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Historic 24-Hour Run For Gay Rights Around The World

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


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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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

How Vulnerable Are The Russians In Crimea?

Ukraine has stepped up attacks on the occupied Crimean peninsula, and Russia is doing all within its power to deny how vulnerable it has become.

Photograph of the Russian Black Sea Fleet headquarters with smoke rising above it after a Ukrainian missile strike.

September 22, 2023, Sevastopol, Crimea, Russia: Smoke rises over the Russian Black Sea Fleet headquarters after a Ukrainian missile strike.

Kyrylo Danylchenko

This article was updated Sept. 26, 2023 at 6:00 p.m.

Russian authorities are making a concerted effort to downplay and even deny the recent missile strikes in Russia-occupied Crimea.

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

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Media coverage in Russia of these events has been intentionally subdued, with top military spokesperson Igor Konashenkov offering no response to an attack on Russian Black Sea Fleet headquarters in the Crimean city of Sevastopol, or the alleged downing last week of Russian Su-24 aircraft by Ukrainian Air Defense.

The response from this and other strikes on the Crimean peninsula and surrounding waters of the Black Sea has alternated between complete silence and propagating falsehoods. One notable example of the latter was the claim that the Russian headquarters building of the Black Sea fleet that was hit Friday was empty and that the multiple explosions were mere routine training exercises.

Ukraine claimed on Monday that the attack killed Admiral Viktor Sokolov, the commander of Russia's Black Sea Fleet. "After the strike on the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, 34 officers died, including the commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. Another 105 occupiers were wounded. The headquarters building cannot be restored," the Ukrainian special forces said via Telegram.

But Sokolov was seen on state television on Tuesday, just one day after Ukraine claimed he'd been killed. The Russian Defense Ministry released footage of the admiral partaking in a video conference with top admirals and chiefs, including Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, though there was no verification of the date of the event.

Moscow has been similarly obtuse following other reports of missiles strikes this month on Crimea. Russian authorities have declared that all missiles have been intercepted by a submarine and a structure called "VDK Minsk", which itself was severely damaged following a Ukrainian airstrike on Sept. 13. The Russians likewise dismissed reports of a fire at the headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet, attributing it to a mundane explosion caused by swamp gas.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has refrained from commenting on the military situation in Crimea and elsewhere, continuing to repeat that everything is “proceeding as planned.”

Why is Crimea such a touchy topic? And why is it proving to be so hard to defend?

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