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Germany set for snap vote on same-sex marriages

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Berlin, June 30: German members of Parliament are set to vote on Friday to legalise same-sex marriage, days after Chancellor Angela Merkel dropped her opposition to the idea.

The reform would give gay men and lesbians full marital rights, and allow them to adopt children, reports the BBC.

At present, German same-sex couples are limited to civil unions.

On Monday, Merkel, who previously opposed a vote on gay marriage, said she would allow MPs from her CDU party to “follow their conscience”.

But at an event hosted by the women’s magazine “Brigitte” on June 26, she shocked the German media by announcing on stage that she had noted other parties’ support for it, and would allow a free vote in the future.

Merkel said she had had a “life-changing experience” in her home constituency, where she had dinner with a lesbian couple who cared for eight foster children together.

A survey by the government’s anti-discrimination agency found that 83 per cent of Germans favour marriage equality, reports the BBC.

The Green Party, the far-Left Linke, and the pro-business Free Democrats all back same-sex marriage and they have refused to enter a future coalition deal unless reform is agreed on.

Merkel’s current coalition partners — the centre-Left Social Democrats (SPD) — have done the same.

The right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) is now the only party to oppose same-sex marriage.

Civil marriages are legally recognised in Norway, Sweden, Denmark (excluding the Faroe Islands), Finland, Iceland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Luxembourg, France, the UK (except Northern Ireland and Jersey), and the Republic of Ireland.

But in Austria and Italy — as in Germany — gay couples are restricted to civil partnerships.

IANS

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Trump not considering firing special counsel Mueller

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Donald Trump

Washington, Dec 18: US President Donald Trump said on Sunday that he is not considering firing special counsel Robert Mueller.

Mueller is investigating allegations of Russian interference in the last year’s US presidential election and collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow, Xinhua news agency reported.

When asked if he was considering dismissing Mueller, Trump responded, “No, I’m not,” and did not elaborate on the issue.

Democratic lawmakers have raised concern that Trump might fire Mueller.

The President, however, criticised the fact that Mueller’s team had gained access to tens of thousands of emails sent and received by officials from Trump’s transition team before the start of the presidency.

Trump said it was “not looking good.”

Mueller’s team received those emails from the General Services Administration that had housed Trump’s transition team.

In a letter to several congressional panels on Saturday, a lawyer for the transition accused Mueller of illegally obtaining the emails.

In response, a spokesman for Mueller said the emails were obtained appropriately.

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Car bomb hits NATO convoy in Kandahar, kills civilian

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Kandahar (Afghanistan) Dec 17: An Afghan woman was killed and four civilians wounded when a suicide car bomb struck a NATO-led coalition forces’ convoy in Kandahar city on Sunday, an official said.

The blast occurred around 2 p.m. local time in Police District 5 of Kandahar city, capital of southern province of Kandahar, along a road which connects the city to the international airport, the official, who did not want to be named, told Xinhua news agency.

“The initial information found a woman was killed and four civilians were wounded by the blast. But no foreigner from the convoy was hurt as they were sitting in bomb proof vehicles,” he said.

“We heard a huge blast when a convoy of international forces was passing our neighbourhood. The whole place has now been sealed off, and no one knows what happened to residents near the blast site,” witness Ahmad told Xinhua.

Several vehicles and nearby houses were also damaged by the blast, he said.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but the Taliban insurgent group routinely claims responsibility for such attacks.

More than 2,640 civilians were killed and over 5,370 others injured in conflict-related incidents in first nine months of the year in Afghanistan, according to figures released by the United Nations mission in the country.
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Balochistan: 8 killed, several injured in Quetta Church blast

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Quetta Blast (Photo- Dawn)

A blast in Bethel Memorial Methodist Church in Quetta of Balochistan claimed 8 lives. Meanwhile almost 44 people are injured.

According to pakistani media Gunshots were also heard at the site, where the explosion took place.

All casualties were shifted to Civil Hospital Quetta.

Pakistani news paper Dawn confirmed that Four suicide attackers struck while church service was ongoing. Initial reports suggested an explosion took place, which was followed by a sustained gunfight.

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