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LA STAMPA
La Stampa ("The Press") is a top Italian daily founded in 1867 under the name Gazzetta Piemontese. Based in Turin, La Stampa is owned by the Fiat Group and distributed in many other European countries.
Photo of a church in Campobello di Mazara
Society
Niccolò Zancan and Giuseppe Legato

"Here, He Wasn't Hiding" — How Mob Boss Messina Denaro Defied His Fugitive Status

Italy's most-wanted fugitive Matteo Messina Denaro lived in the open in a small town in Sicily, near his birthplace, thanks to widespread silence and complicity from his neighbors. It was essential to evading police for more than 30 years.

CAMPOBELLO DI MAZARA — Matteo Messina Denaro certainly wasn't hiding down at the bottom of some well.

Arrested in January at a clinic in Palermo, Italy’s most-wanted mob boss had been living freely and openly in this small Sicilian town, surrounded by neighbors who somehow never saw him.

“Yes, now, after the arrest and the images that appeared on all the television channels, many people admit to having seen him around here, in this area,” says the commander of the municipal police of Campobello di Mazara, Giuliano Panierino, disconsolately.

“Everyone who told me they recognized him now swears they never suspected it was him before,” the police commander says.

This story is a nightmare. Either they knew, or they didn't understand. There is no other possibility.

People saw Messina Denaro buying beauty products, or shopping at the supermarket. They saw him driving his black Alfa Romeo Giulietta alone, or sometimes with a driver who picked him up at home when he had to go to Palermo for cancer treatment.

He didn’t hide: he ate at restaurants. Several receipts for lunches and dinners were found.

For at least a year, Italy’s most-wanted fugitive had been moving through the streets of Campobello di Mazara, 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from Castelvetrano, the town where he was born, and the center of his criminal power.

Hear no evil, see no evil

“I never saw him,” says the gas station attendant. “I didn't pay attention,” says the resident across the street. “I am not surprised by the arrest,” says Vita Accardi, a retired teacher. “We imagined he might have lived around here.”

He lived on the main road, alongside 12,000 inhabitants. “For us, it is a deep shame, what is emerging,” says Mayor Giuseppe Castiglione.

First, police found Messina Denaro’s driver. Then, an associate who had lent his identity to the boss, then his hideout. All in the same town. “Everything here in Campobello di Mazara. I feel enormous bitterness,” the mayor says.

We are not all mafiosi here.

On the evening of his arrest, the mayor wrote on Facebook, inviting his fellow citizens to an impromptu demonstration in front of the Pirandello Institute, the only school in town. “A flashmob for legality. A way to stand by our children, because they are the ones who will save us.”

But the appeal fell on deaf ears. Some students with colorful banners showed up, but no parents. “That hurts too,” says the mayor. “Nobody saw and nobody knew?” wondered headmaster Giulia Flavio. “I am bewildered by the news that is coming in.”

Messina Denaro's fake identity

One piece of news relates to the village doctor, the well-known Alfonso Tumbarello. Now retired, he is known for two failed attempts at a political career — the first at the regional level and the second as candidate mayor of Campobello di Mazara.

But Tumbarello is better known as the general practitioner for everyone in town, for four decades. Amidst all of his other patients, the boss too: Matteo Messina Denaro, alias Andrea Bonafede.

Over the last few months, Messina Denaro asked for the doctor’s help following surgery to remove a tumor. Of course, the fugitive boss presented himself to the doctor with a forged identity card, but Tumbarello also knew the real Andrea Bonafede, a local resident whose identity Messina Denaro had assumed.

So, how could he treat two patients with the same ID and a different face? This is what investigators want to understand.

Yesterday, the town’s general practitioner was added to the list of people suspected of aiding and abetting. He joins two other names already known: Bonafede himself, who is cooperating with police, and driver Giovanni Luppino, a farmer, “a nobody” for the police, who instead chose not to answer questions.

Photo of two policemen entering Messina Denaro's hideout

Two policemen entering Messina Denaro's hideout

Carmelo Sucameli

Conspiracy of silence

Here is the map: it is a map of complicity. Sometimes it’s silence; other times, concrete support.

The fugitive Matteo Messina Denaro was not hiding. Here in Campobello di Mazara, he felt safe. He went around bare-faced, wearing designer clothes.

It was only in Palermo, before entering the clinic, where he knew he would pass under security cameras, that he wore a cap and had the foresight to cover his face with a mask.

“I fear that this is only the beginning of the investigation into the network of Matteo Messina Denaro’s backers,” said Castiglione, the mayor. “But it is right. Every complicity must be uncovered. Every doubt must be clarified. This country must rebel. We are not all mafiosi here.”

But it’s not as if no one had alerted police about the fugitive’s presence in town.

