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LGBTQ News Roundup – 18th February 2022

New Zealand bans conversion therapy

The New Zealand parliament voted overwhelmingly to ban conversion therapy this week. The bill passed with 112 votes in favour including all those from Labour, Act, The Green Party, and Te Pāti Māori. Eight National Party MPs opposed the bill. Under the new law, it will be an office to perform conversion practices on a child or young person aged under 18, or someone with impaired decision-making capacity. Such offences would be subject to up to three years imprisonment, and up to five years where it has caused serious harm, irrespective of age. The Attorney-General needs to give consent for those procedures. 


Kuwait overturns law criminalising ‘imitation of opposite sex’

Kuwait’s constitutional court has overturned a law that criminalised “imitation of the opposite sex” and was used to prosecute transgender people. The Gulf state’s parliament amended Article 198 of the penal code in 2002 to make the offence punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine. But this week’s court ruling said the amendment violated the constitution. Upon the ruling, Amnesty International called for the release of Maha al-Mutairi (pictured), a 40-year-old transgender woman who was jailed and fined under the law. Kuwait’s penal code still criminalises sexual relations outside marriage and punishes consensual same-sex relations between men by up to seven years in prison. 


Chinese streaming sites accused of censoring LGBT content from Friends sitcom

The US sitcom Friends was re-released in China this week on Tencent, Bilibili, Sohu, iQiyi, and Youku. But Chinese fans have complained of scenes being deleted, including those that reference a lesbian character, and another featuring a same-sex kiss. Incorrect subtitles were also used to downplay sexual references. Friends has a massive following in China, and has helped many young Chinese learn English. 


Equality and Human Rights Commission in UK rejects criticism from LGBTQ groups 

The CEO of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has defended his organisation against the criticisms of various LGBTQ organisations in the UK. More than 20 such organisations including Stonewall wrote to the UN claiming the EHRC has worked to removed legal protections for the transgender community in Britain after it said it would review plans to change the law on gender recognition in Scotland. The various organisations told the UN that the EHRC should be stripped of its status as an impartial body, with Stonewall describing the EHRC’s statement as an attack on trans equality. But EHRC chief executive Marcial Boo defended the track record and said: “Stonewall and other critics are aiming at the wrong target. The EHRC has the power to prosecute people and companies that discriminate against trans people. We have done so.”


Russia fails to shut down prominent LGBTQ rights group 

The Russian government has made an unsuccessful attempt to shut down one of the country’s largest and most prominent LGBTQ rights groups, but human rights activists say there are likely more attempts on the horizon. A court in St. Petersburg sideline a lawsuit that had been filed by Russia’s Justice Ministry this week. The suit accursed the Russian LGBT Network of spreading “KGBT views” and engaging in activities that go against “traditional values.” Tanya Lokshina, associate director of Human Rights Watch’s Europe and Central Asia division, said she expects Russian officials to ask the court to reconsider the case. 

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