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In brief: Lawmakers OK gay marriage

Lisbon, Portugal – Portugal’s parliament passed a bill Friday that would make the predominantly Catholic nation the sixth in Europe to permit gay marriage.

Conservative President Anibal Cavaco Silva is thought unlikely to veto the Socialist government’s bill, which won the support of all left-of-center parties. His ratification would allow the first gay marriage ceremonies to take place in April – a month before Pope Benedict XVI is due on an official visit to Portugal.

Right-of-center parties opposed the change and sought a national referendum on the issue, but their proposal was rejected and the government’s bill was passed by 125 votes to 99.

Gay rights campaigners applauded from the galleries, hugged and kissed outside the building and ate wedding cake.

“This law rights a wrong,” Prime Minister Jose Socrates said in a speech to lawmakers, adding that it “simply ends pointless suffering.”

Socrates said the measure is part of his effort to modernize Portugal, where homosexuality was a crime until 1982. Two years ago his government lifted Portugal’s ban on abortion, despite church opposition.

Migrant workers’ rioting continues

Rosarno, Italy – Hundreds of migrant workers, most of them Africans, went on a rampage Friday in a southern Italian town in a second day of rioting, with authorities reporting at least 37 wounded, including 18 police officers and five migrants.

Violence ebbed and flared throughout Friday in Rosarno, a town near the western coast of Calabria in the “toe” of the Italian peninsula. The clashes in the volatile area had begun a day earlier, when two migrants were wounded by pellet fire, said Renato Cortese, a top police official in the regional capital.

The foreigners angrily blamed that shooting on racism, and groups of protesters stoned police, attacked residents and smashed shop windows and cars.

Friday evening, another two migrants were wounded in the feet and legs by pellet fire, and three more were seriously injured when they were beaten with metal rods, police and hospital officials said.