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Colombian Senate rejects same-sex marriage bill

The measure failed by a 51-17 vote margin

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Colombia, Bogota, gay news, Washington Blade

El Capitolio Nacional in Bogotá, Colombia (Photo by Rikimedia via Wikimedia Commons)

The Colombian Senate on Wednesday rejected a bill that would have extended marriage rights to same-sex couples couples in the South American country.

Senators opposed the proposal by an 51-17 vote margin a day after they debated it.

“Marriage is a fundamental right,” Sen. Luís Carlos Avellaneda said. “The principal of equality extends the same protection to all Colombians without discrimination.”

Congresswoman Alba Luz Pinilla Pedraza said the bill is about civil — and not religious — marriage. Sen Luís Fernando Velasco stressed “we are all equal” during his testimony as he spoke in support of LGBT Colombians.

“They don’t want our sympathy, what they want is that we recognize human dignity,” he said.

Colombian lawmakers had been expected to vote on the same-sex marriage bill last week, but it was delayed.

Sen. Roberto Gerleín Echevarría mocked the testimony of Martha Lucía Cuéllar de San Juan, a Bogotá psychologist who referenced her gay son whose partner of 11 years died as she spoke in support of the proposal last Thursday, while speaking against the bill.

Sen. Alexandra Moreno Piraqüive cited Denmark, Sweden and other countries that allow same-sex marriage as she spoke about how she feels nuptials for gays and lesbians harms Colombian children.

“We should not compare ourselves to another country,” she said.

Colombian senators rejected the same-sex marriage bill a day after the French National Assembly gave final approval to a measure that would extend adoption and marriage rights to gays and lesbians.

Argentina, Mexico City and 10 Brazilian states that include São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro are among the Latin American jurisdictions in which same-sex couples can legally marry. Uruguayan lawmakers earlier this month approved a bill that will allow nuptials for gays and lesbians.

The Colombian Senate in 2007 defeated a bill that would have allowed same-sex couples to enter into civil unions.

The country’s Constitutional Court in three separate rulings it issued later that year and in 2008 extended property and inheritance rights, social security and pension benefits to same-sex couples. The tribunal in 2009 ruled gay and lesbian couples who live together must receive the same rights that Colombian law affords unmarried heterosexual couples.

The Constitutional Court in 2011 issued a ruling that said the country’s Congress must pass legislation within two years that extends the same benefits heterosexuals receive through marriage to same-sex couples. Gays and lesbians can legally register their unions if lawmakers fail to act on this judicial mandate by June 20.

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Europe

Mass shooting in Norwegian capital leaves 2 dead, cancels Pride

Gunman opened fire at Oslo gay bar

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Head of Oslo Pride Inger Kristin Haugsevje. (Screen capture via Global News YouTube)

A gunman entered an establishment popular with the LGBTQ community in the Norwegian capital city’s nightlife district on Saturday morning at approximately 1 a.m. local time and opened fire, killing two people and injuring dozens more.

A spokesperson for the Norwegian Police Service told the Washington Blade in a phone call that officials are investigating the matter as an act of terrorism. According to the official, the suspect is a 42-year-old Norwegian citizen originally from Iran.

Multiple eyewitnesses reported that the suspect had entered the bar and produced a semi-automatic rifle from a bag and started shooting.

Olav Roenneberg, a reporter with Norway’s largest broadcast media outlet NRK who was on scene when the shooting started, told NRK colleagues in an interview “I saw a man arrive at the site with a bag. He picked up a weapon and started shooting. First I thought it was an air gun. Then the glass of the bar next door was shattered and I understood I had to run for cover.”

The police official, while not confirming the weapon used, did acknowledge that the shooter had been known to Norwegian officials in the country’s security services since 2015 as a “suspected radicalized Islamist” and also apparently had a history of mental illness. The official also pointed out that up until the incident there were no previous major criminal acts committed by the suspect.

Because of the incident, organizers of the Pride parade which had been scheduled to start hours after the shooting was cancelled. The parade was set to culminate the week long Pride festivities in Oslo.

