When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.


The BBC is the British public service broadcaster, and the world's oldest national broadcasting organization. It broadcasts in up to 28 different languages.
Photo of a visitor looking at the Elgin marbles also known as the Parthenon marbles, at the British Museum
food / travel
Spencer Hooker, Valeria Berghinz and Michelle Courtois

British Museum Privilege? Behold The Treasures Others Are Returning To Rightful Owners

The simmering UK-Greece dispute over the Elgin Marbles shines a light on the worldwide efforts to push Western powers, often with colonial pasts, to give back looted artistic and historical artifacts.

"If I told you [to] cut the Mona Lisa in half... do you think your viewers would appreciate the beauty of the painting?"

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told the BBC earlier this week when asked about why the legendary Parthenon sculptures, also known as the Elgin Marbles, should be returned to Greece in their entirety.

✉️ You can receive our Bon Vivant selection of fresh reads on international culture, food & travel directly in your inbox. Subscribe here.

The treasures, which are part of the frieze of the Parthenon temple in Athens, have been at the heart of a dispute between Greece and the United Kingdom since a British diplomat snatched them in the 19th century. They are on display at the British Museum in London.

Following the BBC interview, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak canceled a planned meeting with his Greek counterpart, which was to take place on Tuesday during Mitsotakis’s trip to London.

While the United Kingdom, and the British Museum in particular, continues to balk at the return of looted cultural artifacts, other Western powers — often with a colonial past — have been busy in recent years giving artifacts back to the country of origin.

Here's a look at some of the most notable cases around the world:

Watch VideoShow less
photo of a young man comforting his mother
In The News
Jakob Mieszkowski-Lapping, Emma Albright and Anne-Sophie Goninet

Palestinians Trapped In Northern Gaza Between Israeli And Hamas Orders — Mideast War, Day 7

A full siege is on in Gaza, and there's little room for escape for civilians.

Updated Oct. 13, at 5:55 p.m.

The reality of Palestinian civilians caught in the middle of warring parties has never been more evident than right now in northern Gaza.

Early Friday, the Israeli military told the United Nations that everyone living north of Wadi Gaza nature reserve should relocate “southwards” in the next 24 hours.

Just hours later, Hamas called on people in Gaza to stay where they are.

For the latest news & views from every corner of the world, Worldcrunch Today is the only truly international newsletter. Sign up here.

“Remain steadfast in your homes and to stand firm in the face of this disgusting psychological war waged by the occupation,” Hamas told those in the north of the besieged city, via a statement sent to media organizations. “Scenes of migration and displacement are a thing of the past and won’t be repeated, except with the victorious return of our people to our occupied land.”

Hamas, which was voted into power in Gaza, is also a heavily armed militia, and their demand that people not evacuate risks intimidating those that might want to try to leave.

Israel’s original announcement that people should leave northern Gaza is already an "impossible" demand, the United Nations said Friday. Any such attempt would bring major humanitarian consequences as it would involve displacing around 40,000 people per hour.

In response to the deadly Hamas terror attack last weekend that killed more than 1,000 Israelis, the government of Israel announced it was cuting off basic necessities such as food and water to the narrow strip of coastal land where more than 2 million Palestinians live. Meanwhile, bombing continues in Gaza, as a likely Israeli ground war approaches.

The UN has urged Israelis to withdraw the announcement. On the ground convoys of the International Red Cross and United Nations humanitarian agency staff have been spotted traveling south from Gaza City towards the southern part of territory, which may be in preparation for possible evacuation operation.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) has called on the world to help “prevent a humanitarian catastrophe” in Gaza, stressing there are “no safe areas” to evacuate.

“We do not have the means to evacuate the sick and the wounded in our hospitals, or the elderly and the disabled. There are no safe areas in the whole of the Gaza Strip,” it says in a statement.

The PRCS called on international aid organizations on the ground in Gaza including the International Committee of the Red Cross to intervene with governments to “protect humanity and humanitarian space” and put pressure on “Israel to rescind this order.”

Later Friday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Israel's cutting off vital supplies to Gaza is a “breach of the most fundamental human rights.”

Israel drops leaflets over Gaza warning residents to flee

The Israeli military has been dropping leaflets from the skies above Gaza City. The flyers warn residents to flee "immediately" to southern Gaza.

