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Sao Paulo’s Pride parade draws more than a million

More than a million people took to Sao Paulo’s streets June 2 for a massive gay Pride parade, aiming to end discrimination and support same-sex-marriage rights in Brazil.

Under rainy skies and cold that did not dampen many spirits, marchers waved banners like “Never going back in the closet” in the financial and industrial hub of this majority Roman Catholic country of about 196 million.

“We have got to make a change in the constitution so that we are all citizens with the same rights,” said Culture Minister Marta Suplicy, a former Sao Paulo mayor and gay-rights supporter, drawing cheers from the crowd.

In May, Brazil became the third and largest Latin-American country to give a de facto green light to same-sex marriage.

In a bold stride for the majority Roman Catholic nation, the National Council of Justice, a panel that oversees Brazil’s legal system and is headed by the chief justice of the Supreme Court, said government offices that issue marriage licenses had no standing to reject gay couples.

Since 2011, some offices have granted marriage licenses to gay couples but others have not.

While some state courts have recognized same-sex marriages, the council’s ruling was the first to set out a national standard.

In Congress, a strong religious faction opposes same-sex marriage, and has not yet approved a law on same-sex marriage regulations. And the NCJ’s decisions are subject to appeal before the Supreme Court.

Nigeria bans same-sex marriages with prison term

The Parliament of Nigeria has passed a bill to further criminalize same-sex marriages with prison terms of up to 14 years.

Same-sex relationships are already illegal in Nigeria and the new law means gay couples entering into either marriage or cohabitation could face 14 years each in prison.

Those “witnessing” or “abetting” such relationships would also face custodial sentences of at least eight years, and groups that advocate for LGBT rights are also set to be penalized by the new bill.

Nigeria’s House of Representatives approved the bill May 30.

It passed its second reading in the Nigerian House last November.

However, it remains unclear if President Goodluck Jonathan will sign the bill into law.

Nigeria’s Senate previously passed the bill in November 2011 and the measure quietly disappeared for some time before coming up in last Thursday’s session of the House.

Russia may block adoptions by French

A Russian official is reacting badly to France’s new law granting equal marriage and adoption rights to same-sex couples, saying his nation should place a moratorium on adoption of Russian children by French citizens.

France’s law is contrary to Russia’s, so “it is evident that a moratorium should be imposed until [both countries’] legislation is brought into accord. This is logical,” Pavel Astakhov, Russia’s ombudsman for children’s rights, told journalists May 30.

French president François Hollande signed the marriage and adoption bill into law May 18, and the first legal same-sex marriage ceremony in France took place May 29.

Astakhov and Russian president Vladimir Putin have a history of opposition to adoption of Russian children by people in other countries. Astakhov was the force behind a law signed late last year by Putin to end U.S. adoptions of Russian children, ostensibly to protect the children from abuse, but some sources have said it’s retaliation for U.S. actions concerning human-rights violations in Russia.

U.K. coroner slams press in trans suicide case

A British coroner has criticized the press for “salacious” coverage of a transgender teacher who later killed herself.

Coroner Michael Singleton says the British press displayed ignorance and bigotry in covering the case of a man who went through a transition shortly before she committed suicide in March.

The teacher’s pupils had been told they should refer to her as Lucy Meadows after she returned to school.

The case generated national news coverage after some parents raised questions. Singleton said the coverage was inflammatory. He urged the government to adopt the recommendations of a recent inquiry into press wrongdoings.

A spokesperson for the Daily Mail said May 29 that Meadows’ suicide note did not mention press coverage as a factor.

Hundreds celebrate France’s first gay marriage

Two men wed in the southern city of Montpellier on May 29 in the first legal same-sex marriage in France.

The wedding of Vincent Autin, 40, and Bruno Boileau, 30, came just 11 days after President François Hollande signed a marriage-equality law.

The men married in a civil ceremony at the Montpellier town hall conducted by the mayor, Hélène Mandroux, who has been an outspoken proponent of gay rights.

About 500 people were reported to be in attendance, including a government minister and more than 200 journalists. Television news channels offered live coverage, and news agencies published urgent dispatches at the conclusion of the ceremony, which the men sealed with a lengthy embrace.

Puerto Rico governor signs gay-rights bill

Puerto Rico’s governor has signed a bill that prohibits employment discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation.

Alejandro Garcia Padilla said May 29 that he met his obligations as a Christian by signing the bill and congratulated legislators on approving the proposal.

The original measure would have also banned discrimination in commercial transactions, property rentals, public transportation and other circumstances. Those clauses were removed after heavy opposition by religious groups.

Most government agencies in the U.S. territory already have anti-discriminatory policies, but human-rights activists say they are often not enforced.

Garcia also signed a separate bill that extends a domestic-violence law to gays.

— compiled by Larry Nichols

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