International News Highlights — April 29, 2022

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Stephen Carpenter and Eric Bourne on their wedding day — Photo by Richard Turner / British Antarctic Survey
Stephen Carpenter and Eric Bourne on their wedding day — Photo by Richard Turner / British Antarctic Survey

British Antarctic Territory: Gay couple first to wed in Antarctica
NBC reported on April 26 that British sailors Eric Bourne and Stephen Carpenter have become the first same-sex couple to wed in the British Antarctic Territory. After traveling the world together for 20 years, Bourne and Carpenter held the ceremony on the helideck of the RSS Sir David Attenborough, a polar research ship on its maiden voyage.

Carpenter commented in a statement issued by his employer, the British Antarctic Survey: "Antarctica is such an incredible place. It felt like the perfect place for us to finally tie the knot! We've even had the coordinates of the wedding location engraved into our rings."

"It was such an honor to be officiating Eric and Steve's wedding," Captain Will Whatley said of his role in the event. "The RSS Sir David Attenborough is not only our place of work but also our home, and it is a privilege to help two integral members of our crew celebrate their special day."

The couple will have a reception with about a hundred staffers on the Rothera Research Station, the largest British Antarctic facility, on May 8.

Russia: Court shuts down LGBTQ NGO
NBC reported on April 26 that a court in St. Petersburg is effectively shutting down the Charitable Sphere Foundation, Russia's largest LGBTQ rights organization, after a representative from the country's Justice Ministry claimed the entity illegally "carried out political activities using foreign property" with charity as a cover for trying to change legislation. The ministry also accused the group of spreading "LGBT views" and threatening "traditional values."

Former director of the Russian LGBT Network Igor Kochetkov criticized the decision. "It should be clear that the ministry and the court made this decision not on legal but on ideological basis," he wrote on Facebook. "No Russian law prohibits the activity of organizations that 'do not correspond' to any values."

"There is simply no such basis in the law for the liquidation of NGOs," Kochetkov went on. "In this sense, the decision of the court is iconic — mandatory state ideology has returned. It is now official."

Charitable Sphere Foundation spokesperson Dilya Gafurova said that in spite of the court's ruling, the group is not backing down any time soon.