The mystery of the Nov. 2021 tip

On Nov. 19, 2021, the Carabinieri of the Campobello di Mazara station filed a note. An anonymous source, who was “known to the offices and of proven faith” — that is, "credible," in the jargon of the barracks — had told them that Messina Denaro was living in the area. The source even named two people suspected of helping him.

Teenage boys see him as an idol, even though they all now say they never recognized him.

“They do not want to catch him! Someone has to bring him clothes and food. Where do you think he is, if not here? Haven’t you seen those two … who go back and forth to [nearby town] Torretta Granitola? There’s the widower of the gynecologist and the one from the bar.”

The carabinieri noted that, when speaking of “him,” the informer raised the little finger, the skinniest finger in the hand. After further investigation, police confirmed the source was talking about U Siccu, or "The Skinny One" — Messina Denaro’s nickname.

Photo of Matteo Messina Denaro arrested by two Carabinieri

Matteo Messina Denaro's arrest

Carabinieri

A detective story, or something else?

At the time of the events, police were already investigating Messina Denaro’s most loyal collaborators — 35 of whom were arrested in Sept. 2022.

The connection to the town of Torretta Granitola was also made as early as 2017 by the investigative TV program Report. More than a year ago, an anonymous source said that Matteo Messina Denaro was already living in Campobello di Mazara: “He still has the same face, but he has aged a lot,” he added. “In Campobello, he is protected. The young people love him. The town is sick.”

Teenage boys see him as an idol, even though they all now say they never recognized him. They pass by on their scooters and take pictures of journalists lurking under the hideout on San Vito Street.

At the gas pumps, in bars, supermarkets and shops — all frequented by Messina Denaro, investigators have revealed — no one recognizes him. Someone explains: “He was never here.”

Friends of convenience

Many people knew of Messina Denaro's connections, especially with people who had no criminal records. In his 2021 book Matteo Messina Denaro: latitante di Stato, journalist Marco Bova explores cover-ups at all levels, and argues that, during Messina Denaro’s long fugitive period, the boss was surrounded by people who were unknown to police.

“And today, we discover that this was exactly how it was, because Bonafede and others had no criminal record — but we continued to see the same names arrested, i.e. the known bad guys. It seems clear to me that something doesn’t add up,” Bova says.

Other details lend credibility to this theory. For example, Andrea Bonafede, the man who had lent his identity to the former fugitive, worked in a well-known water park which was a 12-minute drive from Campobello — right in Torretta Granitola.

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.
Society
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.

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Photo of Messina Denaro taken away by police
Society
La Stampa Staff

The Last Boss? Why Matteo Messina Denaro May Mark The End Of Sicily's Old School Mafia

Arrested Monday in Palermo, Messina Denaro was the son of a mobster and successor of Sicily's notorious boss of bosses. He had been on the run for 30 years, trying to transform Cosa Nostra into a modern criminal enterprise — with only partial success.

-Analysis-

PALERMO — It was 30 years ago, almost exactly to the day, January 15, 1993, when Totò Riina, then the undisputed head of the Corleone clan, was captured in Palermo. On Monday, it was the turn of Matteo Messina Denaro, now 60 years old, who has occupied the same place as "boss of bosses" of the Sicilian Mafia, who was tracked down and arrested in the same city.

Tracing back in time, Messina Denaro began his criminal ascent in 1989, around the first time on record that he was reported for mob association for his participation in the feud between the Accardo and Ingoglia clans.

At the time, Messina Denaro's father, 'don Ciccio', was the Mafia boss in the western Sicilian city of Trapani — and at only 20 years of age, the ambitious young criminal became Totò Riina's protégé. He would go on to help transform Cosa Nostra, tearing it away from the feudal tradition and catapulting it into the world of would-be legitimate business affairs.

For 30 years he managed to evade capture. He had chosen the path of ‘essential communication’: a few short pizzini - small slips of paper used by the Sicilian Mafia for high-level communications - without compromising information by telephone or digital means.

“Never write the name of the person you are addressing," Messina Denaro told his underlings. "Don’t talk in cars because there could be bugs, always discuss in the open and away from telephones. Also, take off your watches.”

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Photo of a man working at the Hyundai car plant in Cangzhou City.
eyes on the U.S.
Alex Hurst

Eyes On U.S. — How White House Climate Action Could Spark A Global Trade War

-Analysis-

When the U.S. Congress passed the Biden administration’s landmark "green" spending bill in August, environmentalists around the world saw it as a very strong — and long overdue — step in the right direction on climate change.

For years, the European Union’s far more stringent environmental regulations have produced a more carbon-efficient economy and vastly lower CO2 emissions per capita — and EU leaders have demanded that the U.S. do its part in tackling climate change.

