June 10, 2010 at 7:33 pm EDT | by Kevin Naff
World news in brief

Millions of gays demand rights during Brazil march

SAO PAULO — Millions of gays and lesbians jammed several of Sao Paulo’s main avenues Sunday for the 14th annual Gay Pride parade in South America’s largest city.

The Associated Press reported that as they danced to music blasting from sound trucks, event attendees condemned homophobia and demanded equal rights for LGBT people. They also said they would push candidates this year in Brazil’s presidential election to support their cause.

A river of gay men, lesbians and even straight couples flowed down skyscraper-lined Avenida Paulista in what is billed as the world’s biggest Gay Pride parade.

According to the Associated Press, event organizers expected about 3.2 million people, but did not immediately release a tally. Police have not provided a crowd estimate. The event has become a huge tourist draw.

Lesbian couple weds in Portugal’s 1st gay marriage

LISBON, Portugal — A lesbian couple wed Monday in Portugal’s first same-sex ceremony since the predominantly Catholic country introduced a law allowing gay marriage last month.

The Associated Press reported that 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.

“This is a great victory, a dream come true,” Pires was quoted as saying. “Now we’re a family, that’s the important thing.”

The ceremony came less than a month after Portugal’s conservative president ratified a gay marriage law passed by Parliament in January. His approval made Portugal the sixth in Europe to allow same-sex couples to wed.

The center-left Socialist government has said the law is part of its effort to modernize Portugal, where homosexuality was a crime until 1982. Three years ago, the same government lifted Portugal’s ban on abortion, despite church opposition.

Pires and Paixao, the lesbian couple, had campaigned for a change in the law since a registry office turned them away when they first tried to marry in 2006, according to the Associated Press.

Brazilian man, Mass. husband rejoin in asylum case

BOSTON — A Brazilian man was reunited with his Massachusetts husband last 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.

The Associated Press reported that Brazilian-born Genesio Oliveira rejoined Tim Coco, 49, of Haverhill, at an emotional reunion at Boston’s Logan International Airport.

Gay rights and immigration rights 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.”

According to the Associated Press, the couple split nearly three years ago when Oliveira, nicknamed “Junior,” 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 immigration advocates who criticized U.S. officials for separating the couple — who were legally married.

Last year, Kerry asked Attorney General Eric Holder to grant Oliveira asylum on humanitarian grounds. Then in March, Kerry wrote Homeland Security Secretary 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, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

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 was quoted as saying. “This is a very sweet moment, long overdue, but sweeter because they decided it was worth the wait.”

Kevin Naff is the editor and a co-owner of the Washington Blade, the nation’s oldest and most acclaimed LGBT news publication, founded in 1969.

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