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National and World Briefs

Conversion therapy, “Nein!”

Germany has banned gay conversion therapy for anyone under 18 years old and for adults who have been forced, threatened, or deceived to undergo treatment. A growing number of countries are starting to enact legislation regarding the controversial practice. The Germans put teeth in the law with fines of €30,000 (US$32,500) or up to one-year jail for lawbreakers. Germany is the fifth country to ban conversion therapy. In the United States, 19 states, including Utah, have banned the practice but there is no nationwide ban.

HRC a big fat yes to Biden

It was no surprise that HRC would endorse the Democrat presidential nominee, so to make it interesting, the LGBT fundraising organization chose May 6 as the day to endorse it. Why then? It’s the anniversary of the day in 2012 when then Vice President Joe Biden declared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he supported the legalization of same-sex marriage. He, “got over his skis a little bit,” according to his boss, President Barack Obama, who endorsed marriage equality later in 2012 after a career of voting against it in the Illinois Legislature and non-support in his first election bid in 2008.

Seigfried Loses Roy

One of the first committed same-sex relationships many people saw and appreciated was the couple who did magic tricks with lions and tigers in Las Vegas. That was, of course, Seigfried and Roy. Sadly, Roy Horn, half of the illusionist duo Siegfried & Roy, died in Las Vegas from COVID-19 complications. He leaves behind his partner in life and work, Siegfried Fischbacher. The two German entertainers were brought to prominence by Princess Grace (you know, Grace Kelly) of Monaco in 1966. They performed to packed houses in Las Vegas for 35 years until Roy was attacked during a performance by one of the performing tigers. He never fully recovered from the attack.

The Seoul Closet relaunches COVID-19

If we needed more proof that the closet kills and stigma is a dangerous thing, a recent coronavirus outbreak in Seoul, South Korea provides it. A local man with no symptoms of  COVID-19 went out to several gay bars and unknowingly spread the virus. He visited two convenience stores and five bars and nightclubs in Itaewon, a “party” district in Seoul. He may have exposed as many as 1,500 people. During the first outbreak health officials widely disclosed details on diagnosed patients via cell phone alerts, including patients’ gender, age, location, and workplace. This was the first infection in South Korea in several days after the lockdown had been suspended. While homosexuality is not illegal, it is still stigmatized. Since the contacts feared societal and legal repercussions many contacts’ names and telephone numbers turned out to be false.

Strange bedfellows

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has not been a particular friend of the gay and lesbian community. He urged states to ignore the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling on marriage equality and supported the Kentucky County Clerk who refused to issue licenses to same-sex couples. So, it is surprising that Cruz has taken up the cause of anti-gay censorship — and not on the side of the censors. He criticized the U.S. entertainment industry for allowing China to censor its films for LGBTQ content. He cited Bohemian Rhapsody, the Oscar-winning biopic of Freddie Mercury, which was edited to obscure Mercury’s bisexuality to suit Chinese government censors. In a blatant act of bi-erasure, Cruz said, “Hollywood was more than happy to edit the scene out because the Chinese government didn’t want to acknowledge that Freddie Mercury was homosexual. Look, that’s a huge part of the story!” Cruz said.

Gay weathermen

What is it about the weather in Minnesota that requires a gay man to explain it on TV? KARE 11 in the Twin Cities market (St Paul and Minneapolis) had two gay men talking about the weather. Until recently. The network abruptly fired gay meteorologist Sven Sundgaard, who had been with the network for 14 years, for reposting a Minneapolis Rabbi’s social media post that compared those protesting coronavirus-spurred public health restrictions around the U.S to “white nationalist Nazi sympathizer, gun fetishist miscreants.” The station didn’t like that. Then the station’s other weatherman who is also gay, Jason Disharoon, announced he was leaving for a new job.

Cold case heats up

More than 30 years after American mathematician Scott Johnson died after falling off a cliff in Sydney, a man has been charged with his death after police changed the case from suicide to a hate crime. The status change came in a revaluation of nearly 88 murders of gay men during the time this murder took place. At the time, police were more interested in closing the cases of murders of gay men and ruled them suicides, after cursory investigations. The suspect met Johnson at a hotel and they went together to the site of the murder, a “gay meeting place” near the beach. The suspect says he panicked when the victim removed his clothes and the suspect “punched him”, causing Johnson to fall off the cliff. New South Wales state police said Tuesday that a 49-year-old man who was 18 years old at the time been charged with the 1988 murder. 

Tent hospital closed; mouth opened up

Samaritan’s Purse organization has dismantled its field hospital for COVID-19 patients in New York City. Instead of graciously folding its tent and leaving the city after doing a good deed, Franklin Graham, the chair of Billy Graham Ministry and sponsor of Samaritan’s Purse, defended his anti-marriage equality views in the New York Times. He claimed that most New Yorkers share his disdain for marriage equality. Some may, but a 2017 poll by Public Religion Research Institute showed 69 percent of New Yorkers supporting marriage equality. In 2011, the state became the sixth state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage. SP’s partner, Mount Sinai Health System, closed the facility due to decreased demand. Both Mount Sinai and Franklin stated that no one was denied treatment at the facility or volunteers were turned away because of Franklin’s religious views.

Karma’s a winning candidate

Charmaine McGuffey, a former Hamilton County (Cincinnati, Ohio) deputy sheriff, defeated Sheriff Jim Neil by winning nearly 70 percent of the vote. Earlier he fired her, saying she caused a hostile work environment by criticizing “officer use of force.” She says he fired her because she is a lesbian (something she happily admits) and is suing the county in federal court. She will face a Republican in November and would be the first elected LGBTQ Ohio sheriff. She was endorsed by the LGBTQ Victory Fund.

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