New York wants to ban gay cures


Uncredited File photo | 16109ga

Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York is taking steps to stop therapists from trying to change young people’s sexual orientation. A number of American states have recently taken steps to ban gay conversion therapy. Major mental health organizations have repudiated the techniques.

The new regulations wouldn’t apply to counseling that discusses but doesn’t try to change sexual orientation or gender identity. They would bar insurance coverage for conversion therapy for minors and prohibit mental health facilities from offering the therapies to minors.

“Conversion therapy is a hateful and fundamentally flawed practice (that punishes people) for simply being who they are,” said Cuomo.

Insurers will wonder whether the new regulations will obligate them to investigate whether any given mental health visit was for conversion therapy.

There are no firm figures on the extent of conversion therapy in the US but it is not rare for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youths to undergo some sort of program aimed at changing their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.

The American Psychological Association and other mental health groups say conversion therapy, sometimes called reparative therapy, wrongly treats being gay as a mental illness and may make young people feel ashamed, anxious and depressed. President Barack Obama’s administration last year called for it to be banned.

Chad Griffin of Human Rights Campaign welcomed the move. “No young person should be coerced or subjected to this dangerous so-called therapy.”

Supporters of the therapy say prohibiting it limits treatment options and undermines religious liberty.

California, Oregon, Illinois, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., and Cincinnati have now outlawed gay conversion therapies, while bans have not succeeded in Colorado, Nevada and Iowa, among other states.

David St. Vincent


David St. Vincent | Press Association | 16107ga

Gay Activist is sad to record the passing of British travel writer and gay activist David St. Vincent, age 47.

Police are now regarding his death as suspicious, almost a month after his decomposing body was found in his Bucharest apartment. Police spokeswoman Bogdan Ghebaur said on Friday the case of 47-year old David St. Vincent has been handed to the Bucharest prosecutors’ office. His body was discovered on Jan. 12 and police initially suspected he had died of natural causes.

He was a founder of Accept, a group that was instrumental in the 2001 decriminalization of homosexuality in Romania.

Gay Activist sends condolences to family, friends and colleagues.

Oh you are so lucky. You have a roof over your head tonight.


Alamy | 16016ga

A quarter of the UK’s homeless youth are LGBT, according to a survey carried out last year by the Albert Kennedy Trust, which is the leading charity supporting young LGBT homeless people in crisis. They estimate that an alarming 4,800 young LGBT people are living on our streets, or in hostile environments.

The survey was carried out over 473 housing providers in England, Scotland and Wales and interviewed homeless youths between the ages of 16 and 26. It found that 69 per cent of homeless LGBT youth were forced out of their homes by their families; the same number also said that mental, emotional or sexual abuse from a family member played a part in their homelessness, while another 62 per cent said that they had experienced aggression or physical violence at home. Homeless LGBT youth, the survey revealed, are also much more likely than their heterosexual counterparts to participate in substance abuse and fall prey to sexual exploitation on the streets.

Bob Green, chief executive of Stonewall Housing, which provides housing support for LGBT people, says: “The numbers of people calling Stonewall Housing for advice and support is increasing and is now at its highest ever level, at over 1,800 calls per year. Sixty per cent of our callers state that their housing issue is directly related to their sexual orientation or gender identity, with the two biggest issues being domestic abuse and homophobic, biphobic or transphobic abuse, harassment and violence. Two thirds of our clients are under 25 and the under 21s contacting us increased by a third in a year.”

Law to change in India?

On Tuesday, India’s Supreme Court, citing the “constitutional importance” of a petition to reverse its 2013 ruling upholding Section 377 of India’s Penal Code, the three-judge panel decided to refer the petition to a five-judge panel headed by India’s chief justice.

Section 377, which dates back to 1861, has rarely been enforced, but it has been used to harass and blackmail gays, lesbians and transgender people.



The Torture Vet gets struck off


Kirk Thompson | Chronicle Live | 16103ga

Kirk Thompson, pictured, a former vet, who is in prison for 10 years for torturing an online lover to death during a drug-fueled S&M session, has now been struck off.

Thompson, 48, burnt, cut and caused severe internal injuries to David Kochs, 43, after meeting him on a gay website and inviting him back to his flat in Jesmond, Newcastle. He stapled Mr Kochs’ mouth and nostril shut with a surgical skin stapler. Then, Mr Kochs died of severe internal injuries when an electric toothbrush and metal bar were forcibly inserted into his body.