Israel has been carrying out a heavy campaign of airstrikes in Gaza which have killed more than 1,500 people. It is also believed to be getting ready for a ground offensive into Gaza.

Gaza’s largest hospital will not evacuate

Despite orders by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) to evacuate the northern half of Gaza, the Al Shifa Hospital, the largest hospital in Gaza, will stay put. “We have nowhere to transport the patients to,” said Dr. Muhammad Abu Salima, the director of the hospital, justifying the decision on Friday.

Gaza’s hospital system is on the brink of collapse, with fuel and medical supplies being denied to the Palestinian territory by Israel’s siege. The Jordanian government sent a plane of medical supplies to Egypt on Thursday, intended to be delivered to Gaza through the Rafah border crossing between the coastal enclave and the Egyptian controlled Sinai Desert. The status of this aid is unknowable at this time.

Blinken meets with President of Palestinian Authority and the King of Jordan

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken traveled on Friday to Amman to speak first with King Abdullah II of Jordan, followed by a meeting with Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas.

King Abdullah II cautioned “any attempt to displace Palestinians from all their lands or provoke their displacement,” during the meeting, according to French daily Le Monde.

Displacing Palastinians at a mass level would only “aggravate” the refugee crisis in neighboring countries, such as Jordan. The King demanded that humanitarian corridors remain open, so that medical supplies and other vital goods can be delivered to the people of Gaza.

Israel missiles hit Damascus, Aleppo airports

Photo of an Israeli tank on the border with Syria

A Jan. 2 photo of Israeli soldiers near the Syrian border in a tank in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Ayal Margolin/Jini/Xinhua

Israel launched simultaneous missile strikes Thursday at two of Syria’s airports, in its capital Damascus and in the northern city of Aleppo, reports Syrian state news agency SANA. A Syrian military source told the agency that the runways of both airports have been damaged, and both hubs are now out of service. There are no immediate reports of casualties.

The military source said "bursts of missiles" hit the two airports at the same time, in what he said was a bid to distract the world's attention from Israel's war with Hamas militants in Gaza.

If confirmed, the strike raises the risk of a region-wide expansion of the six-day-old war between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas. A longstanding enemy of Israel, which occupies the Golan Heights, Syria is allied with regional power Iran, and Thursday's strikes came a day before Iran's foreign minister, Hossein Amirabdollahian, was due to visit Syria.

The strike also coincided with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinkens’ visit to Israel, and came hours after Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi spoke by phone with his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad, calling on Arab and Islamic countries to cooperate in confronting Israel.

Israel has vowed to defeat Hamas movement that rules Gaza, after Saturday’s attack that has killed more than 1,000 civilians. Tehran has celebrated the Hamas attacks but denied being behind them.

On Tuesday, Israeli troops fired artillery and mortar shells towards Syria after rockets from southern Syria hit Israeli positions across the border. For years, Israel has carried out strikes against what it has described as Iran-linked targets in Syria, including against the Aleppo and Damascus airports.

Sources have said strikes on the airports are intended to disrupt Iranian supply lines to Syria, where Tehran's influence has grown since it began supporting President Bashar al-Assad in the civil war that started in 2011.

Israel links siege to fate of hostages

Israel has decided to use its ongoing siege of Gaza — which has cut off vital supplies to 2.2 million Palestinians since Tuesday — as a hardline bargaining chip to force Hamas to release scores of civilian hostages being held since Saturday’s attack in southern Israel.

Israeli Energy Minister Israel Katz said Thursday that Gaza will not be provided with any electricity, water, or fuel until Israeli hostages are returned home. Katz took to X, formerly known as Twitter, and posted that “no electrical switch will be turned on, no water hydrant will be opened, and no fuel truck will enter until the Israeli abductees are returned home. Humanitarian for humanitarian.”

People in Gaza can still use power generators for electricity but with all sides of the border blocked, the fuel needed for the generators to work is running out. Hamas militants are holding as many as 150 hostages in Gaza, and the Israeli government has confirmed the identity of 97 of them.

Meanwhile, Gaza’s sole electric power station has been switched off, and over-capacity hospitals are running out of fuel. Hospitals in Gaza "risk turning into morgues" as they lose power during Israel's bombardment of the enclave, the International Committee of the Red Cross warned on Thursday.

