A Brazilian judicial panel on Tuesday ruled registrars in the South American country cannot deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
The newspaper O Globo reported members of the National Council of Justice that oversees Brazil’s judicial system ruled 14-1 in support of nuptials for gays and lesbians.
Agence France-Presse said the body “affirmed that the expression of homosexuality and homosexual affection cannot serve as a basis for discriminatory treatment, which has no support in the Constitution.” The news agency said Joaquim Barbosa, the chief justice of the Brazilian Supreme Federal Court who heads the National Council of Justice, referred to a 2011 ruling that said gays and lesbians can enter into civil unions.
“I am very happy,” gay Congressman Jean Wyllys wrote on his website. He and Congresswoman Erika Kokay in March introduced a bill that would allow same-sex couples to marry in the South American country. “Brazil just jointed the ever growing list of civilized and democratic countries that recognize that LGBT people have the same civil rights as any other citizen.”
Brasilia, the country’s capital, and 11 of Brazil’s 26 states that include Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo have already extended marriage rights to same-sex couples.
Even though the National Council of Justice’s ruling appears to have extended nuptials to gays and lesbians across the country, Wyllys noted that Brazilian lawmakers have yet to approve a nationwide same-sex marriage law.
“The [National Council of Justice]’s decision does not mean that we have won in the National Congress,” he said on his Twitter page. “After this decision, it will be difficult for Congress to not approve [the bill.]”
Same-sex marriage continues to gain traction in Latin America
Gays and lesbians can legally tie the knot in neighboring Argentina and 11 other countries, Mexico City and nine U.S. states and D.C.
The Colombian Senate last month rejected a bill that would have allowed nuptials for gays and lesbians in the South American country. Gays and lesbians in Colombia can legally register their relationships on June 20 if lawmakers fail to act upon the Constitutional Court’s 2011 ruling that ordered them to pass legislation within two years that extends the same benefits heterosexuals receive through marriage.
Chilean President Sebastián Piñera in 2011 proposed a bill that would extend civil unions to same-sex couples in the country.
He has yet to formally introduce it.
100+ confirmed cases of monkeypox in 12 countries & spreading￼
A notable proportion of cases in the UK and across Europe have been found in gay & bisexual men health officials say
Dr. Hans Henri P. Kluge, the Regional Director of Europe for the World Health Organization (WHO) is warning that confirmed cases of monkeypox, which is most often seen in West and Central Africa, has escalated in Europe and elsewhere globally.
The United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Italy and Sweden – as well as the U.S., Canada and Australia are all reporting cases.
“The situation is evolving and WHO expects there will be more cases of monkeypox identified as surveillance expands in non-endemic countries,” Kluge said.
In Britain, the UK Health Security Agency’s Chief Medical Adviser Dr. Susan Hopkins noted in a statement released this past weekend:
“We anticipated that further cases would be detected through our active case finding with NHS services and heightened vigilance among healthcare professionals. We expect this increase to continue in the coming days and for more cases to be identified in the wider community. Alongside this we are receiving reports of further cases being identified in other countries globally.
Because the virus spreads through close contact, we are urging everyone to be aware of any unusual rashes or lesions and to contact National Health Service or a sexual health service if they have any concerns. Please contact clinics ahead of your visit and avoid close contact with others until you have been seen by a clinician.
A notable proportion of recent cases in the UK and Europe have been found in gay and bisexual men so we are particularly encouraging them to be alert to the symptoms and seek help if concerned.
Clinicians should be alert to any individual presenting with unusual rashes without a clear alternative diagnosis and should contact specialist services for advice,” she added.
Monkeypox, which can be transmitted by droplets and by close contact with infected skin lesions or contaminated materials, usually incubates in people for 6 to 13 days before symptoms appear.
UKHSA notes that this rare virus, in the same family as smallpox, has not previously been described as a sexually transmitted infection, but it it can be passed on through very close human contact, such as touching blood or body fluids or prolonged exposure to the respiratory droplets of an infected person. It can also been transmitted with clothing or linens used by an infected person.
In Washington D.C., Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House Covid-19 response coordinator, told ABC he wouldn’t be surprised if the US saw “a few more” cases of monkeypox in the coming days.
