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Millions attend São Paulo Pride

An estimated 3 million people joined São Paolo Pride June 6 in the world’s biggest celebration of gay culture.

Marchers through South America’s biggest city came together to dance in the street, condemn homophobia and demand equal rights. They also marched to draw attention to gay rights ahead of the country’s presidential election, with the theme “Vote against homophobia.”

“We’re bringing a strong theme this year to encourage people to vote for candidates who really are doing something on behalf of LGBT people,” said Alexandre Santos, president of the Association of GLBT Pride Parade in São Paulo.

Homosexuality is legal in Brazil and the country outlawed discrimination based on sexual orientation in 1988.

But gay-rights advocates in Brazil say same-sex couples are still denied the right to marry and violence against gay people is rising.

Last year, 198 people died in homophobic attacks.

Suspect admits to killing lesbian

Jordan Van der Sloot, the Dutchman who remains the chief suspect in the 2005 slaying of American teen Natalee Holloway, has confessed to murdering Stephany Flores in Peru. The young woman reportedly was a lesbian.

Van der Sloot, 22, was arrested June 3 in Chile and returned to Lima for questioning, where he confessed to murdering Flores, who was 21. She was killed May 30, almost exactly five years to the day Natalee Holloway disappeared in Aruba, where Van der Sloot’s late father was a prominent judge.

Van der Sloot, 22, and Flores were seen on hotel security cameras going into his room together. Four hours later, he was filmed leaving the room alone.

The woman’s battered body was found on the room’s floor more than two days later, her neck broken. By then, he had fled to Chile.

If convicted of the murder, Van der Sloot could face 35 years in prison.

The body of Holloway, who was 18 when she went missing in 2005, has never been found.

No Pride for Israeli gay group

Organizers of July’s Madrid Pride have announced that because of security concerns, they are canceling an invitation to members of the LGBT Union in Israel and the Foreign Ministry to ride on a bus in the parade.

A delegation made up of members of the LGBT group and the Foreign Ministry was scheduled to ride an Israeli bus in the parade. But organizers say anger among local pro-Palestinian groups and a need for increased security poses too great a risk.

“We regret the fact that the Pride organizations in Madrid have decided to focus on issues that have nothing to do with the community,” said Mike Hamel, chairman of the LGBT Union in Israel. “The Union was invited as a non-political organization. This is a missed opportunity for dialogue.”

Gay Olympian takes gold again

Out Australian diver Matthew Mitcham took home a gold medal in the 10-meter platform at the diving World Cup in China. He won a gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and earlier this year at the Canada Cup.

Much like the Beijing Games, Mitcham halted China’s dominance of the diving events after tallying 97.20 and 100.80 points for his final two dives, respectively, to surge past Huo Liang of China and take the gold.

“It’s much harder for the champion today than it was two years ago at the Beijing Olympics,” Mitcham said after his victory.

Freed Malawi couple splits

The Malawi couple pardoned by the country’s president in late May have split, and one of them is now dating a new woman.

Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, who identifies as a transgender woman, were arrested and imprisoned last December after engaging in what officials considered an illegal same-sex commitment ceremony. They were sentenced to 14 years in prison in May but were pardoned by Malawi’s president at the urging of U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Now a Malawi paper, The Nation, reported that Monjeza said he was coerced into the relationship with Chimbalanga and that he is now dating a 24-year-old woman named Dorothy Gulo. Monjeza also said he was forced into a giving a press conference with Chimbalanga recently, where the two praised the president for pardoning them.

“We were pardoned, but I know the law can bounce back on us if we are not careful,” Monjeza said. “Although I claimed I still love Tiwo, I did not mean it. I have never had sex with him as was revealed in court. I was coerced into the whole thing.”

Earlier, Chimbalanga said that she still hopes to marry Monjeza and that she hopes they can be granted asylum in some other country.

Lesbians marry in Portugal

A lesbian couple wed June 6 in the first ceremony since Portugal ratified marriage equality in May.

Teresa Pires and Helena Paixao, divorced Portuguese mothers in their 30s who have been together since 2003, married in a 15-minute ceremony at a Lisbon registry office.

Pires and Paixao had tried to marry since 2006, when a registry office rejected them. They appealed to the constitutional court, which also rejected their bid.

In January, Parliament passed a marriage-equality law. President Anibal Cavaco Silva, a conservative, signed the law in May.

Brazilian, Mass. husband reunited

A Brazilian man was reunited with his Massachusetts husband this week after U.S. Sen. John Kerry pressed federal officials to temporarily allow the 31-year-old gay man back into the country on humanitarian grounds.

Brazilian-born Genesio “Junior” Oliveira rejoined Tim Coco, 49, of Haverhill, Mass., at an emotional reunion at Boston’s Logan International Airport.

Gay-rights and immigrant advocates declared the case a rare victory for gay, married asylum seekers.

“I’m delighted,” said Oliveira, who married Coco in 2005 in Massachusetts where gay marriage is legal. “I’ve been waiting for this to happen. I never really undid my bags since returning to Brazil.”

Nearly three years ago, the couple split when Oliveira was forced to return to Brazil after being denied asylum in the U.S. because the federal government does not recognize same-sex marriages.

The pair maintained contact through online video chats and sporadic visits during holidays.

The case gained international attention from gay-rights and immigrant advocates who criticized U.S. officials for separating the couple who were legally married. The case also put Oliveira in danger in Brazil, a country that has forced dozens of gay and lesbians to apply for asylum in the U.S. over antigay violence.

Last year, Kerry asked Attorney General Eric Holder to grant Oliveira asylum on humanitarian grounds. Then in March, Kerry wrote Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano asking her to issue Oliveira “humanitarian parole” based on his fear of persecution in Brazil.

Humanitarian parole is used sparingly to bring someone who is otherwise inadmissible into the U.S. temporarily because of a compelling emergency.

Last month, Kerry called Coco to inform him that Oliveira had been granted humanitarian parole and would be allowed to stay in the U.S. for at least a year.

“Obviously, we’ll work on a permanent solution, but for right now I just couldn’t be happier that the system worked and Tim and Junior are reunited,” Kerry said.

Coco said he hopes their case helps other married gay couples who are in immigration limbo. Oliveira said he will again try for permanent residency in the U.S.

Larry Nichols can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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