This showdown over the siege and hostages comes as Israel is preparing for what many believe is an imminent ground invasion into Gaza. A new Israeli unity government and war cabinet that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu formed with opposition leader Benny Gantz must take into account the hostage situation.

One extreme-right government minister has been quoted in the Israeli press saying "now is the time to be brutal”, suggesting that the fate of the hostages is not a relevant factor moving forward. Many others are pushing for Israel to do everything it can to rescue them, especially as families of the hostages make public appeals.

On Wednesday night, al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s armed wing, released a video allegedly showing the release of a female captive and two children. Israel dismissed the video as “theatrics” intended to distract from the group’s “true face as a barbaric organization”. Furthermore, Hamas warned that it would start executing hostages if Israel targeted people in Gaza without warning.

Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus, a spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said that Israel has never dealt with a hostage situation like this: "Not in the scope, not in the magnitude and not in the complexity of where our hostages are." Conricus also added that the hostages are being kept underground, to "keep them safe from Israeli intelligence, and efforts to get them out."

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken landed in Israel on Thursday to show solidarity and seek to prevent the war from spreading as well as push for the release of captives. In a conference with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Blinken has reassured Israel that they will “never, ever” have to fight alone.

Israel clarifies goals of ground offensive

Photo of  Israeli army on Gaza border

IDF fires artillery shells into Gaza as fighting between Israeli troops and Islamist Hamas militants continues.

Ilia Yefimovich/dpa/Zuma

Daniel Hagari, Israel’s top military spokesman, articulated on Thursday that the main priority of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is to “eliminate” all senior members of Hamas and to eradicate the “ability of Hamas” to govern in Gaza according to the New York Times.

This is one of the first instances that a high ranking Israeli official has indicated a clear military objective since the beginning of the war on Saturday. It remains unclear what Israel’s political solution will be in Gaza if Hamas, which has dominated Gaza’s partially-autonomous government since the faction was elected in 2006, is successfully rooted out by the IDF. More than 1,300 have been killed in Gaza since Israel launched retaliatory air strikes, with 338,000 displaced.

Volodymyr Zelensky wants to go to Israel

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky wants to go to Israel to show solidarity with the country amid the fighting in Gaza according to Ukrainian and Israeli officials cited by Axios. A visit by Zelensky would boost international support for Israel's counteroffensive against Hamas in Gaza. Zelensky also told reporters on Wednesday that in the early days of Russia’s invasion, it was critical for Ukraine to feel international support.

"This is why I urge all leaders to visit Israel and show their support for the people. I'm not talking about any institutions, but about support for the people who suffered from terrorist attacks and are dying today," Zelensky said after a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels.

Since Hamas' attack on Saturday, Zelensky has given Israel strong public support and equated Hamas to Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine.

Israeli tourists in India try to get home

“I’m scared to go back. I’m scared that the situation will get out of hand,” says Shira Zer. This young Israeli realized something was wrong when her flight from New Delhi’s airport to Israel was canceled on Saturday. She then learned about the terrible news, including the death of one of her friends at the music festival raided by Hamas militants. Since the attack, Israeli tourists have been gathering in the Indian capital’s Chabad House to discuss the situation, find comfort and pray.

Clément Perruche, French daily Les Echos’ correspondent in India, talks with some of the Israelis trying to go back amid suspended flights, and gets their first reactions. “It’s terrible. Imagine you are sleeping and someone comes to kill you. What these terrorists did is not human,” says a young Israeli woman.

Jordan sends supplies to Gaza

The Rafah crossing along Gaza’s southern border with Egypt has been reported reopened after it was closed by Egyptian authorities on Tuesday due to Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza side. The crossing remains the only current escape route out of Gaza for Palestinian civilians fleeing Israeli airstrikes and the all but imminent ground invasion of Gaza. CNN later reported that it is “unclear” whether the border has been reopened.

The crossing is far from ideal however — only 400 people are allowed to cross into Egypt from Gaza during “normal” times. It is unclear if Egyptian authorities will increase this quota given the extreme circumstances and unprecedented volume of fleeing Palestinians. Egyptian border agents are likely to take security quite seriously, out of fear that Hamas fighters may attempt to relocate and take refuge in the Sinai Desert — potentially slowing down its ability to process fleeing Gazans.

Jordan has sent “medicine and medical supplies” to Egypt by plane to be delivered to Gaza. The scope and scale of the supply convoy is unknown at this time, but is undoubtedly a welcome sign to civilians in Gaza who have been cut off by Israel from electricity, food, water and fuel.