But what many missed in the new legislation — which included $400 billion in green-focused subsidies — was that it risked playing out in a way that could effectively trigger a trade war. That the legislation was dubbed the “Inflation Reduction Act” (IRA), to help many in Congress justify a "Yes" vote may have been a clue that economic concerns could ultimately trump all the lofty rhetoric about saving the planet.

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So now, over the past few weeks, U.S. allies have been left seeing red rather than green, reading in between the lines of climate action a healthy dose of “America First.” The Korea Herald writes that the IRA could have major negative impacts on its national automakers Hyundai and Kia, with a delegation from Seoul currently in Washington hoping to convince U.S. officials to make changes to the bill’s “Buy American” clauses.

America First, Europe Last.

For Europe, the “Buy American” provisions in the legislation represent a direct threat to its economy and industrial base — a shot taken right when the Continent is bearing the major part of the economic costs of Russia’s war against Ukraine.

“Joe Biden wants to strengthen the American economy — at the expense of Europe,” writes German weekly Die Zeit. “America First, Europe Last,” declares French business daily Les Echos.

Die Zeitexplains to its readers that because the U.S. Congress won’t approve a carbon tax, emissions trading, or strict environmental regulation. Biden is forced to pursue climate action through “subsidies and trade barriers, and thus provokes his allies in Europe.”

In the EU, green subsidies, like a rebate on the purchase of an electric vehicle, are available to consumers no matter where the automobile (or a solar panel, or wind turbine) was produced. But the nearly $400 billion IRA ties the subsidies to production located in the United States, with special waivers for Canada and Mexico.

Europe’s concern is that it is facing a double punch: high energy prices as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (LNG imported from the U.S. costs Europe four to five times as much as it does in the U.S. domestically), coupled with the new round of U.S. subsidies that may lure European manufacturers to relocate to the U.S.

Illustrating European fears, “Next year the battery manufacturer Northvolt will decide whether to build a new factory in the U.S.,” reports Sweden’s Dagens Industri.

French daily Le Monde’s Dec. 3 front page features Biden and Macron’s “uncompromising friendship”

Le Monde

Reporting on French President Emmanuel Macron’s state visit last Friday to the U.S., Le Mondetakes note of Macron’s insistence that the IRA’s “protectionist” measures threatened “fragmenting the West” at a time when unity on Russia was paramount. While France would like the Biden administration to offer the same waivers for European firms as are offered to Canadian and Mexican ones, it is also urging equivalent subsidies and “Buy European” legislation at an EU level in response.

Turn-based daily La Stampa notes that Italian automakers are more concerned about the entry of Chinese EVs into the European market (with scant possibility for reciprocity) whereas German automakers are more concerned about the IRA. Though the concerns come from different directions, they note that the “Buy European” legislation could potentially placate both.

Chinese state broadcaster CGTN was quick to pick up on the tensions, calling the IRA “hegemonic.” It’s a reminder that, as a Czech diplomat pointed out, the biggest winner in any EU-U.S. trade war would be … China.

— Alex Hurst

In other news …

🛳 SO AMERICAN

It has been called the “the Walmart of the Seas. A German travel journalist invites you to come aboardCarnival Celebration, the recently-christened mega ship cruising off the coast of Florida. This floating city (it can accommodate 5,800+ passengers) is a bonafide U.S. extravaganza: It includes burger joints, Miami-themed areas complete with pink flamingos, as well as an open-air rollercoaster. As the reviewer tongue-in-cheekily puts it, “in spite of — or perhaps because” it is so typically American, “you will be surprised how charming the ship is.”

🤖💀 IN BRIEF

U.S. police kill more people per year than their counterparts in almost any other country, and now they can even outsource the job. Newspapers in Portugal, Italy and France reported (with various degrees of shock) that the San Francisco Police Department is deploying “killer robots.” That is, robots with the authorization to use lethal force and take human life.

As Spain's El Pais notes, it is perhaps yet another step in the militarization of U.S. police departments as spillover from the Iraq War.

⚽️ OOH BURN!

A cheeky exchange took place between Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and U.S. President Joe Biden after the Netherlands beat the American team at the World Cup in Qatar. Responding to Biden’s pre-match video that saw him mock-argue that the beautiful game ought to be called “soccer,” the American way, and not “football,” Rutte jokingly tweeted “Sorry Joe, football won.”

Photo of a child walking past a carcass of an animal
Green
Francesca Mannochi

How Climate Change And Ukraine War Have Put Somalia On The Brink Of Famine

In Somalia, four rainy seasons have failed to arrive, leaving the land desiccated and people starving. But drought alone is not enough to cause these numbers. A perfect storm of factors is setting the stage for a monumental human tragedy that most of the world is ignoring.

