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Photo of people putting their hands up in heart shapes following ​Slovenia's decision to legalize same-sex marriage and adoption

Slovenia became the first country in Eastern Europe to legalize same-sex marriage and adoption

Worldcrunch

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:

  • Fingers pointed at Coca-Cola, Disney and Pfizer
  • Soweto Pride
  • Pakistan’s Shariah v. transgender rights
  • … 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.

🇸🇮 Slovenia Becomes First Eastern European Country To Legalize Same-Sex Marriage And Adoption

The Slovenian parliament passed an amendment on Tuesday allowing same-sex couples to marry and adopt, making it the first country from behind the former Iron Curtain to do so. The change comes after a July ruling that Slovenia’s existing law defining marriage as only between a man and a woman discriminated against gay and lesbian couples.

Although the country’s main opposition party, the Slovenian Democratic Party, criticized the court's decision and organized several rallies against the new law, Slovenia is now the first former communist country in Europe to legalize same-sex marriage.

"With these changes, we are recognizing the rights of same-sex couples that they should have had for a long time," said State Secretary Simon Maljevac.

🇮🇸 Iceland To Introduce Key Measures To Improve Trans Lives

Iceland has introduced a new LGBTQ+ action plan, which will set landmark changes to the country’s LGBTQ+ policy. The country’s Parliament will initiate the changes from 2022 to 2025, including an end to the discriminatory blood donation policy, training in LGBTQ+ issues for the police, as well as improvements in Trans healthcare.

Iceland already has LGBTQ+ protections in place for its citizens, and in 2017 was ranked as the world’s least homophobic country. Now, the new plan hopes to further focus on wellbeing, ensuring the health and protection of LGBTQ+ youth, elderly people, and disabled people, as well as protections against LGBTQ+ domestic violence.

​🇸🇻 El Salvador Bans Gay-Friendly Sex Ed Show From State TV

The President of El Salvador Nayib Bukele announced via Twitter his decision to suspend the contract between the Teacher Training Institute and the state television station to prevent the broadcast of sexual identity content. He made the move after pressure came from people who said their kids were being taught "gender ideology". The program contained an animated video that went viral explaining to eighth grade students that, from puberty, adolescents could have attraction towards other people, even of the same gender.

As Presentes explains, prior to his election, Bukele spoke in favor of LGBTQ+ rights, but on the first day of his term, he closed the government’s Inclusion office and adopted a conservative stance. In the Central American country, the Catholic and Evangelical churches of different denominations have a great influence on executive and legislative decisions.

​🌐 Coca-Cola, Disney And Pfizer Accused Of Funding Anti-LGBTQ+ And Anti-Abortion Politicians

Accountable for Equality Action screenshot


After a new database was released that allows users to look into the politicians supported by major companies. Coca-Cola, Disney and Pfizer were named among companies funding anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-abortion politicians.

Accountable for Equality Action (AFEA), the organization responsible for the investigation, says the initiative was launched to “measure allyship based on corporate contributions.” The database tracks donations, from 2016 on, made by corporations to the U.S. politicians behind legislation blocking LGBTQ+, voting and reproductive rights, as reported by Pink News.

Coca-Cola is reported to have given $93,078 to 125 state legislators who were listed as co-sponsors of “insurrectionist, anti-LGBTQ+, anti-voting rights, and anti-choice legislation.” Walmart donated $496,497, Walt Disney gave $32,000, energy company Chevron gave $353,900, and pharmaceutical company Pfizer handed over $364,250 in anti-LGBTQ+ donations. Other major companies listed on the database include Target, Rite Aid, Expedia, Facebook, Airbnb, T-Mobile, Paypal, Ebay, McDonald’s, Budweiser, Stella Artois and Home Depot.

🇬🇧 Virgin Atlantic Launches New Gender-Neutral Uniform Policy

Virgin Atlantic announced it was changing its uniform policy to make it more inclusive. The British airline’s crew, pilots and ground teams will no longer have to wear gendered uniforms and may instead choose the outfit they feel most comfortable in, “no matter their gender, gender identity, or gender expression.”

Optional pronoun badges have also been introduced both for crew and passengers and gender neutral “U” or “X” codes are now available in the company's booking system for people holding gender neutral passports. Virgin Atlantic had scrapped its mandatory makeup requirement for female staff in 2019 and earlier this year, it had also become the first airline in the UK to allow visible tattoos.

🇧🇷 Brazil Elects Three Trans Federal Deputies For First Time

For the first time ever, Brazil has elected three transsexual federal deputies: Robeyoncé Lima, Duda Salabert and Erika Hilton. Sunday’s election for the Congress included 11 political parties that presented candidates for election within the category.

Although many were disappointed with Brazil’s presidential election result, hoping to see a first-round win for Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, both transgender candidates won their elections easily, promising to fight for LGBTQ+ rights. Lula faces off against incumbent right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro on Oct. 30.

🇦🇷 Argentine Trans Activist Alba Rueda Included In TIME’s “100 Leaders Of The Future”

Alba Rueda's official Facebook page


Trans activist Alba Rueda was recognized by TIME magazine as one of the 100 leaders of the future. She holds the position of Special Representative of Argentina on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity of the Foreign Ministry and was one of the activists for the Gender Identity Law as well as for equal marriage. She also founded and presided over Mujeres Trans Argentina, a trailblazing organization.

