Bougainville independence vote delivers emphatic demand to become world’s newest nation

(CNN)An autonomous region of Papua New Guinea has voted overwhelmingly to leave the country and form a new independent nation, authorities announced on Wednesday. The vote is a significant indicator of public sentiment, but is non-binding, and will now need to be approved by the Papua New Guinea parliament before Bougainville can become its own country. Bougainville independence campaigners are bracing for this next step; the copper mine, estimated to be worth $58 billion, has long been a point of territorial contention. The civil war had in part been over a dispute about the mine’s management, and some predict Papua New Guinea will be reluctant to lose access to the region’s valuable natural resources. The referendum has been a long …

Abortion decriminalized in Sydney after Australian lawmakers overturn 119-year-old law

(CNN)Abortion has now been decriminalized in almost all of Australia after the country’s most populous state voted to overturn a 119-year-old law. New South Wales’ move means that abortion is now decriminalized everywhere in Australia — apart from the state of South Australia. South Australia’s abortion laws are currently under review. “And there you go folks Abortion has finally been decriminalised everywhere in Australia …. oh yeah except here in South Australia!” tweeted South Australia Abortion Action Coalition on Thursday. “Congratulations NSW now let’s get this done here.” New South Wales’ law change was controversial and provoked heated debate. Religious groups, anti-abortion activists and MPs had raised concerns, including about late-term abortion and people using abortions to select the sex …

Flying a jet and firing a gun: Thailand releases rare photos of King’s royal consort

(CNN)Thailand’s royal palace has released candid photographs of the king’s newly-anointed consort, offering a rare and intimate window into the lives of the Thai royals. In one shot, Sineenat and Vajiralongkorn are wearing military fatigues and holding the King’s royal poodle. In another, the two are wearing casual clothes and laughing naturally. The images received so much interest that the Thai palace’s website crashed following their release, due to the volume of traffic, Reuters reported. A biography released with the images said Sineenat was born in the northern Thai province of Nan on January 26, 1985. She graduated from Army Nursing College in 2008 and spent time in the military undertaking courses in jungle warfare and piloting, according to state …

For China’s LGBTQ people, Taiwan’s rainbow victory is a moment of joy and pain

Taipei, Taiwan (CNN)When Chinese gay rights activist Peng Yanhui heard that Taiwan had approved a bill legalizing same-sex marriage on May 17 as he boarded a flight, he burst into tears of joy. In one way, the moment could be a turning point for the whole of Asia, where countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia have recently become more conservative towards LGBTQ rights.Taiwan is the first place in the region which is home to about 60% of the world’s population to legalize same-sex marriage.