“The 9”. News Curated Weekly. Leo Varadkar resigns, UK Police Apologise, and Marvel steps back.

Your guide to the queer media circus. “The 9”. Queer News Curated Weekly. Subscribe to the newsletter to get it every Monday.

As usual… 5.5 minutes to read. A weekly digest of the most important queer news in your backyard!  Exclusively for paid subscribers every Monday, “The 9” is curated weekly by Taylor Abbot + the GenZ editorial team.

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This week, legendary prime minister Leo Varadkar resigned, and then:

Georgia. Politics. Ruling Party Plans Legislation Against LGBTQ+ “Propaganda”

The Georgian Dream party, in a move stirring controversy, announced plans for legislation targeting what it terms LGBTQ+ “propaganda.” Mamuka Mdinaradze, leader of the ruling party in parliament, asserted that the measure reflects public sentiment and aims to counter alleged efforts by groups like Tbilisi Pride, purportedly backed by the UN, to spread “propaganda” in the country. Mdinaradze accused these groups of misrepresenting their activities, alleging they focus on promoting “pseudo-liberal propaganda.” The proposed bill, expected to be introduced imminently, has drawn criticism from LGBTQ+ advocates and some European nations, who denounce violence against the LGBTQ+ community in Georgia. The move underscores the tension between conservative values and LGBTQ+ rights as Georgia seeks EU membership.

Leo Varadkar and his partner Matthew Barrett.

Ireland. Politics. Leo Varadkar Shocks Nation with Surprise Resignation

Leo Varadkar, the Irish Prime Minister who set historical milestones for his country by becoming the first openly gay taoiseach, the youngest head of the state, and the first prime minister with mixed ethnic origin, has announced his resignation. He is capping off a legacy marked by groundbreaking social reforms, abortion law, and strategic Brexit negotiations. Varadkar, 45, surprised the political establishment with his emotional announcement in Dublin, citing personal and political reasons for stepping down. His departure from the leadership of Fine Gael signals a significant shift in Irish politics, leaving observers and colleagues alike taken aback. Varadkar’s tenure saw pivotal moments, from championing same-sex marriage to navigating the complexities of Brexit negotiations, earning both praise and criticism. As speculation swirls about his next move, Varadkar’s unexpected exit leaves Ireland facing an uncertain future.

Germany. Culture. Berlin’s Iconic Tom’s Bar Closed Forever.

The iconic Tom’s Bar in Berlin, and the oldest in Europe being founded in 1982, has shut its doors for unknown reasons. The space was bought by Catalan entrepreneur Joan Igual and emerged as Boyberry. The name is synonymous with bars in Barcelona and Madrid, renowned for its darkroom encounters. Promising a fusion of tradition and excitement, Boyberry pledges “Bar, gloryholes and lots of fun!” Its reception awaits scrutiny at “Easter Berlin,” the premier gathering for leather and fetish enthusiasts near Nollendorfplatz. Tom’s Bar is the last of many legendary spaces that disappeared in the last year: Amsterdam, San Francisco, Paris saw their historical places vanish in the last 2 years. The sad part is the spaces were not only bars but also places where movements were formed, and resistance was composed—the bars where Harvey Milk, Jean Le Bitoux or Michel Foucault met there are not anymore.

Worldwide. Pop culture. Marvel’s Pride Allies variant covers have raised concern about an anti-gay strategy.

The prevalence of Marvel’s ‘Pride Allies’ variant covers has sparked discourse within the comics community, drawing comparisons to the era when Wolverine dominated Marvel covers. Some speculate it’s a marketing ploy to feature popular characters like Captain America and Spider-Man rather than centring on queer characters like Northstar or Iceman. However, it’s also posited that the initiative could aim to provide opportunities for queer artists. Regardless, the decision to highlight “allies” during Pride Month has ignited criticism, with concerns raised about privileged groups distancing themselves from marginalized struggles. This approach risks perpetuating a ‘White Savior’ narrative, where the focus shifts from the marginalized to those in power. Marvel’s emphasis on ‘Allies’ variants instead of queer stories underscores this issue, overshadowing the true essence of Pride Month. While some view it as a betrayal of Pride’s spirit, DC Comics’ Pride Anthology stands out as a more inclusive celebration. The discussion prompts reflection on the need to authentically celebrate queer individuals rather than tokenizing their allies, not only during Pride Month but year-round.

