Cherno Samba: The football prodigy who made it in a video game

Cherno Samba’s career looked bright at 15, but a failed transfer led to depression and an attempt to take his own life.

He started as a schoolboy at Millwall but never played in the Premier League. He did however have a successful career in the lower leagues of English football, as well as representing sides in Spain, Finland and Norway.

In the video game Championship Manager however, he became one of the world’s best virtual footballers. Today, he hopes to one day manage a real team.

Three migrant boats land in Kent after crossing Channel

An abandoned boat was found on Folkestone’s Warren beach Sixteen migrants have been detained after crossing the Channel to Kent in three boats.

An inflatable dinghy with six men landed on a beach at Kingsdown, near Walmer, at about 07:00 GMT.

Just over an hour later, Border Force officers were called to an abandoned boat on Folkestone’s Warren beach, and two men were detained in the town.

At about 09:35, a dinghy containing eight men was intercepted off the coast and escorted into Dover.

The Home Office said most of the migrants presented themselves as Iranian, with others saying they were from Iraq.

They received a medical assessment before being transferred to immigration officials for interview.

Rob Bewick said he saw one of the inflatable boats while walking on the beach between Folkestone and Dover.

"A number of coastguard officials were stood around but there was also someone from UK Border Force," said Mr Bewick, from Folkestone.

""There weren’t any people there – it looked as though the boat had been abandoned." Why are Iranians crossing the Channel in dinghies?

Royal Navy sent to deter Channel migrants

Migrants detained after empty boat found

There has been a spike in the number of people crossing the English Channel from France in small boats since November, with many of those trying to reach Britain coming from Iran.

Home Secretary has Sajid Javid declared the situation a "major incident" .

On New Year’s Eve, he announced two additional Border Force cutters would be brought back to the UK to help deal with the problem.

Medical Students Push For More LGBT Health Training To Address Disparities

Sarah Spiegel, a third-year student at New York Medical College, pushed for more education on LGBT health issues for students. When Sarah Spiegel was in her first year at New York Medical College in 2016, she sat in a lecture hall watching a BuzzFeed video about what it’s like to be an intersex or a transgender person.

"It was a good video, but it felt inadequate for the education of a class of medical students, soon to be doctors," says Spiegel , now in her third year of medical school.

The video, paired with a 30-minute lecture on sexual orientation, was the only LGBT-focused information Spiegel and her fellow classmates received in their foundational course.

"It’s not adequate," Spiegel remembers thinking. By her second year, after she became president of the school’s LGBT Advocacy in Medicine Club, she rallied a group of her peers to approach the administration about the lack of LGBT content in the curriculum. Spiegel and her friends created an LGBTQI health board of information which hangs in a hallway on campus at New York Medical College. Spiegel says administrators were "amazingly receptive" to her presentation, and she quickly gained student and faculty allies. As a result, the school went from one and a half hours of LGBT-focused content in the curriculum to seven hours within a matter of two years, according to Spiegel. Spiegel says she doesn’t think the change would have happened had the students not pushed for it.

According to a number of studies , medical schools do a poor job of preparing future doctors to understand the LGBT population’s unique needs and health risks. And, a 2017 survey of students at Boston University School of Medicine found their knowledge of transgender and intersex health to be lesser than that of LGB health.

Meanwhile, LGBT people — and transgender people in particular – face disproportionately high rates of mental illness, HIV, unemployment, poverty, and harassment, according to Healthy People 2020 , an initiative of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. And a poll conducted by NPR , the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found 1 in 5 LGBT adults has avoided medical care due to fear of discrimination.

"The health of disparity populations is something that really should be the focus of health profession students," says Dr. Madeline Deutsch , an associate professor of family and community medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. Deutsch directs UCSF’s Transgender Care program, and she says medical schools already do a fairly good job of addressing some disparities, like those based on race, ethnicity, and socio-economic status.