Norwegian Prime Minister Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere wrote in a public post on Facebook that “the shooting outside London Pub in Oslo tonight was a cruel and deeply shocking attack on innocent people.” He added “We all stand by you,” showing support for the country’s LGBTQ citizenry.

Norway’s King Harald V issued a statement offering condolences and said he and Norway’s royal family were “horrified by the night’s shooting tragedy.”

“We sympathize with all relatives and affected and send warm thoughts to all who are now scared, restless and in grief,” the Norwegian monarch said. “We must stand together to defend our values: Freedom, diversity and respect for each other. We must continue to stand up for all people to feel safe.”

Oslo Pride issued a statement concerning cancelling the Pride parade;

“Oslo Pride has received clear advice and recommendation from the police that the parade, Pride park and other events in connection with Oslo Pride be canceled. Oslo Pride therefore asks everyone who has planned to participate in or watch the parade not to attend. All events in connection with Oslo Pride are canceled.

Now we will follow the police’s recommendations and take care of each other. Warm thoughts and love go to relatives, the injured and others affected. We will soon be proud and visible again, but today we will hold and share the pride celebrations from home,” says Inger Kristin Haugsevje, leader of Oslo Pride, and Inge Alexander Gjestvang, leader of the Association for Gender and Sexuality Diversity.

Oslo Pride has close communication with the police and is following the situation, and will provide ongoing information.

The White House reacted to the news of the shooting issuing a statement by National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan;

“The horrific shooting in Norway this morning has been felt around the world. The United States strongly condemns this act of terror. We stand in solidarity with the families of the victims, the diverse and strong LGBTQI+ community of Oslo, our close NATO ally Norway, and all who have been devastated by this senseless act. The United States has been in touch with the Norwegian government and offered to provide assistance. We remain committed to continuing to partner with Norway to advance a more equitable and just world for all, free from violence and discrimination.”

Oslo shooting being investigated as act of terrorism:

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United Kingdom

British prime minister panned as ‘disgrace’ in response to Pride message

Government cancelled conference after rights groups announced boycott

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Screenshot from YouTube/Twitter)

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson released a video message on his official Twitter and YouTube platforms celebrating Pride Month in the U.K. Tuesday under the social hashtag of #WhyPridematters.

The prime minister said that he was “proud” at how many LGBTQ and intersex people have sought asylum in the U.K. from Afghanistan after the Taliban regained control of the country. However, within literal minutes he was promptly criticized and in the Twitter pushback was told by one user: “You’re an absolute disgrace.”

Another chimed in saying his remarks were hollow.

Johnson’s Tory-led government seemingly has been more indifferent to Britain’s LGBTQ and intersex community — transgender people in particular — according to activists and the largest LGBTQ and intersex advocacy group, Stonewall UK.

Last Spring, in early April, Bloomberg reported more than 80 organizations pulled out of the British government’s international LGBTQ and intersex conference due to be held in June after Johnson dropped a plan to ban so-called conversion therapy for trans people.

One of Johnson’s top ministers, Liz Truss, was accused of using LGBTQ and intersex rights to ‘rile up her right-wing support base’ PinkNewsUK reported.

As minister for women and equalities, Truss scrapped much-needed reform to the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) despite reams of evidence showing there was strong public support for changes that would make accessing legal gender recognition easier for the trans community.

She has also been criticized for her appointments to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, and her defenses of “gender critical” views.

There has also been outcry by LGBTQ and intersex advocacy groups and activists over the government’s willingness to deport LGBTQ and intersex and other asylum seekers on one-way flights to Rwanda. That decision has been criticized by queer and trans advocates as “hugely concerning” and “potentially life-threatening.”

Canadian LGBTQ and intersex news outlet Xtra reported that queer and trans asylum seekers in the U.K. already face inhospitable conditions. Sebastian Rocca, founder of charity Micro Rainbow, which provides safe housing to LGBTQ and intersex asylum seekers and refugees in the U.K., tells Xtra in a statement: “One of the most common reasons for the Home Office to refuse asylum to LGBTQI+ people in the U.K. is because they do not believe they are LGBTQI+,” adding that the policy has “potentially life-threatening consequences.” 

