Gay Lawyers' Weekly Digest

Boy Erased – A Powerful Reminder of How Much there is to be done to Educate on Diversity

Garrard Conley’s book and soon to be released film presents a harrowing picture of the experiences he was forced to endure by his misguided Baptist preacher father and his mother, which they believed would “cure” him of the sin of homosexuality.   Garrard’s family was based in the Bible belt of Deep South of America in Arkansas.  When his parents were made aware of his sexuality they packed him off to a 12-step “therapy” programme that they truly believed would change him from gay to straight and remove his sinful impure thoughts from his mind allowing him to have a “normal” life.

The two weeks intense programme, which was heavily focused on the Bible and the six months of one-to-one “therapy”, left him believing he was possessed by demons and teetering on the brink of suicide.  The practices of the programme were a heavily guarded secret with strong directives not to talk about them. Eventually, he was removed from the Gay Conversion Therapy when his well-meaning mother began to have her suspicions and started asking questions but not before damage had been done.

Garrard’s testimony is a reminder amongst the ever-expanding Pride events, anti-discrimination laws and expanding recognition of gay marriage, there are still those trapped in the dark ages, even in highly sophisticated first world countries.


Canada gives the Option of erasing the Criminal Records of those people convicted of Homosexual Acts

Canadians who have been convicted of three types of homosexual acts can now apply, free of charge, to have their records erased.  Previously the prime minster, Justin Trudeax, made an apology to the LGBT community who faced discrimination in the military and in public service.  He vowed to fight for them on more than one front, notably the ability to donate blood and join the military without fear of discrimination. 

Good news though this is, there are some critical voices who feel that the convictions which came about through the bathhouse raids should also be included as they say that gay men were particularly targeted.

The erasure of the criminal records is free of charge and simply requires an individual to apply to the Parole Board of Canada.


The Tunisian President considers decriminalising Homosexuality

Mr. Essebsi, the Tunisian president, has received a report from the newly formed Individual Freedoms and Equality Committee, (COLIBE) outlining a number of recommendations for law reforms which are aimed at promoting individual freedoms and equality in Tunisia.  The report highlights Tunisia’s Article 230 of the Penal Code which criminalises gay sex and recommends that it should be scrapped.   The report states “The state and society have nothing to do with the sexual life amongst adults … sexual orientations and choices of individuals are essential to private life,” and further comments

“Therefore the commission recommends cancelling [article 230], since it violates the self-evident private life, and because it has brought criticism to the Republic of Tunisia from international human rights bodies.”  Mr. Essebsi will now be obliged to consider the recommendation.  Should he decide not to act on the recommendation the COLIBE has a fall-back position that of considerably reducing the punishment meted out to those convicted of gay sexual offences.


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