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InterNations
THE JAPAN TIMES
The Japan Times is Japan's largest and oldest English-language daily newspaper.
Photo of a hand holding a phone recording footage of ​Vice President Kamala Harris during a midterm rally in NYC on Nov. 3
eyes on the U.S.
Alex Hurst

Eyes On U.S. — How The World Is Tracking A High-Stakes Midterm Election

The international media is tuning in closely to Tuesday’s U.S. midterms, with global ramifications for everything from the war in Ukraine to action on climate change to the brewing superpower showdown with China.

PARIS — It’s becoming a bi-annual November ritual: International reporters touch down in some small American town or so-called “battleground state” that we’re told could decide the fate of the next two or four (or more) years in the United States — and the world.

Reporting for French daily Le Monde, Piotr Smolar was in Mount Sterling, Kentucky, where “culture wars” were infecting the schools ahead of Tuesday’s midterm elections. Meanwhile, Smolar's French broadcast colleagues at France Info were in the ever crucial state of Florida, talking to locals at the grocery store about the economy.

“The prices are crazy. I’m a veteran, I spent 16 years in the army and this is what I get when I come home,” said a man named Jake in the city of Melbourne, Florida. “We’re counting every penny. It’s Biden’s recovery plan that put us in this situation.”

Yes, it will likely be local issues that determine the results of the midterm elections, where Republicans have a strong chance of taking back control of Congress and deal a potentially fatal blow to some of President Joe Biden’s signature policy objectives.

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Photo of Tashi Choden, crowned Miss Bhutan 2022 in June
LGBTQ Plus
Laura Valentina Cortés Sierra, Lisa Berdet, Lila Paulou, McKenna Johnson, Joel Silvestri and Emma Albright

LGBTQ+ International: Iraq Homosexuality Ban, Bhutan’s Beauty Queen — And The Week’s Other Top News

Italian police, Brazilian soccer, Japanese politics, and plenty of other stories from around the world

Welcome to Worldcrunch’s LGBTQ+ International. We bring you up-to-speed each week on the latest news on everything LGBTQ+ — a topic that you may follow closely at home, but can now see from different places and perspectives around the world. Discover the latest news from all corners of the planet. All in one smooth scroll!

Featuring, this week:

  • The first Queer Miss Bhutan
  • A Brazilian referee coming out just before Qatar World Cup
  • Life as an Argentine trans dad
  • … and more
✉️ You can receive our LGBTQ+ International roundup every week directly in your inbox: Sign up here.

🇮🇹 Italian Police Equate Gender Identity With Mental Disorder In Job Application Form

Italy’s Ministry of Interior is looking to hire 1,381 new police agents, but as part of their eligibility criteria, they class “gender identity” in the list of mental health disorders, as reported by Open media.

The call, published on May 16, on the Ministry’s website, indicates the procedures and requirements to apply. Under the heading "mental disorders" that the candidates cannot have, the words "current or previous gender identity disorders" appear, last in the list with "schizophrenia, current or past mood disorders, current or past dissociative disorders, current or past anxiety disorders,” and other ailments.

According to La Stampa, this part of a 7-page application process was flagged by an aspiring policeman, who was “offended and humiliated” and turned to a lawyer. “It seems to me as a wrong reference in a wrong context.”

🇧🇷🇶🇦 Referee Igor Benevenuto Comes Out Just Months Before World Cup In Qatar

Photo of \u200bBrazilian referee Igor Benevenuto

Brazilian referee Igor Benevenuto

Facebook page


FIFA Referee Igor Benevenuto came out in an interview with theGlobo Esportes podcast "Nos Armários dos Vestiários" (in the locker's closet), a journalistic series that exposes homophobia and machismo in Brazilian soccer. Benevenuto talked about the pain of living in a culture and a religion that rejected homosexuality, as highlighted by Out Sports LGBT+ media.

“For a while, I believed that there was something very wrong with me, because while I respected the Church, its doctrine failed miserably with what I felt. I remained the same, only without the right to express myself,” said the 41-year-old.