More than 100 antisemitic acts have been recorded in France since Saturday 

More than 100 anti-Semitic acts, consisting mainly of “graffiti” have been recorded by French police since Saturday, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said in an interview with radio station France Inter.The graffiti includes swastikas and calls to kill Jews, in addition to "some more serious acts," including people with weapons stopped at the entrance to Jewish sites, he said.

There is currently no specific Islamist terrorist threat targeting Jews in France, Darmanin added. But he warned that "hate online has been unleashed," with an "extremely raised" level of reports of antisemitic abuse online.

"If it's a protest in support of Hamas or in support of the action by some Palestinians against Israel, it's 'No.' So, since Sunday we're prohibiting them on a case-by-case basis," Darmanin said, following the bans of several pro-Palestinian protests in France. "The Palestinian cause is absolutely respectable."

Elon Musk’s X says it has removed "hundreds" of Hamas-affiliated accounts

Social Media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, claimed on Wednesday that it has removed “hundreds of Hamas-affiliated accounts” after deleting thousands of posts since the war began on Saturday. The European Union (EU) gave Billionaire Elon Musk’s X 24 hours to address illegal content and disinformation related to the conflict before facing penalties under the Digital Services Act, a recently enacted EU law passed by the European Commission.

X has faced widespread criticism for allowing misinformation to flourish, a phenomenon amplified by the outbreak of war between Hamas and Israel this week.

For more, read our piece on Worldcrunch.

Photo of damage in Gaza
Emma Albright and Bertrand Hauger

Mideast War, Day 3: Israel Launches “Complete Siege” Of Gaza

Civilians in the crowded Palestinian enclave may be forced to face a long-term cut off of basic necessities, food and water. Is this an alternative to a ground war.

Forty-eight hours after Hamas launched an unprecedented attack against Israel, Israel's Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced Monday that he's ordered a "complete siege" on Hamas-run Gaza.

“We are putting a complete siege on Gaza […] No electricity, no food, no water, no gas – it’s all closed,” Gallant declared in a video statement. Israel controls the airspace over Gaza and its shoreline, and has wide power to be able to restrict the goods and services that flow across its border into the crowded enclave of 2.3 million people. Limited trade typically passes through Gaza’s southern border with Egypt, which has not yet commented on Israel’s announced siege.

Gaza residents are now saying that the entrances to towns and cities have been shut off with iron fences and cement blocks. New military checkpoints have also been installed, all pointing to a state of siege indeed being put in place. This comes on top of other responses from Israel following the surprise attack Saturday morning by Hamas, as gunmen breached security barriers and launched up to 5,000 rockets in an initial barrage. Israeli jet fighters launched retaliatory strikes in Gaza, with the death toll now rising to more than 700 Israelis killed and at least 500 on the Palestinian front, with thousands more injured on both sides.

For the latest news & views from every corner of the world, Worldcrunch Today is the only truly international newsletter. Sign up here.

Sieges have been used throughout history as a weapon of war, with dire and lasting consequences on populations. The Siege of Leningrad, for instance, lasted for 872 days during World War II, is believed to have killed 1.5 million, many by starvation. During the Siege of Sarajevo, which took place from 1992 to 1996 during the Bosnian War, some 14,000 people were killed — including more than 5,400 civilians, as a total blockade was imposed on the city.

As Israel decides how to retaliate against Hamas, it will no doubt be calculating in the impact of a hostage situation, as many Israelis are thought to be have been captured in Saturday's assault, and currently held in locations across Gaza. Israeli Lieutenant Colonel Richard Hecht said during a news conference on Monday that “dozens” of people were taken hostage by Hamas, including elderly civilians, families and children. Al Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, has warned that Israeli attacks in the area could pose a threat to hostages, with the Palestinian militant group claiming to be holding over 130 people captured in Israel. Hamas' head of international relations Basem Naim said the group is "committed and we are obliged to treat our hostages in a very human, dignified way."

What is not clear from Israel's siege announcement is whether it is seen as a preparation, or alternative, to an even more ambitious and dangerous strategy: a ground war to re-occupy Gaza.

