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Screenshot of characters from the Sims 4 video game
Laura Valentina Cortés Sierra, Lisa Berdet, Lila Paulou, McKenna Johnson, Emma Albright and Bertrand Hauger

LGBTQ+ International: South African Fatwa, “Sims” Update — And The Week’s Other Top News

Controversy in Morocco, video games news from the U.S. and Japan, Russian activists ... and plenty of other news.

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:

  • Muslim outrage over South Africa’s same-sex “fatwa”
  • EU Commission suing Hungary for its anti-LGBTQ+ law
  • A “Sims" update with new sexual orientation options
  • … and more

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

🇲🇦 #Fetrah, The Anti-LGBTQ+ Online Campaign Going Viral in Morocco

An online initiative “to counter campaigns supporting the LGBTQ+ community and same-sex relations” has recently gone viral in Morocco, and other Arabic-speaking countries in the Middle East and North Africa. According to Morocco World News, the term #Fetrah, translated as "instinct" or "primitiveness" in English, is the trending hashtag used on the social media post against the LGBTQ+ communities, as well as blue and pink flags, that symbolize gender binarism as the “only option”.

However several internet users have used #Fetrah to reject this “dogmatic, homophobic and transphobic hate movement,” in the words of Moroccan LGBTQ+ rights activist Mariyem Gamar. She told the Moroccan media that Fetrah is “trying to misinform the public by fear-mongering … and frame the LGBTQ+ movement as a criminal movement, as an immoral movement, as an unnatural movement, and all of this is wrong.”

🇺🇸 “The Sims 4” Video Game Adds Sexual Orientation Settings

The Sims 4: High School Years interactive video game will be released on July 28 with some notable new options. This expansion pack will allow players to choose the sexual orientation of their virtual character. Upon creating their Sim, in the settings menu, people will be able to choose if it is attracted to men and/or women, if it is asexual, wants an affair or a love story. EA Games has not yet included the option to create a non-binary Sim in this expansion pack.

🇷🇺 Russia Fines Journalist And YouTuber Yury Dud Over “Gay Propaganda”

YouTuber Yury Dud

Wikimedia Commons

A Russian journalist was fined 120,000 rubles (around $2,000) on Tuesday by a Moscow court under a law banning “propaganda” in support of gay relationships. Yury Dud, a media star with more than 10 million YouTube subscribers, has been fined before on other propaganda charges and was designated a foreign agent in April after dubbing Russia’s war in Ukraine an “imperial frenzy.”

Dud was fined for disseminating "propaganda for non-traditional sexual relationships among minors," according to the Lefortovo district court. Pavel Chikov, a human rights lawyer, said the case against Dud centered on a YouTube interview from 2021 he conducted with a gay performance artist, even though the interview was not about homosexuality.

🇷🇺 Russian LGBTQ+ Activist Yulia Tsvetkova’s Gets Surprise Acquittal

Yulia Tsvetkova, a 29-year-old feminist and LGBTQ+ activist, was acquitted last week of charges of distributing pornography and “LGBTQ propaganda” in Russia.

The case dates back to 2019 where Tsvetkova was charged under Russia’s “gay propaganda” law that bans the promotion of homosexuality and non-traditional relationships to minors. She was declared a foreign agent in June.

Tsvetkova is known for her blog “Vagina Monologues'' in which she posts body-positive drawings of female anatomy. According to supporters, she was prosecuted for publishing drawings of vulvas or naked women in 2019 on a Russian social media network, as reported by LGBTQ+ information site Komitid.

Most such Russian court cases end in conviction, noted Amnesty International in reacting to Tsvetkova’s acquittal. "In a country where state-sponsored homophobia and misogyny are the norm, Tsvetkova's trial was a landmark case," the organization said.

🇯🇵 Nintendo Defies Japan’s Ban, Recognizes Gay Marriage For Employees

On July 12, Japanese video-game giant Nintendo introduced a new policy that offers employees in same-sex domestic relationships the same benefits as those in heterosexual relationships. With this move, Nintendo goes against Japanese legislation that doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages, and uses its corporate and cultural influence to advocate in favor of LGBTQ+ community.