FIFA welcomed Benevenuto’s decision to come out, stating that “Igor striving to be true to himself is an important moment for football in Brazil and in other countries around the world.” FIFA has been criticized by LGBTQ+ groups after choosing Qatar as its 2022 World Cup host, a country where homosexual sex is illegal.

🇧🇹 Miss Bhutan Speaks Up For The LGBTQ+ Community

Tashi Choden, crowned Miss Bhutan 2022 in June, is the first-ever public figure in the country that publicly came out as lesbian. She will also be the first openly gay to represent the conservative country at Miss Universe 2022 in December.

She spoke up for the LGBTQ+ community and told AFP, “I'm not only speaking for the Bhutanese community but I'm speaking for the minority community on a platform like the Miss Universe pageant.”

🇫🇷 France Excludes Transgender Men From Medically Assisted Procreation 

The Constitutional Council in France approved the exclusion of transexual men from medically assisted procreation (MAP). The July 6 decision has sparked many reactions from LGBTQ+ associations to politicians.

SOS Homophobie, a non-profit French organization that fights against homophobic and transphobic crimes, expressed its "anger" and "dismay" at this decision, and qualified it as "a missed opportunity to immediately address the inequality of reproductive rights between citizens.”

🇷🇺 Russia May Extend Law Against “Gay Propaganda” To All Adults

Photo of the Moscow Pride

Moscow Pride

Wikimedia Commons


A senior Russian legislator said that the country’s so-called “gay propaganda” law, banning the promotion of any “non-traditional” sexual relationships among minors, could extend to adults later this year. According to Reuters, if the ban extends, anyone seen as promoting homosexuality could be subject to fines. Alexander Khinshtei, the head of the State Duma’s information committee, wrote on Telegram that “We propose to generally extend the ban on such propaganda regardless of the age of the audience.”

Russia’s existing “gay propaganda” law, introduced in 2013, has been used as justification to stop pride marches and detain activists. Last week, parliamentary speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said that because Russia had quit the human rights watchdog group Council of Europe, “Demands to legalize same-sex marriages in Russia are a thing of the past.”

🇮🇶 Iraq’s Proposed Law To Ban Homosexuality Causes Uproar

Iraq's government has taken steps to criminalize homosexuality, the country’s Parliamentary Legal Committee met on July 8 to create proposals targeting the LGBTQ+ community. In an interview with the Iraqi News Agency, State of Law coalition MP Aref al-Hamami confirmed that “It was agreed within the parliament to collect signatures after returning to session to legislate a law prohibiting homosexuality in Iraq”. Homosexuality has been legal in Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

Despite it being legal, politicians and religious leaders have constantly attacked the LGBTQ+ community, which has also been subjected to death threats, attacks and murder by armed groups, as well as targetting through laws punishing "immodest acts" according to Middle East Eye. The current government has even proposed the creation of an annual day against homosexuality.

Amir Ashour, head of the IraQueer LGBTQ+rights group, told Middle East Eye that the new law would provide cover for such attacks. "This will allow the Iraqi government to legally get away with murder and provide legal protection for armed groups and other criminals who continue to target LGBTQ+ citizens."

🇿🇦 South Africa’s Celebrated Film Critic Barry Ronge Dies At 74

One of the most prominent openly gay personalities in South African media, film critic Barry Ronge has died at age 74. Ronge led a decades-long career as a journalist, writer, columnist, and broadcaster. Despite his life in the public eye, Ronge kept a very private life.

For 45 years, he shared his life with his partner Albertus van Dyk, whom he cites as his biggest inspiration.

🌎 UN Renews LGBTQ+ Rights Watchdog

The United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution in order to renew the mandate of the Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) for three more years. The vote on Thursday was adopted with 23 in favor, 17 voting against and 7 abstaining.

In addition to the renewal of the mandate, the resolution also confirmed fundament LGBTQ+ human rights. Since its creation in 2016, the UN expert has raised awareness worldwide about the impact of the criminalization of same-sex relations and the lack of affirming legal gender recognition procedures.

