Ireland, a traditionally Catholic country, appears to have become the first country to legalize gay marriage through a popular vote Saturday, as both government ministers and opponents of the proposed constitutional amendment said hours after the counting of votes began Saturday.
"I think it's won," Equality Minister Aodhan O. Riordain, who was at the main count center in Dublin, told Reuters as final results are expected later in the day. "The numbers of people who turned out to vote is unprecedented. This has really touched a nerve in Ireland today."
David Quinn, director of the Catholic think tank Iona Institute, which opposes same-sex marriage, agreed with the likely victory of gay marriage supporters. He tweeted: "Congratulations to the Yes side. Well done." more >>
Peer-to-peer file sharing site The Pirate Bay flew a fierce new logo on its site after a Swedish court ordered the seizure of its popular domains.
The Pirate Bay flew a different logo on its torrent site in response to Swedish authorities shutting down its most recent servers.
The logo contained the iconic TPB black and white pirate ship sporting a new look – a four-headed fang-mouthed hydra towering over the ship's black flags, with six new domain names circling its four heads. more >>
Bishop John McAreavey, chair of the council for Justice & Peace of the Irish Catholic Bishop's Conference, told the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade that Christian persecution is at an "unprecedented" high, pointing to statistics that show 11 Christians are killed every hour of the day.
Citing a Pew Research survery, McAreavey told the committee that Christian persecution is being gravely underestimated, as "Christianity is now the world's most oppressed religious group, with persecution against them reported in 110 countries."
He continued: "Many of these countries have significant trade links with Ireland. Persecution is increasing in China. In North Korea a quarter of the country's Christians live in forced labour camps. Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and the Maldives all feature in the 10 worst places to be Christian. more >>
A U.K. judge has ruled that a Christian-run bakery discriminated against gay customers when it refused to make a cake featuring the "Sesame Street" characters Bert and Ernie with a pro same-sex marriage slogan.
District Judge Isobel Brownlie ruled at Belfast County Court on Tuesday that Ashers Bakery, the defendants, "have unlawfully discriminated against the plaintiff on grounds of sexual discrimination," The Belfast Telegraph reported.
"This is direct discrimination for which there is no justification." more >>
In a twist of irony, the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which was attacked by Islamic extremists in January after publishing cartoons of the prophet Muhammad, has reportedly suspended one of its columnists after she received death threats for writing critically about radical Islam.
The French news site Le Monde has reported that Charlie Hebdo journalist Zineb El Rhazoui, who has joint French and Moroccan nationality, was called into a preliminary dismissal hearing last Friday, which allegedly could be the first step in a process that could lead to Rhazoui's firing.
A spokesperson for Charlie Hebdo assured on Friday that the meeting was to remind Rhazoui of her obligations to the paper. However, the 33 year old accused her employer of punishing her for speaking out about the editorial direction the newspaper has gone in since it was victimized by a deadly attack conducted by radical Muslims on Jan. 7, which left 12 employees dead. more >>
Pope Francis called Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas "an angel of peace," as the two met in the Vatican Saturday, days after the Catholic Church officially recognized a Palestinian state in a treaty, which "disappointed" Israel.
Presenting a medallion bearing an image of the angel of peace, "which destroys the evil spirit of war," to Abbas, Francis stated, "I thought of you because you are an angel of peace," according to Agence France Presse.
Abbas also had a gift for the pope: religious relics related to two 19th-century nuns with Palestinian roots who are scheduled to be canonized in the Vatican Sunday. more >>