Philippine court makes not guilty plea for U.S. Marine charged in transgender Filipina's killing

MANILA, Philippines — A Philippine court entered a not guilty plea Monday for a U.S. Marine charged with murdering a transgender Filipina, allegedly after he discovered her gender when they checked into a hotel.

Marine Pfc. Joseph Scott Pemberton refused to enter a plea in the brief proceeding in a court in Olongapo city northwest of Manila, according to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima. Journalists were barred from the courtroom.

Jewish Home hopeful boasts of being "proud homophobe"

RAMAT GAN, Israel -- A Knesset hopeful with the Jewish Home party described himself as a “proud homophobe” during a discussion panel at a Ramat Gan high school Sunday.

“At home, everyone can be abnormal and people can form whatever family unit they want,” he said. “But they can’t make demands from me, as the state,” Bezalel Smotrich can be heard telling students in a recording obtained by Army Radio.

After one student interrupted him and called his remarks homophobic, Smotrich welcomed the criticism and responded to the student by saying, “I am a proud homophobe.”

Madrid metro memo tells staff to keep an eye on gay people

MADRID, Spain -- Authorities at Madrid’s metro have opened an investigation into an internal memo circulated to employees that flagged gay people as a problem group that needed extra vigilance.

The memo notes several stops along the metro, detailing the groups that workers should check to ensure that they have valid metro tickets. On Line 2 between the stops of Sol and Las Rosas, it urges workers to keep an eye on “musicians, beggars and gays.”

Japan: Gay marriage push faces constitutional barrier

TOKYO, Japan -- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has fought to alter Japan’s constitution on matters of security, is less eager to oppose its principles when it comes to same-sex marriage.

Changing the charter to allow gay marriage would require “extremely cautious consideration,” Abe said Wednesday in parliament. The current constitution “does not envisage marriage between people of the same sex.”

UK: Gay asylum seekers will no longer have to answer questions about their sex lives

LONDON, England -- Gay asylum seekers in the UK will no longer have to answer questions about their sex lives thanks to new guidance from the Home Office.

Caseworkers have received the new policies on how to deal with claims for asylum by gay, lesbian and bisexual people following the revelation that a man fleeing persecution was "interrogated" and asked "shockingly degrading" questions about his sexual history.

Nepal: Sexual minorities back panel's call for gay marriage

KATHMANDU, Nepal -- When Nepali transgender Bhakti Shah married almost a decade ago, his dream of being able to walk openly, hand in hand with his wife, through the narrow streets of Kathmandu seemed close to impossible to fulfill.

Married in a small Hindu temple with little fanfare and a handful of well-wishers, the couple were ostracized by their families and their community because of Shah's sexual orientation and have endured years of discrimination.

First same-sex marriage in Mexican state of Sonora performed today

SAN LUIS RIO COLORADO, Sonora Mexico -- The first same-sex marriage in the Mexican state of Sonora was performed at a wedding this morning, reports El Imparcial. The wedding was held in the city of San Luis Río Colorado, which is about 25 miles south of Yuma, Arizona.

The wedding was held in a private home, to which Civil Registry officials had agreed to be driven to without knowing the destination in advance.

Mexico: Baja California Congress may legalize gay marriage

MEXICALI, Baja California, Mexico -- A bill to legalize gay marriage was introduced today in Congress of the Mexican state of Baja California, according to La Crónica newspaper.

The bill would amend the state constitution to remove the ban on gay marriage in order to comply with rulings by the federal Supreme Court that have overturned such bans as unconstitutional.

Slovakia: Low turnout scuttles discriminatory referendum

BERLIN, Germany -- A low turnout in a Slovakia referendum on Feb. 7 scuttled a measure that would have set the scene for legalized discrimination against LGBT couples, Human Rights Watch said today. The decision of the majority of voters not to participate in the referendum on this regressive measure offers some comfort to minorities in Slovakia.

Amnesty International: Bulgaria must investigate and prosecute hate crimes to end climate of fear

NEW YORK, New York -- Bulgaria’s failure to adequately investigate and prosecute hate crimes is fueling fear, discrimination and ultimately violence, says Amnesty International in a new report published today.

Lack of adequate investigation of hate crimes in Bulgaria documents the severe impact of hate crimes on victims and highlights how the authorities’ failure to tackle entrenched prejudice against asylum seekers, migrants, Muslims and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is fueling further violence and discrimination.