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Australia legalizes same-sex marriage

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Equality ambassadors from the The Equality Campaign gather in front of Parliament House on Dec. 7. (PC- Photographer: Sean Davey/AFP via Getty Images)

Canberra, Dec 7: Australias Parliament legalized same-sex marriage on Thursday, overcoming years of conservative resistance with an overwhelming majority vote.

Cheers and applause broke out as ministers voted in favour of the bill following hours of debate and emotional speeches at the House of Representatives. Only four MPs voted against the bill, the Australian media reported.

“This is Australia: Fair, diverse, loving and filled for respect for everyone,” said an effusive Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull as he introduced the bill for a final vote.

“What a day, what a day for love, for equality, for respect. Australia has done it!” said Turnbull following the announcement.

“Today we’ve voted for love, for equality. It’s time for more marriages, more love, more respect. This belongs to us all.”

Labour Party leader Bill Shorten said the new law spoke for a modern Australia, “inclusive and fair”, 9news.com reported. Gay rights advocates praised the landmark vote even as they said it was long overdue.

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, a staunch critic of same-sex marriage, seemed to have softened.

“When it comes to same-sex marriage, some countries have introduced it via the courts, some via Parliament, and others – Ireland and now Australia – by vote of the people,” Abbott said. “And that is the best way because it resolves this matter beyond doubt or quibble.”

The bill will now go to Governor-General Peter Cosgrove for royal assent. The country is now the 24th in the world to allow same-sex couples to marry, according to Pew Research.

The move follows a two-month national postal survey that showed 61 per cent of more than 12 million respondents were in favour of marriage equality.

Australia’s first same-sex weddings will not take place until at least January due to a longstanding requirement for all Australian couples to provide a full month’s notice of their intention to get married.

IANS

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Suicide attack near US embassy in Montenegro

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Image: Reuters

Podgorcia, Feb 22: An unidentified man on Thursday threw a hand grenade near U.S. embassy compound in Montenegro before blowing himself up.

“In front of the USEmbassy MNE building in Podgorica, Montenegro an unknown person committed suicide with an explosive device. Immediately before, that person threw an explosive device,” the Montenegrin government tweeted, adding that the device was “most probably” a hand grenade.

As of now, no casualties or loss of property has been reported.

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44 killed in Peru bus accident

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Photo taken on Feb. 21, 2018 shows the site of a bus accident off a highway in Camana, Arequipa, Peru. (P C-Xinhua)

Lima, Feb 22: At least 44 people were killed and 24 others injured when a bus skidded off the road and plunged into a river in Peru’s Arequipa region, authorities said.

Seven of the injured are in serious condition, including three children, reports Efe news agency.

Health workers transport a man injured in a bus crash in Arequipa, Peru, on Wednesday. At least 25 people were killed when their bus veered off a highway and tumbled 200 meters down a cliff. (Photo Credit: AP)

The accident occurred on Wednesday on the Pan-American Highway.

The authorities were still trying to determine what caused the bus to skid off the road and plunge 200 metres into the Ocona River.

The bus was travelling from Chala to Arequipa city, and was running on an expired operating permit, the transportation ministry said.

“My condolences to the families of the victims of the transit accident in Arequipa,” President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski tweeted.

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Pakistan Supreme Court orders ex-PM Nawaz Sharif removed as head of his political party – judge

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ISLAMABAD: In another blow to the ruling PML-N, the Supreme Court of Pakistan on Wednesday ruled that a disqualified individual cannot head a political party.

The apex court elaborated that a person disqualified under Article 62, 63 of the Constitution can not head the party. As a result of this verdict, all decisions taken by Nawaz as PML-N’s president stand null and void.

As a consequence, Senate tickets issued by Nawaz are also declared void, throwing the fate of March 3 Senate elections in doubt.

The Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Mian Saqib Nisar concluded on Thursday the hearings of several petitions against the recently-passed Elections Act 2017.

A three-member bench had been hearing several petitions challenging specific clauses of the act that led to Nawaz Sharif’s appointment as party president following his dismissal as prime minister last year.

During today’s hearing, the chief justice remarked that the country’s leadership is respectable, adding that the media misreported the court’s remarks.

Chief Justice Nisar also observed that there is no reason for the apex court to use words like thief, adding that the fallout of the issue is unacceptable.

Addressing the Pakistan Peoples Party counsel Latif Khosa during the hearing, the chief justice remarked that there would be a difference in rallies held by you or [slain party leader and former prime minister] Benazir Bhutto.

Another petitioner’s counsel, Farogh Naseem, argued that there is a precedent of a court order against a political party’s head.

The chief justice remarked that in other countries intra-party elections are held but the situation is different in Pakistan.

“The party head is an important position,” the chief justice observed, adding that in Pakistan people are willing to sacrifice their lives for their leaders.

Disqualification to party president
Following Nawaz’s disqualification as prime minister in July 2017 in the Panama Papers case, the ruling party managed to amend the Constitution to allow the former premier to retain his chairmanship of the PML-N.

As a result, the Elections Act 2017 was passed by Parliament bringing Nawaz back as the party president despite his disqualification from the National Assembly.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan, Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rashid, MNA Jamshaid Dasti, National Party and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), among others, challenged the law for allowing a disqualified parliamentarian to become a party head.

The petitions, challenging specific clauses of the Elections Act 2017, state that Nawaz’s appointment as party president is in violation of Clause 5 of the Political Parties Order 2002 and Article 17 of the Constitution.

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