Activists in Peru began protesting after the death of trans student Rodrigo Ventosilla, and the "world's first gay imam" provides a safe place for LGBT people in South Africa.

LGBT Activists In Peru Protest After Harvard Student’s Death

Anger has been expressed over the murder of a trans-Harvard graduate student in police custody in Bali, and campaigners are calling for demonstrations outside Peruvian embassies and consulates throughout the world to demand an impartial inquiry.

Rodrigo Ventosilla, 32, and his new husband Sebastián Marallano traveled to the well-known Indonesian tourist resort for a planned honeymoon. Shortly after their arrival, customs officials stopped them and eventually charged them with marijuana possession.

He died in the hospital five days later, for reasons that are still unknown. According to a Bali police spokeswoman, Ventosilla became unwell after consuming medication that was not among the things the police seized and died due to "failure of bodily functions."

His family said that both Ventosilla and Marallano experienced "racial discrimination and transphobia" while being held by the police; these allegations have infuriated the Peruvian LGBT community and sparked demonstrations in the nation's capital, Lima.

The ‘World’s First Gay Imam’ In South Africa


 SFGN file photo.

Safia Khan, a 32-year-old university lecturer, sits down in a small room in an industrial area in the Wynberg neighborhood of Cape Town with her partner Ty. It is their second time visiting the Masjidul Ghurbaah, a mosque run by the non-profit Al-Ghurbaah Foundation, which offers assistance to Muslims who are marginalized because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or religious beliefs.

“The imam was so nice,” said Khan to The Guardian. “He asked what Ty’s pronouns were.” Khan was born into the Muslim faith, while Ty – who identifies as non-binary – is a recent convert.

About a dozen individuals, including the pansexual couple, have gathered to listen to Muhsin Hendricks, who is sometimes referred to as "the world's first gay imam." There is no gender segregation and there are more women than males. After discussing the importance of appreciation, Hendricks conducts group prayers.

Since 1998, Hendricks has offered a queer safe place for prayers, counseling, and Muslim weddings. For this daring work, local Islamic elders expelled him from the religion in 2007. He persisted in spreading the idea that being LGBT and Muslim are not mutually exclusive.