“But I feel like this is a virus we understand, we have vaccines against it, we have treatments against it, and it’s spread very differently than SARS-CoV-2” — the virus that causes Covid-19, Jha told ABC’s Martha Raddatz on Sunday.
Traveling in Asia, President Joe Biden told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins as he was preparing board Air Force One to depart South Korea on Sunday; “They haven’t told me the level of exposure yet, but it is something that everybody should be concerned about,” he said.
“We’re working on it hard to figure out what we do and what vaccine, if any, might be available for it. It is a concern in that if it were to spread it would be consequential. That’s all they told me,” the president added.
CNN reported that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is evaluating whether a smallpox vaccine should be offered to health care workers treating monkeypox patients and other people who may be at “high risk” for exposure to monkeypox.
UK Health Security Agency’s Hopkins cautions that people should be aware of monkeypox — but that the risk to the general population “remains extremely low at the moment.”
“I think people need to be alert to it,” said Hopkins. “We really want clinicians to be alert to it and send the test if they’re concerned.”
Hopkins also said based on reports from Africa, the UKHSA knows certain people are “much more at risk of severe disease, particularly immunosuppressed individuals or young children.
“While there is “no direct vaccine for monkeypox,” she said, “we are using a form of smallpox vaccine or third-generation smallpox vaccine that’s safe on individuals who are contacts of cases.”
Initial symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion. A rash can develop, often beginning on the face, then spreading to other parts of the body including the genitals.
The rash changes and goes through different stages, and can look like chickenpox or syphilis, before finally forming a scab, which later falls off.
“A feature that distinguishes infection with monkeypox from that of smallpox is the development of swollen lymph nodes,” the CDC said.
Biden Comments On Monkeypox As He Leaves South Korea:
U.S. official meets with Brittney Griner
Consular visit took place on May 19
A U.S. consular official on May 19 visited detained WNBA star Brittney Griner in Russia.
State Department spokesperson Ned Price on Friday told reporters during a virtual briefing the officer “found her continuing to do as well as could be expected under these exceedingly challenging circumstances.” The officer met with Griner two days after U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan said Russian officials had denied consular visits with her three times this month.
“Our message is a clear and simple one,” said Price. “We continue to insist that Russia allow consistent and timely consular access to all U.S. citizen detainees. One-off visits are not sufficient, and we will continue to call on Moscow to uphold its commitments under the Vienna Convention for consistent and timely access as well.”
Griner — a center for the Phoenix Mercury and a two-time Olympic gold medalist who is a lesbian and married to her wife — was taken into custody at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport in February. Russian officials said customs inspectors found hashish oil in her luggage.
The State Department has determined Russia “wrongfully detained” Griner.
A Russian court on May 13 extended her detention for another month. The Women’s National Basketball Players Association, a union that represents WNBA players, has endorsed a petition that urges the Biden administration to “prioritize” Griner’s release.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, on May 14.
U.S. announces more funding to fight HIV/AIDS in Latin America
Jill Biden made announcement on Saturday in Panama
First lady Jill Biden on Saturday announced the U.S. will provide an additional $80.9 million to the fight against HIV/AIDS in Latin America.
Biden during a visit to Casa Hogar el Buen Samaritano, a shelter for people with HIV/AIDS in Panama City, said the State Department will earmark an additional $80.9 million for President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief-funded work in Latin America. A Panamanian activist with whom the Washington Blade spoke said LGBTQ people were among those who met with the first lady during her visit.
Pope Francis visited the shelter in 2019.
“I’m glad we have the opportunity to talk about how the United States and Panama can work together to combat HIV,” said the first lady.
Michael LaRosa, the first lady’s spokesperson, noted Panama will receive $12.2 million of the $80.9 million in PEPFAR funding.
“This funding, pending Congressional notification, will support expanded HIV/AIDS services and treatment,” said LaRosa.
UNAIDS statistics indicate an estimated 31,000 Panamanians were living with HIV/AIDS in 2020. The first lady’s office notes the country in 2020 had the highest number of “newly notificated cases of HIV/AIDS” in Central America.
The first lady visited Panama as part of a trip that included stops in Ecuador and Costa Rica.
The Summit of the Americas will take place next month in Los Angeles. The U.S. Agency for International Development and PEPFAR in April announced they delivered more than 18 million doses of antiretroviral drugs for Ukrainians with HIV/AIDS.
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