Here's the latest news briefs from around the world!


Irish PM: 'Matter of Time' for N. Ireland and Gay Marriage

(AP) Ireland's prime minister says it is "only a matter of time" before same-sex marriage is legalized in Northern Ireland - the only part of the United Kingdom where it still is banned.

Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, Ireland's first openly gay leader, made the comments at a gay pride event on Saturday in Belfast.

Northern Ireland remains the only part of the British Isles where same-sex marriages are not allowed. A 2015 voter referendum legalized them in the republic of Ireland.

The issue has been one of the sticking points preventing the restoration of the Catholic-Protestant power-sharing government in Northern Ireland.

The Democratic Unionists, Northern Ireland's biggest British Protestant party and a key partner to British Prime Minister Theresa May's government, has opposed same-sex marriage.

The Catholic nationalist Sinn Fein supports it.


Australia's Ruling Party Refuses Vote on Gay Marriage Bill

(AP) Australia's ruling party on Monday rejected a push to allow lawmakers to decide whether the country should recognize gay marriage, continuing a bitter political stalemate over the divisive reform.

The conservative Liberal Party-led coalition was narrowly re-elected in July 2016 with a promise to let voters decide whether Australia should recognize same-sex marriage through a popular vote. But the Senate would not allow the so-called plebiscite, which would have cost 160 million Australian dollars ($127 million), and the result could have been ignored by lawmakers when deciding how to vote on gay marriage legislation in Parliament.

Liberal Sen. Dean Smith, a gay man who opposed legalizing same-sex marriage when he was appointed to the Senate in 2012, has drafted a bill to allow gay marriage now and wants his fellow Liberal lawmakers to be allowed to vote on it according to their consciences rather than according to party policy.

"It's time for the party to put the matter to rest once and for all," Smith told reporters before the meeting.

But a crisis meeting of Liberal lawmakers decided to try again to persuade the Senate to endorse the plebiscite before Parliament considers voting on legislation. The rejected plebiscite bill will be reintroduced to the Senate this week. Voting on the plebiscite would be compulsory and failure to vote would be punishable by a fine.

If the Senate again rejected it, the party would propose a voluntary postal plebiscite in which voters mail in their opinions instead of using ballot boxes as a cheaper option that would not need the Senate to approve the expense.

The seven lawmakers who spoke against the plebiscite at the meeting were outnumbered more than three-to-one by 27 colleagues who supported the 2-year-old policy.


Thousands March in Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade

(AP) Thousands of revelers are marching in Jerusalem's gay pride parade amid tight security.

Israel police blocked roads in central Jerusalem Thursday and detained 12 people, including one in possession of a knife, on suspicion they would attempt to disrupt the parade.

A far right group held a protest nearby against the parade.

Jerusalem holds a modest parade annually in contrast to festivities in nearby liberal Tel Aviv, which drew over 200,000 people to its parade this year.

Many of Jerusalem's residents are observant Jews, Muslims or Christians, communities that often frown on homosexuality. But violent attacks on gay people are rare.

A radical ultra-Orthodox Jew stabbed a 16-year-old girl, Shira Banki, to death at Jerusalem's parade in 2015.

The attack was widely condemned and the killer was convicted for murder.


Pennsylvania District Settles Transgender Bathroom Lawsuit

(AP) A Pennsylvania school district will allow students to use restrooms that correspond to their "consistently and uniformly asserted gender identity" in settling a federal lawsuit brought last year by three transgender students.

Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund announced the settlement Tuesday in Pittsburgh with the Pine-Richland School District in the city's North Hills suburbs.

A federal judge in February blocked the Pine-Richland School District from enforcing interim rules that made bathroom use conditional upon a student's biological gender only. U.S. District Judge Mark Hornak said then that the district had not demonstrated its policy advances an important governmental interest. Nor was there evidence that personal privacy was being threatened save for a complaint by a parent whose child reported a "boy in the girl's bathroom" in October 2015, according to the judge.

Two students born anatomically male who now identify as female and one born anatomically female who identifies as male sued in October to overturn the policy.

The school district confirmed the settlement, which Lambda called "a victory for transgender students everywhere" and a "clear warning to school districts with anti-transgender bathroom policies."

The district must also adopt policies "that respect transgender students' gender identity with respect to student records, names, pronouns, and restrooms, among other aspects," Lambda said in the statement announcing the settlement.­

Schools spokeswoman Rachel Hatthorn said board members approved the settlement and related policies at a meeting July 17.

The transgender students, Juliet Evancho, Elissa Ridenour, and another identified only by the initials A.S., were all seniors and have since graduated.


Top Oil Companies Join Firms Opposing Texas 'Bathroom Bill'

(AP) More than 50 Houston business leaders, including the heads of some of the nation's top oil companies, are opposing a Texas "bathroom bill" targeting transgender people - adding to an already long list of powerful and lucrative firms opposing it.

In a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott, the leaders wrote that they support "diversity and inclusion" and that "any such bill risks harming Texas' reputation and impacting the state's economic growth." Its signers included executives from Chevron, Shell, ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil.

Abbott has called state lawmakers into a special legislative session after a bill requiring transgender Texans to use public restrooms corresponding to the gender on their birth certificates failed in May.

Apple, IBM, Facebook, the NFL and scores of other companies have previously opposed the bill.