, he experiences mixed feelings: freedom, homesickness and nostalgia, and wonders what leads people to desire larger families.

Photo of a man sitting donw with his luggage at Athens' airport

Alone at Athens' international airport

Ignacio Pereyra

I realize it in the morning before leaving: I feel a certain level of excitement about traveling. It feels like enthusiasm, although it is confusing. I will go from Athens to Naples to see if I can finish the process for my Italian citizenship, which I started five years ago.

I started the process shortly after we left Buenos Aires, when my partner Irene and I had been married for two years and the idea of having children was on the vague but near horizon.

Now there are four of us and we have been living in Greece for more than two years. We arrived here in the middle of the pandemic, which left a mark on our lives, as in the lives of most of the people I know.

But now it is Sunday morning. I tell Lorenzo, my four-year-old son, that I am leaving for a few days: “No, no, Dad. You can’t go. Otherwise I’ll throw you into the sea.”

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