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  WINDY CITY TIMES

WORLD Conversion therapy, Thai measure, gay bars vandalized, Global Pride
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2020-07-13

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The United Nations' Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity called for a global ban on the practices of so-called "conversion therapy," stating that such practices "inflict severe pain and suffering on LGBT persons, often resulting in long-lasting psychological and physical damage," the National Center for Lesbian Rights noted. "Today's action by the United Nations marks a huge turning point in the global effort to end this deadly practice," said Born Perfect Co-Founder and Chief Strategist Mathew Shurka. "I spent five years in conversion therapy, trapped in systemic torture by therapists who falsely claimed that they could change my sexual orientation. I know firsthand how devastating these practices are, and how much lasting harm they cause to LGBTQ people and their families."

Instagram and Facebook will ban any content that promotes conversion therapy, the social media platforms told CNN. Facebook said it would expand its existing policies on hate speech worldwide to include posts that advertise or promote the practice, in a move that applies to both platforms. Conversion therapy, a pseudo-scientific process that professes to change a person's sexuality, is widely discredited and condemned as harmful by major medical associations. However, it is legal across most of the world, including in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Mexico City legislators voted to ban conversion therapy, Reuters reported. Under the city's proposal, which needs further approval before taking effect, anyone who forces someone to undergo the practice can be punished with up to five years in prison. When a practice like conversion therapy is banned, young LGBT+ people will benefit from wider acceptance, said Temistocles Villanueva, a local deputy with the ruling Morena party who spearheaded the proposal.

Thailand's cabinet approved a civil-partnership bill that would recognize same-sex unions with almost the same legal rights as married couples,Reuters reported. If passed by parliament, the legislation would make Thailand only the second place in Asia to allow registration of same-sex unions, with couples able to adopt a child and afforded rights to inheritance and joint property ownership. The bill, however, stipulates that one party in a same-sex union must be Thai.

In Paris, two gay bars—The Banana Cafe and Le Cox—were spray-painted with swastikas and Celtic crosses in separate events, Out.com reported. Dimitri Morvan, assistant manager of the Banana Cafe, told Tetu three men donned balaclavas before the attack; then, two stood watch while the third rushed in and painted the building in front of dozens of "shocked" witnesses. Deputy Mayor Ian Brossat saw the hateful imagery first-hand and tweeted his "solidarity."

More than 57 million people viewed the first-ever Global Pride event, a 24-hour virtual program created in light of mass Pride festival cancellations worldwide because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Washington Blade reported. The June 27 event's headliners included former Vice President Joe Biden, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ( D-California ), Laverne Cox, Olivia Newton-John, Pabllo Vittar and Kesha. The event also highlighted the Black Lives Matter movement and the response to the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others who inspired worldwide protests for racial justice.

Authorities announced July 10 that, even with the ongoing coronavirus cratering the courts, an inquest into the deaths connected to British serial killer Stephen Port will not be delayed, PinkNews reported. Port, 44, a bus depot chef, lured at least four men—and raping many more—on dating apps between 2014 and 2015 to his residence during a 15-month stretch. All four died from overdoses of GHB, a date-rape drug. It was a case that appalled Britain—one of grisly details and questionable police investigations that ended with the Central Criminal Court sentencing Port to life in prison. After a probe by the Independent Office of Police Conduct, a watchdog, concluded that none of the 17 officers involved in the case would face misconduct charges.

On July 1, Montenegro became the first European country outside of the European Union to officially recognize same-sex couples, the Washington Blade noted. Reuters reported a bill to recognize same-sex couples' civil partnerships passed in the 81-seat Montenegro Parliament with 42 votes. Prime Minister Dusko Markovic was among those celebrating the measure's narrow passage.

A man who was found guilty of planning terror attacks on crowds celebrating Gay Pride in central London was sentenced to life in jail, The Hill noted. The suspect, Mohiussunnath Chowdhury, 29, has been told he will serve a minimum of 25 years for conspiring acts of terrorism, according to Reuters. Chowdhury shared his plans with people he thought he could trust, but was unaware they were covert anti-terrorism officers.