BAIDOA — When Oray Adan arrived in Baidoa six months ago, she was pregnant, exhausted and undernourished to the point of not even having the strength to eat. Drought had dried out the land in the village of Bakal Yere, in Somalia, where she and her husband had been farmers. But the drought had condemned their livestock to death and driven the family to starvation. In the month before she fled, three of their four children had died from hunger and diseases that, if they had lived practically anywhere else, would have been easily treated with simple antibiotics.

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

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To save her surviving two-year-old son and the one she was carrying, Oray Adan walked two weeks and reached the nearest urban center in desperate need of care, water and food. She arrived in Baidoa, a city in south-central Somalia, and was referred to a medical center for malnourished children. She was skeletal, as was the child she held by the hand—a thinness that lingers even now, stretching to her now four-month old newborn, Shukri Mohamed, who should weigh eight pounds, but weighs only two.

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A colorful LGBTQ protest taking place in Thailand, many people are gathered wearing colorful clothes and waving flags
LGBTQ Plus
Laura Valentina Cortes Sierra and Shaun Lavelle

LGBTQ+ International: U.S. Protects Same-Sex Marriage, Thailand’s Second Pride — And Other News

Welcome to our new exclusive weekly round up of LGBTQ+ news from around the world.

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:

  • U.S. protecting same-sex marriage
  • Russia extending “anti-LGBTQ+ propaganda” law
  • Blood donation progress in Ireland
  • … 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.

🇺🇸 Senate Passes Bill Protecting Same-Sex Marriage Rights

The U.S. took a big step towards granting same-sex marriage rights federal protection on Tuesday. The Senate voted to pass the Respect for Marriage Act by 61 to 36, meaning a significant bloc of Republicans supported the bill. It now moves to the House, where it is expected to pass early next week.

The bill is in response to abortion rights being overturned last June by the U.S. Supreme Court, which currently has a conservative majority. Some feared that the same could happen to same-sex marriage rights if they weren’t protected by federal law.

⚽️ World Cup Update: Blinken Speaks Up, London Transportation Boycott, Qatar Diary…

Mario Ferri waving a rainbow flag during the Portugal-Uruguay game.

Mario Ferri via Instagram


The conversation around the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, which kicked off a week ago, is still dominated by the issue of human rights and the treatment of the LGBTQ+ community in the host country. Here’s an update on everything LGBTQ+ related happening at the event:

  • Italian Streaker Released After LGBTQ+ Flag Turns Out To Be Peace Flag ... But ...

Italian activist Mario Ferri stormed the pitch during the game between Portugal and Uruguay carrying a rainbow flag. He ran across the field while wearing a Superman T-shirt displaying messages in support of Ukraine and of Iranian women. First thought to be the LGBTQ+ flag, it was later discovered to be the “PACE” peace flag, explaining why the streaker was promptly released by Qatari authorities — although he will not be allowed to attend any more matches. It's worth noting that Ferri has spoken in favor of LGBTQ+ rights on multiple occasions, and therefore may have chosen the similar-looking flag knowingly.

  • U.S. Secretary Of State Blinken Speaks Against Rainbow Armband Ban

United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently came out against a ban on rainbow armbands at the World Cup tournament in Qatar, which a few European team captains had intended to wear in support of LGBTQ rights. Blinken flagged the ban as “concerning” as well as a restriction on “freedom of expression”.

  • Olympic Diver Tom Daley Slams Qatar, Calls For Unity

While accepting his award for Changemaker at the sixth annual Gay Times Honours ceremony on Nov. 25, Olympic diver Tom Daley hit out at the Qatar World Cup as he delivered a speech about unity and LGBTQ+ visibility. He stressed the importance of “every single person” within the LGBTQ+ community working together to combat hate, discrimination and violence.

  • London Transport Bans Qatar Ads Over LGBTQ+ Rights

London's public transport operator is not allowing advertising that “portrays Qatar as a desirable destination” or encourages people to attend the World Cup.

  • Live From Qatar Thanks To A Gay Soccer Fan’s Updates

Phil, 39, is a lifelong football fan and is currently in Qatar for his fourth World Cup in a row. Even though Qatar had said "everyone is welcome", he does not feel safe traveling in the country as a member of LGBTQ+ community. He has been keeping an online account of his every day experience and the challenges he has faced.

🇮🇱 Israel Forms Coalition Government With Far-Right, LGBTQ+ Rights Opponent Avi Maoz

Former Israeli Prime Minister and Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu have reached a coalition agreement with far-right leader Avi Maoz, leader of the Naom Party. The alliance threatens to form the most far-right government in Israel's history, which will affect the rights of sexual minorities in the country, The Guardian reports.