Russia. Politics. First Arrests Under New ‘Extremism’ Law Targeting LGBT+ Community

Two employees of a gay club in Orenburg, Russia, have been arrested on suspicion of extremism, marking a chilling escalation in the country’s crackdown on LGBTQ+ rights. Alexander Klimov, the art director, and Diana Kamilyanova, the administrator, of the club Pose will remain in pretrial detention until May 18th. This is the first criminal case filed under a new law passed last November, which deems the “international public LGBT movement” an “extremist organization.” The court alleges Klimov and Kamilyanova acted “in premeditation with a group of people” who support the LGBT+ movement. If convicted, they could face up to ten years in prison. This case follows a series of incidents targeting LGBT+ individuals and symbols in Russia. Three people have been charged for public displays of rainbows, including artist Inna Mosina who faces a fine for rainbow-themed Instagram posts. A Volgograd man was similarly fined for posting a picture of the LGBTQ+ flag, while Anastasia Yershova was arrested for refusing to remove rainbow earrings in public. Additionally, two young women were forced to apologize for a kiss shared on TikTok. Police raided Pose earlier this month, reportedly accompanied by a nationalist group called “Russian Community.” The group claims to have confiscated “female stage costumes, wigs, and fake breasts” during the raid. This incident underscores the increasing danger LGBT+ people face in Russia. Raids on LGBT+ spaces have become more frequent since the stricter anti-LGBT+ legislation was passed in 2023.

UK. Politics. 13 Police Forces Apologise for Past Treatment of LGBT+ Community

Dorset Police has become the latest force in the UK to apologise for its historical treatment of the LGBTQ+ community. Chief Constable Amanda Pearson acknowledged the “physical and mental harm” caused by past enforcement of anti-LGBTQ+ laws, in a letter to the Peter Tatchell Foundation. The apology comes in response to the Foundation’s #ApologiseNow campaign, which has secured apologies from twelve other police forces across England and Wales. Pearson highlighted ongoing efforts to build trust with the LGBT+ community, including staff training initiatives and LGBT+ support networks. “Today’s police service is not what it was,” Pearson said, expressing hope for a “brighter future” of collaboration. Peter Tatchell welcomed the apology, calling it a step towards “drawing a line under past police homophobia” and encouraging greater reporting of hate crimes within the LGBTQ+ community.

Uganda. Politics. Legal Setback for LGBTQ+ Community in Appeal Court.

The appeal court has dismissed a petition by Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), denying the group’s bid for official recognition. The court cited SMUG’s name as conflicting with the “public interest,” leaving the organization unable to operate lawfully. This ruling comes amid the first anniversary of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act (March 21st), considered one of the world’s strictest anti-LGBT laws. Despite challenges in the Supreme Court, the legislation remains in force, prompting concerns from human rights advocates. The decision underscores ongoing hurdles faced by LGBTQ+ rights groups in Uganda, prompting calls for authorities to address systemic discrimination and uphold fundamental freedoms.

Europe. Human Rights. ILGA Report Highlights Progress and Challenges for LGBT+ Rights in Europe and Central Asia

The latest edition of the ILGA report, released by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, offers a comprehensive overview of the human rights landscape for LGBT+ individuals worldwide, with a focus on Europe and Central Asia. The report highlights both strides forward and persistent obstacles faced by the queer community in the region. Notably, there has been a marked increase in hate speech and violent attacks targeting transgender individuals, along with a concerning trend of exploiting children in anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric. While some European institutions and the UN have voiced support for queer rights, the actual implementation of protective measures varies and often falls short. However, there is growing recognition of the need to outlaw “conversion practices” and protect intersex individuals from unnecessary medical intervention, signalling positive developments. Several countries have made legislative advancements, such as enacting laws for self-determination in legal gender recognition. Yet, challenges persist, including restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly, and the adoption of “propaganda laws” reminiscent of the Russian model. The ILGA report underscores the importance of sustained vigilance, dedication, and international collaboration to safeguard and advance the rights of queer individuals in the region.

UK. Music. Judas Priest Launched a New Album.

Invincible Shield is the nineteenth studio album by the English heavy metal band Judas Priest, released on March 2024 by Sony in Japan, and will be followed by a launch in the rest of the world. Rob Halford, the iconic frontman of Judas Priest, bravely came out as gay in the 1990s, a groundbreaking move in the world of rock and heavy metal. Despite the potential backlash, his openness about his sexuality remains a significant milestone for heavy metal world. Judas Priest, with their over fifty-year career, stands as one of the most influential and enduring heavy metal bands in history. Their impact is undiminished, as evidenced by their chart-topping album Firepower in 2018, which marked their highest chart entry ever. Rob Halford, now 72 y.o., was declared in 1990 the sexiest rock singer and was referred to in the press as “The Metal God”.

Recommendations from our favourite newspapers. This week, NYT.

Clean: How to make white sneakers much less grimy.

Pets: Looking inside luxurious dog hotels.

Sword: A man found a 1,000-year-old Viking sword while magnet fishing in the River Cherwell in England.

Moderate: How to have a healthier relationship with your phone.

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Curated every week by our news editor Taylor Abbot & GAY45 editorial staff. Exclusive for subscribers on Monday through Substack and Wednesday on the website.

Taylor Abbot studied at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He is passionate about journalism, contemporary literature, poetry, technology, socio-political involved art forms and queer implications in society. He wrote previously for several magazines as Bay Area Reporter or Männer. Nerdy curious, passionate about the weird parts of life and the good stories written by great journalists. Taylor decided to delete all his social media accounts two years ago. Lives and works between Berlin and London.

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