International News: February 28, 2020

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Brazilian transgender dancer shatters Carnival parade taboo

   When dancer Camila Prins entered Sao Paulo’s Carnival parade grounds, a costume of feathers clinging to her sinuous body, she fulfilled a dream of feminine beauty nearly three decades old.

   Prins says she first realized she wanted to be a woman at a Carnival party at age 11, when, like the other boys, she was allowed to dress like a girl as part of the burlesque festivities. Now, in the final minutes of Feb. 22, she became the first transgender woman to lead the drum section of a top samba school in Brazil’s renowned Carnival parades.

   Prins, 40, was handpicked to be “godmother” of the Colorado do Bras samba school’s drum section, an iconic role fought over by dozens of models and TV celebrities. Her duty was to dance infectiously for 65 minutes in front of the drummers, using her legs to drive their rhythm while judges assessed the school’s parade.

   “Gorgeous women wanted to be here. I’m very excited because this shows we can be anywhere. We can be godmother of the drummers, we can be owners of a samba school,” Prins told The Associated Press before the parade. “Soon they will see many other transgender girls, who will find it easier than I did.”

   Colorado do Bras, which rose to Sao Paulo’s top samba league only two years ago, made a bold decision in picking Prins for the role, despite Brazil’s Carnival being a party at which few things have never been tried.

   Transgender people remain something of a taboo among Brazilians, even in Sao Paulo, the country’s most cosmopolitan city and host to the world’s largest gay pride parade. Brazil has more slayings of transvestites and transgender people than any country in the world. In 2019, 124 were killed, 21 of them in Sao Paulo state.

Polish couple who took explosives to Pride sentenced to year in prison

   A married couple have each been sentenced to just one year in prison for bringing three homemade explosive devices to a Pride parade in Lubin, Poland, last year.

   The couple, whose surnames have not been disclosed under Polish law, are known as Karolina S, 21, and Arkadiusz S, 27. They were among around 200 counter-protestors hurling eggs, bottles and firecrackers at the event in September.

   They were stopped by non-uniformed police in the crowd and found to be in possession of three explosives, which were made from gas canisters and fireworks. The explosives were detonated under controlled conditions and expert analysis showed that they could have injured or killed several people within an eight-meter radius.

   During questioning, Arkadiusz confessed to making the explosives himself using information he found on the internet. He claimed he didn’t actually intend to hurt anyone, just to make a “big bang.”

   However, he later confirmed that he was strongly opposed to LGBT+ people and the concept of Pride marches. He repeated a common Polish anti-LGBT+ slogan – “A boy, a girl: a normal family” – and said that he wears the Celtic cross symbol, which is often used by the far-right in Poland and elsewhere.

   Prosecutors opted to charge the couple not with terrorism offences but instead with the possession of explosive devices that threatened the health or life of a large number of people.

   This carries a maximum sentence of eight years, but when the couple pleaded guilty the judge veered towards the lower end of the possible sentence – just one year in prison, minus their time in pre-trial detention.

   The verdict was immediately condemned by Bartosz Staszewski, organizer of Lubin’s Pride march, who pointed out that the same sentence is given to those who refuse to pay alimony. 

Reporting via Associated Press