Sources

A Brazil "Gay Cure" Law In Midst Of Nationwide Economic Protests

Gay Parade in Sao Paulo
Gay Parade in Sao Paulo
Marcio Falcao

BRASILIA - With an inflamatory speech, the president of the Brazilian Parliament’s Commission for Human Rights Marco Feliciano has warned the federal government not to interfere in the voting session for the proposed law known as “gay cure.”

Feliciano, who is the leader of an evangelical church, as well as a group of some 80 members of Parliament who abide by traditionalist Christian teachings, has been attempting to push through a law that would allow psychologists to be allowed to treat people with homosexuality — a law sarcastically dubbed “gay cure” by its opponents.

Feliciano denied that forcing a vote on the controversial proposition now was an attempt to provoke demonstrators of massive nationwide protests against economic conditions in the country. “We’ve been waiting for this to be voted on for two years now,” he said.

Marco Feliciano - Photo: Alexandra Martins / Câmara dos Deputados

Instead, the evangelical legislator said he was responding to Brazil’s Minister of Human Rights, Maria do Rosário, who promised to fight the project within the government. Earlier in the week, she said that the law would be a “step back considering that it does not acknowledge sexual diversity as a human right. Talking about cure is the same as talking about a disease.”

Feliciano said it was a “political game,” and that “the government always tried to block projects. It happens all the time.” He added: “I want to tell the minister to keep away from the Legislature, because it's too dangerous. She is dealing with all our group”.

Project

The project, authored by deputy João Campos, was born within the Lower House of Parliament. It nullifies two parts of the resolution written in 1999 by the Federal Council of Psychology. The first one states that “psychologists shall not collaborate in events or services offering treatment and cure for homosexuality.”

The second part says “psychologists will neither pronounce nor participate in public speeches, in the mass media, reinforcing social prejudice related to homosexuals as pursuing any kind of psychological disorder.”

Campos justifies the document by saying that the council restricted the work of professionals and the right to receive professional advice.

The vote is a victory for the evangelical group, who has been trying to push it since two years ago.

Feliciano argues the project does not consider homosexuality a disease, and criticizes the nickname “gay cure” used by the media and activists against it. He says that psychologists have the right to help patients who look for help concerning their sexuality.


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Society

What It Means When The Jews Of Germany No Longer Feel Safe

A neo-Nazi has been buried in the former grave of a Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender – not an oversight, but a deliberate provocation. This is just one more example of antisemitism on the rise in Germany, and society's inability to respond.

At a protest against antisemitism in Berlin

Eva Marie Kogel

-Essay-

BERLIN — If you want to check the state of your society, there's a simple test: as the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany, John Jay McCloy, said in 1949, the touchstone for a democracy is the well-being of Jews. This litmus test is still relevant today. And it seems Germany would not pass.


Incidents are piling up. Most recently, groups of neo-Nazis from across the country traveled to a church near Berlin for the funeral of a well-known far-right figure. He was buried in the former grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender, a gravesite chosen deliberately by the right-wing extremists.

The incident at the cemetery

They intentionally chose a Jewish grave as an act of provocation, trying to gain maximum publicity for this act of desecration. And the cemetery authorities at the graveyard in Stahnsdorf fell for it. The church issued an immediate apology, calling it a "terrible mistake" and saying they "must immediately see whether and what we can undo."

There are so many incidents that get little to no media attention.

It's unfathomable that this burial was allowed to take place at all, but now the cemetery authorities need to make a decision quickly about how to put things right. Otherwise, the grave may well become a pilgrimage site for Holocaust deniers and antisemites.

The incident has garnered attention in the international press and it will live long in the memory. Like the case of singer-songwriter Gil Ofarim, who recently claimed he was subjected to antisemitic abuse at a hotel in Leipzig. Details of the crime are still being investigated. But there are so many other incidents that get little to no media attention.

Photo of the grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

The grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

Jens Kalaene/dpa/ZUMA

Crimes against Jews are rising

Across all parts of society, antisemitism is on the rise. Until a few years ago, Jewish life was seen as an accepted part of German society. Since the attack on the synagogue in Halle in 2019, the picture has changed: it was a bitter reminder that right-wing terror against Jewish people has a long, unbroken history in Germany.

Stories have abounded about the coronavirus crisis being a Jewish conspiracy; meanwhile, Muslim antisemitism is becoming louder and more forceful. The anti-Israel boycott movement BDS rears its head in every debate on antisemitism, just as left-wing or post-colonial thinking are part of every discussion.

Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

Since 2015, the number of antisemitic crimes recorded has risen by about a third, to 2,350. But victims only report around 20% of cases. Some choose not to because they've had bad experiences with the police, others because they're afraid of the perpetrators, and still others because they just want to put it behind them. Victims clearly hold out little hope of useful reaction from the state – so crimes go unreported.

And the reality of Jewish life in Germany is a dark one. Sociologists say that Jewish children are living out their "identity under siege." What impact does it have on them when they can only go to nursery under police protection? Or when they hear Holocaust jokes at school?

Germany needs to take its antisemitism seriously

This shows that the country of commemorative services and "stumbling blocks" placed in sidewalks as a memorial to victims of the Nazis has lost its moral compass. To make it point true north again, antisemitism needs to be documented from the perspective of those affected, making it visible to the non-Jewish population. And Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

That is the first thing. The second is that we need to talk about specifically German forms of antisemitism. For example, the fact that in no other EU country are Jewish people so often confronted about the Israeli government's policies (according to a survey, 41% of German Jews have experienced this, while the EU average is 28%). Projecting the old antisemitism onto the state of Israel offers people a more comfortable target for their arguments.

Our society needs to have more conversations about antisemitism. The test of German democracy, as McCloy called it, starts with taking these concerns seriously and talking about them. We need to have these conversations because it affects all of us. It's about saving our democracy. Before it's too late.

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