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Germany Bans Gay Conversion Therapy for Minors

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  • Germany’s parliament approved a new law Thursday that bans the practice and advertisement of so-called gay “conversion therapy” for minors. 
  • Parents or guardians who force children to undergo the practice through deception, coercion, or threats can also face punishments. 
  • Violators could be hit with a fine of up to 30,000 euros (about $33,000) or face imprisonment for up to one year. 
  • Though it has received much praise, some have criticized the bill, saying that it fails to protect young adults between the ages of 18 and 26.

Law Passed 

Germany has become the latest country to ban gay “conversion therapy” for those below the age of 18. 

In December of last year, Germany’s Cabinet backed a bill banning the widely discredited practice, which aims to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The country’s parliament then voted Thursday to pass the legislation as well. 

Along with a ban on the practice against minors, the legislation also prohibits advertisements for it. Parents and legal guardians can even be punished for making children take part through deception, coercion, or threats.

Violators could be hit with a fine of up to 30,000 euros ($33,000) or face imprisonment for up to one year. 

Punishments for those who coerce minors into the practice are major. A 2019 survey by OutRight Action International, a global human rights organization, found that a third of people around the globe who have undergone conversion therapy chose to do it for themselves, while two-thirds were coerced.

Lawmakers Push for the Ban 

Conversion therapy practices can sometimes include hypnosis and electric shocks, but experts say the word ‘therapy’ is misleading because there is no scientific basis for it. In fact, conversion therapy has been associated with suicidal ideation and attempts, as well as drug abuse and depression.

Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn, the Christian Democrat party’s most prominent gay politician, said in a statement, “Homosexuality is not a disease. Therefore the name therapy alone is misleading,”

“This so-called therapy makes people sick and not better. The ban is also an important signal from society to all those who are unsure about their homosexuality: It is okay to be the way you are,” he added.

Criticism of Bill’s Age Restriction  

While the bill has been widely applauded, some argue that it does no go far enough. 

A few members of Germany’s left-wing opposition refused to support the measure because it included just minors under the age of 18. Instead, they hoped the bill would use the traditional societal category of “youth,” which extends to persons 26 or younger. 

Gabriela Lünsmann of Germany’s Lesbian and Gay Association (LSVD) is one who agreed that the age limit should be raised. She also objected to the inclusion of the phrase “treatment performed on humans,” which she and her organization said “has a positive connotation and suggests a promise of healing and an achievable treatment goal.”

But Spahn defended the ban ahead of the vote in the Bundestag, saying he wanted a law that could easily withstand legal challenges.

I want a ban which will be robust, including if it’s brought before the courts,” he said. 

He did not give other specifics about the reason for these age limits, but under German law, it’s easier to protect minors. Legal justifications became more tricky for adults when freedom of speech and conscience laws are taken into account. 

“Young people are being forced into conversion therapies,” Spahn explained, “and so it is very important that they should find support in the existence of this law: a clear signal that the state does not want this to happen.”

Germany is now the fifth nation to pass such a ban, following decisions from Malta, Ecuador, Brazil, and Taiwan, according to OutRight Action International. In the U.S. about 20 states and several cities have banned the practice for minors. Some members of Congress have even pushed for the ban to be established on a federal level. 

“So-called conversion therapy efforts are based on the belief that cis-gender heterosexuality is the norm, and transgender identities and same-sex attraction not only fall outside the norm, but have to be changed, if need be by brutal, inhuman force,” the group’s executive director Jessica Stern said in a statement. 

“The German Bundestag took an incredibly important step today – by banning ‘conversion therapy’ it sent a powerful message that LGBTIQ people are not in need of change or cure.”

 See what others are saying: (CNN) (BBC) (DW

International

American Influencer Kristen Gray To Be Deported From Bali

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  • In a viral Twitter thread, influencer Kristen Gray encouraged people to move to Bali like she did while promoting her eBook and other resources on how to do so amid COVID-19 restrictions.
  • Many criticized her for encouraging an influx of travelers during the pandemic. She also sparked conversations about gentrification and was slammed for falsely characterizing Indonesia as queer-friendly.
  • The local government promised to deport her Tuesday, arguing that selling her book and offering paid consultations on traveling to Bali violated the purpose of her visitor stay permit. They also say she was “spreading information that could unsettle the public.”
  • “I am not guilty. I have not overstayed my visa. I have not made money in Indonesian rupiah in Indonesia,” Gray told reporters. “I put out a statement about LGBT and I am being deported because of LGBT.”

Kristen Gray Goes Viral

Officials in Indonesia said Tuesday that they will deport Kristen Gray, an American influencer who has caused international outrage in the last week.

Gray moved to Bali with her girlfriend in 2019 with plans to stay for six months. In reality, the couple ended up staying much longer because of the coronavirus pandemic, and in a viral Twitter thread, Gray shared how positive their experience has been.

Gray pointed to several benefits of moving to Bali in her posts, like its safety, low cost of living, luxury lifestyle, as well as its queer-friendly and Black communities.

She also encouraged others to make the same move and promoted their $30 eBook “Our Bali Life Is Yours” for tips on how to do it. “We include direct links to our visa agents and how to go about getting to Indonesia during COVID,” she even wrote in one post.

Backlash

The thread sparked outrage for encouraging an influx of travelers to a country that has closed its borders over the worsening pandemic. On top of that, it sparked conversations about the gentrification of neighborhoods there.

Bali is a major tourist destination for Americans, Europeans, and Australians in particular, and like areas all over the world, it has suffered from the loss in visitors this year.

However, many online noted that locals have been steadily priced out of certain areas of the island as foreigners open businesses to cater to tourists. Others argue that poorly regulated development is also destroying industries that Balinese people have historically relied on.

