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Switzerland marriage equality law to take effect July 1

Voters on Sept. 26 overwhelmingly approved ‘Marriage for All’ statute

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(Public domain photo)

BERN, Switzerland — The Swiss government on Wednesday announced same-sex couples as of July 1 will be able to legally marry in the country.

The announcement comes less than two months after Swiss voters voted overwhelmingly in favor of the “Marriage for All” law. Switzerland will join neighboring France, Germany, Austria and other European counties that have extended marriage rights to same-sex couples.

“It’s a great achievement,” Maria von Känel, co-president of the “Marriage for All” campaign, told the Los Angeles Blade after the Sept. 26 referendum. “Our partnerships and families are now recognized equally and legally.”

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Turkish police arrest 100’s of LGBTQ+ activists over banned Pride parade

The largest Turkish LGBTQ+ activist group on Monday noted that “the detentions experienced during the march, was among “firsts” for this year

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LGBTQ+ protestors in Istanbul, Sunday June 26. Banner reads: ""If you don't let us walk, we will open our asses" (Photo by Kuir Mavzer- LGBTQ+ Kaos GL)

ISTANBUL, Turkey – Hundreds of LGBTQ+ people, allies, and supporters took to the streets of Istanbul Sunday in defiance of the Turkish government’s ongoing 2014 ban of LGBTQ+ Pride parades and Pride Month festivities.

Protestors violently clashed repeatedly with police and security forces in various neighborhoods located around the Bol Ahenk Sokak (Pedestrian Plaza) and other sections of the central downtown areas.

Authorities had shut down the city’s transit systems hours prior to the influx of LGBTQ+ activists and demonstrators and flooded streets with police in riot gear who made hundreds of arrests, in some cases tear gassing participants and attacking them with clubs.

Government security forces arrested over 373 people including Agence France-Presse journalist and chief photographer, Bülent Kılıç. Detainees were taken by bus to a central holding facility for processing. Photojournalist Mehmet Demirci documented the arrest of Kılıç in a Twitter post:

The largest Turkish LGBTQ+ activist group Ankara-based Kaos GL documented the arrests and clashes which occurred prior to the 5 p.m. planned parade kick-off in a series of Twitter posts.

KAOS GL in a press release on Monday noted that “the detentions experienced during the march, was among “firsts” for this year. Totally 373 LGBTI+s and LGBTI+ right defenders were taken into custody on the day of march! This number is a record both in the history of Pride Marches and the other public demonstrations.”

The group also recorded the scope of anti-LGBTQ+ Pride Month bans and pressure by Turkey’s governmental bodies across the country:

“There were 10 ban decisions announced within the scope of Pride Month events. These ban decisions were taken by Boğaziçi University Rectorate, METU Rectorate, Gaziantep Governorship, Çanakkale Governorship, Datça District Governorship, Beyoğlu District Governorship, Kadıköy District Governorship, Eskişehir Governorship and İzmir Governorship.

The detentions began with 70 people at 9th Boğaziçi Pride March on May 20, increasingly went on till June 26. 373 people were taken into custody in İstanbul on June 26. This number is among the highest detentions within the context of the public demonstrations in İstanbul recent years. Totally 530 LGBTI+s and LGBTI+ right defenders were detained in 37 days.”

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Norwegian suspect in LGBTQ+ bar shooting refuses to cooperate

Large crowds gathered Sunday near the London Pub to lay flowers and other tributes many of those gathered waved Pride flags

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Screenshot/YouTube Norwegian News Services

OSLO, Norway – A spokesperson for the Norwegian Police Service  (Politi- og lensmannsetaten) said that the suspect in Saturday’s mass shooting at the London pub in Norwegian capital city’s night-life district is refusing to cooperate with investigators.

The 42-year-old suspect, identified as Zaniar Matapour, is a Norwegian citizen originally from Iran. Two people were killed and more than 20 were injured in what police officials have labeled as an “Islamist terror act.”

Matapour, (left) is shown at the time of his arrest immediately after the shooting on mobile phone video broadcast on Norwegian television.

An official with the Norwegian Police Service told media outlets that investigators tried they tried to question Matapour on Saturday after his arrest and again on Sunday without success.

The Associated Press reported that Matapour’s defense lawyer, John Christian Elden, told the AP in an emailed statement that that his client refused to have his statement recorded and videotaped unless police released the entire recording to the public “with no time delay so it won’t be censored or manipulated.”

Elden previously said to media outlets including the Associated Press his client did not deny being the shooter but had not divulged any motive. The lawyer said Sunday that Matapour did not object to remaining in custody for four weeks so would not appear in court on Monday.