The High Court of Uganda awarded damages of UGX 5,000,000 ( about US$1,340 ) to 20 homeless LGBTQ people who had been arbitrarily detained and held without access to their lawyers, according to Human Rights Watch. On June 15, the court ruled that the prison system's refusal to allow the 20 people access to counsel violated their rights to a fair hearing and to liberty. The 20 people, who were residents of the Children of the Sun Foundation ( COSF ) shelter, had been detained for more than six weeks without access to lawyers.

A Russian ice-cream brand is being accused of promoting "gay propaganda," Out.com noted. In a recent conference call with President Vladimir Putin, politician Ekaterina Lakhova suggested the company Chistaya Liniya violated a law against promoting "homosexual behavior among minors" with its Rainbow ice cream. Lakhova warned Putin that the imagery might lead young people toward having positive feelings toward the rainbow flag, the symbol of the LGBTQ+ community. In a separate interview, Lakhova compared the queer banner to the fascist flag of Nazi Germany.

Transgender model Valentina Sampaio can add another milestone to her resume: Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model, People.com noted. The 23-year-old Brazilian was just named a 2020 Rookie for the upcoming issue ( on stands July 21 ), which marks the first time the iconic magazine has featured a trans model. GLAAD Head of Talent Anthony Ramos said in a statement, "Sports Illustrated Swimsuit joins institutions from the Girl Scouts of the USA to Miss Universe in recognizing the simple fact that trans women are women. Talented women like Valentina Sampaio deserve to be spotlighted and given equal opportunities."

Paris Lees—a British transgender individual who writes for Vogue magazine and is an ambassador for beauty company Pantene—tweeted to her 81,000 followers that the current debate about transgender people using public toilets should also focus on better protecting young people, The Daily Mail noted. Referencing an interview with James O'Brien from 2018, in which she discussed the abuse she'd suffered as a teenager, Lees said, "I tell @mrjamesob in this interview about having sex with grown men in public toilets when I was 14. How is that anything other than abuse? Where was the public outrage? Why aren't people upset at something we KNOW is happening to vulnerable LGBT kids?"

The documentary Helmut Newton: The Bad and the Beautiful will be debuting Friday, July 24, in virtual cinemas courtesy of Kino Marquee. Among those appearing in the documentary about the life of the German-Australian photographer are Grace Jones, Isabella Rossellini, Anna Wintour, Charlotte Rampling, Marianne Faithfull, Claudia Schiffer and Nadja Auermann. ( In Chicago, it will run at Music Box Theatre's Virtual Cinema. )

Artists Dionne Warwick, Michael McDonald and African pop star Ricardo Lemvo have added their names and music to Concert for Cuba, which will take place July 18-19 through HotHouseGlobal on TwitchTV, a press release noted. Dozens of other musicians are slated to perform, including Orquesta Aragon, Tom Morello and Los Van Van. Also, actors, political activists and leaders will appear, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., U.S. Reps. Jesus "Chuy" Garcia and Danny Davis, Ed Asner, Angela Davis, Cesar Pedroso and Danny Glover. "A Concert for Cuba" is sponsored by the Instituto Cubano de la Musica/The Cuban Institute of Music; Marguerite Horberg for HotHouse ( Chicago ); Raul Cuza ( Montreal ); and Bill Martinez ( San Francisco ).

Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro tested positive for coronavirus, BBC.com noted. He took the test, his fourth, on July 6 after developing symptoms, including a high temperature. Bolsonaro has repeatedly played down the risks posed by the virus, calling it "a little flu" and saying that he would not be seriously affected by it. He has also urged regional governors to ease lockdowns, which he said hurt the economy, and watered down regulations on wearing face masks. He is now reportedly taking hydroxychloroquine, which President Trump also took until recently. ( Trump hasn't tested positive for coronavirus. )


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