Aside from those criticisms, many people also took issue with Gray characterizing Bali as a queer-friendly when the reality for locals is far different.

“It well may be the case for you. However, please recognize that it is because a) you’re a foreigner and b) you have economic leverage since the Indonesian local community is financially dependent on keeping you happy so they don’t mess with you,” a user named Kai Mata said in a viral TikTok.

“Please realize for the rest of us Indonesians on the island, this is not a queer-friendly place. Our gay communities are often shut down and raided by authorities and Indonesia at large has tried to mandate conversion therapy for us the LGBTQ+ Community.

Government Responds

The local government responded to the public outrage over Gray’s thread Tuesday. In a statement, it said selling her book and also offering paid consultations on traveling to Bali violated the purpose of her visitor stay permit, which was valid until January 24.

Gray was also accused of “spreading information that could unsettle the public” by saying Bali is queer-friendly and suggesting foreigners travel there during the pandemic.

According to Reuters, she was being held at an immigration detention facility Tuesday and was to be deported as soon as a flight was available.

In a brief statement to the Balinese press, Gray defended herself. “I am not guilty. I have not overstayed my visa. I have not made money in Indonesian rupiah in Indonesia. I put out a statement about LGBT and I am being deported because of LGBT,” she explained.

Many of her fans believe her and also argue that she is seeing this level of criticism because she is a Black woman.

See what others are saying: (New York Times) (Reuters) (Vulture)

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International

Petition Calls for Ban on Sexualized Fanfiction in South Korea

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  • A petition circulating across South Korea calls for sexualized fanfiction depicting K-pop stars and other real people to be outlawed and classified as sex crimes.
  • The petition particularly focuses on the way male stars are depicted in same-sex relationships and argues that they often feature people who are minors.
  • A similar petition was submitted last week to President Moon Jae-in; however, it focused on deep fakes. Because both petitions have over 200,000 signatures, they will need to be addressed by President Moon.

K-Pop Fanfiction Causes Chaos

A petition began circulating across South Korea this week demanding that “real person slash” fanfiction works be outlawed and charged as sex crimes.

“Real person slash” refers to a specific form of fanfiction that most often features sexualized versions of K-pop stars and other real people.

In particular, the petition focuses on the way male stars are depicted in same-sex relationships and the age of some of the people being portrayed. The petition notes, “due to the nature of the profession of idols, whose average age is young, many of the victims are still minors or children.”

The petition was submitted to the Blue House, South Korea’s version of the White House, and currently has over 200,000 signatures. It received a big boost in attention after K-pop star Nancy, from the group Momoland, was secretly filmed by a member of her agency while she was changing backstage. This person then doctored some of the images and uploaded them online.

While Nancy’s case isn’t hand-drawn fanfic, it did fuel outrage at what’s seen as an ineffective approach towards sex crimes in the country. Signers of this petition believe that these fanfics fall into the same category of likely illegality as deep fakes.

Deep Fakes Also Being Targeted

Additionally, just last week deep fakes – which often feature k-pop stars – had its own petition submitted to the president last week with over 300,000 signatures.

Because both petitions have over 200,000 signatures, they will need to be addressed by President Moon Jae-in

For years South Korea has struggled with secret cameras, deep fakes, revenge porn, and more violent sex crimes, such as the infamous Nth Room case that saw certain stars filming themselves having sex with women against their consent.

See What Others Are Saying: (CNA) (The Korea Herald) (South China Morning Post)

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Italy Begins Largest Mob Trial in Decades

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  • Italian prosecutors have started their trial against more than 320 defendants linked to the  ‘Ndrangheta crime syndicate.
  • The charges range from murder and drug trafficking to extortion and money laundering.
  • The case is so large, high-profile, and potentially dangerous that the government built a bunker for the event in Calabria, the home territory of the ‘Ndrangheta.
  • Details uncovered could deliver a massive blow to organized crime in Italy and potentially across the world as the ‘Ndrangheta has major dealings in Europe, Australia, and the Americas.

Hundreds of ‘Ndranghetisti Facing Charges

A major mob trial kicked off in Italy Wednesday involving more than 320 defendants who are part of or associated with the ‘Ndrangheta crime syndicate.

In addition to these defendants going on trial, 90 others have elected for a fast-tracked trial elsewhere in Calabria.

While this is a massive affair, it’s still not the country’s largest mob-related trial in history. That happened in the ’80s against the Cosa Nostra from Sicily.

The trial is so high-profile and potentially dangerous that the government built a bunker for the event in Calabria, close to the home territory of the ‘Ndrangheta.

The court is looking at many charges against the defendants, including extortion, drug and arms trafficking, money laundering, and Mafia association – a term used in Italy’s penal code for members of organized crime.

Breaking Into the Family

Investigators hope that the trial will show just how entrenched organized crime is in the territory, as it’s believed that the ‘Ndrangheta has dealings with local politicians and businessmen. These dealings are believed to not only stem from their illicit activities but also from their legitimate businesses that were initially funded via crime-related funds. Either way, the trial is seen as a major blow for the group.

The organization is made up of multiple groups of tight-knight families that are all interconnected. For years investigators have tried to get more information on the group but following the arrest and prosecution of Luigi Mancuso, a boss in the ‘Ndrangheta, investigators finally had a way to look more closely at 12 families who make up part of the ‘Ndrangheta.

During their investigation police and prosecutors managed to turn some members of those families and use them as informants. They are expected to take the stand as witnesses during the trial. In total, prosecutors hope to put bring out over 900 witnesses.

If successful, this could be a massive blow to organized crime in Italy and potentially across the world as the ‘Ndrangheta has major dealing in Europe, Australia, and the Americas.

See What Others Are Saying: (ABC News) (LA Times) (Chicago Tribune)

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