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From The Asian Reporter, V28, #14 (July 16, 2018), page 2.
HK court upholds ruling in favor of same-sex couple
HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal has ruled that the same-sex partner of a British expatriate is entitled to equal treatment under immigration law, marking a significant step for gay rights in the Chinese territory. The unanimous judgement said the woman identified only as "QT" should be issued the same dependent visa that spouses and children of other foreigners working in the Asian financial hub are entitled to. The ruling is seen as a landmark for Hong Kong, a Chinese territory and former British colony that maintains its own distinct western-style legal system. Although same-sex unions aren’t recognized under Hong Kong law, the city is broadly liberal in its social values and has a large foreign population. "This judgement is a milestone for Hong Kong and a watershed moment for the rights of LGBTI people across Asia," said Jan Wetzel, senior legal adviser at Amnesty International, in an e-mailed statement. "The government must now follow up and end the discrimination same-sex couples face in all walks of life." The ruling says the policy of accepting only opposite-sex spouses as eligible for a dependent visa "constituted indirect discrimination." QT entered into a same-sex civil partnership in England with her partner, identified as "SS," but was given only a visitor’s visa when the couple entered Hong Kong in 2011. That did not permit her the right to work or study, despite SS meeting the financial and other requirements for sponsoring a dependent. QT’s application for a dependent visa was denied by a lower court but approved by the Court of Appeal. The immigration department appealed that ruling, arguing that Hong Kong law only recognized marriages between men and women, but the judgement turned that down. The head of the immigration department "failed to justify the discriminatory treatment," the ruling stated.
Bishops call for three-day fast after Duterte says god stupid
MANILA, The Philippines (AP) — Philippine Catholic bishops have called for fasting and prayers after the president called god "stupid" and questioned god’s existence in profane remarks that set the foul-mouthed leader on a collision course with Asia’s largest Catholic church. Archbishop Romulo Valles, who heads the country’s association of bishops, called for a day of prayers on July 16 to invoke "god’s mercy and justice on those who have blasphemed god’s holy name, those who slander and bear false witness, and those who commit murder or justify murder as a means for fighting criminality." Valles asked Filipino Catholics to join bishops in three more days of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving starting July 17. Duterte has had a thorny relationship with Catholic bishops, who have criticized his bloody anti-drug crackdown and vulgar language.
110 hospitalized in Afghanistan after drinking from river
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — An Afghan official says that at least 110 people have been hospitalized after drinking from a river in northern Parwan province. Abdul Khalil Farhangi, the head of the main hospital in Charakar, the provincial capital, said it was not clear what caused them to become ill. The symptoms included vomiting and headaches. Afghanistan’s infrastructure has suffered from decades of war, and many rural communities do not have access to electricity or clean, running water.
Myanmar court rules Reuters reporters can face full trial
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — A judge in Myanmar has ruled that the prosecution of two Reuters journalists charged with illegally possessing official information can go to full trial. The case of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo went through several months of hearings to determine if there was enough evidence to support the charges, which the reporters denied. The two had been working on stories about the Rohingya crisis in western Myanmar, where state security forces are accused of carrying out massive human-rights abuses that caused about 700,000 of the Muslim ethnic Rohingya to flee across the border to Bangladesh. The charges carry a punishment of up to 14 years in prison.
U.S. Navy dedicates Japan-based destroyer
YOKOSUKA, Japan (AP) — The head of the U.S. Navy has dedicated one of two destroyers involved in fatal accidents in the Pacific last year to U.S. senator. John McCain. Navy secretary Richard Spencer added McCain’s name to a Japan-based warship that was already named for the Arizona senator’s father and grandfather. He said after a ceremony aboard the USS John S. McCain that recommended changes to naval practices since the accidents have been 78 percent implemented. Seventeen sailors died after the McCain and the USS Fitzgerald collided with commercial vessels in separate incidents. The ship was named after McCain’s father and grandfather when it was launched in 1994. McCain is a Navy veteran. He is battling brain cancer. Spencer said McCain always put country first, as a warrior and a statesman.
Chinese firm told to suspend $20B Malaysia rail project
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — A Chinese company building a key rail link in Malaysia says it has been told to suspend work pending negotiations. It urged the new government elected months ago to honor the contract. The suspension came a day after the government called for a sharp reduction in cost for the 430 miles East Coast Rail Link. Officials say the project’s actual cost is 81 billion ringgit ($20 billion), nearly 50 percent more than estimated by the previous government. China Communication said the suspension could add to costs, losses, and damages. It called for a "win-win situation" in negotiations and urged the government to "honor and respect" the deal. The project is part of China’s regional "Belt and Road" infrastructure initiative.
Hackers infiltrated Cambodia’s politics
BEIJING (AP) — The U.S. cybersecurity firm FireEye says it has found evidence that a Chinese hacking team it believes is linked to Beijing has penetrated computer systems belonging to Cambodia’s election commission, opposition leaders, and media. FireEye said it did not find evidence that the Chinese hackers are working to sway Cambodian elections on July 29 in the ruling party’s favor, but the findings may cast a murky geopolitical shadow over the elections critics already say will be neither free nor fair. China’s Foreign Ministry has rejected the allegations. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, a staunch ally of Beijing, had faced what analysts predicted would have been a tight race before he jailed opposition leader Kem Sokha last year, accusing him of treason, and courts disbanded the main opposition party.
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