But, she says, "Sexual and gender minorities have historically been not viewed as a key population, and that’s unfortunate because of the size of the population, and because of the extent of the disparities that the population faces." (About 0.6 percent of the U.S. population – or 1.4 million adults – identifies as transgender.)

The extent of LGBT education medical students receive varies greatly, but a 2011 study found that the median time spent on LGBT health was five hours . The topics most frequently addressed include sexual orientation, safe sex, and gender identity, whereas transgender-specific issues, including gender transitioning, were most often ignored. And some medical students receive no LGBT education at all.

"There’s not really a consistent curriculum that exists around this content," says Deutsch.

As a result, physicians often feel inadequately trained to care for LGBT patients. In a 2018 survey sent out to 658 students at New England medical schools, around 80 percent of respondents said they felt "not competent" or "somewhat not competent" with the medical treatment of gender and sexual minority patients.

Even at UCSF, which has long been at the forefront of LGBT health care, Deutsch says there’s still a need to insert more transgender health care into the mandatory curriculum. Right now, when medical schools teach about LGBT health issues, it’s usually through special elective courses or lectures taught at night or during lunch, and often by the students themselves.

"How do we take it out of the lunchtime unit?" asks Jessica Halem , the LGBT program director at Harvard Medical School. That question drives Harvard Medical School’s new Sexual and Gender Minorities Health Equity Initiative , a three-year plan to assess the core medical school curriculum and to identify opportunities to better instruct on the health of sexual and gender minorities.

"Students are getting the information. But some of them are having to do a lot of extra work to get that during their medical school experience," says Halem.

The Harvard initiative, announced in December 2018, has been ongoing for about six months, says Halem, thanks to a $1.5 million gift from Perry Cohen, a transgender man. According to Halem, Cohen hopes that Harvard’s learnings will be shared with medical schools across the country, especially with ones with less robust LGBT health education programs.

Studies have shown that when medical students learn about transgender health issues, they feel better equipped to treat transgender patients. For example, when Boston University School of Medicine added transgender health content to a second-year endocrinology course, students reported a nearly 70 percent decrease in discomfort with providing transgender care.

And now, Halem says, each incoming class at Harvard Medical School is increasingly adamant that they learn about LGBT health.

"The main first driver truly was medical students organizing and saying ‘Hey, I need the curriculum to reflect the kind of medicine that I came here to study,’ " Halem says. Those were the thoughts running through Spiegel’s head in her own preclinical years at New York Medical College. Shortly after becoming the president of her school’s LGBT health club, she joined The American Medical Student Association’s Gender and Sexuality Committee as the LGBTQ Advocacy Coordinator to bring curricular change to other medical schools in the New York area.

Conversations with her transgender partner also inspired Spiegel to introduce more trans-specific topics into her school’s curriculum.

"His experience definitely varied by how much providers knew," Spiegel says. It was often as simple as getting his pronouns correct, she says, and even then, the same doctors’ office would mess that up again and again.

Spiegel says in the past couple of years, certain disciplines have added trans-focused topics into their specialties. In the school’s behavioral health unit, for example, professors have started to address how doctors can diagnose gender dysphoria – when a person feels their assigned gender does not align with their gender identity – in their lectures.

By contrast, some disciplines have been more hesitant to change, or add content to, their existing curriculum. Spiegel’s student task-force had more difficulty influencing the pharmacology department, for example. That’s the content area where hormone therapy might be taught, Spiegel says.

One course includes a lecture about the endocrine system, Spiegel says, when the professor talks about a drug to treat precocious, or early puberty. That drug can also be used for kids undergoing transgender hormone therapy. Therefore, Spiegel says, including transgender health in the lecture might be a matter of just saying an extra sentence.

"There’s an opportunity there – they would just have to mention that it could also be used for transgender kids," says Spiegel.

But the professor says this secondary use of the drug was "off the book," and thus, he wouldn’t include it in his lecture. So Spiegel researched the drug herself, and sent the professor the Endocrine Society’s guidebook that talked about how the drug can be used for transgender patients. He began including the information in his lectures.

