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5 things to know for this week: Conversion therapy row heats up and horror in Ukraine

Patrick Kelleher April 4, 2022
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A view of devastation in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol under the control of Russian military and pro-Russian separatists, on April 4, 2022.

A view of devastation in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol under the control of Russian military and pro-Russian separatists, on April 4, 2022. (Leon Klein/Anadolu Agency via Getty)

LGBT+ rights are once again on the chopping block and the war continues to rage in Ukraine.

To kick off the week, here are five stories you need to know about right now.

1. The controversy surrounding the UK’s conversion therapy ban is likely to escalate

Boris Johnson U-turns on conversion therapy - but excludes trans people
Boris Johnson. (Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty)

There was a rush of anger from activists and LGBT+ allies on Thursday (31 March) when ITV News reported that the government was planning to scrap its much-discussed conversion therapy ban altogether.

In the face of mounting backlash, Boris Johnson did a sudden U-turn – according to ITV‘s Paul Brand, he will push ahead with a conversion therapy ban, but the practice will remain legal for trans people.

The LGBT+ community united in condemnation on Friday (1 April) as the news broke. Downing Street has not yet confirmed that it will permit trans conversion therapy, but it looks like the row will escalate this week.

Writing on Twitter on Monday morning (4 April), Paul Brand said: “Some major developments expected today in the row over conversion therapy. There has been lobbying both behind the scenes and in public over the weekend and I’m hearing it’s about to reach a head with some big public announcements from LGBT organisations. Worth watching today.”

2. Russian forces accused of ‘genocide’ in Ukraine

A Ukrainian serviceman walks near by the wreckage of a cargo aircraft amid the destruction at the military airport in the town of Hostomel, on the outskirts of Kyiv.
A Ukrainian serviceman walks near by the wreckage of a cargo aircraft amid the destruction at the military airport in the town of Hostomel, on the outskirts of Kyiv. (Narciso Contreras/Anadolu Agency via Getty)

In one of the darkest chapters since the Russian war on Ukraine began, mass graves were discovered near Kyiv over the weekend, with Ukrainian officials saying almost 300 bodies had been buried in them.

AFP saw at least 20 bodies on a single street and confirmed that they were wearing civilian clothing.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia was committing “genocide” while foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said it was a “deliberate massacre”.

Sadly, the war in Ukraine shows no signs of abating anytime soon. More than four million people have fled the country since Russia invaded, while 20,000 have been killed, according to Ukrainian officials.

3. ‘Don’t Say Gay’ battle

Ron DeSantis trans sport ban Florida
Florida governor Ron DeSantis. (Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty)

Queer people across the world watched in horror as Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill was signed into law by governor Ron DeSantis on Monday 28 March. One week on, the outlook is looking even worse for America’s LGBT+ community.

The “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which bans the discussion of LGBT+ topics in classrooms from kindergarten to third grade, is currently being challenged in the courts by LGBT+ students and families in Florida, alongside local LGBT+ rights groups.

Sadly, the challenge could already be doomed to failure. US District Judge Allen Winsor, who fought to make sure same-sex marriage remained illegal in Florida, will preside over the case.

Meanwhile, Georgia congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene said she wanted to introduce a federal version of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, indicating that attacks on the LGBT+ community aren’t likely to stop any time soon.

4. Crushing defeat for Hungary’s LGBT+ community as Viktor Orbán wins re-election

Hungary's anti-LGBT+ prime minister Viktor Orban
The referendum was proposed by Hungary’s anti-LGBT+ prime minister Viktor Orban. (AFP via Getty/ ATTILA KISBENEDEK)

There was some hope among Hungary’s LGBT+ community ahead of Sunday’s elections (3 April) that prime minister Viktor Orbán’s campaign of hate would be consigned to the past.

Sadly, it wasn’t to be. Orbán’s Fidesz party secured a two-thirds majority in parliament and Orbán has won a fourth consecutive term.

The result is heartbreaking for Hungary’s LGBT+ community. In June 2021 Orbán’s government banned discussion of LGBT+ people in schools and in the media.

Speaking to PinkNews ahead of the election, Zita Hrubi, organiser with Budapest Pride, said: “We fear that maybe more and more of these type of laws can come.

“I fear that the situation will get worse and worse if Orbán wins again.”

5. The Grammys are likely to continue dominating headlines for the wrong reasons

Louis CK performing in 2016.
Louis CK performing in 2016. (Kevin Mazur/Getty)

The Grammys, which went ahead on Sunday night (3 April) in Las Vegas, gave us plenty of meme-able moments, from Lady Gaga to Lil Nas X – but one moment in particular is standing out for all the wrong reasons.

Louis CK, the disgraced comedian who admitted to exposing himself and masturbating in front of women without their consent, won Best Comedy Album at the awards.

His victory has led to intense discussion on social media, with many pointing out that “cancel culture” clearly doesn’t really exist. If it did, Louis CK wouldn’t be winning awards at the Grammys.

Countless comedians and cultural figures shared their disappointment at the news on social media, including Feel Good star Mae Martin.

“Can’t think of a joke about this, because it’s not funny to me at the moment,” Martin wrote on Twitter. “I’m sorry to the young comics he assaulted, who lost so much and have to see this headline today/everyone who’s had a similar experience because of a spineless response from our community to assault.”

More: conversion therapy ban, don't say gay bill, Grammys, Russia Ukraine war

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