Parents should remain free to speak openly about transsexualism online, Cabinet minister Liz Truss says. The Chief Secretary to the Treasury backed the head of Mumsnet – Justine Roberts – for defending free speech on the parents’ platform at a time of intense debate. Truss’ comments were praised by some, but one leading transsexual activist attacked her stance, suggesting she “could be investigated”. Earlier this month Roberts said the “thought-police” were closing down debate on the issue and rushing to malign people who disagree. She said “a section of the hardline trans side” thinks “any discussion at all is by definition transphobic”.

ANKARA - Iran's supreme leader called on Muslim nations to unite against the United States, saying Tehran would never yield to "bullying," state television reported on Thursday. "The Iranian nation has successfully resisted bullying attempts by America and other arrogant powers and we will continue to resist... All Muslim nations should stand united against America and other enemies," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said.Iran's top authority criticized Trump for saying on Tuesday some countries in the Middle East "wouldn't last a week" without US protection.

 

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman took aim at Iran, saying Israel would respond to any Iranian threat, ahead of a meeting with senior American officials in Washington. "If Iran strikes Tel Aviv, Israel will hit Tehran and destroy any Iranian military site in Syria that threatens Israel," he told London-based Saudi newspaper Elaph on Thursday. Liberman said Israel is not interested in any wars, but will pay any price to prevent an Iranian presence in Syria. The defense minister also said that Israel is engaged in dialogue with unnamed Arab countries, but did not specify which countries. "Things are moving in the right direction," he said. "There is an understanding on 75 percent of things." Liberman called for a constructive dialogue and full understanding with the Arab states on the regional issues.

Pope Francis is planning to invite heads of churches and Christian communities from the Middle East to join him in a day of reflection and prayer in the Italian port city of Bari on July 7, the Vatican has said. The announcement said Francis has called for this "ecumenical encounter for peace" in view of the "dramatic situation" facing many Christians in the Middle East. The pope has frequently decried violence targeting Christians in parts of the Middle East, many of whom have fled their homelands to seek safety.

Bill Hybels, the author and megachurch pastor, has stepped down as leader of Willow Creek church just weeks after issuing a full denial to allegations claiming he was involved in sexual misconduct. After concerns were raised about his behaviour by a group of pastors, including author John Ortberg, the Chicago Tribune put together an investigation which looked at various allegations made over a number of years including suggestive comments, extended hugs, an unwanted kiss and invitations to hotel rooms. Hybels continues to deny the accusations but has apologised for reacting with anger.