Spiegel says her interactions with this professor exemplify the challenges that medical students all over the country face when trying to introduce changes to their schools’ curricula.

"We’re getting there, but it’s slow," says Spiegel.

LGBT hub for 18 to 25-year-olds to launch in Thanet

Just Like Us will launch the Thanet hub this month Just Like Us,the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) charity for young people, is launching a new initiative in Thanet.

The hub is funded by The People’s Postcode Trust and is for LGBT young people aged 18-25. It will be a safe and fun space for LGBT young people to socialise twice a month. The format and venue of each session will vary, whether drop-in sessions to make new friends, workshops on coming out or planning this year’s Pride parade.

Those attending will also benefit from employability training and mentoring in London from the charity’s corporate partners, alongside volunteering opportunities to work with local schools to tackle prejudice.

One new member from Thanet said: “From what I know, there is no support for young adults in Thanet. I moved away from Thanet to study at university where I joined the LGBT+ society and I’ve made lifelong friends from it. “Coming back home has been hard, but this group will hopefully help lift the weight off, even if only for an hour. We deserve a place to be ourselves, share our stories, figure out who we are and just be, with others like us”

The Hub will also help to address the potentially life-long consequences a lack of support can have on young people’s well-being and achievement. LGBT young people are four times more likely to commit suicide than their straight peers, and more than half say homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying has a negative impact on their future education plans.

Margate Pride organiser Amy Redmond said: “ We were very excited to hear Just Like Us are bringing their ace work to Thanet. The community, social, sharing and togetherness of groups like this are essential for Thanet’s next generation to grow up comfortable and proud of who they are. We are over the moon with pride that this is happening in town.” Photo Frank Leppard Just Like Us CEO, Tim Ramsey added:“We’re incredibly excited to launch our Just Like Us Hub in Thanet. I know the transformational impact a group like this would have had on me growing up; it would have given me hope that being gay would not be the worst part of my life, but something to celebrate. We’re excited to meet this new group of young people and support and empower them to be confident in their identity.”

The Hub will be launching on Thursday, January 31, at The Tom Thumb Theatre in Cliftonville with a free pizza night and screening of Love Simon, the acclaimed coming out movie of 2018.

LGBT young people in Thanet can find out more about getting involved by visiting .

Your pictures on the theme of ‘forgotten objects’

Dayve Ward: "Six years ago Paul Rose (the intrepid explorer) had an idea of clearing some of the flotsam and jetsam that lay at the bottom of Windermere in the Lake District. Paul had the idea of bringing a handful of divers he knew to help. That handful grew to over 260 plus 100 on-shore volunteers! This is one of the images I made."

Susan Riggs: "I recently found my very loved, very worn ballet shoes from when I was a teenager. I’ve just started ballet again after a 22 year gap."

Henry Matthiessen III: "Bombfire Pizza was the creation of Tom Holman who passed in March 2018. Bombfire was a popular, ongoing, ever-changing customer-interactive piece of art, which now sits abandoned, cold and alone, only a thought for those who remember Tom and his oasis from the seriousness of life. Bombfire sat nestled on the banks of the Mississippi River in Sabula, Iowa."

Toderici Remus: "In Romania, often the authorities are taken by surprise by the winter and snow, but apparently so is the population. It is the case of a poor house at the edge of the village Cheresig where a family of six lives in a cottage, where only a single room can be heated and where they all sleep. Before Christmas, an NGO visited them to bring clothes and gifts for the children, but the clothes were forgotten while out to dry, and froze instead."

Peter Dulis’s picture of a 1936 Corbitt truck: "I found this beauty in a ghost town mine just outside of Jerome, Arizona. Located high on top of Cleopatra Hill, this baby needed chains on its tyres to get around in winter time."

Chris Jones: "This one-room school sits in the corner of a wheat field in Washington State, forgotten by all except the farmer who plants right up to the front door. It’s laudable that the farmer provided land for this school but impossible to say who attended, as there isn’t a home in sight."

