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LGBTQI News Roundup – 3rd June 2022

Ukraine’s ‘unicorn’ LGBTQ soldiers head for war

Members of Ukraine’s LGBTQ community who sign up for the war have taken to sewing the image of a unicorn into their standard-issue epaulettes just below the national flag. 

The practice harks back to the 2014 conflict when Russia invaded then annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine, “when lots of people said there are no gay people in the army,” actor, director and drama teacher Zhuhan told Reuters as he and Romanova dressed in their apartment for their second three-month combat rotation.

“So they (the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community) chose the unicorn because it is like a fantastic ‘nonexistent’ creature.”

As volunteer fighters Oleksandr Zhuhan and Antonina Romanova pack for a return to active duty, they contemplate the unicorn insignia that gives their uniform a rare distinction — a symbol of their status as an LGBTQ couple who are Ukrainian soldiers. Zhuhan and Romanova, who identifies as a nonbinary person with she/her pronouns and moved to the capital from Crimea after being displaced in 2014, met through their theater work.

Neither was trained in the use of weapons but, after spending a couple of days hiding in their bathroom at the start of the war, decided they had to do more.

“I just remember that at a certain point it became obvious that we only had three options: either hide in a bomb shelter, run away and escape, or join the Territorial Defense (volunteers). We chose the third option,” Romanova said.

Reunited Indian lesbian couple still afraid of their families 

A young lesbian couple reunited by a court in the southern Indian state of Kerala have said they still fear threats from their families. Adhila Nassrin, 22, had filed a court petition after alleging her partner had been abducted by her family.

The court ruled on Monday that Ms Nassrin and her partner Fathima Noora, 23, were free to live together. The couple said they were “ecstatic” about the order but that they still aren’t “completely free”.

Members of the LGBT community still largely face prejudice and hostility in India despite a landmark court order that decriminalised gay sex in 2018.

While the country does have a spirited, vibrant movement for queer rights, its impact has been most visible in big cities.

Ms Nassrin and Ms Noora have told local media that they met and fell in love while studying in Saudi Arabia. 

While they had been together for several years, they only told their families about their relationship last month.

“We felt suffocated all these years at our homes,” Ms Noora told a news channel on Tuesday.

US transgender swimmer says ‘trans women are not
a threat to women’s sport’

American transgender swimmer Lia Thomas said trans women are “not a threat to women’s sports” in an interview with ABC on Tuesday.

Speaking to ABC’s Juju Chang, Thomas said: “Trans people don’t transition for athletics. We transition to be happy and authentic and our true selves.” Thomas has recently become the face of the debate on transgender women in sports. In 2017, she arrived at the University of Pennsylvania and joined the men’s swimming team, but during her first years in college, Thomas became increasingly depressed.

Transitioning came with a big cost and put her swimming career into question. “That’s part of what kept me from transitioning for so long. The thing is, I wasn’t sure if I could continue swimming and doing the sport that I love,” Thomas said.

Small Australian town celebrates its first LGBTQ
mardi gras

In a tiny outback town, locals have brushed off the red dust in favour of glitter for their first-ever Mardi Gras ball.

The small town of Cunnamulla, with a population of just over 1,000 people, is a long way from Queensland’s capital, and its dazzling nightlife and gay bars.

Nearly 800 kilometres west of Brisbane, Cunnamulla sits squarely in the federal electorate of Maranoa, where 56.1 percent voted “no” in the 2017 same-sex marriage plebiscite. 

But, as elaborate dresses are chosen, and long eyelashes, delicate nails and makeup applied, Cunnamulla says it’s time to celebrate and embrace the LGBTQIA+ community of outback Queensland. 

One participant is Dallas Webster (pictured above), knows what it is like to grow up gay in a regional community. The Dunghutti man joined the community with his alter ego, Nova Gina, as the main act for the Mardi Gras ball. Mr Webster grew up in Kempsey, in regional New South Wales, where he had few gay role models. 

“It was obvious to a lot of people, and [I was] not realising myself; I was quite camp as a young boy,” he said. 


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