Drone footage of festival massacre

Volunteers searching for bodies at the Supernova music festival site, where at least 260 people were killed on Saturday, have had to suspend their search because they are “under fire” from militants. Yossi Landau, a commander in the Zaka volunteer group, says his team of 25 have so far recovered 162 bodies from the site of the festival. Footage from Saturday showed the festival-goers running as the attacks began.

The festival site was in the Negev desert, near Kibbutz Re'im. It was not far from Gaza, from where Hamas fighters crossed over at dawn to launch their attack. They infiltrated towns and villages, taking dozens of people hostage.

Death toll is also international

Several countries around the world have confirmed that their citizens were either killed or kidnapped, days after Hamas launched a surprise attack against Israel.

Ten students from Nepal were among those killed after Hamas’ surprise attack, said Nepal’s embassy in Tel Aviv in a statement on Sunday.

Thailand's Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said that at least 12 of its citizens have been killed and 11 captured.

President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed that two Ukrainian citizens have died in Israel and more than 100 citizens had contacted the country's embassy.

French lawmaker, Meyer Habib, who represents French people living abroad in a number of Mediterranean countries including Israel, took to X, formerly known as Twitter, to confirm that at least eight French nationals were missing, confirmed dead or taken hostage.

Nine U.S. citizens have died in the conflict in Israel, a U.S. National Security Council spokesperson said Monday.

French cartoonist draws parallel with 9/11

In French daily Libération, cartoonist Corinne Rey, a.k.a. Coco, compares the weekend’s attacks on Israel to 9/11, pivoting the Israeli flag to turn its two blue stripes into the World Trade Center towers.

Austria, Germany to suspend aid to Palestine 

Austria said on Monday it was suspending its aid to Palestinians in response to Islamist group Hamas's deadly attack on Israel. Meanwhile, Germany appeared to do the same, saying no aid payments were currently being made.

Further steps will be decided "in cooperation with the European Union and international partners", according to the head of Austrian diplomacy. He also announced that the Iranian ambassador had been summoned to the ministry to protest against "abominable reactions." Iran was one of the first countries to welcome Hamas's massive surprise attack on Saturday.

123,000 displaced in Gaza due to fear and destroyed homes

Photo of destruction seen in Gaza

Destroyed buildings and homes in Gaza

Naaman Omar/APA Images/Zuma

The United Nations says 123,538 people in Gaza have been internally displaced, mostly "due to fear, protection concerns and the destruction of their homes". The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) added that 73,000 people are sheltering in schools. There are currently 2.3 million Palestinians living in Gaza.

Before launching its retaliatory air strikes on Saturday, Israel warned people living in certain areas to leave. "I'm telling the people of Gaza: get out of there now, because we're about to act everywhere with all our force," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday.

Italy, Jordan seen as possible intermediaries 

Though the question of negotiations is premature, limiting the escalation and bloodshed will require the international community to find a channel for mediation. Italian daily La Stampa reports that Italy is ready to make itself available as a country that both parties could potentially speak with. As compared to some other European capitals, Rome is not looked at suspiciously by Israeli authorities. “At the moment, we don’t have any negative indications about Italians in Israel,” said Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani.

Middle Eastern neighbor Jordan is also seen as a possible channel for truce talks. Indeed, Tajani confirmed that he was speaking Monday afternoon with his counterpart in Amman, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Hsafadi. “We’ve condemned the barbaric attack against Israel,” Tajani said. “De-escalation and humanitarian corridors for the release of prisoners in Gaza are at the center of the conversation. Jordan is a crucial country for the stability of the region."

Front pages from around the world

The vast majority of newspapers around the world are dedicating their front pages to the sudden escalation of violence in the Middle East, check our international collection.

Rumors of Russian involvement 

Russia has been accused of involvement in the Hamas operation, though no evidence has emerged to confirm the reports, according to independent Russian news outlet Agents Media. Writing in the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, retired British Army Colonel Richard Kemp said that “unwilling to engage directly with NATO, Russian President Vladimir Putin is instead fueling conflicts between Azerbaijan and Armenia, Serbia and Kosovo, West Africa, and now Israel.”

Meanwhile, the American Institute for the Study of War has suggested that Russia might benefit from the shift in international attention away from its atrocities in Ukraine and towards the deteriorating situation in Israel and the Palestinian territories. Israel is expected to launch a ground assault into Gaza in the coming days, while tensions remain high in the occupied West Bank and along the border with Lebanon, where Hezbollah enjoys de facto control.