Maoz is an outspoken opponent of LGBTQ+ rights and women in the military, and has spoken against having Arab teachers educate Jewish students in Israeli schools. He also denies the legitimacy of non-Orthodox Judaism, including the Reform and Conservative movements.

🇺🇸 Veteran Sues U.S. Military For Denying Gender-Affirming Surgery To Trans Daughter

A military dad and his transgender daughter have filled an unprecedented suit against the U.S. Department of Defense for “unconstitutionally” denying the right to gender-affirming surgery for military dependents. The daughter’s claim for gender-affirming surgery was rejected by her dad’s military health insurance, even though she was diagnosed with gender dysphoria at age 17.

Since 2016, the Department of Defense has provided gender-affirming surgeries for active-duty military personnel but not to dependents.

“A victory in this case would ensure that all dependents of military personnel who are transgender would have access to the critical medical care they need, free of discrimination of exclusion,” said Ben Klein, an attorney with advocacy group LGBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, which represents the father and daughter.

🇲🇽 Mexico State Introduces Platform To Centralize Acts Of LGBTQ+ Discrimination

One of Visible's committee reunion.

Juan Pablo Delgado via Instagram

The Mexican state of Yucatán unveiled the Visible platform, aimed at collecting data on discriminatory acts experienced by the LGBTQ+ population across the state.

Visible is a project created in partnership with the Collective for the Protection of All Families (PTF) in Yucatán, Amicus, Colmena 41 and the Trans Youth Network. The platform, where users can register their experience quickly and anonymously, won first place in the country's Transparency Innovation Contest in 2022 for the relevance of the data it was able to collect.

During its launch, representatives of the platform spoke about the importance of working in partnership with local organizations, as it sends a message to the state government and the Yucatán society in general that "there is homophobia and transphobia, even if they don't want to see it."

🇮🇳 Indian Lesbian Couple Wins Case For Right To Be Together

A lesbian couple from India has won a court battle for the right to be together after the family of one forbade her from seeing her partner. Adhila and Fatima won the case against Fatima's family in the Kerala High Court, with the help of local human rights organization, the Vanaja collective.

Same-sex relationships were decriminalized in India in 2018, although marriage is not yet recognized in the country.

🇳🇬 Call To Stop Homophobic Nigerian Comedian AY From Performing In UK

Comedian A.Y. in November 2022

A. Y.'s official Facebook page

A petition has been drawn up to block Nigerian-based comedian AY from performing in the UK as part of his international tour. The campaign calls his act "toxic and homophobic" after a video surfaced online of him publicly mocking gay men. AY has also called for a gay “witch hunt” in his country.

The petition, started by the openly gay British-Nigerian Reverend Jide Rebirth Macaulay, has now garnered over 1,500 signatures.

🇿🇦 Famous Cape Town Jeweler Refuses To Sell Engagement Ring To Lesbian Couple

A South African lesbian couple are suing Craig Marks, one of Cape Town's best-known jewelers, after he refused to make an engagement ring because it was for two women.

Candice van Eck toldMamba that after she decided to propose to her partner, she ordered engagement rings from the jeweler’s website. But as soon as the owner discovered the order was for a lesbian couple, he immediately stopped responding to messages.

The jeweler stated that his religious beliefs prevented him from fulfilling the order.

🇮🇪 Ireland Removes Sexual Orientation From Blood Donation Restrictions

The Irish Blood Transfusion Service announced that sexuality will no longer be included as a restriction in its blood donation guidelines. Historically, this has impacted trans people, and gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men. They have had to abstain from sexual activity for minimum periods of time in order to be eligible to give blood. Now, anyone in an exclusive relationship for over four months can donate, regardless of their or their partner’s gender and sexual orientation.

The service says it will now conduct evaluations on a person-to-person basis with the newly introduced Individual Donor Risk Assessment.

🇹🇭 Bangkok Holds Second Pride Within A Year

Pride Parade in Bangkok, Thailand

Teera Noisakran/Pacific Press/ZUMA

Members and supporters of Thailand’s LGBTQ+ community joined the Thailand Pride Parade 2022, united under the theme of "unity & diversity."

This is the second such Pride march this year in Bangkok in 2022: In July, the Bangkok Naruemit Pride Parade was the first such event to take place in the city for over 16 years.

🇸🇬 Singapore Revokes Colonial-Era Law Criminalizing Gay Sex, But Blocks Same-Sex Marriage

Singapore has repealed a law inherited from the British Empire that banned gay sex, which was still penalized with up to two years in jail.

"I'm glad we finally got our way," French media Komitid quoted the representative of a Singaporean LGBTQ+ community as saying. "But this is only the first step in eliminating the social and religious prejudices that plague our community because of outdated beliefs and media censorship."