Richard Digby: "An image of the disused Porth Wen Brickworks, just outside Amlwch on the northern side of Anglesey, Wales. The image was taken using a large format 5x4in press camera, to which I attached a 7in Aero-Ektar f/2.5, a slightly radioactive lens stripped from a World War II-era aerial reconnaissance camera."

Helen Duvall: "This mannequin was sold at a farmer’s auction in Devon as a job lot with a trailer and general junk. Her name, Julie, was written on her forehead. Tucked under my arm, with a camera in my hand, I took her into the woods near my home feeling rather concerned at what the neighbours might think if they were to see me. As I walked through the woodland, I came across this old council window frame buried underneath the ivy. I lifted it up, opened the window and it seemed a perfect marriage for Julie – the transition, as I imagined it, from a flashy high fashion window to the end of her modelling career."

Snell Mills: "My grandfather and grandmother raised four girls in a one-bath, two-bedroom, 1000-square foot bungalow in Tennessee during the middle of the 20th Century. They had a one-cow barn behind the house which my grandfather turned into his refuge as he was severely outnumbered and sometimes needed an escape. Wood working, electronics, and model trains kept him occupied. He built cubbyholes for various items and stuffed them full of crystal radio coils, switches, model train parts, vacuum tubes, and assorted wire and insulators needed to keep things running in the early years of the electronic age."

And finally, Roseanne Bateman sent this picture of a previously abandoned dog, who has since been adopted. The next theme is "glass and steel" and the deadline for your entries is 22 January. If you would like to enter, send your pictures to Further details and terms can be found by following the link to "We set the theme, you take the pictures," at the bottom of the page.

Homeless people of color started our revolution, so why we forget about them?

Carla and her wife Heather. | Photo: Twitter I got married in June 2016 on a beach in Hawaii and it was the most beautiful day of my life.

Two days later the Pulse shootings happened. This was the first attack on my community that I had been conscious of and the worst in my lifetime. 2016 would turn out to be the deadliest year for the LGBTI community on record.

We spent the morning reading and crying. When I opened the curtains I saw two rainbows across Pearl Harbour.

Later that summer my wife and I visited New York for Brooklyn’s Afropunk festival. My first time in NYC

We stayed on the Lower East Side, St. Marks Place. Ada Calhoun called the street ‘like superglue for fragmented identities’ and wrote ‘the street is not for people who have chosen their lives… it is for the wanderer, the undecided, the lonely, and the promiscuous.’

We picked up ice creams from The Big Gay Ice Cream Shop and walked to Tompkins Square Park. There, punks and homeless people had rioted in 1988.

Around the corner was the first building of Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), a radical house for homeless queer youth and sex workers set up by trans, POC, homelessness activists Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson. They’d originally parked up a trailer in Greenwich Village as the first shelter for homeless queers.

We climbed the Rockefeller Centre and had a picnic in Central Park. Out of respect for those that have gone before us, there are places you must take yourself to and emotions you must feel as a member of a marginalized community in such a historic place.

We visited the Art AIDS America exhibition at the Bronx Museum of Art, knowing that it would be the most devastating exhibition we’ve seen. There wasn’t a Stonewall Inn in London

In the same afternoon, we visited Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village , the site of the Stonewall Riots.

I stood in Christopher Park at the Liberation monument, where so many queer homeless people had slept together and visualized that night. A community rising up against the police, their oppression exploding as a crew of outsiders against the system and indeed their own community, who had been ostracising them to this dive bar.

I remembered the nights I’d climbed the fence of Soho Square, stayed up all night with buskers and street drinkers, drifters I’d met in bars that were passing through Soho. Sometimes we’d find an after party. When the party was over, I’d head to a lovers place or a squat in south London.

There wasn’t a place like the Stonewall Inn or Christophers Park in London.