Oil prices rise following Hamas attack on Israel 

Oil prices have risen, following concerns that the situation in Israel and Gaza could disrupt output from the Middle East. Brent crude, the international benchmark, climbed by $2.25 a barrel to $86.83, while U.S. prices also rose. Israel and Palestinian territories are not oil producers but the Middle Eastern region accounts for almost a third of global supply.

A spokesperson for Hamas, the Palestinian militant group, told the BBC that the group had direct backing for the move from Iran, one of the world's largest oil producers.

Tape guarded by russian offiials blocks off the street next to a drone damaged building
FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Cameron Manley

How The Moscow Drone Attacks Are Quietly Targeting Putin's Inner Circle

Drone air attacks continue in Russia's capital, with evidence that Ukraine has figured out how to target certain buildings belonging to Vladimir Putin's entourage. It's a clear message from Kyiv.

Another drone attack rocked central Moscow on Wednesday — and again the significance of Ukraine striking anywhere in the Russian capital should not be underestimated. It’s the sixth attack of its kind since July 30. Yet the importance of the summer barrage may go even further: the target Wednesday was a building known to belong to an important member of the entourage of President Vladimir Putin.

The Kremlin appears to want to downplay and obfuscate information about the actual targets. Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin reported no casualties,but said that several windows had been blown in on a neighboring five-story building. The Defense Ministry said the drone had been suppressed by electronic warfare and collided with the building after losing control.

Watch VideoShow less
Photo of someone holding a phone
Laura Valentina Cortés, Inès Mermat, Renate Mattar and Hugo Perrin

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

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.


• “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.

Archive photo of a police unit looking for hidden weapons in 1963 in a home in Corleone, the birthplace of one of the most powerful mafia clans.
Riley Sparks and Ginevra Falciani

Weird Stuff, Guns & Money: Inside The Hideouts Of Mob Bosses And Fugitive Warlords

After the capture this week of Sicilian Mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro, police revealed some notable contents of two of his hideouts after 30 years on the run. There's a long history of discovering the secret lairs and bunkers of the world's Most Wanted bad guys.

Expensive watches, perfumes, designer clothes and sex pills. A day after top Sicilian Mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro was captured after 30 years on the run, police revealed some of the possessions found in the Palermo apartment where he’d been hiding out under a false name.

By Wednesday, Italian daily La Stampa was reporting, police had found a second hideout near Messina Denaro's hometown in the Sicilian province of Trapani, with a secret vault hidden behind a closet, where jewelry, gold and other valuables were found.

Watch VideoShow less
Photo of a hand waving a rainbow flag and a Cuba flag at a pro-LGBTQ+ rights demonstration in Havana, Cuba
Laura Valentina Cortes Sierra, Lila Paulou, Lisa Berdel, McKenna Johnson and Bertrand Hauger

LGBTQ+ International: Greece Intersex Surgery Ban, Cuba Gay Marriage Hope — And The Week’s Other Top News

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!

Featuring, this week:

  • Athens banning “sex-normalizing” surgeries
  • Israel giving priority to gay men for Monkeypox vaccines
  • Guatemalan drags making history
  • … and more

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

🇬🇷 Greece Bans “Sex-Normalizing” Surgeries On Children Under 15

Greece’s parliament approved a law last week banning “sex-normalizing” surgeries on babies born intersex, thus preventing doctors from performing such surgeries on children under the age of 15, “unless there is a court decision stating otherwise.”

According to the UN, intersex people “are born with sex characteristics that do not fit typical binary notions of male or female bodies.” “Sex-normalizing” surgeries sometimes lead to sterilization, loss of sexual sensation or other health problems in the past. Malta, Portugal and Germany already banned this procedure.

🇬🇧 Exclusive: The Secret Mission To Evacuate LGBTQ+ Afghans When Talibans Took Over

The BBC revealed exclusive details about a secret mission in Afghanistan to save LGBTQ+ Afghans when the Taliban took over the country. The UK was the first government to offer an evacuation program specifically for LGBTQ+ people, working with charities such as Stonewall and Micro Rainbow in addition to the Canadian organization Rainbow Railroad.

Three of the evacuees included Bella, a teacher who hid that she was transgender all her life; Ali, who lived cautiously to keep officials from finding out he was bisexual; and Ahmed, a former youth worker who is gay (Ali and Ahmed’s names have been changed for security reasons). When the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan last year, LGBTQ+ Afghans began being hunted practically overnight. Ali said that “even a simple song could have been enough to get you in trouble.”