🇭🇺 Hungary Sued By The European Commission Over Anti-LGBTQ+ Law

Hungarian Justice Minister Judit Varga


The European Commission has announced it will take Hungary to the Court of Justice of the EU over its discriminatory law against LGBTQ+ people. The highly controversial Children Protection Act, which was passed in 2021, bans any content accused of promoting homosexuality and gender reassignment to minors in order to “protect children’s well being and to fight paedophilia.”

Hungarian Justice Minister Judit Varga criticized the lawsuit as "baseless", saying “EU membership does not affect Hungary's right in any way to make decisions of its own about child protection and in accordance with its national identity." The law has been condemned as homophobic and transphobic by the European Parliament and many EU member states.

🇦🇫 “Suffocating”: LGBTQ+ Afghans Describe Life Under Taliban

After the exodus of the West from Afghanistan last year, LGBTQ+ Afghans are struggling to survive under Taliban rule. Nemat Sadat, executive director of Roshaniya, an organization helping LGBTQ+ Afghans facing persecution in the country, says that “Afghanistan under Taliban rule is the most unbearable place in the world for LGBTQ+ people,” and that “It’s suffocating and you have to fear for your life with every breath you take.”

Afghanistan has never been a great place for LGBTQ+ people — same-sex sexual relations have been explicitly criminalized since 2018 — but the situation has deteriorated since the West’s departure. According to Sadat, the LGBTQ+ community is an “extremely at-risk” population, and that cases of torture and killings are common.

Shir, an LGBTQ+ and human rights activist in Afghanistan, whose name has been changed, is scared to live openly: “We just want to be free and live as we wish, but someone else harms us. And they don’t even let us breathe.”

🇿🇲 Zambian Soccer Player Barbra Banda “Gender Verification” Test Deemed Human Rights Violation

The International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) has ruled that top Zambian football player Barbra Banda would not be allowed to take part in the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations alongside her team due to her “failing” a discriminatory sex test. The “gender verification procedure” concluded that Banda’s testosterone levels were too high for her to compete as a woman.

FIFA allows such tests to be conducted on players on suspicion of their sex since 2011. Indian athlete Dutee Chand and South African runner Caster Semenya have been ousted from competitions respectively in 2014 and 2018 for the same reason but challenged the decisions. Human Rights Watch has called the practice of sex testing “flagrant human rights violations” due to them being “stigmatizing, stereotyping, and discriminatory” and is asking FIFA to change its policy.

🇺🇸 Trans Rights And Same-Sex Marriage Under Threat In The U.S.

A protest in favor of trans rights in front of the White House

Flickr / CC

A Donald Trump-appointed federal judge has temporarily blocked protections for transgender students that U.S. President Joe Biden enacted with an executive order. This case was brought by the attorneys general of 20 states suing for the power to discriminate against trans students.

The order issued on Friday allows the 20 states to continue enforcing controversial laws without risk of retaliatory action from the administration. It also includes the loss of federal fundings for schools.

The enactment was designed to protect transgender individuals from multiple anti-trans policies, including bans from school sports teams, bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity, as well as measures that allow employers to intentionally refuse to use a worker's preferred pronouns.

Meanwhile, the White House on Wednesday urged the Senate to quickly pass a bill protecting same-sex marriage after it made it through the House with bipartisan support.

🇿🇦 South African Islamic Fatwa Sparks LGBTQ+ Outrage

LGBTQ+ Muslims in South Africa are denouncing a fatwa issued by the South African Muslim Judicial Council, which claims that queer people cannot be Muslim. Instead, the imams say members of the LGBTQ+ community should abstain from their desires and the sin of homosexuality.

Queer Muslims and their supporters published an open letter in response to the anti-LGBTQ+ declaration issued as a fatwa, a public ruling on a point of Islamic law by religious leaders and scholars.