I wondered how many homeless queers were hiding out there being barflies like I had, squatting, faking relationships, faking that they had great places to stay, barely holding down a job and raving their minimum wage away through a 4-day weekend. After being homeless myself, I got a job in the homeless sector

After several years of raving and squatting, a crisis daycenter put me onto a college course that led to a job in the homeless sector.

I managed to hold this down throughout my late twenties. But standing in Christopher Park looking at the Stonewall Inn, I felt the contrast between LGBTI homelessness and the heteronormative homelessness services I had been working in back in London.

I also understood why I’d never asked for their help and the anxiety of queer people that had come out to me secretly in squats, daycenters and hostels.

That’s when I connected to my younger self, my homelessness, and chaos. I connected with the history and oppression of queer people and all of this tied together in that spot.

We walked back to St.Marks Place through Greenwich village, stopping at the Pulse memorial. We were quiet for most of the day. My first proper home in London

I moved onto a boat with my wife that autumn, my first proper home in London. From my new found life stability of a married home, I became increasingly concerned about the experiences my younger self had and that this was a shared, hidden and taboo experience of our community.

I talked about it with queer colleagues. Moreover, I started researching using contacts within the homeless sector I worked in and activists I knew.

Thoughts slowed down over winter as I focused on getting my clients into winter shelters. Largely run in church halls, I felt for my queer siblings who had the same fractured relationships with their religion.

That Christmas saw the death of George Michael. As an 80s child, George Michael was the first gay person I ‘knew’ when I came out.

His arrest and response with the song Outside was my introduction to homophobia and queer activism at 13 years old. I felt grief for this queer person that had been there, empowering in the background of our lives. How The Outside Project helps homeless people

These collective experiences, centered by me standing in Christopher Park, would be the catalyst for The Outside Project , a collective of LGBTI ex-homeless, homelessness professionals, activists, and artists.

Our goal was to create the UK’s first LGBTI Community Winter Shelter and grow into a year-round shelter and community center. Like STAR, we started out on the back of a bus over winter 2017.

The work Sylvia and Marsha did at STAR for queer youth was driven by the fact that they had needed a safe place for themselves as homeless youths, but as adults, they were still homeless. Therefore, we make sure to tell people that we are for all ages. In fact, the majority of our guests have been over 25.

This year we are finally in a building, still growing into the 24/7 space desperately needed by our community. People tend to forget what Pride was all about

On our first birthday after a successful winter shelter pilot, my wife designed a t-shirt that screamed the words of Sylvia Rivera at the 1973 Gay Liberation Parade: ‘y’all better quiet down… I will not put up with this shit’.

We sold them to raise money for homeless LGBTI people seeking asylum. They wanted to attend London Pride as part of our block, Outsider Pride.

Our campaign was totally ignored by Pride in London organizers. On the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, we booked space in the Pride in London pop-up shop in Soho. We shared our table with LGSMigrants.

Pride in London didn’t write us up anywhere. We sent them our press release that morning, announcing our partnership with Stonewall Housing and funding from the mayor’s office for our shelter. But we never heard from them.

They had a panel discussion about homelessness that evening and wouldn’t give us a seat on the panel. They hadn’t thought to include us and it was too late now.

We shot a film to highlight the ignorance when it came to LGBTI homelessness. It was infuriating to see how the movement that started this Pride ‘celebration’ is so far from people’s minds today. Read also:

Coming out in Lebanon was my own act of rebellion, but the fight isn’t over

Florida agriculture commissioner orders LGBT protections

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is adding sexual orientation and gender identity to her department’s list of workplace protections against discrimination.

Friday’s announcement means the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will include LGBT employment protections along with those based on race, religion, ethnicity, gender, age and disability.

It is the first agency to extend protections to transgender employees and applicants.

Fried was sworn in earlier this month and is the only Democrat to hold a statewide office in Florida.

She said she’s encouraging the state’s other two Cabinet members to enact similar policies.

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NBA player Reggie Bullock speaks about the murder of his trans sister

Reggie Bullock #25 of the Detroit Pistons reacts during the game against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on February 11, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty) NBA player Reggie Bullock has spoken about the murder of his transgender sister.

