News briefs from around the world for this week.

ISIS Kills 2 Men Accused of Being Gay

(EDGE) An Oct. 5 report from the website ARA News claims the Islamic militant group ISIS executed two men, who were accused of being gay.

Sources from the city of Mosul, a city in northern Iraq that has been under ISIS rule since June 2014, told the website ISIS militants threw two young men off the roof of a building, accusing the victims of being in a relationship. 

"On Sunday afternoon, Daesh (ISIS) called on the people of Mosul to gather in the square of Bab al-Toub in order to witness the execution of the two allegedly (gay) men," an anonymous eyewitness told ARA News. "The victims were taken to the top of a building and were brutally thrown off the roof."

Civil rights activist Raed Ahmed told to ARA News that ISIS "accuses people of being gay only on basis of some superficial information without any investigation."

"Although the Islamic law bans homosexuality, the brutal punishment by Daesh (ISIS) has never been witnessed throughout history," he said. 

This isn't the first time ISIS militants accused men of being gay and killed them by throwing them off a roof. EDGE has reported on numerous similar incidents.

'Coming Out' in Russia Could Land You in Jail

(EDGE) The next wave of anti-gay legislation may be on its way in Russia as lawmakers prepare to draft a bill that would make coming out as LGBT publicly a criminal offense, Newsweek reports.

The bill, which is being pushed under the guise of strengthening the nation's public morals, was drafted by Communist Party members Ivan Nikitchuk and Nikolay Arefiev. Nikitchuck believes the existing framework under Russia's current gay propaganda law is insufficient.

"I believe that the problem we have raised is one of the most pressing and topical issues as it addresses the social ills of our society and deals with the moral education of the next generation," Nikitchuk told state-owned Izvestia on Friday. "In the biological sense, not reproducing is the same as death and in that sense homosexuality is a lethal threat for the whole of humankind."

The bill, which would function as an amendment to the gay propaganda law that was passed in 2013, would punish people who are defined as having "non-traditional sexual orientation" with a fine of 5,000 [rubles] ($80) for "demonstrating [their] own expressed preferences in public places." Letting anyone know you're LGBT in a school, cultural establishment or government building could land the offender in jail up to 15 days.

Indonesia To Punish Gay Sex with Caning

(AP) A law that makes gay sex punishable by public caning has taken effect in a conservative Indonesian province.

The law took effect in Aceh province on Friday. It says anyone caught having homosexual sex can face up to 100 strokes of a cane, a fine of up to 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of gold (about $37,400) and imprisonment of up to 100 months. Adulterers are also subject to 100 lashes of a cane, but not to the fine or imprisonment.

Aceh is considered more devout than other areas of Muslim-majority Indonesia.

Indonesia's national criminal code doesn't regulate homosexuality, and the central government doesn't have the power to strike down provincial laws.

Human rights groups have criticized the law, which applies to both Muslims and non-Muslims.

Pharma Brat Slammed in 'Ask Me Anything' Session

(EDGE) The CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, who became one of the most hated men in America and dubbed the "pharma brat" and "pharma bro" after he increased the price of a drug used to treat AIDS patients from $13.50 to $750 per pill, thought it would be a wise decision to take part in a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" (AMA) session, the Raw Story reports.

Martin Shkreli, 32, said he and his public relations team handled the controversy "poorly." A Reddit user asked him if the "awful" AMA session was his PR team's idea or if he created the "train wreck" himself.

"This is 99% statement and 1% question," Shkreli replied. "I think that violates the terms of service."

Shkreli said he "talked to many HIV and AIDS patients" and that "none of them are hurt or will be hurt by the higher price," according to the Raw Story.

Shkreli admitted to being a "flippant jackass" instead of explaining the sharp increase of Daraprim, which has been on the market for 70 years.

"I believe drugs should be priced relative to the value they confer," he said.

But Shkreli was slammed by a doctor during the AMA session.

"Medically speaking I haven't yet heard of why your drug's worth $749 more than my pyrimethamine," said a Reddit user identified themselves as Anandya, a doctor who works for a charity. "Does it improve on the nausea, vomiting and (diarrhea)? Does it have a folate sparing effect? Can it be used in pregnant women and in epileptics?"

Anandya added: "No one's been able to tell me what your upgrade is or how it works or even if it is a cost saving upgrade." They then asked what changes or improvements Turing Pharmaceuticals made to the drug that would make the price hike reasonable.

Sanders Challenges the Clintons' 1996 DOMA Support

(EDGE) Presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders took aim at rival Hillary Clinton Sunday, challenging her reasoning as to why her husband, former President Bill Clinton, signed the Defense of Marriage Act, which banned the federal recognition of same-sex marriages.