Some of the wounds were inflicted after his death.


Time for change in Myanmar?

Jennifer Rigby reports from the LGBT film festival from Colors Rainbow which has just been held in Myanmar.

Homosexuality is still officially illegal in Burma, (the country also known as Myanmar), banned under Section 377, a relic of British colonial law. Equality groups report routine discrimination, particularly on behalf of transgender people and gay women, and even late-night arrests of openly gay men. In 2013, a dozen gay and transgender people in Mandalay were stripped, beaten and humiliated by police who said they were doing a “public service” by arresting them.

Things are certainly changing in Burma, and not just for the LGBT community. On Monday, human rights icon Aung San Suu Kyi triumphantly led her MPs into parliament to begin their term as the country’s first democratically elected government for decades.

“The country is beginning to open up; there is a chance to have better human rights,” says Hla Myat Tun. “Human rights are LGBT rights. LGBT rights will never be left behind. We are all equal.”

Let us hope so.

Fingers crossed


File photo: Pacific Press/Rex Shutterstock | 16099ga

Gay rights organisations in India are holding vigils and demonstrations in the Indian capital today ahead of a supreme court ruling that could decriminalise homosexuality. The three most senior judges of the Indian supreme court in Delhi will rule on a previous judgment from 2013, which reinstated the colonial-era legislation that effectively outlawed gay sex.

Anjali Gopalan, executive director of an HIV/Aids advocacy organisation called the Naz Foundation who filed the petition to strike out the key laws, said decriminalisation was “the least that can be done. Section 377 is a remnant of our colonial past. Now even the UK has decriminalised it, so why should we hold on to it?”

Midsumma Nights Dream


Meredith O’Shea | The Age | 16095ga

The Australian Victorian state government will apologise for “shameful” historic laws that criminalised homosexuality in parliament in May, Premier Daniel Andrews said on Sunday. “Sending the strongest message that we are sorry,” he told reporters, while attending the Midsumma Pride March in Melbourne. “That that was a dark chapter in our state’s history and that we are better than that.”

Meanwhile official federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says a marriage equality bill would pass if it were presented in federal parliament this week. Mr Shorten called on the prime minister to go back to being the old Malcolm Turnbull who believed in marriage equality. About 95 per cent of Labor MPs, a sizeable number of Liberal MPs as well as the Greens and non-aligned members of parliament would all vote for gay marriage if they had the option, Mr Shorten told Midsumma.

US Veteran gets justice at last

An 82-year-old Ohio veteran has been granted honorable discharge more than six decades after he was “undesirably” discharged from the Army for being gay.

Donald Hallman appealed to the Army Review Board to change his discharge status in June, with the help of the organization Stonewall Columbus and U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown.

On Friday, Stonewall Columbus wrote on Facebook: “We are SO very proud to announce that Veteran Donald Hallman has received his honorable discharge after once being given an ‘undesirable’ discharge and removed from the Army in 1955.”

“Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” was repealed in 2010, but about 100,000 service members were dishonorably discharged due to their sexual orientation before the change was made. Dishonorable discharge results in reduced benefits.

“Dishonourable discharge”

Australia may have a gay marriage referendum


Malcolm Turnbull | Kym Smith/The Australian | 16089ga

Strewth!  Malcolm Turnbull, Australia’s prime minister gave a personal assurance on Friday that his government would legalize gay marriage if a majority of Australians choose marriage equality in a popular vote. Turnbull, who supports gay marriage, said his government would “absolutely” follow the result of the plebiscite. “If the majority of people voting in the plebiscite vote in favor of it, then same-sex marriage will be legalized,” Turnbull told a radio station today.

The center-right government has promised to hold a plebiscite on the gay marriage question if the government is re-elected in a vote due this year. The center-left opposition Labor Party supports gay marriage. But the ruling coalition is bitterly divided on the issue.

Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, a former Roman Catholic trainee priest who opposes gay marriage, had proposed last year that a plebiscite be held after the next election as a way to end the political in-fighting by effectively taking the decision out of lawmakers’ hands. There have only been three Federal plebiscites since the Australian government was formed in 1901. Two rejected conscription during World War I, and a third in 1977 replaced “God Save the Queen” with “Advance Australia Fair” as the national anthem. Their results are not binding on Australian governments.