Bullock, who plays for the Detroit Pistons, has become one of the most vocal voices for LGBT+ equality in the NBA in the wake of his sister Mia Henderson’s 2014 murder .

Speaking to Vice , he said: “I lost a sister that was a part of the LGBT+ community.

“I didn’t know how many lives get taken within that community until my sister’s life was taken. Looking at the numbers for what goes on with the transgender community, and particularly African-Americans, it’s a super high [murder] rate.

“When she passed, it was a slow process for me, trying to recognise her death and understand what exactly went on.” Reggie Bullock is educating himself about LGBT+ issues

Bullock continued: “When I was a kid, I really didn’t know too much about it. The beginning of my high school is when she started dressing in female clothes.

“I didn’t know, I just knew she was trying to be something else. That’s all I thought in my head, she was just trying to be something else. “I would still call my sister the name she was born with, because I wasn’t knowledgeable of it. Once I became knowledgeable, I started addressing her in a different way – as Mia Henderson, the name she wanted to go by.” Reggie Bullock #25 of the Detroit Pistons poses for a portrait during Media Day at Little Caesars Arena on September 24, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. (Gregory Shamus/Getty) The player now regularly appears at events promoting LGBT+ equality within sport.

He added: “I’m still not all the way there yet, but I’m trying to get educated on it and use my platform to do whatever I can do to save lives and bring equality.”

Gay former NBA player Jason Collins praised Bullock’s engagement on the issue, adding: “It’s credit to him that he’s using that pain and the platform he has to speak up on these issues. We need more athletes to speak up to change the culture of sport.” Mia Henderson’s killer still remains unknown

No-one has ever been convicted for Mia Henderson’s violent murder in Baltimore in 2014.

A man was charged with the crime in 2015, but was acquitted on all counts. Mia Henderson was killed in 2014 The Detroit Pistons player previously said he wants to play in a rainbow-coloured jersey.

“Just woke up out a dream and thought about playing in a [rainbow] colored jersey to incorporate #LGBTQ into sports,” he tweeted.

Bullock then tagged the National Basketball Association directly, urging the league to “make it happen in [his] lifetime.”

Australian politician Mark Latham pledges to gut transgender rights

Mark Latham talks during the launch of his book on October 5, 2017 in Sydney, Australia.(Cameron Spencer/Getty) Australian One Nation politician Mark Latham has unveiled a series of new anti-transgender policy pledges.

Latham was once the leader of Australia’s centre-left Labor Party, but is now a member of the nationalist One Nation party, which he leads in New South Wales.

Ahead of state elections in March, Latham has focused on transgender children, pledging to support a ban on them transitioning at school without permission from a doctor. Mark Latham attacks ‘attention-seeking’ transgender children

In a January 20 policy announcement , Latham claimed: “One of the problems with gender fluidity in schools is that students can participate in it simply by ‘identifying’ as transgender.

“This leaves the system open to abuse, with some students milking transgender identification for special treatment or attention-seeking reasons.”

The politician added: “This problem is increasingly common in NSW high schools, urged on by Left-wing political activists.

“Schools made a big mistake when they stopped being places of learning and ventured into the world of mental health assessment and radical gender theory.” Mark Latham poses for a portrait on October 5, 2017 in Sydney, Australia.(Cameron Spencer/Getty) He continued: “One Nation supports teachers who want a stable, productive learning environment in their school, avoiding the Mad Hatter situation and the powerlessness of staff.”

“Any student wanting to change their gender should have to present specialist medical advice and support to the school.

“This takes the matter out of the hands of students and gives teachers the State Government support they need to deal effectively with disingenuous and disruptive behaviour concerning gender.

“It also addresses the real mental health issue: bringing confusion and harm to young people by telling them gender is ‘socially constructed’ and ‘fluid’.” One Nation’s Mark Latham wants to gut gender recognition laws

Latham also vowed to gut laws that allow transgender people to gain legal recognition in their chosen gender, and end easy legal recognition on all government forms.