The news comes just as the country’s parliament amended the constitution to reinforce the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman, effectively stumping efforts towards the legalization of same-sex marriage in the island country.

🇷🇺 Russia Extends “Anti-LGBTQ+ Propaganda” Law To All Ages

The Russian State Duma has passed a law that entirely bans "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations" among people of all ages — and not just minors, as has been the case in Russia up to now.

The bans will affect the book and film industries, the media, and Internet sites. Russian state censorship will also be able to monitor and block resources which, in the agency's opinion, will spread "LGBTQ+ propaganda" — although there is currently no clear definition or criteria as to what constitutes "LGBTQ+ propaganda" according to the new legislative initiative.

🇬🇧 Helena Bonham Carter Defends J.K. Rowling Over Transphobia Accusations

British actress Helena Bonham Carter voiced her support to J.K. Rowling, calling the backlash against the Harry Potter author for her views which some deem transphobic “horrendous.” In an interview with The Times, the actress who played the Bellatrix Lestrange in the film adaptation of the book series said “the judgmentalism of people” had been “taken to the extreme” and that Rowling was “allowed her opinion, particularly if she’s suffered abuse.”

The British author came under fire in 2020 for controversial tweets about the transgender community, causing several actors from the Harry Potter franchise to speak out against her. Rowling also recently criticized proposed amendments to the Gender Recognition Reform Bill in Scotland that would make it easier for people to legally change their gender.

OTHERWISE

Mamba looks back on the legacy of Simon Nkoli, the LGBTQ+ activist who fought for queer rights in South Africa.

• Harry Allen was a bonafide cowboy: "skilled barroom brawler, trick shooter, and dashing womanizer" — and as LGBTQ Nation writes, the "transgender heartthrob of the Wild West."

• Gaysi offers a deep dive into Joyland, the first Pakistani film to premiere at the Cannes Film Festival and bring home the Jury Prize as well as the Queer Palm.

Gay Times scored an exclusive interview with actress Cara Delevingne who talks about her new BBC documentary Planet Sex and her relationship with her queerness.

Photo of participants at the The 15th edition of the Santiago Parade, March for Equality
LGBTQ Plus
Laura Valentina Cortes Sierra and Sophia Constantino

LGBTQ+ International: World Cup Armband Mess, Russian Bans, Santiago Pride

Welcome to our new exclusive weekly round up of LGBTQ+ news from around the world.

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:

  • Aftermath of Colorado gay bar shooting
  • A trans first in Bangladeshi election
  • Grindr’s NYSE debut
  • … 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.

🇷🇺 Russia Toughens "Gay Propaganda" Ban, Cancels Children's Play

Russia has just toughened its ban on so-called "gay propaganda," which now targets any perceived promotion of homosexuality in literature, in films and online.

The new law (nicknamed the Answer to Blinken Law, after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called it as "blow to freedom of expression") was approved by Russian parliament's lower house. It still has to receive President Vladimir Putin's approval, but this is largely considered a formality.

This comes just days after The Princess And The Ogre, a children's play for kids from 6 up, was suddenly canceled on Nov. 20, in the southern Russian city of Novosibirsk. Officially, the performance could not happen due to technical difficulties. Unofficially, the cancelation occurred after social media users claimed the play was "propaganda for non-traditional sexual relationships to minors" and should be investigated. The local Culture Ministry authorities replied they would investigate whether the performance violated anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.

The cast is all-male and the play is based on the works of the late Russian writers Igor Kholin and Genrikh Sapgir. As their characters imagine stories, actors bring them to life on stage, including tales with female characters — thus played by men — interacting romantically with male characters. "Actors are for acting, so they can play animals, and children, and women, and gods, and goddesses, and even objects. What harm can there be?" First Theater's artistic director, Igor Yuzhakov, commented on social media.

🇶🇦 Rainbow Apparel War As World Cup Kicks Off In Qatar

Germany's team in Qatar on Nov. 23.

Christian Charisius/dpa/ZUMA


All eyes are on Qatar and its abysmal record on human and LGBTQ+ rights — and the 2022 World Cup is already off to a rough start.

  • FIFA president draws ire with insensitive speech

Even before the games kicked off last Sunday, FIFA President Gianni Infantino made waves during an hour-long speech accusing Western critics of hypocrisy, saying he felt “gay” (and other things...)

Comparing his childhood to the oppression that LGBTQ+ minorities face in Qatar, Infantino said, “I know what it feels to be discriminated [against] … I was bullied because I had red hair. Plus I was Italian,” before adding: “I feel Qatari. Today I feel Arabic. Today I feel African. Today I feel gay. Today I feel disabled. Today I feel [like] a migrant worker.”

