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24 Hours Across Africa

Taiwan court legalizes same-sex marriage.

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Source: Reuters

Taiwan became the first place in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage on Friday, as thousands of demonstrators outside parliament cheered and waved rainbow flags, despite deep divisions over marriage equality.

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Same-sex marriage supporters celebrate after Taiwan became the first place in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage, outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei, Taiwan May 17, 2019.

Lawmakers of the majority Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) backed the bill, which passed 66 to 27, although the measure could complicate President Tsai Ing-wen’s bid to win a second term in presidential elections next year.

Demonstrators braved heavy rain outside parliament in Taipei, the capital, with some embracing tearfully as others hailed the vote with chants of “Asia’s first,” and “Way to go, Taiwan!”

The bill, which offers same-sex couples similar legal protections for marriage as heterosexuals, takes effect on May 24 after Tsai signs it into law.

“Today is a proud day for Taiwan. We demonstrate the value of kindness and inclusiveness from this land to the world,” Tsai told reporters after the measure passed.

“Through legalization, (we) ensure that everyone’s love is equal and everyone is treated equally,” added Tsai, who campaigned on a promise of marriage equality in the 2016 presidential election.

The law, however, allows same-sex marriages only between Taiwanese, or with foreigners whose countries recognize same-sex marriage. It permits adoption of children biologically related to at least one of the same-sex pair.

The vote followed a years-long tussle over marriage equality that culminated in a 2017 declaration by the democratic island’s constitutional court giving same-sex couples the right to marry, and setting a deadline of May 24 for legislation.

Taipei’s colorful gay pride parade, one of Asia’s largest, puts on display every year the vibrancy of the island’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

“After 30 years of fighting, homosexuals can finally get married,” said 32-year-old musician Ken Chen, who was outside parliament watching the vote broadcast live. “Many of us were in tears.”

CHALLENGE FOR TSAI

Rights group Amnesty International welcomed the end of a “long and arduous campaign”.

“We hope this landmark vote will generate waves across Asia and offer a much-needed boost in the struggle for equality for LGBTI people in the region,” said Annie Huang, acting director of Amnesty International Taiwan.

However, Friday’s measure could prove a hurdle for Tsai’s effort to seek a second term in a January election, after a DPP poll defeat last year was blamed partly on criticism of her reform agenda, including marriage equality.

Late last year, Taiwan voters opposed same-sex marriage in a series of referendums, defining marriage as being between a man and a woman in civil law, though seeking a special law for same-sex unions.

Conservative groups that oppose same-sex marriage said the legislation disrespected the people’s will.

“The will of some seven million people in the referendum has been trampled,” one group, the Coalition for the Happiness of Our Next Generation said in a statement. “The massive public will strike back in 2020.”

Australia passed laws allowing same-sex marriage in 2017, but such unions are not recognized by Hong Kong and neighboring China, which regards Taiwan as a wayward province to be returned to the fold by force, if necessary.


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24 Hours Across Africa

India doctors embark on strike aimed better security

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Source: Reuters

Thousands of doctors across India went on strike on Friday to demand better security at hospitals days after junior doctors in the city of Kolkata were attacked, leaving services in many government-run health facilities paralyzed.

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The state of West Bengal, of which Kolkata is capital, has been the worst hit by the strike with at least 13 big government hospitals affected.

The protests were sparked by an attack at the NRS Medical College in Kolkata on June 10 that left three junior doctors seriously injured after a dispute with a family whose relative had died.

Doctors demanding better security began a strike but their action was confined to the state until West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee condemned them on Thursday, saying police did not strike when one of their colleagues was killed.

Banerjee’s remarks, which included a warning that junior doctors would be evicted from their college hostels if they did not go back to work, triggered a nationwide reaction.

The Indian Medical Association said the “barbaric” attack at the NRS reflected a national problem, and called for a countrywide protest. It also demanded legislation to safeguard doctors.

Nearly 30,000 doctors were on a one-day strike on Friday, most in West Bengal, New Delhi and the western state of Maharashtra, according to figures proved by medical associations.

The federal health minister, Harsh Vardhan, tried to calm the furor, promising better security at hospitals and calling on Banerjee to withdraw her ultimatum.

“I urge doctors to end their strike in the larger interest of society. I will take all possible measures to ensure a safe environment for them at hospitals across the country,” Vardhan said on Twitter.

India spent an estimated 1.4% of its gross domestic product on healthcare in 2017/18, among the lowest proportions in the world. Many millions of Indians depend on the cheap but inadequate public health system.

Saradamani Ray, whose 77-year old father is a patient at the NRS Medical College, said she would have to move him because of the strike.

“I will have to take my father somewhere else for his dialysis, maybe a private hospital,” she told Reuters.

“It will cause a lot of financial strain, but there’s nothing I can do. I will have to pay.”


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24 Hours Across Africa

Cazorla pen New deal for Villarreal

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Villarreal veteran Santi Cazorla re-signed with the La Liga club, it was confirmed on Thursday.

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Spain international midfielder Cazorla, 34, renewed for the 2019-20 season after impressing last term following his return to the Yellow Submarine.

The club announced the news on Thursday at a season ticket campaign presentation in the newly opened Plaza Pascual Font de Mora.

Cazorla was not at the event, but appeared in a video revealing that he had signed on for another season

“My only goal was to stay here and I appreciate the support of the club and coaching staff,” Cazorla said.

After re-joining Villarreal – where he left for Malaga in 2011 – from Arsenal, Cazorla scored seven goals and tallied 11 assists in 46 matches across all.


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