Mirroring the policy stance taken by US President Donald Trump , he said: “In reality, with very few exceptions, people are born either male or female. To move away from this biological truth later in life is a serious matter requiring specialist medical evidence. It should not happen because of Leftist ideology, individual whims or novelty factors.

“One Nation does not believe that gender changes should be self-identified on NSW Government forms, permits and licences, such as those processed by Service NSW: agencies including Roads and Maritime Services, Department of Fair Trading and Births Deaths and Marriages.” He added: “One Nation supports the introduction of a government rule across-the-board prohibiting individual self-identification.”

The politician claims he would allow some limited forms of gender recognition, provided trans people could provide “specialist medical evidence.”

As the current system of gender recognition requires medical evidence, it is unclear what exactly Latham is proposing.

NSW Labor politician Graham Perrett told the Mail : “He has nothing constructive to say about about Australian society.

“This is simply a shock tactic to extract more votes. I’m one of the parliamentary convenors for LGBTI and we take matters like these very seriously.”

Latham was a strong opponent of same-sex marriage during the country’s 2017 postal vote on the issue, claiming he was worried the law would allow transgender people to get married to people of the opposite sex.

The politician was sacked as a Sky News pundit in 2017 after he refused to apologise for describing a school child as “gay” on-air.

Once a fringe party, One Nation has seen a national growth in support in recent years.

The party’s national leader Pauline Hanson claimed in 2017 that same-sex marriage could lead to people marrying children.

Why did these two women turn up to the Australian Open in wedding dresses?

Two brides attended a tennis match at the Australian Open. | Photo: Twitter Twitter lost its collective mind when two brides holding bouquets just casually showed up at an Australian Open match.

The tennis tournament takes place in Australia during the last fortnight of January every year.

While Danielle Collins was playing Caroline Garcia at the Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne on 18 January, two brides sat side by side. The episode caused quite a stir, with the crowd wondering what it was really about. Two women in wedding dresses sitting together in Margaret Court Arena, which bears the name of one of the loudest and most vitriolic voices on the losing side of Australia’s gay marriage debate. #AusOpen — Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) January 18, 2019 ‘Two women in wedding dresses sitting together in Margaret Court Arena, which bears the name of one of the loudest and most vitriolic voices on the losing side of Australia’s gay marriage debate,’ tennis journalist Ben Rothenberg tweeted. This is iconic! Margaret Court has been vocally homophobic and anti gay marriage. Two women in wedding dresses in this stadium is such a clapback ! #AusOpen — Asmita (@asmitaghosh18) January 18, 2019 ‘This is iconic! Margaret Court has been vocally homophobic and anti-gay marriage. Two women in wedding dresses in this stadium is such a clapback!’ another tweeted. Who is Margaret Court?

The arena bears the name of Margaret Court, a player who came under fire for her views on marriage equality.

When Australia was on its way to grant same-sex couples the right to legally marry in 2017, Court actively campaigned against the vote.

She claimed that a gay lobby was trying to get into the minds of children, and also that transgender identity was ‘the work of the devil’.

Her comments triggered a fierce backlash from a number of leading figures in the game, such as Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova. King also called for the arena to be renamed . The brides were promoting a reality show

Despite the understandable LGBTI excitement, however, the two brides seem to be part of a publicity stunt.

Channel 9’s reality show Married At First Sight, in fact, claimed responsibility for the incident. MAFS follows four – straight – Australian couples who get to know each other on their wedding day.

A Channel 9 spokesman released a statement to confirm the channel wasn’t trying to make a political statement.

‘To promote the upcoming series of Married at First Sight we had two promotional models dressed as brides at tonight’s Australian Open, who were moved to various parts of the Melbourne Park precinct,’ a Channel 9 spokesman said in a statement.

‘Their seating at Margaret Court Arena was in no way meant to be interpreted as a political statement.’ Read also: