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Two lesbians became Belgium's first married same-sex couple June 6 after the nation opened ordinary marriage to gay couples. The law took effect June 1. A report from the Agence France-Presse news wire did not say how Marion Huibrechts, 43, and Christel Verswyvelen, 37, circumvented the two-week waiting period between applying for a marriage license and being allowed to marry. They reportedly tied the knot at the town hall in Kapellen near Antwerp.

The only other nations that let gay couples marry under the exact same laws as straight couples are The Netherlands and Canada. Numerous other nations, mostly in Europe, have domestic-partnership or civil-union laws that grant registered same-sex couples up to 99 percent of the rights and obligations of marriage.

Marriage was opened to gays in Canada via a June 10 court ruling in Ontario, which is the only province where same-sex weddings have occurred so far.


The president of the Lesbian and Gay Collective in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, and his lover were beaten to death in their home June 8.

Nogales is 63 miles (101 km) south of Tucson, Arizona, on the U.S. border.

Jorge Luis Armenta Peñuelas, 27, and Ramón Armando Gutiérrez Enríquez, 33, apparently were killed with a hammer, according to a report in El Imparcial.

Armenta also was running for City Council as a member of the Convergence party. Police have no suspects in the slayings.


Half of Italians consider homosexuality perfectly normal, a Eurispes poll has found.

According to a June 5 report from the Agenzia Giornalistica Italia, the scientific survey of 2,000 Italians found that 49 percent consider homosexuality a form of love equal to heterosexuality, 33 percent can tolerate homosexuals as long as they're celibate, 10 percent consider homosexuality immoral, and 8 percent have no opinion or no comment.

Meanwhile, about 40,000 people turned out for Italy's national gay-pride parade held this year in the southern port of Bari June 7.

'It was a gamble to stage gay pride in a southern city, and we won,' said activist and member of parliament Franco Grillini. 'The success far exceeds our expectations, partly because we didn't expect to see all the locals out in the street.'

A few eggs and tomatoes were tossed at the marchers.


The Church of Nigeria, the world's largest Anglican body, said June 9 that it no longer recognizes the New Westminster diocese in Canada's British Columbia as part of the Anglican Communion because Bishop James Ingham created a ceremony for blessing same-sex couples.

The first blessing took place in Vancouver May 29.

'We don't pray for a disintegration of the church, but from all indications, other African provinces will eventually follow suit and sever relations with New Westminster,' Church of Nigeria spokesman Emmanuel Adekola told Reuters.

Nigerian primate the Most Reverend Peter Jasper Akinola said Ingham's gay ceremony 'is a flagrant disregard for the Anglican Communion and what the vast majority of it stands for.'

The blessings also have been lamented by the liberal leader of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, although he is said to have supported the concept prior to being selected as the church's leader and facing sustained pressure to appear less pro-gay.

In the U.S., meanwhile, Anglicans (known as Episcopalians here) in the state of New Hampshire elected the U.S. church's first openly gay bishop, the Rev. Canon Gene Robinson, on June 7. That move also has caused controversy, on both sides of the Atlantic. And in the U.K., an Anglican priest who has acknowledged having a 20-year gay relationship was appointed Suffragan Bishop of Reading, England, May 20.

That move also angered church conservatives who have demanded that the Archbishop of Canterbury block Canon Jeffrey John's consecration unless he repents of his sin.


Calgary, the largest city in the Canadian province of Alberta, abandoned 12 years of opposition and proclaimed Gay Pride Week this year.

Mayor Dave Bronconnier signed the proclamation and Deputy Mayor Joe Ceci rode in the June 8 parade.

'I support all Calgarians,' Bronconnier told the Calgary Sun. 'I'm not going to discriminate against one group because of their sexual orientation, or the color of their skin, or what they believe. It's not a personal endorsement, it's a reflection of the diversity of this city.'

In neighboring Manitoba province, 2,500 people marched in Winnipeg's pride parade June 8. Provincial Premier Gary Doer proclaimed Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Pride Day.

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