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24 Hours Across Africa

Half of Singapore’s Citizenry want gay relationships banned

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Source: Reuters – Thousands of people took part in Singapore’s annual gay pride rally on Saturday, with many calling for a law banning gay sex to be scrapped following similar measures elsewhere in the region.

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Singapore joins dozens of other cities around the world in celebrating gay pride this weekend but it is the only one where gay sex is criminalized, although the law is not enforced.

Pressure for change in the city-state has increased since India’s top court struck down colonial-era criminalization of homosexuality last year. Elsewhere in the region, Taiwan recently became the first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage.

“The majority of Singaporeans are tolerant. But for us to be accepted, we have a long way to go,” said Elaine, 26, a banker who attended the rally with her girlfriend.

“But I’m happy that the government doesn’t stop or disallow events like this to happen,” she added, asking to give only her first name.

Under the law, a man found to have committed an act of “gross indecency” with another man could be jailed for up to two years, although prosecutions are rare. The law does not explicitly ban homosexual acts between women.

Previous legal challenges to overturn the ban have failed but shortly after the landmark Indian court ruling, a Singapore DJ filed a new court challenge against the colonial-era law.

For 32-year-old public relations executive Devane Sharma, the criminalization of gay sex has repercussions on the society even if prosecutions do not take place.

“The government often says that the law isn’t really enforced so it’s okay, but there are ripple effects on the rest of society, especially in matters on sexual health and workplace discrimination,” Sharma said.

“It’s a matter of time. I think within a few years, the law will (be repealed). I am hopeful,” Sharma said.


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24 Hours Across Africa

Hong kong train accident leaves eight injured.

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A rare train derailment disrupted services in Hong Kong on Tuesday, the rail operator said, threatening commuter chaos during rush hour.

The disruption to a usually seamless network used by nearly 6 million people every weekday happened after a train derailed while leaving a station in the Kowloon area, rail operator MTR Corp said.

The government’s information department said eight people were injured and five had been taken to hospital.

Rex Auyeung Pak-kuen, chairman of MTR Corp, told reporters that a derailment had not happened in many years and the cause was not immediately clear.

“We will work together with the government to find out the truth as soon as possible so as to continue to provide safe services,” he said. “We apologize that our passengers were injured in the accident.”

Hong Kong’s rail system has been a target of vandalism during recent pro-democracy protests, with activists angry that MTR has closed stations to stop protesters gathering.

Television footage showed hundreds of passengers trying to get off the derailed train. Public broadcaster RTHK said the train had suddenly swayed and a door had flown off before the train stopped.

Nearby stations were overcrowded, and intervals between trains were extended to 12 minutes from two.

MTR’s shares fell 1.1% in line with the broader Hang Seng Index, which was down 1%.

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24 Hours Across Africa

Brazil to host Nigeria and Senegal

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Brazil Football Confederation official Juninho Paulista have confirmed frendlies with Nigeria and Senegal.

It will be first ever meeting between Brazil and Senegal, who lost the Africa Cup of Nations final to Algeria and are the continent’s top-ranked African side.

Nigeria, who won Bronze in Egypt, will be meeting Brazil for the second time at senior level following a 3-0 defeat in a friendly in June 2003 in Abuja.

“We chose two of the best African teams because they are high level opponents,” Brazil Football Confederation official Juninho Paulista said on the website.

“It was a wish of the technical commission. So we went after these opponents.”

The friendlies are in line with Brazil’s wishes to play top 50 ranked teams whenever possible.

Brazil’s only other Africa opponent under coach Tite was a 1-0 win over Cameroon in November last year, in a match played in England.

It will be Brazil’s second game in Singapore following a Neymar-inspired victory over Japan in October 2014.

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