🇺🇸 Burning Book, Hateful Tags: LGBTQ+ Harassment in New England

Screenshot of a tweet by \u200bBoston\u2019s mayor Michelle Wu reacting to vandalism in the city

Boston’s mayor Michelle Wu reacting to vandalism in the city

Twitter


A group of conservative mothers in Connecticut are demanding that a collection of books be burned, after their local library put up a display in honor of Pride during the month of June. On June 22, the group which included a “Christian taxpayer” saw the display and removed the books. They proceeded to demand that the books be removed and burned, using slurs at the front desk of the library.

In the neighboring state of Massachusetts, an LGBTQ+ friendly senior home which is under construction in Hyde Park was vandalized. Messages included: “Die slow”, “your fairytale is over”, “Die by fire”, and “There are 2 genders”. The graffiti was discovered in the Boston suburb on July 10, but was quickly covered by residents with pro-LGBTQ+ messages. Boston’s mayor Michelle Wu tweeted: “Hate and acts of vandalism will not be tolerated … anywhere in Boston.”

🇯🇵 Record Number Of LGBTQ+ Candidates In Japan’s Election

In Japan’s House of Councillors election that took place on Sunday, history was made with a record number of 4 out of 545 candidates aiming to enter Japan’s male-dominated political circle identify at LGBTQ+. Japan’s political landscape was criticized for being unable to reflect the society’s diversity, and it only ranks 147th in political empowerment among 156 countries in the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index.

With transgender candidate Karen Yoda, Shunichi Murata who identifies as bisexual, and Daigo Matsuura who is openly gay, talks on “diversity” and “coming out” and visibility on the LGBTQ+ population in Japan’s political world creates a watershed.

🇦🇷 Argentine Trans Dads Fight For More Visibility

Screenshot of Network of Trans Dads's first Zoom meeting

Network of Trans Dads's first meeting

Screenshot Agencia Presentes


Last year in Argentina, about 20 trans men came together to create the network “Paternidades Trans Argentina.” This online community is helping people share their stories, feel understood, inspired and supported while taking the medical and legal steps to become trans dads. Since the creation of the network, several members have become parents and are contributing to making trans parenthood visible, which is also helping to fight the stigma associated with it.

Members advocate for a much needed cultural change by achieving personal accomplishments and through in-person events like conferences and campaigns. They hope to bring awareness on the reality of “trans and non-binary men who gestate, adopt and accompany” children. Argentine trans men (and particularly those who get pregnant) still have to face hostile depiction by some part of the media as well as difficulties to be supported by the health system. The network thus brings them much needed comfort and relief.

OTHERWISE

• The authors offers a reflection on how David Fincher’s 1999 Fight Club helped him come to terms with his sexual orientation and gender identity.

• The Crown actress Emma Corrin becomes the first nonbinary person to be featured on the cover of Vogue.

• Independent online magazine Autostraddle has put together a list of 49 queer and feminist books coming out in the summer. Enjoy!

A man mourns former Japanese PM Shinzo Abe.
Geopolitics
Dan Wu

What The Shinzo Abe Assassination Could Mean For The China Question

The death of the former Japanese Prime Minister has provoked different reactions between mainland China and Taiwan, but also between government officials and the public in the People's Republic. Looking ahead, will Japan's pro-Taiwan stance stick for the long haul?

-Analysis-

The assassination of Shinzo Abe has shocked the world, and East Asia in particular. The longest-serving Japanese prime minister was admired for his personal charisma and stern decisiveness, but was also among the most conservative and nationalistic leaders in the region's post-War history.

Even if he is credited with stabilizing Japan's economy, his two stints in office are notable for coinciding with the rise of China as a global economic and military power.

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Photo of a person swimming
LGBTQ Plus

LGBTQ+ International: Sports Bans Tipping Point, Indian Uterus Transplant — And The Week’s Other Top News

All things LGBTQ+, from Peru, Morocco, NYC, Uganda ...

