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Beer makers drop out of St. Patrick's parades that ban openly gay marchers

By Anna Hiatt NEW YORK (Reuters) - Two major beer manufacturers on Friday dropped sponsorship of St. Patrick's Day parades in New York City and Boston to protest bans on gays marching openly. Sam Adams pulled out of Boston's parade, which takes place on Sunday, and Heineken yanked its support of the New York City parade, slated for Monday. Both parades are allowing gay groups to march but are banning signage about sexual orientation.

Rob Ford says he's offended when people say he's homophobic

TORONTO - Toronto Mayor Rob Ford said in a YouTube video released Tuesday that he's offended by claims he's homophobic, while his city councillor brother suggested people in the gay community are "bullies." The brothers made the comments in the second instalment of their online "Ford Nation" show, consisting of a series of clips of varying lengths in which they slag fellow councillors and take one question.

Rob Ford's refusal to attend pride parade not homophobic, says brother Doug

TORONTO - Toronto's scandal-plagued mayor and his bombastic older brother are back in the spotlight after making controversial comments about the city's prominent gay pride festival. Mayor Rob Ford has long been at loggerheads with Toronto's queer community for his long-standing refusal to take part in the gay pride parade that marches through the downtown core each summer.

US telecoms giant AT

US telecoms giant AT&T came out Tuesday against Russia's anti-gay law, as activists ramped up a global campaign for Olympic sponsors to follow suit ahead of the Sochi winter games. "We stand against Russia's anti-LGBT law," said AT&T, the biggest US cellphone and landline operator, in a blog on its corporate website, three days before the Sochi games open. "Russia's law is harmful to LGBT individuals and families, and it's harmful to a diverse society," it added.

Grammys turn mass wedding in gay marriage celebration

The music industry's top night turned into the big day for 34 couples on Sunday as Madonna and other stars presided over a mass wedding in a celebration of gay marriage. The 34 couples -- some same-sex, some opposite-sex and diverse in race and appearance -- exchanged rings before the Grammys stage at Los Angeles' Staples Center, which was momentarily transformed into a brightly lit church with a gospel choir. The couples' wedding serenade was "Same Love," performed by hip-hop duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.

Gays, lesbians to stage protest on India's Republic Day

Hundreds of gay and lesbian Indians will take to the streets of New Delhi on Sunday, demanding equal rights and a reversal of the recent ban on gay sex as the country celebrates its Republic Day. Members of various rights groups and civil society activists will also join the protest march that will kick off in the heart of the city's business district after the Republic Day celebrations wind up. "We want to ask the government if we are included in India's current idea of a republic," Mohnish Malhotra, one of the organisers of the parade, told AFP.

Azeri gay rights leader commits suicide

A leading Azerbaijani gays rights activist killed himself after writing in an online suicide note that he could not go on living in "this country and this world", police said on Thursday. Isa Shakhmarli, 20, chairman of Azerbaijan Free LGBT, a Baku-based gay rights advocacy group, was found dead on Wednesday after reportedly hanging himself using the rainbow-coloured flag of the gay pride movement. "We received a call from his loved ones reporting a suicide," a police spokesman for the Yasamal district of Baku told AFP.

US gay magazine names Pope Francis 'person of the year'

Pope Francis, already Time Magazine's "person of the year," has been given the same honor by another publication -- this one dedicated to the gay and lesbian community. The Advocate magazine chose the head of the Catholic Church as the "single most influential person of 2013 on the lives of LGBT people." It is perhaps a surprising choice, given that the church has often been in conflict with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community over its opposition to same-sex marriage and to homosexuality more generally.

India's top court reinstates gay sex ban

India's Supreme Court Wednesday reinstated a colonial-era ban on gay sex that enables the jailing of homosexuals in a major setback for rights campaigners in the world's biggest democracy. A two-judge bench struck down a landmark Delhi High Court ruling in 2009 which found that section 377 of the Indian penal code prohibiting "carnal intercourse against the order of nature" infringed the fundamental rights of Indians.

Croatia gays say marriage referendum major setback

After six years together, Hana and Iva both decided they had met "the one" -- but the Croatian couple's dream of getting married and having children risks being derailed by a referendum to outlaw same-sex marriage. Conservative values hold sway in predominantly Catholic Croatia, where a vote to be held Sunday on banning gay marriage has been called a major setback for homosexual rights.
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