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Russian lawmaker proposes free ‘ex-gay’ therapy

A senior Russian lawmaker wants to offer free psychotherapy to LGBT Russians.

Mikhail Degtyarev said he and members of the lower house of Parliament, known as the State Duma, are drafting a proposal to offer LGBT people anonymous, voluntary consultations with psychologists, psychiatrists and “sexologists” to help them “return to normal life and become heterosexuals, as are 95-99 percent of our citizens.”

Every major scientific and medical organization in the United States has determined that “ex-gay” therapy, sometimes called “conversion” or “reparative therapy,” is not only ineffective at turning gay people straight, but also seriously harmful to the mental and physical health of the person undergoing “treatment.” California and New Jersey have both passed laws barring licensed therapists from engaging in the practice with minors.

Given Russia’s harsh national ban on broadly defined “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations,” which imposes fines and possible jail time for anyone supporting or discussing LGBT identities in a format that might be visible to minors, Degtyarev’s bill could present an alternative to jail for those convicted of “propagandizing.” Amsterdam protests Russia

More than 1,000 gay-rights supporters protested antigay Russian laws last week in Amsterdam, waving rainbow flags and chanting slogans criticizing the Russian government.

The Aug. 25 protest was organized in response to a concert featuring a Russian state orchestra and choir that evening.

Speakers included Amsterdam Mayor Eberhard van der Laan, who spoke of the city’s longstanding tolerance for gay rights. Van der Laan declined to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin when he visited the Netherlands in March.

Protesters said their main focus was to oppose Russia’s new anti-LGBT propaganda law.

Cameroon rally targets suspected gay bars

More than 100 young men and women in Cameroon’s capital posted antigay signs on bars suspected of being gay-friendly during a rally organized amid mounting threats to LGBT residents.

The Aug. 21 rally called for stricter enforcement of antigay laws even though rights groups say the country already prosecutes more LGBT residents than any other in sub-Saharan Africa. Demonstrators also placed signs saying “Homosexuals Forbidden” and “No Gays in Cameroon” on school buildings.

Homosexual acts are punishable by up to five years in prison in Cameroon.

Last month, Cameroonian gay-rights activist Eric Ohena Lembembe was tortured and killed in an attack suspected to be related to his activism.

— compiled by Larry Nichols

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