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1.1 million at

São Paulo pride

Police said 1.1 million people turned out in São Paulo, Brazil, June 13 for the city's eighth gay pride parade, which would make it the world's largest gay pride celebration.

São Paulo is South America's largest city and boasts about 85 gay bars and restaurants.

Mayor Marta Suplicy gave a speech to kick off the march, which featured 24 sound trucks and a 50-meter rainbow flag.

Some marchers called for the legalization of same-sex marriage. A single Brazilian state, Rio Grande do Sul, presently offers civil unions. A national civil-union bill has been stalled in Congress for years.

Health Ministry employees distributed 50,000 condoms during the parade, reports said.

Chilean Supreme Court

takes lesbian's children

The Chilean Supreme Court June 2 denied a lesbian custody of her daughters because she's gay, Human Rights Watch reported.

Karen Atala, a judge from the town of Los Andes, had been awarded custody of her three daughters by an appeal court. Her former husband contested the decision, arguing the court wrongfully put Atala's rights before those of her children.

In a 3-2 decision, the Supreme Court panel agreed, saying the children's emotional and sexual development could be harmed by the absence of a father in the home and 'his replacement by another person of the female gender.' It also expressed concern that Atala's children could suffer discrimination and rejection since 'their exceptional family situation is significantly different from that of their classmates and neighborhood peers.'

The justices also criticized the lower court for 'a serious fault or abuse' because it chose not to uphold 'the preferential right of the children to live and grow up in a normally structured and socially reputable family, according to the proper traditional model.'

No further appeal is possible.

Transsexual denied asylum commits suicide

An Iranian transsexual denied asylum in Sweden committed suicide in Stockholm, Aftonbladet reported June 3.

In Iran, the woman, Fatemeh, had been sentenced to 50 lashes for homosexuality, and she feared for her life if she were forced to return home, the report said.

But the Swedish Migration Board rejected her application for asylum and the decision was upheld by the Aliens Appeals Board.

Gay organizations demonstrated outside the offices of the two boards on June 2.

Somali gays fear death

The group Queer Somalia has told the African gay Web site Behind the Mask that the biggest problem for Somali gays is fear they will be murdered.

Islamic law is applied haphazardly in the nation, which continues to lack a central government.

'My people don't understand what a homosexual is,' activist Faro told the Web site. 'They only know that through their religious law, the solution is to kill. There is no law to protect or help queers in Somalia, and Queer Somalia cannot be public or make demands on the government because there is no government with whom we can talk. The situation for queer people in Somalia is very dangerous.'

Faro also said Somali gays seem to have a higher suicide rate than the general population, in part due to extremely homophobic family situations.

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