Russia’s “Section 28” strikes again

Human Rights Watch report that Roskomnadzor, Russia’s federal agency responsible for overseeing online and media content, took steps against ParniPlus, a website raising awareness about Russia’s HIV epidemic among men who have sex with men.

There have now been at least eight cases of censorship under Russia’s 2013 federal “gay propaganda” law. It effectively stops any public discussion of positive information about “non-traditional sexual relations”.

Russia has banned “gay propaganda” to supposedly protect the intellectual, moral, and mental well-being of children.


Australia’s attempts to cure us of homosexuality



It’s pronounced metrosexual | 18313

Not six months after Australia voted to legalise same-sex marriage, a proposal to debate gay conversion therapies at the Liberal Party’s State Council was quashed by party president, Michael Kroger. Australia has long used gay conversion therapies to control homosexuality.

New South Wales Police Commissioner Colin Delaney, claimed in 1958 that homosexuality was “Australia’s greatest menace”. Homosexuals convicted for consenting sexual acts with other adult men were segregated and medicalised within the prison system.

Sydney-based Dr Neil McConaghy used conversion therapy during the 1960s and 1970s with what Michael Kirby has described as “the most energetic attempts”. Leading LGBTIQ figures of the time including Sue Wills and John Ware protested against the dangers of this therapy, and said it was a key motivation for their activism.

McConaghy’s practices included apomorphine therapy. This involved the injection of up to 6 mg of the morphine derivative to induce severe nausea when patients were shown photographs of men. He also required patients to read pleasurable words on homosexuality aloud, after which he applied electrical shocks to them.

There is still no scientific or medical evidence which supports or validates the use of conversion therapies. Hhomosexuality was removed as a disease from the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 1987.

Gay farmers coming a cropper

BBC | r

The BBC’s Countryfile program has featured gay farmers. They visited a farmer called Frank who lived with the secret of being gay for more than 40 years.

We learn that many farmers struggle to come out as gay in their very masculine industry. Many farmers lead an isolated working life and find themselves under pressure to find a wife and take on the family farm when their parents retire.

The programme reported that farmers are more likely to commit suicide than most other professions due to economic pressures, seasonal weather conditions and loneliness making them more at risk of suffering depression. One in four gay farmers have attempted to take their lives at some point in their lives.

“George”, a 29-year-old farmer from Northern Ireland who hasn’t yet been able to publicly come out as gay, said:

“Being gay is not something I can tell my parents, they believe that having feelings towards men is wrong […] I was raised to believe that someday I would find a girl, get married and have children and carry on farming our family land. Many times I mentally broke down on my own and wanted and prayed it would be fixed. Suicide is something I’ve had dwelling in my innermost thoughts – it was a potential way out.”

Gay Farmer Helpline: 07837 931894

You soon won’t be able to do that either

Selling or advertising gay conversion therapy may soon be classified as a fraudulent business practice in California under a bill passed Thursday by the state Assembly.

Conversion therapy, the practice of trying to change someone’s sexual orientation, has been shown to be ineffective, said Assemblyman Evan Low, who wrote the bill that now heads to the state Senate.

Low, who leads the Legislature’s LGBT caucus, said the therapy is harmful and those who are defrauded by people advertising or selling the therapy should have legal recourse.

“This is a very personal issue to me. This notion that we would accept as a legal practice that conversion therapy works is antithetical to my very existence in this body.”

Women getting poor deal from HIV services

The Terence Higgins Trust says that omen’s HIV is not being treated early enough, because campaigns are too focused on gay men.

They say that almost half of women with HIV thought they had been diagnosed late. A late diagnosis could mean a shorter life and worse health outcomes.

Experts interviewed by the charity “felt that overall there had been a disproportionate focus on men who have sex with men in the HIV response with one stakeholder suggesting that the sector had ‘taken its eye off the ball’ when it came to HIV and women”, the report said.

28,479 women in the UK were receiving care for HIV in 2016, representing about a third of the total.

Robert Leopold Spitzer



Robert Spitzer | 15512

Robert Leopold Spitzer, an influential psychiatrist who played a defining role in creating agreed-upon standards to describe mental disorders, died on Friday 25 December 2015 in Seattle. He is credited with helping to stop homosexuality being regarded as a pathological condition.

Mr Spitzer died from complications related to heart disease and Parkinson’s disease. He was born on May 22, 1932, in White Plains, New York. He was 83.

In the early 1970s, Spitzer met with gay-rights activists and determined that homosexuality could not be called a disorder if homosexuals were comfortable with their sexuality. At the American Psychological Conference in 1973, he pushed for the association to drop homosexuality as a medical disorder from its manual. It became a major turning point for the gay rights movement.

“A medical disorder either had to be associated with subjective distress — pain — or general impairment in social function,” he told the Washington Post, explaining his reasoning. Since gay people were comfortable and happy being gay, and functioned like everyone else in their daily lives, they did not suffer from any disorder.

In 2001, after two years of interviews with 200 ‘ex-gay’ men and women who had been through sexual reorientation therapy, he courted controversy when he concluded that gay people can turn straight if they really wanted to, but in 2012 he publicly said that he wanted to redact that paper, because the study was flawed.

Some gay rights activists attribute the U.S. Supreme Court’s judgment allowing gay marriages in 2015 partially to the work done by Mr Spitzer.


The origin of AIDS in the 1920s



Kinshasa in the 1950s | Getty | 14038

A team at the University of Oxford and the University of Leuven, in Belgium, tried to reconstruct HIV’s “family tree” and find out where its oldest ancestors came from by analysing mutations in HIV’s genetic code. They found that the HIV virus originated in the 1920s in the city of Kinshasa, in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo, and was then called Leopoldville.

Prof Oliver Pybus said: “It was a very large and very rapidly growing area and colonial medical records show there was a high incidence of various sexually transmitted diseases.” Large numbers of male labourers were drawn to the city, distorting the gender balance until men outnumbered women two to one, eventually leading to a roaring sex trade…. “Public health campaigns to treat people for various infectious diseases with injections seem a plausible route [for spreading the virus].

“The second really interesting aspect is the transport networks that enabled people to move round a huge country. Around one million people were using Kinshasa’s railways by the end of the 1940s. The virus spread, with neighbouring Brazzaville and the mining province, Katanga, rapidly hit.