The charities involved in the mission worked with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office to secure spots for LGBTQ+ Afghans on the final flights out of Kabul. Upon arrival in the UK after staying in an undisclosed country to await paperwork, Bella, Ali, Ahmed and the others were housed in quarantine hotels. The charity Micro Rainbow has been helping the group settle with lessons and workshops to help them adapt to the new country.

🇷🇺 Russian Tennis Star Comes Out, Criticizes Her Country’s Treatment Of LGBTQ+ People

Photo of tennis player Daria Kasatkina

Daria Kasatkina

Peter Menzel/wikimedia commons

Interviewed by Russian blogger Vitya Kravchenko in Barcelona, Daria Kasatkina, the highest-ranked Russian female tennis player, came out as gay, and went on to criticize her country’s stance regarding LGBTQ+ people. Kasatkina, 25, currently ranked No. 12 in the world, also expressed empathy for Ukrainian tennis players in the context of the war, which she called a “full blown nightmare.”

🇨🇺 Cuba Opens Door To Gay Marriage, Will Hold Referendum In September

On September 25, Cuba will hold a binding referendum on the New Family Code, which would replace the law in force for 47 years. As independent news website El Toque explains, the voters' ballot will contain a single question: Do you agree with the Family Code?

To be considered approved, the Code must reach more than 50% of the valid votes in its favor. If the Yes is imposed, it would legalize, among other measures: same-sex marriage, adoption between same-sex couples, as well as outlining regulations for surrogacy and the role of the family in the care of the elderly.

Even so, this new referendum family code has been criticized, as LGBTQ+ activist Sandra Heidl told Deutsche Welle "the Code includes certain progressive content for the first time, and somehow the government didn't want to take responsibility for it. It seems to me a huge mistake, because they are talking about human rights, and human rights cannot be taken to a referendum."

🇺🇸 Record Number Of LGBTQ+ Candidates In U.S. Election


A record 1,008 LGBTQ candidates are seeking political office in the U.S., according to data from LGBTQ Victory Fund. This, CNN notes, “coincides with a more sobering statistic,” as this year also sees a record 162 anti-LGBTQ state bills being introduced. It also comes just weeks after the Supreme Court’s overturning Roe v. Wade, sparking fears that same-sex marriage could be the next target.

🇩🇪 Germany To Commemorate LGBTQ+ Victims Of Nazis For First Time

The German parliament will commemorate for the first time those who were persecuted, imprisoned and murdered because of their sexual orientation in the Nazi state. The event will be held Jan. 27 during the annual memorial hour for the victims of National Socialism. For years this has been demanded by many groups, associations and individuals. German parliament members will put those victims “as the focus of the commemoration ceremony”, SPD politician Bärbel Bas told German daily Tagesspiegel.

Henny Engels, member of the federal board of the Lesbian and Gay Association (LSVD), stated “In order to draw lessons from all of its facets, history must be kept alive comprehensively. Unfortunately, after the end of National Socialism, the exclusion and suffering of sexual and gender minorities in Germany continued.”

The activist highlighted in the press release, that gay and bisexual men continued to be prosecuted in both West and East German states for years. Section 175 of the Criminal Code was finally abolished on June 11, 1994. The so-called "gay paragraph," dated back to the 19th century. According to Deutsche Welle, “this put an end to the legal persecution of male homosexuals in Germany, which had lasted more than a century.”

🇬🇹 Guatemalan Drag Queens Make Theater History

For the first time, drag queens performed at a public theater in Guatemala. Last week, the Lux, one of the main cultural spaces in Guatemala City, used to hosting film shows, concerts, literary festivals and plays, welcomed a drag event for the first time.

As Guatemalan independent media Agencia Ocote reports, the venue is located in the historic center of the Guatemalan capital, opened in 1936. The night’s objective was to reach audiences beyond the young LGBTQ+ community, with the aim of fitting a bigger crowd than in a bar or other spaces where drag events usually take place.

“We are making history,” Gloria, one of the drag queens declared.

