Same-sex marriage passes last legal bar

Gay marriage is to become legal in England and Wales after the lower house of Britain’s Parliament approved the final changes Tuesday to legislation that had Prime Minister David Cameron’s backing but split his ruling Conservative Party.

The bill had the support of both Labor and the Liberal Democrats, Britain’s two other main political parties, but damaged Cameron’s standing within his own party, with many conservative lawmakers criticizing him for being too liberal. The party had twice before voted against it.

After a two-hour debate, the House of Commons passed the bill, meaning it now needs only to be approved by Queen Elizabeth II, a formality.

“The title of this bill might be ‘Marriage,’ but its fabric is about freedom and respect,” said Culture Secretary Maria Miller, adding that traditionalists should not feel their concept of marriage had been undermined.

Gay couples may already obtain “civil partnerships,” which confer the same legal rights as marriage, but campaigners say the distinction gives the impression that society considers gay relationships inferior.

— Reuters

Hezbollah convoy
hit by explosion

An explosion struck a convoy of cars in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley on Tuesday, in what appeared to be the latest in a string of reprisal attacks against the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah for its role in the Syrian civil war.

The blast, near the Masnaa border crossing between Lebanon and Syria, targeted two vehicles carrying Hezbollah officials traveling toward Syria, a security official told the Reuters news service. In recent weeks, Hezbollah has sent its fighters to support Syrian government forces against rebels seeking to oust President Bashar al-Assad.

It was not clear who was responsible, but the rebels have threatened to strike Hezbollah in the past. Roadside bombs have targeted its convoys several times in the past month, and a car bomb rocked its stronghold in southern Beirut last week.

Lebanon’s National News Agency reported that two people were injured in the blast. Late Tuesday, Reuters quoted unidentified security officials as saying that one Hezbollah official had died and two were injured.

— Loveday Morris

Gay rights activist reported killed in Cameroon: A prominent gay rights activist in Cameroon was tortured and killed just weeks after warning about “anti-gay thugs,” Human Rights Watch said. Friends found Eric Ohena Lembembe’s body at his home in the capital, Yaounde, Monday after he was unreachable for two days, the group said. One friend said that Lembembe’s neck and feet looked broken and that he had been burned with an iron.

20 children die in India after eating school meal: Twenty children, ages 8 to 11, have died after eating free meals at a primary school in Bihar state in eastern India. A state official said 27 children have been hospitalized in Patna, the state capital. The children fell ill Tuesday soon after eating meals in the school. An official said a preliminary investigation suggests the food had traces of phosphorus, which is used to preserve rice and wheat.

Bomb kills 6 near Sunni mosque in Iraq: A bomb exploded near a Sunni mosque as worshipers were leaving evening Ramadan prayers, killing at least six people and wounding 17, police said. The blast occurred in Muqdadiyah, 60 miles north of Baghdad. Attacks have killed more than 160 Iraqis just seven days into the Islamic holy month.

Sudan’s leader has left Nigeria, diplomat says: Sudanese leader Omar Hassan al-Bashir has left Nigeria, the spokesman at Sudan’s embassy said, following demands from rights activists for his arrest on charges of genocide and war crimes in Darfur. The spokesman said Bashir left Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, less than 24 hours after arriving and in the middle of a two-day summit.

Asylum seekers feared dead:
A boat carrying 150 people capsized in the Indian Ocean, killing four, Australian officials said. The boat turned over north of Christmas Island, an Australian territory 310 miles south of Jakarta, Indonesia, and a common destination for asylum seekers.

— From news services