Welcome to Worldcrunch’s LGBTQ+ International. We bring you up-to-speed each week on the latest news on everything LGBTQ+ — a topic that you may follow closely at home, but can now see from different places and perspectives around the world. Discover the latest news from all corners of the planet. All in one smooth scroll!

Featuring, this week:

  • A flurry of sports governing bodies reviewing their transgender policy
  • A Bolivian Indigenous’ critique on “western” Pride
  • Moroccan lesbian makes history at UN
  • … and more

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

🌏 Sports Transgender Policy, A Tipping Point?

It’s been something of a domino effect since International Swimming’s top ruling body FINA voted last weekend to ban transgender athletes, excluding anyone who has been through male puberty from competing in women’s competitions. FINA promised to create a working group that would aim to establish an “open” category for trans swimmers at some of its events.

Since FINA’s decision, a growing number of professional sports bodies have indicated that they will review their transgender policy. They include:

• The International Rugby League, which ruled this week that transgender women will be barred from women’s rugby.

• World Athletics' president, Sebastian Coe, praised FINA’s decision, suggesting that track and field could soon follow suit.

• Soccer body FIFA said it is reviewing its gender eligibility regulations.

However, German soccer is bucking the trend. The German soccer federation passed a regulation on Thursday to allow gender non-conforming individuals to choose to play for men’s or women’s teams. “Football stands for diversity,” they said.

🇵🇪 Peru Court Refuses To Recognize Same-Sex Marriages

The Constitutional Court of Peru has refused to recognize two same-sex marriages that were held abroad.

In one case, a Peruvian congresswoman and LGTBQ+ activist and her partner had married in Miami, and had been seeking recognition of their union in Peru since 2016. In the second case, dating back to 2012, Peru refused to recognize the marriage of two men who had wed in Mexico.

The top national court ruled against the plaintiff’s claim that their rights to equality, non-discrimination and the free development of the personality had been violated. In the Peruvian legal system, legal acts carried out abroad can be registered in Peru as long as they do not violate public order or “good customs.” Marianella Ledesma, the only magistrate who dissented from the majority, said that her Constitutional Court colleagues were acting like a “Court of the Holy Inquisition.”

🇧🇴 A Bolivian Critique On “Importing” Pride

Juan Pablo Vargas, a gay Bolivian journalist has written a fascinating essay for Muy Waso independent media asking if the struggle for sexual diversity in Latin America suffered from “importing social struggles from northern countries.”

Vargas encourages fellow Bolivian LGBTQ+ to seek “understanding from the Indigenous knowledge, beyond following the rules of the developed world on 'how to be gay'.”

He notes that Andean thought has its own understanding of the matter. “Juan de Santa Cruz Pachacuti wrote at the beginning of the 17th century that due to a crisis in the succession of rulers, the Inca summoned a God who has disappeared today: Chuqui Chinchay or the Apu of the Otorongos. A deity who was patron of the 'Indians of two sexes". It is a middle space between masculine and feminine. The space of the q'iwa, what Western culture calls queer."

Vargas cites Michael J. Horswell, who has studied how qariwarmi shamans (men-women) performed ceremonies for this God while crossdressed, “being a visible sign of contact between the two sexes (but also between the present and the past, life and death)”.

According to Vargas, there is an Andean understanding of the q'iwa that has survived colonialism in the form of bodies, dances and experiences. “It is our task to think about the social place that corresponds to us and demand it in laws and rights. But we must do it from a reflection of Andean thought that allows us to overcome the colonized mentality with which we do it today.”

🇲🇦 UN Hears Moroccan LBT Voice For First Time

On June 20, for the first time in Moroccan history, LGBTQ+ people were spoken about in a public intervention at the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of the Discrimination against Women. Activists submitted a shadow report on discrimination, violence, exclusion, and criminalization of Moroccan lesbian, trans and bisexual women. The shadow report was presented by the NGO Kasbah Tal Fin for freedom and equality, and ILGA World.