🇺🇸 Department Of Education Invites Florida Student To Delivers Banned Grad Speech

A gay high school senior from Florida delivered his banned valedictorian speech last week at the invitation of U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona. Last May, Zander Moricz was informed by his school principal that his microphone would be silenced if his speech to graduating seniors mentioned LGBTQ+ issues, advocacy or his sexual orientation, according to news site LGBTQ Nation. Moricz resorted to using a metaphor for the banned subjects, but was invited to deliver the original version in Washington, D.C. at the U.S. Department of Education.

🇬🇭 Hotline Launched To Assist Ghana's LGBTQ Victims 

One Love Sisters Ghana, an association seeking to empower women to embrace diversity in Islam, is launching a gender-based violence hotline. On their Facebook page, they have encouraged lesbian, bi, queer and transwomen to report all forms of violence they may experience. This is a welcome move in a country where the LGBTQ+ community often suffers from abuse.

The 5 hotlines operate 24/7 with correspondents “ready to listen and render the assistance needed.” One Love Sisters Ghana creates safe spaces for conversations about gender-based violence within Muslim communities and is trying to reach people on multiple platforms.

🇦🇺 Seven Rugby Players Boycott Game Over Pride Jersey

Seven members of the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles team, playing in the Australian National Rugby League (NRL), decided to boycott a game against the Sydney Roosters this Thursday, important for the qualification to the NRL finals. The reason: they refused to wear a jersey carrying the LGBTQ+ rainbow on “religious and cultural grounds,” as part of the club’s initiative to promote inclusivity and diversity in sports.

During a press conference, Manly’s coach Des Hasler apologized on behalf of the club and said it had made a “significant mistake” for not consulting the players beforehand. The situation is seen as an embarrassment for the club, as the first NRL rugby player to openly come out as gay in 1995, Ian Roberts, was playing for the Eagles.

🇮🇱 Israel To Give Monkeypox Vaccines First To Gay Men At Risk

The first 5,000 Monkeypox vaccines are arriving in Israel this week, where at least 105 cases have been confirmed. Health authorities have declared that they will be offered in priority to gay men at risk, since this category of the population has been particularly affected by the virus, which is transmitted through physical contact.

HIV positive men born after 1980 are particularly at risk, as well as men who take pre-exposure prophylaxis medication to avoid contracting HIV. Men who have tested positive for syphilis, chlamydia or gonorrhea since the beginning of the year are also included. Health authorities hope to be able to prevent a larger outbreak by taking such preventive actions.

🇻🇳 ​Trans Woman With “Hug Me” Sign In Saigon Street Overwhelmed By Acceptance

Strangers hug trans woman Do Ba Duy on Nguyen Hue Street


As part of communication contest in a transgender beauty pageant, 22-year-old Vietnamese Do Ba Duy recorded a social experiment on Nguyen Hue Street in Saigon. She stood with a sign reading "I'm transgender person, you want to hug or throw water?” and waited anxiously for people to react. She was hugged by over 100 people in an hour and a half, and no one threw water at her. The video clip has now gone viral on social media.


• South African news site MambaOnline focuses on LGBTQ elders and the importance of learning old tricks

Feminism in India offers a review of Hindi comedy-drama Badhaai Do which highlights “the suffocation of being queer in a homophobic society.”

• Take a look at Japanese photographer Takashi Homma’s portraits of young members of the queer community in Tokyo.

• Comic book writers, podcasters … Head here to read about some great “Advocates for Change Working to Better Queer Lives.”

• Check out this list of 21 cultural varieties of same-sex unions that have been part of traditional African life.

Photo of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson ​
Cameron Manley

How Boris Johnson's Resignation Could Impact The Ukraine War

As one of the world's most ardent supporters of the Ukrainian cause, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson helped steer the Western response to Vladimir Putin's invasion. Moscow has been gloating over his fall from grace. The diplomatic cards may (or may not) be shuffled by a switch at 10 Downing Street.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's bombshell resignation on Thursday was a long time coming. Forced to finally step down — first as Conservative party leader and ceding the Prime Minister post by the fall when his replacement is found — Johnson is a victim of his own countless domestic scandals.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

Of course, a change in leadership in London, and the drawn out process over the coming months within the ruling Conservative party, will weigh heavily on both domestic politics and policymaking. But a central subject in the final phase of Johnson's near three-year reign was overseas: namely, the war in Ukraine.

Now many are asking if and how the Western response will change with Johnson on his way out.

Watch VideoShow less