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Chinese court rules against conversion therapy clinic
Chongqing, China--The Haidian District People’s Court on December 19 ordered a clinic that gave a man electroconvulsive therapy to change his sexual orientation to pay him reparations.
The court’s ruling against the Xinyupiaoxiang Counseling Center noted that being gay is not a mental illness, and ordered the facility to pay Yang Teng 3,400 renminbi, the equivalent of $560, for its costs, and also ordered Chinese internet search engine Baidu to remove the clinic’s advertisement, which led the plaintiff to the clinic.
Yang filed his suit in March, assisted by the Beijing LGBT Center. He had gone to the clinic the month before, after his parents, learning of his sexual orientation, pressured him to become heterosexual.
Anti-gay discrimination still exists in China, despite decriminalization in 1997 and the removal of homosexuality from the list of mental illnesses in 2001.
Baidu has already removed the clinic’s advertisements, and will be on the lookout for other such ads in the future, according to spokesman Kaiser Kuo.
“We’ll be very vigilant in the future about advertisements for false treatments for ‘gay therapy,’ ” he told the New York Times. “We sincerely hope Yang Teng finds some solace in the court’s decision.”
Egypt cracks down on gay community
Cairo--After a police raid on a bathhouse earlier this month, arresting over two dozen men, LGBT activists are concerned over a “full-on crackdown.”
While homosexuality is not illegal in Egypt, police and prosecutors use laws against prostitution and debauchery to arrest and try gay men.
The administration of former president Hosni Mubarak raided gay haunts in the early 2000s, and the current administration of Pres. Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, who seized power last year, is mirroring those days.
During the Arab Spring, there was hope among the LGBT community in Egypt that the 2011 ouster of Mubarak would see the conservative society open up. However, the Islamic Brotherhood was first elected to power, then replaced in a military coup by al-Sissi. Neither instituted the reforms that people hoped for.
“After the revolution, there was this intense feeling of euphoria,” an LGBT activist told the New York Times, speaking on condition of anonymity. “People began to embrace each other and began to feel at least partially accepted.”
Part of the reason for the crackdown is the view that gay men are not properly upholding the traditional Egyptian Muslim ideals of manhood.
Germany must recognize parents of children born through surrogacy
Karlsruhe, Germany--The German high court on December 19 released a ruling that weakens the country’s laws against surrogate parenting.
While it is still illegal for a woman to surrogate in the country, couples who go abroad to have a child borne by a surrogate mother must be recognized as the child’s parents by the government.
The case specifically revolved around two gay men who went to California and had a child through a surrogate in 2010. The authorities in California listed the two men as the baby’s parents, but the German authorities refused to do so, unconvinced the baby was theirs, despite living with them in Berlin for almost four years.
German law does not release a surrogate from being a baby’s legal mother.
According to Deutsche Welle, the court said that foreign authorities’ decisions must be accepted as “part of a child’s welfare to be able to rely on the parents to have continuous responsibility for its well-being.”
While Germany does not allow same-sex couples to adopt, gay men have been allowed to legally adopt their spouses’ children from earlier relationships.
Prominent LGBT activist killed in Caracas carjacking
Caracas, Venezuela--Giniveth Soto, whose fight to have her Argentinian marriage recognized in Venezuela made her famous throughout the Latin American LGBT demimonde, was killed on December 15 after resisting an attempt to steal the taxi cab she was driving.
Soto was a psychologist who was working as a cab driver to make extra money to support her wife and baby son. She donated the ovum, and after it was fertilized, it was implanted into her wife Miranda Soto, so the baby would be close to both of them.
They were married in 2013 in Argentina, and Miranda gave birth earlier this year.
The Sotos have been fighting a losing battle to force the Venezuelan government to acknowledge their marriage, and to register the couple both as parents to their son.
No new anti-gay law under Ugandans’ Christmas trees
Kampala, Uganda--Despite the desire of some lawmakers to pass a draconian anti-gay measure again as a “Christmas present” to the Ugandan people, parliament adjourned on December 19 without voting on the bill.
The law, which would call for life sentences for “habitual” homosexuals and other offenses, was struck by the nation’s high court in August on a technicality: the parliament did not have a proper quorum when the vote on the earlier bill was taken.
President Yoweri Museveni, who supported the original bill, has come out against the new, identical one, pointing out that it could hurt relationships and trade with Western nations, which would hurt Uganda.
Lawmakers could still vote on it when they come back into session in February, and his promise of a veto could ring hollow if he is forced to support the bill or risk the backing of his supporters for a fifth run for president in 2016. It is believed that Museveni is likely to try to stall motion on the bill until at least after the election.