In the Norwegian judicial system pre-trial detention hearings are normally held every four weeks.

Large crowds gathered Sunday near the London Pub to lay flowers and other tributes. Those gathered waved Pride flags as they defiantly commiserated remembering the two victims killed along with the other twenty persons injured in the shooting spree which police say occurred at three locations in the neighborhood around the bar.

The city’s Pride parade had been cancelled as a precaution after the shooting.

 

Norway’s Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere and a member of the Royal family, Crown Princess Mette-Marit, joined mourners in a memorial service Sunday at Oslo Cathedral for the victims of the attack.

Speaking in Sunday’s memorial service, the Prime Minister pointed out that “the shooting in the night hours put an end to the Pride parade, but it did not stop the fight and the efforts to fight discrimination, prejudice and hatred.”

Stoere addressed Norway’s Muslim community as well telling them;

“I know how many of you felt when it turned out that the perpetrator belonged to the Islamic community. Many of you experienced fear and unrest. You should know this: We stand together, we are one community and we are responsible for the community together.”

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Mass shooting in Norwegian capital cancels LGBTQ+ Pride, leaves 2 dead

The Norwegian Police Service are investigating the matter as an act of terrorism. The suspect is a Norwegian citizen originally from Iran

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Inger Kristin Haugsevje, head of Oslo Pride being interviewed after mass shooting (Screenshot/YouTube Global News)

OSLO, Norway – A gunman entered an establishment popular with the LGBTQ+ community in the Norwegian capital city’s night-life district on Saturday morning at approximately 1 a.m. local time and opened fire killing two people and injuring dozens more.

A spokesperson for the Norwegian Police Service  (Politi- og lensmannsetaten) told the Blade in a phone call that officials are investigating the matter as an act of terrorism. According to the official, the suspect is a 42-year-old Norwegian citizen originally from Iran.

Multiple eyewitnesses reported that the suspect had entered the bar and produced a semi-automatic rifle from a bag and started shooting.

A reporter with Norway’s largest broadcast media outlet NRK, Olav Roenneberg, who was on scene when the shooting started, told NRK colleagues in an interview;

“I saw a man arrive at the site with a bag- He picked up a weapon and started shooting. First I thought it was an air gun. Then the glass of the bar next door was shattered and I understood I had to run for cover.”

The police official while not confirming the weapon used did acknowledge that the shooter had been known to Norwegian officials in the country’s security services since 2015 as a “suspected radicalised Islamist” and also apparently had a history of mental illness. The official also pointed out that up until the incident there were no previous major criminal acts committed by the suspect.

Because of the incident, organisers of the Pride parade which had been scheduled to start hours after the shooting was cancelled. The parade was set to culminate the week long Pride festivities in Oslo.

Norway’s Prime Minister Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere wrote in a public post on Facebook, “the shooting outside London Pub in Oslo tonight was a cruel and deeply shocking attack on innocent people.” He added “We all stand by you,” showing support for the country’s LGBTQ+ citizenry.

Norway’s King Harald V issued a statement offering condolences and said he and Norway’s royal family were “horrified by the night’s shooting tragedy.”

“We sympathize with all relatives and affected and send warm thoughts to all who are now scared, restless and in grief,” the Norwegian monarch said. “We must stand together to defend our values: freedom, diversity and respect for each other. We must continue to stand up for all people to feel safe.”

Oslo Pride issued a statement concerning cancelling the Pride parade;

Oslo Pride has received clear advice and recommendation from the police that the parade, Pride park and other events in connection with Oslo Pride be canceled. Oslo Pride therefore asks everyone who has planned to participate in or watch the parade not to attend. All events in connection with Oslo Pride are canceled.

Now we will follow the police’s recommendations and take care of each other. Warm thoughts and love go to relatives, the injured and others affected. We will soon be proud and visible again, but today we will hold and share the pride celebrations from home, says Inger Kristin Haugsevje, leader of Oslo Pride and Inge Alexander Gjestvang, leader of FRI – The Association for Gender and Sexuality Diversity.

Oslo Pride has close communication with the police and is following the situation, and will provide ongoing information.

The White House reacted to the news of the shooting issuing a statement by National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan;

“The horrific shooting in Norway this morning has been felt around the world. The United States strongly condemns this act of terror. We stand in solidarity with the families of the victims, the diverse and strong LGBTQI+ community of Oslo, our close NATO ally Norway, and all who have been devastated by this senseless act. The United States has been in touch with the Norwegian government and offered to provide assistance. We remain committed to continuing to partner with Norway to advance a more equitable and just world for all, free from violence and discrimination.”

Oslo shooting being investigated as act of terrorism:

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