Monkeypox, Ukraine and Pride: 5 essential things you need to know this week

Eurovision winners Kalush Orchestra pose onstage with their trophy and Ukraine's flags

As Pride Month kicks off, politicians in the UK are once again fielding dehumanising questions about whether or not women can have penises.

Elsewhere, war continues to rage in Ukraine, with the country’s Eurovision winner Kalush Orchestra going to extreme lengths to aid the fight against Russian forces.

As always, there’s a lot going on in the world – but no need to worry. We’ve got you covered.

Here are five stories you need to know about this week.

1. The question ‘can women have penises’ just won’t go away

Stella Creasy.

Stella Creasy. (Ben Pruchnie/Getty)

Every time we think we’ve moved on from the “can women have penises?” discourse, it rears its ugly head once again.

Too often, politicians in the UK are asked dehumanising and degrading questions about who can and cannot have a penis – usually by right-wing newspapers or media outlets that won’t stop punching down on trans women.

That ugly discourse reared its head once again over the weekend when Labour MP Stella Creasy was asked by The Telegraph how she defines the word “woman”.

“Do I think women were born with penises? Yes,” Creasy said. “But they are now women and I respect that.”

Later, Labour’s women and equalities spokesperson Anneliese Dodds was asked if she agreed with Creasy by Sky News.

“No, I don’t agree with her,” Dodds said, adding: “Sex is not the same as gender.”

It seems like good luck for Boris Johnson that the media is taking focus away from partygate by putting a cruel, unjust spotlight on trans women once again.

Expect to see this ugly question rearing its head again and again over the next week.

2. Ukraine’s Eurovision winners have sold their trophy to fund the war effort

Ukraine's Kalush Orchestra hold the Eurovision trophy and a Ukraine flag

Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra emerged victorious in 2022’s Eurovision. (AFP via Getty/ MARCO BERTORELLO)

Ukrainian Eurovision winners Kalush Orchestra have sold their trophy for a hefty sum of $900,000 (£712,000) with the goal of buying drones for their country’s military.

The trophy, which takes the form of a crystal microphone, was auctioned off on Facebook, according to BBC News. The band also appeared at a charity concert in Berlin to raise funds for medical care.

“I think it should be on the front pages always, until peace comes,” Kalush Orchestra frontman Oleh Psiuk said at the event.

Since Russia invaded in February, more than 4,000 civilians have been killed, while more than 14 million have been forced to flee their homes.

3. Monkeypox continues to spread as people are asked to look out for key symptoms

Electron microscope image of various virions (virus particles) of the monkeypox virus taken from human skin, 2003. Courtesy CDC/Goldsmith. (Photo via Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

The monkeypox virus is continuing to spread, with more countries reporting cases in Europe’s latest outbreak.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has now recorded more than 100 cases, with most of those detected among gay and bisexual men. Experts are urging people to look out for new rashes or legions which might look like spots, ulcers or blisters anywhere on their bodies.

Authorities are also urging people to remain calm, with the UKHSA saying the risk to the wider UK population remains low.

It is now believed that the virus is spreading among gay and bisexual men because it has entered those networks – it is still not thought to be sexually transmitted, but is instead passed on through direct skin to skin contact.

Mateo Prochazka, an infectious disease epidemiologist with the UKHSA, told PinkNews that it’s vital monkeypox discourse doesn’t become homophobic in nature.

4. Pride Month is upon us

The parade at Pride in London, 2016

The LGBTQ+ community celebrates Pride in London in 2016. (Getty/ Chris J Ratcliffe)

Pride Month kicks off on Wednesday (1 June), and it couldn’t come at a better time as our community continues to rally against hate, discrimination and violence.

Each year, Pride Month gives the LGBTQ+ community a vital opportunity to reflect on how far we’ve come, but to also think about how far we need to go to achieve liberation and equality for queer people.

This year, Pride Month has a special significance in the UK – we’re marking 50 years since the first ever Pride March, which took place in London in 1972.

Much has changed in that time, but LGBTQ+ people – particularly trans people – continue to face cruel attacks, with some arms of the UK media doing its best to advance hate.

5. US set to review police response to Uvalde shooting

US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden walk to board Air Force One before departing Kelly Field in San Antonio, Texas on May 29, 2022.

US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden walk to board Air Force One before departing Kelly Field in San Antonio, Texas on May 29, 2022. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty)

The United States has been reeling over the last week from the country’s latest mass shooting, which saw 19 children and two teachers brutally killed by a lone gunman in a school in Uvalde, Texas.

Anger has been growing in recent days as questions arise about the response from local law enforcement to the shooting. Police allowed the shooter to stay in a classroom at Robb Elementary School for almost a full hour while officers stood in the hallway.

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has now announced that it will be conducting a review of the police response to the massacre. Meanwhile, state and county officials have said they are conducting their own investigation.

Meanwhile, president Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden met with families of the victims on Sunday (29 May).

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