Mariyem Gamar, founder of Kasbah Tal Fin, spoke to the chair: “I am a young leader for freedom and equality, who happens to be a woman and a lesbian and a Moroccan. In Morocco.” She explained that Moroccan lesbian, bisexual and transgender women live between the weight of two oppressions, the legal criminalization of their existence and the lack of protection from social stigma.

Gamar spoke from her personal experience: “At the age of 16, I remember walking on an afternoon in my village, a group of boys threw a big rock on my back because they knew I am a lesbian. I felt fear and since then, I wanted peace. I chose to be out and visible as an equal individual of society, but that came with social stigma and violence.”

The activist demanded urgent legal reforms to protect women on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and the removal of article 489, which punishes "homosexual conduct" with fines and prison terms. She delivered the speech while Moroccan government officials were sitting in front of her, and risks persecution and prosecution for speaking out about this taboo and “illegal” topic.

🇺🇸 New York To Build Statues To Transgender Icons At Stonewall Landmark

New York will be the home of the first transgender women statues in the U.S. Placed at the site of the 1969 Stonewall riots, the statues will commemorate activists Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, leaders of the uprising. Johnson and Rivera, who died respectively in 1992 and 2002, were founding members of the Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activists Alliance. They also helped create a refuge for LGBTQ+ people living on the street.

🇯🇵 Japan Court Upholds Same-Sex Marriage Ban

\u200bParticipants hold a banner as they march during the 2016 Tokyo Rainbow Pride parade

At the Tokyo Rainbow Pride parade

Alessandro Di Ciommo/ZUMA


The Osaka district court ruled this week that a ban on same-sex marriages is constitutional after three same-sex couples had argued that the ban violated their right to equality. The decision deals a significant blow to LGBTQ+ activists, and the plaintiffs will be appealing the ruling.

The court argued that the constitutional definition of marriage does not extend to couples of the same sex, though they indicated thatJapan may be able to create a new system that recognizes same-sex couples separately from traditional marriages.

Japan does not currently offer national protections against anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination, and gay and transgender people in Japan regularly experience obstacles in employment opportunities, housing, education, and healthcare. Some 200 municipalities offer some form of recognition for same-sex couples which allow them to get housing together and receive some of the other benefits associated with traditional marriage in Japan.

🇺🇬 Ugandan Activists Call Out Criminalization Of HIV Transmission

Human rights defenders in Uganda have filed their final arguments in a landmark Constitutional Court petition challenging sections of the HIV/AIDS prevention and Control Act 2014 that criminalize HIV transmission. According to the executive director of the Uganda Health and Science Press Association, this law has been used to justify the application of forced anal examinations on homosexuals in recent arrests, to establish their HIV status.

More than 50 civil society organizations, led by The Uganda Network on Law Ethics and HIV/AIDS (UGANET), are challenging the Act 2014, which they allege is discriminatory and an impediment to the fight against AIDS.

According to the website Rights Africa, human rights organizations have called the law “flawed, and deeply troubling and in contradiction of science and human rights.”

🇮🇪 Irish Rugby Player Speaks For First Time About Coming Out

Photo of \u200bIrish rugby player Nick McCarthy

Irish rugby player Nick McCarthy (right)

Ettore Griffoni/LPS via ZUMA


Irish rugby player Nick McCarthy has spoken about his coming out journey. In his first interview since revealing his sexuality, the 27-year-old Leinster scrum-half said his experience had been “entirely positive”. However, he did reveal he had contemplated quitting the sport.

Even though gay players are still extremely rare in professional sport, particularly in rugby,

McCarthy said he has received support from his teammates. Leinster club captain Johnny Sexton said: “By speaking openly about his sexuality, Nick will be a role model for others and we couldn't be prouder of him.”

🇬🇧 Harry Styles Helps Fan Come Out During A Show In London


British singer Harry Styles helped a fan to come out during a concert at London’s Wembley Stadium earlier this week. Matti, from Italy, held out a sign reading “From Ono to Wembley: Help me come out.” Styles thanked him and picked up the sign and a rainbow flag, saying, “When this flag goes over my head, you are officially out. I think that’s how it works: When this sign goes over the head, you’re officially gay, my boy.”

The audience cheered and sang Matti’s name as Styles progressively raised the flag and declared Matti a “free man”. The singer has been both hailed for its longstanding support of the LGBTQ+ community and accused of queerbaiting for embracing queer aesthetics while refusing to identify as such. Styles had already helped a young fan come out to her mother during a show in Milwaukee in November 2021.

🇮🇳 Indian Surgeon To Transplant Uterus On Transgender Woman

A surgeon in India is planning to perform a uterus transplant on a transgender woman. The patient plans to then undergo IVF treatment to carry a baby. If successful, the procedure could pave the way for trans women to bear children.

The operation will not the world’s first uterus transplant (though it is still rare for cisgender women to receive such transplants). But, it could be the world's first successful uterus transplant performed on a trans woman. There is only one other recorded case of a trans woman receiving a uterus transplant was Danish artist Lili Elbe in 1931, but she died later of complications.The surgeon, Dr. Narendra Kaushik, is optimistic about the procedure. “The way to do this is through a uterine transplant, similar to a kidney or other transplant," he told The Mirror.

OTHERWISE:

 Japanese ultranationalist and far-right activist candidate Makoto Sakurai during a campaign rally, Tokyo, 2016
Japan
Meike Eijsberg

Japanese Nationalists Try To Bury Past, Kill Freedom Of Expression

There's a bitter irony when an exhibit titled 'Non-Freedom of Expression' itself faces censorship.

TOKYO — An exhibition opening in Tokyo criticizing Japan's militaristic past and human rights atrocities, called "Non-Freedom of Expression," was itself canceled under pressure from the extreme right. Japanese and international media have reported that threats from the Japanese nationalist movement have led to the cancellation of the opening of the exhibition the day before its June 25 inauguration.

Le Monde reports that the exhibition was originally supposed to take place at the Session House, a private space in Tokyo. But far-right protesters demonstrated outside the building, while hateful and violence language multiplied. The police were notified but remained discreet, only asking the protesters to turn down the volume. A new location was found and kept secret until the last moment but, fearing an incident, the owner of the venue canceled the exhibition.

The organizers remain hopeful and are looking for a new place. "This is only a postponement," said Yuko Okamoto, a 58-year-old organizer of the event to The Japan Times. "We are confident that we can hold the event." In the meantime, organizers are considering legal action after some protestors had suggested physically attacking the exhibition, the Japanese broadcaster NHK reports.

The source of the fiercest criticism is a statue called "Girl of Peace."

The exhibition is full of topics long considered taboo in Japan. Some of it is related to the atrocities committed in the second Sino-Japanese war, including the 1937 Nanjing massacre. Other installments address more recent evens, such as the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, the imperial system, or the debate over Article 9 in the Japanese Constitution mentioning the renunciation of war, which nationalists would like to remove.

Rally in front of the "Comfort Woman" statue, located near the Japanese embassy in Seoul, Korea, 2018 — Photo: Lee Jae-Won

But the source of the fiercest criticism is a statue called "Girl of Peace," created by South Korean sculptors Kim Seo-kyung and Kim Eun-sung. This statue features a so-called "Comfort Woman," a euphemism for Korean women forced to work as prostitutes for the Imperial Japanese army. It was originally installed in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul but it has been reproduced in several other countries, such as the United States and Germany.

The statue has raised repeated controversy over the years, most notably in a similar freedom of expression art exhibition hosted in Nagoya, as part of the Aichi Triennale 2019, one of the largest international art festivals in Japan. Repeated threats were made by protestors, who viewed the exhibition as "anti-Japanese propaganda." According to Kyodo News, the organizers were forced to close the exhibition three days after its opening, and the Ministry of Culture withdrew a 78 million yen ($706,000) grant to the Triennale.