Sanders made his remarks after Hillary Clinton appeared on MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show" Friday, Politico reports. On the program, she told out host Rachel Maddow she and her husband supported the controversial measure back in 1996 to prevent a harsher amendment to the Constitution. She added there was enough momentum 19 years ago to amend the Constitution and that DOMA was "a line that was drawn to prevent going further. 

But Sanders' isn't buying it, calling the move "homophobic." 

"I think the evidence is very, very clear that that legislation was anti-gay legislation," he said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union." "It was playing off the fears of a lot of Americans."

Sanders voted against DOMA when he was a member of the House, which he said was "not an easy vote" because of the views on the LGBT community at the time, Politco reports.

"I thought then - and I think now - that people have the right to love those folks that they want to love and get married because of their sexual orientation," the Vermont senator said. "We have become a far less discriminatory society," he said, later adding, "we should be very, very proud ... We've come a long way."

Hillary Clinton's support for the LGBT community has been challenged since announcing her bid for the White House. It was reported in September that Bill Clinton reportedly said the former First Lady had a "discomfort" with gay people when she ran for Senate in the late 90s. More recently, the New York Times reported Hillary Clinton turned down the opportunity to give the keynote address at the Human Rights Campaign gala so she could appear on "Saturday Night Live."

amfAR Awards $1.4M in Grants Toward HIV Cure

(EDGE) amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, on Thursday announced a new round of research grants totaling more than $1.4 million. The vast majority of the funding will support cure-focused research projects. 
 
Renewal funding of $850,000 will go to a consortium of European researchers that aims to replicate the case of the "Berlin patient," the first and only person known to have been cured of HIV. Diagnosed with leukemia, the patient was given a stem cell transplant with a twist: The cells he received were taken from a donor with a rare genetic mutation conferring resistance to HIV infection. He remains virus-free.
 
Working within the amfAR Research Consortium on HIV Eradication (ARCHE), a research program launched in 2010 to explore potential strategies for eliminating HIV, the scientists will study the outcomes of HIV patients who undergo different types of stem cell transplants. Led by Javier Martinez-Picado, Ph.D., of IrsiCaixa in Spain and Annemarie Wensing, M.D., Ph.D., of University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands, the consortium has already identified a group of patients who have undergone transplants, and continues to monitor their progress in the hope of generating new knowledge that can inform more widely applicable interventions.
 
"We're very excited to continue our support of the scientists in the European consortium," said amfAR Chief Executive Officer Kevin Robert Frost. "They have made good progress since we began supporting their work last year, and they have real potential for significantly advancing the field of HIV cure research." 
 
In addition, amfAR awarded a total of $600,000 to four promising young scientists who will each receive $150,000 over two years. These Mathilde Krim Fellowships in Basic Biomedical Research, named in honor of amfAR's Founding Chairman Dr. Mathilde Krim, are awarded annually to nurture new talent within the HIV/AIDS research field.

Norfolk, Virginia Beach See Most of State's Gay Marriages

(AP) Norfolk and Virginia Beach have seen more gay marriages than anywhere else in the state since it became legal last year.

According to the Associated Press, of the 3,600 gay marriage certificates filed between October of last year and August of this year, 320 of them were at the courthouse in Norfolk. Virginia Beach took second place with 298 certificates and Richmond followed closely behind with 229.

Figures were received from the Virginia Department of Health's Office of Vital Records.

More than 90 percent of the circuit courts in Virginia have had at least one gay marriage certificate filed and more than 5 percent of all marriage certificates handed out in 2015 involve gay couples.

Fla. 'Religious Freedom' Bill Could Deny Medical Services

(EDGE) As Republican-backed "religious freedom" bills continue to pop up in the nation's state legislatures, one such measure introduced in Florida last week may just be the most discriminatory yet. If passed into law, it would allow certain businesses, including medical agencies, to legally deny products and services.

The bill (HB 401), introduced by Republican State Rep. Julio Gonzalez of Venice, does not specifically target individuals based on sexual orientation, but is viewed as a reaction by the religious rightwing to recent advances made in gay rights.

Gonzalez's bill states that individuals, businesses with five or fewer owners, religious institutions and businesses operated by religious institutions are "not required to produce, create, or deliver a product or service" to a customer if they have a religious or moral objection.

Gonzalez's bill could also be used to deny medical services under the guise of "religious freedom." There is a section under the bill that protects healthcare agencies where a facility could refuse to "administer, recommend, or deliver a medical treatment" for religious or moral reasons, except when it would endanger someone's life or potentially lead to "serious bodily injury."

Gonzalez is a physician whose campaign for State Representative was endorsed by 2016 GOP presidential hopeful Marco Rubio.

"This is not about discriminating," said Gonzalez told the Herald Tribune. "This is making sure the state stops, at a narrowly crafted level, from intruding into somebody's liberties."

Although Gonzalez is a Catholic, he said his personal religious beliefs were not the motivation for the legislation.

 


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