#HappyHeadlines: Coronavirus breakthrough, Pride celebrations and more
Exist, persist, resist
Happy Pride! Since the first Stonewall uprising in 1969, the mission of Pride has always been about reminding community members and allies that they are not alone, but part of a push towards equality by elevating the causes and voices central to queer people and other marginalised groups.
In the wake of recent protests and the pandemic, this year’s June events will feel and look very different from previous years. Around the world, organisers have put together the first-ever 24-hour, live-streamed Global Pride event that will take place on June 27, featuring musical performances, speeches and more across multiple platforms including the definitive game of 2020, Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Pride celebrations have also centred the Black Lives Matter movement to raise the voices of people of colour from within the community, as LGBTQ+ rights rallies continue across U.S. cities to push back on the racism, bigotry and violence against Black Americans (say their names: Dominique "Rem'Mie" Fells and Riah Milton). This also serves as a reminder that both protests share histories of being founded by LGBTQ+ people of colour to fight systemic, institutional and cultural discrimination, showing that no hierarchies exist in the fight for justice.
Read on for this week's round-up of positive news stories from around the world:
Taiwan to host world's only Pride march in 2020
With most annual Pride month celebrations moving online and people taking to the streets to march in solidarity with BLM, Taiwan steps up to organise a pride walk on behalf of the world through the Taiwan Pride Parade For The World—set to take place on June 28, the anniversary date of the Stonewall riots. Co-organised by Darien Chen, the co-chair of the first Taiwan LBGTQ+ Pride march in 2003 (also, Asia’s biggest pride parade to date), the event will take place during a time when public events, including over 475 Pride events, have been cancelled or postponed due to social distancing measures.
Taiwan is one of the few countries that never went into lockdown during the pandemic and has not had a local infection for over 64 days. On Facebook, the organisers wrote that the event would be an opportunity for them to “stand up for our beloved brothers and sisters all around the world who are still suffering from lockdowns and social distancing, or who cannot march for any reason.” Meanwhile, Pride also kicked off in Shanghai with the city’s eighth annual Pride run which saw more than 100 attendees take part to raise public awareness for the LGBTQ+ community.
Historic ruling for LGBTQ+ rights
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that employees who discriminate against workers for being gay or transgender are breaking the country’s civil rights. Ruled in the 1960s, the workplace ban on sex discrimination was extended to the queer community as it was altered to include sexual orientation and gender identity. The court’s decision of 6-3 on Monday is seen by many as a major win during a time when the court has become more conservative, but others are also aware of its loopholes as it doesn’t cover small businesses with less than 15 employees nor other civil right questions. While the fight for LGBTQ+ rights is far from over, this is a step forward as the decision is the first time the court has directly addressed legal protections for transgender individuals.
Commonly-used steroid proves first life-saving COVID-19 drug
Dexamethasone, a low-dose, globally-available steroid treatment is the first major breakthrough in the fight against the coronavirus, according to UK experts. Part of the world’s biggest trial testing treatments, the drug has been proven to cut the risk of death by a third for patients on ventilators and a fifth for those on oxygen—and may be kept in helping to treat the sickest COVID-19 patients moving forward. Though the findings are still preliminary, those not involved in the study have hailed it as a groundbreaking development as it is the first and only drug to have made a significant difference to patient mortality for the deadly virus.
China increases protection for pangolians
China has stepped up legal protections for pangolins, one of the world’s most endangered animals and the most trafficked non-human mammals on the planet—as many as 200,000 are consumed in Asia annually for their scales and meat. According to National Geographic, the armadillo-like creature is now protected by the same safeguards as pandas with a Class 1 rank under China’s wildlife protection laws. Pangolins were also removed from the country’s official 2020 list of traditional medicines at the beginning of June amid concerns linking the animal as the source of the novel coronavirus, as environmentalists step up to rebuild the country’s pangolin population. These actions are crucial to help curb illegal trade, following China’s ban on the consumption of meat from wild animals in February, and demonstrates the country’s strengthened commitment to protecting wildlife.
Louisville council passes Breonna law
In a unanimous vote of 26-0, the Louisville, Kentucky metro council passed the Breonna Law last Thursday to ban no-knock search warrants, which played a major role in Breonna Taylor's unjust death. The 26-year-old unarmed African-American was shot eight times after police raided her home and exchanged shots with her boyfriend in an attempted drug stint in March. The recently ruled ordinance regulates how search warrants are carried out and requires all officers to be equipped with operating body camera while carrying out a search. Currently, at least three different law enforcement agencies are undergoing parallel investigations into Taylor's death with three of the officers involved in the shooting put in administrative leave.
French dogs successfully sniff out Covid-19
Scientists in Paris and elsewhere have published a new study that shows a near-perfect score from sniffer dogs in detecting the presence of COVID-19 through the smell of sweat from infected individuals. At the national veterinary school in Alfort, eight trained Belgian Malinois shepherds have demonstrated an average success rate of 95 per cent, with four dogs identifying a positive COVID sweat sample 100 per cent of the time. This first stage of the study successfully proves a difference in the sweat odour of humans infected with the coronavirus, which detection dogs can distinguish, possibly even before people start showing symptoms. Using dogs would greatly expedite the detection process, as the widespread use of testing has proved effective in keeping numbers down in numerous countries.
The social media challenge promoting diversity in fashion
Sparked by Oslo-based student Salma Noor, the #VogueChallenge has seen BIPOC creators around the world re-creating Vogue covers to showcase their talents and imagine what a more representative fashion industry would look like. Noor first tweeted an alternative cover featuring a black and white image of herself shot by photographer Angèlique Culvin with the headline "being Black is not a crime". The challenge has since gone viral, with the hashtag appearing over 160,000 times on Instagram as other creatives, including models and photographers share their own covers to uplift and amplify black creative voices. In its 125-year history, the American magazine has only had one Black photographer for its cover when Tyler Mitchell shot Beyonce in the September 2018 issue.