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EL PAÍS (Spain), AFP (France), THE LOCAL (Sweden), TORONTO STAR (Canada), MAIL AND GUARDIAN (South Africa)

Worldcrunch

Gay rights has had a great run the past 24 hours.

In the U.S. elections Tuesday, Maryland and Maine voted yes to gay marriage in referendums, with final results still pending on a similar measure in Washington state. These are historic victories for gay rights activists, the first time popular votes made same-sex marriage legal after the right was ushered into law by court rulings in Massachusetts, Iowa and Connecticut, and by legislatures in Vermont, New York and New Hampshire, reports the Toronto Star.

More good news for gay rights followed on Wednesday when Spain’s highest court confirmed the legality of the gay marriage law passed by the Spanish legislature in 2005, reports El País. The law also legalized adoption for gay couples. Since 2005, more than 22,000 gay marriages have been celebrated in Spain. The legality of the law was contested by the Partido Popular, but 11 of the 12 judges voted to uphold the law, said El País. The twelfth abstained.

Also Wednesday, the French government's cabinet proposed a law legalizing gay marriage in France, according to Agence France Presse. The law faces “virulent opposition from the right and from churches,” says Le Point, while French gay and lesbian associations say it does not go far enough.

Among nations where gay marriage is legal are the Netherlands (2001), Belgium (2003), Canada (2005), Spain (2005), South Africa (2006), Norway (2008), Sweden (2009), Portugal (2010), Iceland (2010), Argentina (2010), and Denmark (2012). Amsterdam claims to be the first city in the world where gay marriage was celebrated, reports French financial newspaper Les Echos.

[rebelmouse-image 27085983 alt="""" original_size="326x479" expand=1]

(On their wedding day in Toronto - M.M)

Still, the trend toward more rights for same-sex couples is not universal, as even being openly homosexual is a criminal act in many countries. Nigeria voted in 2011 to criminalize gay marriage, with 10-year prison sentences for even taking part in such a marriage. “Such elements in society should be killed,” said one senator during debates on the bill, according to South African newspaper Mail and Guardian.

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In The News

War In Ukraine, Day 224: Russia Says U.S. Is Now "A Participant Of The Conflict"

The warning comes after Washington's latest military aid package to Ukraine.

In Stavropol, Russia

Anna Akage, Sophia Constantino, Jeff Israely and Bertrand Hauger

Washington’s new $625 military aid package to Kyiv has increased the likelihood of a direct military clash between the Russia and the West, warned Anatoly Antonov, Moscow’s ambassador to the U.S.

"We perceive this as an immediate threat to the strategic interests of our country," Antonov said early Wednesday via a post on Telegram. "The supply of military products by the U.S. and its allies not only entails protracted bloodshed and new casualties, but also increases the danger of a direct military clash between Russia and Western countries.” Antonov said the U.S. is now considered a “participant of the conflict.”

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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The United States announced this week that it is sending $625 million to Ukraine in additional weaponry, including High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launchers.

U.S. President Joe Biden spoke Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday, emphasizing Washington’s continued support for Kyiv “as it defends itself from Russian aggression for as long as it takes,” a statement from the White House said.

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