The Methodist Church’s annual conference on June 30 concluded with some shocking new information: same-sex marriages would be performed by Methodist ministers in Methodist churches. The vote passed by 254 with only 46 against and will influence all 164,000 Methodist Church organizations. No ministers who are uncomfortable with leading a same-sex wedding will be forced to do so, but no physical chapel may turn away an LGBTQ couple. One of the the major regions affected by the decision is Kenya. Jedidah Maina, Executive Director of the Trust for Indigenous Culture and Health said “We are hopeful that this will set the trend for more religious leaders and institutions in Kenya to support the full enjoyment of human rights by the LGBTQIA+ community.” Deputy Director of the Kenya Legal and Ethical Issues Network (KLEIN), Nerima Were, celebrated the Methodist Church’s decision saying “It is wins like this that assure us that we will one day have a world where LGBTQIA+ persons will be able to enjoy their rights fully.”
Tbilisi Pride organisers were forced to cancel week-long Pride festivities after their officers were stormed by violent right-wing thugs, seizing the city with unrest and leaving LGBT+ Georgians terrified. The violence was denounced by the embassies of more than 15 countries as well as top human rights groups – but the Georgian government instead blamed LGBT+ people. But in a moment dubbed “historic” by Pride organisers, thousands of Georgians packed Rustaveli Avenue outside parliament in solidarity with Tbilisi Pride with a clear message: There’s no place for hate in Georgia.
China’s most popular social media service has deleted accounts on LGBT topics run by university students and nongovernment groups, prompting concern the ruling Communist Party is tightening control over gay and lesbian content. WeChat sent account holders a notice they violated rules but gave no details, according to the founder of an LGBT group, who asked not to be identified further out of fear of possible official retaliation. She said dozens of accounts were shut down, all at about 10 p.m. on Tuesday. It wasn’t clear whether the step was ordered by Chinese authorities, but it comes as the ruling party tightens political controls and tries to silence groups that might criticize its rule.
A leading politician in Brazil, who is planning on challenging Jair Bolsonaro in Presidential elections next year, has come out as gay. Leite made the revelation on Thursday night during an interview with broadcaster TV Globo. In the interview Leite said, “I have never spoken about a subject related to my private life, but during this moment of low integrity in Brazil, I have nothing to hide. I’m gay – and I’m a governor who is gay rather than a gay governor. Just as Obama in the United States wasn’t a black president, but a president who was black. And I’m proud of this.”
In a tirade against LGBTQ rights, Czech President Miloš Zeman called transgender people “disgusting” during a Sunday television appearance. In the conversation with CNN Prima, Zeman said, “If you undergo a sex-change operation you are basically committing a crime of self-harm. Every surgery is a risk and these transgender people to me are disgusting.” His comment came during a discussion about a new and widely condemned anti-LGBTQ law passed in Hungary that bans LGBTQ content in schools and on television for children under eighteen. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced she will be taking legal action against Hungary’s law, calling it “a shame.” In addition, 16 out of the EU’s 27 member states have publicly voiced opposition to the law.
On Friday June 25, which marks 43 years since the rainbow flag was first used as a symbol of LGBT+ Pride at the 1978 Pride parade in San Francisco, the embassies of Canada, the UK and the US raised the flag in Russia. Russia’s so-called “gay propaganda law” was signed by Vladimir Putin in 2013, after the start of this third presidential term, banning any “promotion” of “non-traditional sexual relationships”. Anyone found guilty under the law can be sentenced to heavy fines or up to 15 years in prison. But the countries’ ambassadors each signed an open letter on the day, alongside the ambassadors of Iceland, New Zealand and Australia, “affirming the inherent human rights of each individual… including members of the LGBT+ community”.
Violence broke out in Istanbul this year as residents attempted to celebrate Pride. Pride parades have been banned in Istanbul since 2014, and protesters had gathered in Taksim Square for a rally. Police moved in, arresting at least 20 and firing rubber bullets into the crowd in an attempt to disperse it. At least one reporter was badly beaten while being arrested. The governor’s office had refused to authorize a march, citing the protection of peace, security, general health, and morality.
This week on Queer News Tonight, we reported on the Mayor of Munich requesting the Allianz Arena be lit in rainbow colors for the Germany Vs Hungary soccer match in response to Hungary’s recent anti-LGBTQ+ law. The request was denied by the UEFA governing board as being “political”. The German people took matters into their own hands, as other arenas across the country illuminated themselves in the rainbow, activists handed out over 11,000 rainbow flags to people attending the match, and one supporter even stormed the field with a rainbow flag before being tackled by security. In what seemed the ultimate twist of Karma, the pro-LGBTQ+ Germans and the anti-LGBTQ+ Hungarians ended the match in a draw, which led to the Hungarians being sent home from the rest of the championship due to points differences in earlier matches.
As the world continues to recover from the trauma of 2020 and Pride flags begin to unfurl across gayborhoods foreign and domestic, all eyes are on Copenhagen, Denmark and Malmö, Sweden. Both cities will host WorldPride. However, this year’s WorldPride is particularly meaningful. For the first time, WorldPride will use its platform to raise awareness of injustices across the globe, particularly as it pertains to equality, queer migrants, transgender rights, and discrimination. While there have been similar forums at past WorldPride events in New York, Madrid, and Toronto, it’s never been integrated within the general program as it is this year.
A university in the Netherlands has marked Pride season by painting what is believed to be the longest rainbow bike path in the world. The path can be found at the Utrecht Science Park (part of Utrecht University) in the city of Utrecht: about a 45-minute drive south of Amsterdam. The path was the idea of 22-year-old student Elias van Mourik. In a press statement, he said, “A lot of people live, work and study at Utrecht Science Park. It’s therefore great that at such a location you get a symbol that shows that everyone is accepted.”