International News Highlights — July 8, 2022

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Alois Carnier and Peter Leu at their wedding ceremony — Photo by Arnd Wiegmann / Reuters
Alois Carnier and Peter Leu at their wedding ceremony — Photo by Arnd Wiegmann / Reuters

First same-sex couples wed in Switzerland
Reuters reported on July 1 that Alois Carnier, 57, and Peter Leu, 67, are the first same-sex couple to take their vows in Switzerland, one of the last countries in Western Europe to legalize marriage equality after voters approved the "Marriage for All" initiative last September.

"The ceremony was really very important to me, because this has been 20 years in the making," said Carnier, who has been in a registered partnership with Leu since 2014, and fought for decades in Gay rights campaigns.

Aline, 45, and Laure, 45, also tied the knot after 21 years together. Like Leu and Carnier, they had a civil partnership. They also have a four-year-old son.

"In every sense, this is a new stage (for us)," said Laure, who declined to give her family name.

Geneva Mayor Marie Barbey-Chappuis attended the ceremony, and said of the event, "It was a very moving and much-awaited moment, which sends a strong message to society... to be free to love."

Some of the key rights of marriage for same-sex couples now include access to regular adoption, sperm donation, and an easier path to citizenship for foreign spouses.

Polish court quashes last "LGBT-free zones"
Reuters reported on June 28 that a Polish appeals court has ruled that the country's "LGBT-free zones," which have cropped up in four municipalities since 2019, must be dissolved. Human rights advocates and activists celebrated the decision as a victory.

The zones intended to ban what local authorities said was the promotion of homosexuality and other non-heterosexual identities. The European Commission responded with legal challenges and condemnation. Nine other such zones were scrapped in Poland's lower courts.

"Today's decision... is a great victory for democracy, human rights, and respect for people," Poland's Campaign Against Homophobia declared on social media. The group recently introduced a clause in its partnership agreement with Poland that would prevent municipalities with "LGBT-free zones" from receiving funds from the bloc's 2021—27 budget.

Meanwhile, Cabinet Minister Michal Wojcik of the conservative United Poland party had his own opinion. "If councilors decide that they want to support our traditions and identity, it is their sovereign right. Nobody should limit this," he wrote to Reuters in a text message.