🇯🇵 🇺🇸 U.S. Husband Of Japanese National Sues Government Over Long-Term Visa Rules

A partial win for the American-Japanese gay couple now living in Japan who had sued the Tokyo District Court, claiming the government has repeatedly denied a long-term resident visa to the U.S. national. On Sept. 30, presiding judge Yoshitaka Ichihara ruled American Andrew High was eligible for a “designated activities” status which has to be renewed every 5 years, but denied both a long-term visa and sought damages of 1.1 million yen ($7,620).

High and his Japanese partner, Kohei, married in the U.S. in 2015 following the legalization of same-sex marriage. However, such unions are not legally recognized in Japan, where they moved a few years later. While overseas partners of Japanese citizens in heterosexual marriages may apply for extended residence status via a spouse visa or a long-term residency visa, the rule does not apply to same-sex couple. The American citizen has been residing in the country on a temporary visa and has been applying for a long-term resident visa five times since 2018.

The “designated activities” visa grants up to a five-year stay in Japan and is renewable. It is a “positive step forward”, High told the Japan Times adding he was still disappointed with the court’s decision.

​🇺🇸 12,000 Virginia Students Walk Out In Protest Of Anti-Trans Policies

To protest Republican governor Glenn Youngkin's proposed rollback of transgender rights, Pride Liberation Project, a student-led organization, coordinated walkouts with students at nearly 100 schools across the U.S. state of Virginia on Tuesday.

Laws published in 2021 under the previous Democratic governor, Gov. Ralph Northam, attempted to create a safe and healthy atmosphere for all students, stating that schools should “minimize social stigmatization for such students and maximize opportunities for social integration.”

The new policies seem to undo all of the affirming and inclusive measures previously implemented, stating that students should use the name and gender assigned to them at birth, especially when it comes to using bathrooms, playing on sports teams and other extracurricular activities.

🇿🇦 Soweto Pride, Raising Awareness In Violent Townships

franceinsouthafrica via Instagram


Hundreds of people took part in the 18th edition of the Soweto Pride on Sept. 24, marching through the streets of the South African township to raise public awareness on prejudice, harassment and violence against LGBTQ+ people. “We live in these townships which are very violent towards queer bodies. So marching is a form of saying we are here, we exist. It’s a political programme,” said Azania Sengwayo, executive director of the organization Vaal LGBTI.

🇵🇰 Pakistan’s Council Of Islamic Ideology Says 2018 Transgender Law “Not In Line With Shariah”

Pakistan’s Council of Islamic Ideology said in a statement on Tuesday that the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act is “not in line with the Shariah”, as “several provisions of the act are inconsistent with Islamic principles.”

The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, passed in 2018 by the National Assembly, allows transgender persons equal rights to education and voting, access basic health facilities, the ability to choose their name and gender on their ID cards and passports.

Senator Mushtaq Ahmad Khan of the Jamaat-e-Islami has officially challenged the act in the Federal Shariat Court.

🇮🇷 UN Officials Demand Iran Halts Planned Execution Of LGBTQ+ Activists

UN officials have joined human rights organizations on the call to halt the planned execution of two women, Zahra Seddiqi-Hamedani, 31, and Elham Choubdar, 24.

On Sept. 4, the two LGBTQ+ activists were sentenced to death by a court in Urmia, northwest Iran, for “spreading corruption on earth” by "promoting homosexuality", "promoting Christianity", and "communicating with the media opposing the Islamic Republic."

Iran’s legal system criminalizes homosexuality, which under the country’s Penal Code 2013 is punishable by death.

“We strongly condemn the sentencing of Ms. Sedighi-Hamadani and Ms. Choubdar to death, and call on authorities to stay their executions and annul their sentences as soon as possible,” says the UN statement. “Authorities must ensure the health and well-being of both women, and promptly release them from detention.” It came to light that Zahra Seddiqi Hamedani, arrested in October 2021, had been subjected to torture, deprived of the right to access a lawyer during her detention, under arrest arbitrarily against international standards. She attempted suicide on September 7.

​🇳🇬 Nollywood Actor Godwin Maduagu Comes Out After Sex Tape Blackmail

Official Instagram account


In a video he posted on his Instagram account, celebrated Nigerian actor Godwin Maduagu tells of his struggles and eventually coming to terms with his sexuality, since a gay sex tape of him was leaked online last year.

He had previously denied appearing in the video, which he revealed was leaked by a friend in an effort to blackmail him after Maduagu shot to fame. The Nollywood star has now shared how, after having contemplated suicide, he ended up finding solace in coming out thanks to the support of his friends and family.

“Look at me now living my truth because I’ve now gotten a strong thick skin,” Maduagu says.

OTHERWISE

• Tune in to this new Irish-made podcast that highlights what it means to be an LGBTQ+ refugee.

• In the U.S, October is LGBTQ+ History Month. Here’s a look back at how it started, how it spread internationally, and why it’s important.

• Cat & dog lovers will appreciate this Gaysi article: Queer People On Finding Themselves Through Their Pets.

NPR speaks with Dr. Nasser Mohammed, an activist who is using the soccer World Cup in Qatar to highlight the country's poor record on LGBTQ+ rights.

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Green

Fading Flavor: Production Of Saffron Declines Sharply

Saffron is well-known for its flavor and its expense. But in Kashmir, one of the flew places it grows, cultivation has fallen dramatically thanks for climate change, industry, and farming methods.

Photo of women harvesting saffron in Kashmir

Harvesting of Saffron in Kashmir

Mubashir Naik

In northern India along the bustling Jammu-Srinagar national highway near Pampore — known as the saffron town of Kashmir —people are busy picking up saffron flowers to fill their wicker baskets.

During the autumn season, this is a common sight in the Valley as saffron harvesting is celebrated like a festival in Kashmir. The crop is harvested once a year from October 21 to mid-November.

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