According to the activists’ letter, the council has called for the excommunication of the Muslim LGBTQ+ community, and the punishment for excommunication is death.

🇮🇳 Grounded Indian Transgender Pilot Takes Aviation Authorities To Court

A 23-year-old aspiring trans male pilot named Adam Harry is suing India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for denying him clearance to fly on discriminatory grounds. The aviation regulator said Harry was unfit to fly because his testosterone level was too high and that he “suffered from gender dysphoria from going through hormone replacement therapy (HRT).”

Harry was forced to take DGCA’s Class 2 medical test under the category of the gender that he was assigned at birth, and had to pause his hormonal therapy for six months. Still, the DGCA kept denying him clearance, prompting Harry to take the regulator to Kerala High Court. “DGCA’s unwillingness to make changes in guidelines for the employment of trans community is transphobic and also denial of the constitutional right to not get discriminated on the basis of gender,” he wrote on Instagram.

🇨🇳 Top Chinese University Punishes Students For Placing LGBTQ+ Flags On A Table

Beijing's Tsinghua University

Wikimedia Commons

Two students of Beijing’s Tsinghua University, Huang and Li, received warnings this week after leaving 10 rainbow flags — symbols of the LGBTQ+ community — on a table behind the campus supermarket counter two months ago.

The students were ordered to talk with administrators but refused, Hong Kong-based online news portal HK01 reports. They received official warnings from the university afterwards, prohibiting them from getting scholarships or awards for six months.

A source at Yale Law School’s Paul Tsai China Center stated: “This incident is the latest example of university authorities increasingly constraining space for LGBT advocacy and expression.”


• In this Q&A from Autostraddle’s Sober Series, three “sober queers” discuss their first drinks, workplace drinking culture and more.

• Here’s a coming-out story from Outsports with beach volleyball player Charlie Siragusa, where he discusses how he uses TikTok to build a community of queer people from different walks of life.

• Head to Gaysi Family for their recent list of “The Queer Trendsetters Redefining Makeup on Instagram.”

AZ Magazine offers a review of This Arab is Queer: An Anthology by LGBTQ+ Arab Writers that explores the desires, identity and experiences of queer Arab people today.

Social distancing brings more orderly lines to Naples, Italy
Rozena Crossman

Where National Identity Meets Quarantine Rules

Are some countries better at following rules than others? The U.S. is making global headlines as gun-wielding citizens from Michigan to D.C. take to the streets to show their disdain for mandatory confinement. Those Americans abiding by the lockdown rules will quickly tell you that this defiance is flamed by Donald Trump's leadership-by-chaos presidency, as he openly supports the protests against his own policy. To the rest of the world, however, Americans banging the drum of anti-government individualism were … just being Americans.

As over half of the world's population is currently in lockdown, the various national quarantine policies have been picked apart in medical, social and economic terms. But is there an anthropological factor? What role do culture and national identity and characteristics play in driving citizens' reactions? In the Ivory Coast, for example, where offering physical contact with the sick is a local tradition that has posed significant challenges to social distancing. On the other hand, residents of China, Japan and South Korea were already in the habit of wearing masks as a common courtesy long before the virus even started.

Yet navigating coronavirus is a complex emotional endeavor, and not all responses can be easily caricatured. In a recent article in La Stampa, Flavia Perina applauds her fellow Italians, who have now been in quarantine longer than any other country for their "unexpected discipline," after 96% of the five million patrol checks carried out found no violations of the rules.

The La Stampa article came just a couple of days after Queen Elisabeth's rare address to the British nation, in which she cited "the attributes of self-discipline, of quiet good-humored resolve and of fellow-feeling (that) still characterize this country." Perina concludes: "We're not English, nor German nor Prussian, we don't have that austere type of DNA … (but) when the rules are precise and objectives are clear, we fulfill our duty." Yes, around the world, culture is shaping how we're all living through this pandemic — just as the pandemic is bound to reshape our cultures.

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