The “single young men” framing of the policy means any gay or bisexual men, transmasculine people or transfeminine people — including those seeking asylum in the U.K. for their sexual orientation or gender identity — could potentially be deported to a country with a long history of human rights violations.

In Tuesday’s message the prime minister referred specifically to Afghan LGBTQ and intersex people fleeing the notoriously intolerant Taliban which regained control of the country after the Biden administration pulled the remaining armed forces out of the war-torn country last summer after nearly 21 years of conflict.

“LGBT Afghans coming to this country because we’re a place that is welcoming and understands that type of intolerance is simply unacceptable in this country,” Johnson said.

Johnson added: “I’m proud above all that the U.K. is a country where you can be however you want to be and you can love whomever you choose to love no matter who you are or where you come from or what your background is.

“So it’s great to see Afghans coming to this country with that knowledge and seeing our country as a beacon of hope.

“That’s why Pride Month matters so much. And I hope you have a great Pride.”

Twitter was less than impressed:

Why Pride matters | Prime Minister Boris Johnson:

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Europe

Istanbul once again bans Pride march

Organizers sharply criticized authorities’ decision

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LGBTQ people gather in Istanbul and face-off against police defying ban (Screenshot/YouTube EURONEWS)

The Beyoğlu and Kadıköy District governors’ offices which oversee the mega metropolitan area of this ancient city located on both banks of the Bosporus connecting the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara have once again banned the city’s Pride march.

The governors’ offices announced a ban on all gatherings in both districts, where Pride week events have traditionally been held, on Monday, the Diken news site reported, citing the Turkish Law on Demonstrations and Public Meetings.

“We have obtained information that between 21 June 2022 (Tuesday) and 23 June 2022 (Thursday) gatherings, press releases, marches, distribution of leaflets, etc are planned to be held within the scope of the 30th ‘Istanbul LGBTI+ Pride Week,’” the governor’s statement said.

“All events are banned in all open and closed areas for seven days.”

Had the Pride week march and accompanying festivities been allowed to take place, it would have marked the 30th anniversary of Pride in the megacity. Istanbul’s Pride Parades, which attracted up to 100,000 people from across the region, have been banned since 2014, with officials citing security reasons for the ban.

In the past years since the ban first was enacted, Turkish police and LGBTQ activists had clashed with police units firing tear-gas pellets at the crowd along with physically violent arrests.

Turkish police confront LGBTQ+ Pride participants at a café in 2019 (Screenshot/YouTube EURONEWS)

Ahval, an independent Turkish media outlet, reported Monday that Turkey’s LGBTQ groups accused the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of waging a “hate campaign” against them, encouraging violence against a vulnerable community.

Turkey has ranked second worst country in the EU for LGBTQ people, scoring only above Azerbaijan, according the 2022 “Rainbow Europe” ranking compiled by Brussels-based ILGA-Europe.

Less than a week ago in Ankara, Turkish police officers carrying clear-plastic riot shields, wielding batons and deploying pepper powder balls as well as tear gas violently broke up a Pride Parade organized by Middle East Technical University students on their campus.

LGBTQ+ participants of a forbidden gathering in 2019 reacting to tear gas fired by Turkish Police. (Screenshot/YouTube AP)

PinkNewsUK reported the Istanbul LGBTQ+ Pride Week Committee issued a statement shortly after the announcement, saying that the decision was “illegal” and that they would use “our rights [to] make the necessary objections”.

“Today, with the start of Istanbul 30th LGBTI+ Pride Week, police inspected the venues where the events would take place, under the guise of ‘general control,’” the group said. “The law enforcement officers tried to put pressure on the venues by asking for documents such as tax plates.”

“We would like to thank our entire network of lawyers and venues that have supported us. We won’t give up, we are not afraid!”

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