  • German team cover mouths in reaction to “OneLove” armband ban

Captains from seven European teams intended to wear the “OneLove” rainbow armband for their games, but decided not to before the first round of group matches, after fearing repercussions. FIFA decided to penalize players at the World Cup who show support for the LGBTQ+ community by issuing yellow cards to any players wearing the armbands. The move led to the German players to cover their mouths just before their match against Japan on Wednesday.

“I love my identity,” Josh Cavallo, an Australian footballer who came out as gay last year said in a statement. “Seeing you have banned all teams from wearing the One Love armband to actively support LGBTQ+ at the World Cup. You have lost my respect.”

Announcers at the World Cup are also doing what they can to support the LGBTQ+ community, such as BBC’s Alex Scott, who was filmed wearing the One Love arm band the same day that the England and Wales teams decided not to wear the armbands for their matches.

🇺🇸 U.S. Reeling In Wake Of Colorado Springs Shooting At Gay Bar

The five victims have been identified after the mass shooting Saturday at Club Q, an LGBTQ+ bar in Colorado Springs, which happened on Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Singer Dove Cameron took the opportunity to speak out at Sunday’s American Music Awards, delivering a speech dedicated to the victims the attack. “Queer visibility is more important than ever right now,” she said. “It’s in a permanent state of importance because of how much our rights are up for grabs right now.”

Other groups have offered support for the victims and the LGBTQ+ community as well, such as the Denver Broncos football team, which held a moment of silence in remembrance of those killed in the attack.

🇺🇸 Mormon Church Speaks In Favor Of Protecting Same-Sex Marriage

A new Senate bill which would protect same-sex marriage is getting support from an unlikely party — the Mormon Church of Latter Day Saints. Although it stands firm in its belief that same-sex relationships are a sin, the church voiced its opinion that LGBTQ+ individuals are entitled to rights.

“We are grateful for the continuing efforts of those who work to ensure the Respect for Marriage Act includes appropriate religious freedom protections while respecting the law and preserving the rights of our LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters,” the church said in a statement on Tuesday.

🇮🇹 Lesbian Couple Wins Right To Not Be “Father” And “Mother” On Daughter’s ID Card

LGBTQ+ protests in Bogota, Colombia, in July 2022.

Cristian Bayona/ZUMA

A lesbian couple in Italy has won the right to not be identified as “mother” and “father” on their daughter’s identity card. A judge in Rome ruled that as both members of the couple are the legal mothers to the child, none should go by “father”. Alessia Crocini, the president of Famiglie Arcobaleno or Rainbow Families NGO, said that the ruling “tells us that in Italy the political persecution of the rainbow family is simply shameful and profoundly ideological.”

Even if the ruling is a victory for the LGBTQ+ community, it applies only to the specific couple. Until 2019, identity cards referred to children’s guardians simply as “parents,” but in 2019, the then far-right interior minister Matteo Salvini changed it to “mother” and “father”. Recently elected Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has the LGBTQ+ community deeply concerned as she opposes same-sex couples' adoption and marriage equality, which has not been legalized in Italy.

🇪🇬 The LGBTQ+ Climate Activists Who Chose To Attend Egypt’s COP27

Many LGBTQ+ climate activists chose to skip the recently-concluded COP27 climate summit, which took place in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt — a country notorious for its abuses against the LGBTQ+ community. Some cited Egypt's "moral code" as the reason for their boycotting the negotiations, as the code allows for the incarceration of individuals believed to be engaged in “promiscuous behavior”— especially those in the LGBTQ+ community.

But others bravely still chose to go, to highlight the necessity their voices to be heard at the event.

“As a water protector and a person who has spent the last several years on the frontlines starting with Standing Rock and then continuing onto others, including Line 3, I think it’s safe to say that I’m willing to take risks for our environment because I’m a frontliner — and that’s no different here,” said Big Wind Carpenter, an indigenous climate activist who moves fluidly between genders, after attending COP27.

🇧🇷 Liniker Barros Becomes First Trans Artist To Win Latin Grammy

Liniker Barros is the first transgender artist to win a Latin Grammy

Liniker Barros via Instagram

Liniker Barros became the first transgender artist to win a Latin Grammy. Born in 1995, the trans woman released her first solo album Índigo Borboleta Anil in 2021, for which she won Best Brazilian Popular Music Album at the Latin Grammy Music Awards on Nov. 17. The album features samba, soul and reggae beats that delve into her identity, ancestry and passion to empower the LGBTQ+ community.

Fighting tears, the singer said in her acceptance speech: “Hello, I am Liniker, I am a Brazilian singer, songwriter and actress. Today something historic is happening in the history of my country. It is the first time that a transgender artist has won a Grammy [...] thank you very much to all my team who were with me from the beginning dreaming together with me” she said through tears.

