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WORLD Malta PM, Kenya official, Kharkiv Pride, sex-education campaign
by Andrew Davis
2022-09-18

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Malta Prime Minister Robert Abela has promised reforms for the country's LGBTQ+ community, including free gender-affirming surgery for trans people, according to PinkNews. In an interview with ONE Radio, he said, "I believe that social reform gives the Labour Party its identity." The Labour Party leader (who took office in 2020) noted the recent lift of a ban on gay men donating blood in Malta, and said the next step will be free gender-affirming surgeries for trans people, as promised in the party's manifesto. Malta, an archipelago, is in the central Mediterranean between Sicily and the North African coast.

On the flip side, the president-elect of Kenya told CNN's Christiane Amanpour that LGBTQI rights are "not a big issue" in his country, per The Washington Blade. "We don't want to create a mountain out of a molehill," William Ruto said. "This is not a big issue for the people of Kenya. When it becomes a big issue for the people of Kenya, the people of Kenya will make a choice." Ruto also said his predecessor, outgoing President Uhuru Kenyatta, "was spot on" when he said there is "no room for homosexuality in Kenyan society."

Activists in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv will hold Pride events in the coming days, per The Washington Blade. A press release that Kharkiv Pride released notes events that will take place from Saturday through Sept. 25 include a march, a performance that highlights efforts to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples in Ukraine and a "Memorial Day" for "LGBTQI+ people killed by the Russian Federation." The organization can be followed on Twitter @KharkivPride.

In Ireland, Spunout is launching a new LGBTQ+-inclusive sex-education campaign through its young volunteers, Dublin Live noted. The campaign "Under the Sheets" was launched following consultation with many young people who access the Spunout website for resources on sexual health. The campaign was devised by Spunout's youth volunteers, aged 16-25.

Uganda's parliament banned a popular music festival—the second time that authorities have taken steps against the annual event over accusations that it promotes sex, drugs and homosexuality, France24 reported. The legislative body decided to shut down the Nyege Nyege festival on the banks of the Nile in the southern town of Jinja, which brings together artists from across Africa to entertain around 10,000 revelers. Uganda's ethics and integrity minister, Rose Lilly Akello, told reporters that the festival "promotes a lot of immorality and this immorality is something which is not wanted in our country."

Vera Drew's independent film The People's Joker—about a trans clown who opens an underground comedy club and goes up against a fascist caped crusader—was pulled from its slot at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), where it had one screening before being hit with a cease-and-desist order, Out Magazine noted. "The filmmaker has withdrawn this film due to rights issues," a statement posted on TIFF's official website read. Described as a "queer, coming-of-age Joker origin tale," the movie's synopsis reads: "After years of numbing herself with Smylex, an unfunny clown named Joker grapples with gender identity, first love and a fascist caped crusader all while founding an illegal comedy theater in Gotham City." The title card for the film says it is "completely unauthorized by Detective Comics, Warner Brothers, and anyone claiming ownership of the trademarks therein. All materials used fall under fair use."

Oscar-winning filmmaker Laura Poitras criticized the Toronto and Venice film festivals for programming documentaries connected with former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, suggesting the decision bordered on a "whitewashing" of history, Deadline noted. "It's alarming to see some of the most powerful people in the world, such as Hillary Clinton, walking a red carpet at Venice, and at TIFF, and saying nothing," Poitras said, in part. Poitras' new documentary, All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, made its North American premiere in Toronto. The film about artist Nan Goldin and her crusade against OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma and its owners, the Sackler family, won the Golden Lion at Venice.

Actor Diego Luna recently expressed his disappointment over just how much big-budget blockbusters overshadow international art films, according to IndieWire. Over 20 years after his Venice Film Festival award-winning turn in Alfonso Cuaron's Y Tu Mama Tambien, Luna reflected on the current state of Mexican filmmaking. In part, he told GQ, "The amount of pressure the major [blockbusters] have on cinemas leaves very little space for Spanish-speaking movies."

Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard, who has previously expressed his reluctance at amassing wealth, is giving away his company, NPR noted. The outdoor apparel company will now be in the hands of a trust and a nonprofit organization. All future profits will be donated to help fight climate change, the company announced. The Patagonia Purpose Trust will control all voting stock of the company (2%), while the Holdfast Collective, a climate change nonprofit, will own all nonvoting stock (98%).

Roger Federer announced that he is retiring from tennis after the Laver Cup, revealing his decision on social media, ESPN noted. "As many of you know, the past three years have presented me with challenges in the form of injuries and surgeries," Federer said. "I've worked hard to return to full competitive form. But I also know my body's capacities and limits, and its message to me lately has been clear." Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, along with Andy Murray, are set to play together for the first time when they compete as part of Team Europe at the Laver Cup in London on Sept. 23-25. Named after Australian great Rod Laver, the event, run by Federer's management company, pits six of Europe's top players against six from the rest of the world.

The beer is flowing at Munich's world-famous Oktoberfest for the first time since 2019, ABC News noted. With three knocks of a hammer and the traditional cry of "O'zapft is" ("It's tapped"), Mayor Dieter Reiter inserted the tap in the first keg at noon on Sept. 17, officially opening the festivities after a two-year break forced by the coronavirus pandemic. The Oktoberfest has typically drawn about 6 million visitors every year to packed festival grounds in Bavaria's capital. The event did not take place in 2020 and 2021 because of COVID-19 restrictions.

For the first time in British Vogue's 106-year history, the fashion magazine has put a man on its cover: actor Timothee Chalamet (Wonka; Dune; Call Me By Your Name), according to Yahoo! Life. "I feel like early on in my career, I just wanted to work on things that were great, regardless of the size of the role," Chalamet said in a follow-up video interview with British Vogue Editor-in-Chief Edward Enninful,. "And it often meant working with a great director. I guess I'm trying to go where it's not obvious to go."


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