Her prize was greeted by congratulation messages, including by new Brazilian President Lula da Silva.

🇧🇩 Trans Woman Elected To Government Council In Bangladesh First

Payal Khatun recently became the first trans person elected to government council in Kushtia district, Bangladesh. She is a popular leader in the region, especially because she has always stood up for vulnerable people. “Besides trying my best to develop the area, I will do my best to improve the quality of life of women who are backward in the society,” said Khatun after her election.

Payal Khatun has been widely congratulated on her election, in particular by the Human Rights organization JusticeMakers Bangladesh and its founder, the attorney and gay rights activist Shahanur Islam. Islam said her election was “an encouraging, positive development” and a victory against “torture, neglect, and exclusion from family and from the mainstream society” that transgender people experience in Bangladesh and elsewhere in the world.

🇮🇹 Milan Holds First Trans Lives Matter March

Milan's demonstration for Trans rights, on Nov. 20, 2022.

Matteo Colella via instagram

The Italian city of Milan held its first march for the rights of transgender and non-binary people on Nov. 20.

The day for silent march was chosen to coincide with the international Transgender Day of Remembrance, and tributes were held for Chiara, Cloe, Naomi, Noah, Elios and all the victims of transphobia in Italy and around the world.

In attendance were Gianmarco Negri, Italy’s first transgender mayor in Italy, as well as the first transgender parliamentarian in Europe, Vladimir Luxuria.

🇨🇱 Santiago Pride Pays Tribute To Bullying Victim

Thousands of people participated in the 15th edition of the Santiago Parade, March for Equality in the capital of Chile, organized by the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation.

The main demands of the march were the creation of an anti-discriminatory institution and the approval of the José Matías Law, currently discussed in Congress, and named after a young trans man who committed suicide after suffering bullying at school. According to Presentes, “this project seeks to reinforce school tolerance and increase sanctions in cases of discrimination against students from the LGBTQ+ community.”

🇵🇰 First Ever Trans Rights March In Pakistan

Hundreds of members of the Khwaja Sira, a community of transgender, non-binary individuals in Pakistan, took part in the country’s first march in support of their rights on Nov. 20, in the city of Karachi. The crowd chanted slogans demanding equality and protection. The community has been facing growing violence in Pakistan, where hate crimes have increased this year.

“We do not get respect in the society — people hurl abuses and slurs at us but I hope we will get accepted,” Paya, who participated to the Sindh Moorat march (the indigenous term for "transgender") told The Guardian.

📱Grindr Shares Soar After Stock Exchange Debut

App icon of Grindr

Andre M. Chang / ZUMA

Gay dating and hookup app Grindr made its debut on the New York Stock Exchange last week. The move saw its share prices jump from just under $17 to over $71. Grindr announced its merger with Tiga Acquisition Corp last year in a deal valued at over $2 billion.

Its entrance to Wall Street was celebrated with a drag event. The company’s new CEO George Arison said that a queer-focused company going public would have been unheard of 20 years ago.

OTHERWISE

GCN sat down with Monica Helms, the creator of the trans pride flag back in 1999.

This great Gaysi piece focuses on gender-specific clothing norms and conditioning in Tamil Nadu, southern India.

• A personal piece by Assistant Professor of Anthropology Casey James Miller on why he chose to study what it means to be a queer person in China today.

• Canada’s CBC discusses Indigenous conceptions of gender and sexuality in the aftermath of colonialism — from Cree mythology to the Vancouver dating scene.

Photo of writer Roberto Saviano leaving a court hearing
Migrant Lives
Roberto Saviano

Saviano v. Meloni: My Right To Curse Italy's Leaders For Letting Migrants Die

Acclaimed Italian writer Roberto Saviano is in court this month facing defamation charges from Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. With this essay, Saviano stands by his words, and his right to use them.

Italian writer Roberto Saviano is facing defamation charges from Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. Two years ago, before she was elected, Saviano called Meloni and her right-wing ally Matteo Salvini "bastards" for demanding that Italy refuse to help save would-be migrants stranded at sea.

-Essay-

ROMEI stand in this courtroom today indicted for my harsh criticism of Giorgia Meloni and Matteo Salvini, whom I hold responsible for pushing their political propaganda upon the most desperate and vulnerable and least able to defend themselves: refugees.

It is a propaganda that not only attacks people seeking safety far from their countries battered by war, poverty and environmental destruction, but also violently lashes out against the NGOs attempting to rescue them in the Mediterranean before — or sometimes, tragically, after — the sea turns into their grave.

I find it odd that a writer is put on trial for the words he or she shares, however harsh they may be, while helpless people continue to suffer atrocious violence and relentless lies.

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