Box Turtle Bulletin

Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
This article can be found at:
Latest Posts

Posts for April, 2010

Canadian social workers condemn Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Timothy Kincaid

April 6th, 2010

Canadian Association of Social Work
Condemns the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda

The Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) strongly condemns the Anti-Homosexuality Bill currently before the Ugandan Parliament and firmly rejects the position taken by the National Association of Social Workers of Uganda (NASWU) to support the bill.

CASW condemns any move that perpetuates and advances positions on homosexuality that run contrary to the principles and values of the social work profession and international conventions and treaties. Specifically, social workers do not tolerate discrimination based on age, abilities, ethnic background, gender, language, marital status, national ancestry, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation or socio-economic status.

“CASW cannot go far enough in condemning these actions,” said CASW President Darlene MacDonald. “Upholding basic human rights is not an option for social workers, but rather an ethical responsibility. The CASW Code of Ethics commits social workers to upholding human rights as enshrined in Canadian law as well as to international conventions on human rights created or supported by the United Nations.”

CASW joins the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW), the Parliament of Canada and many other organizations and individuals who are calling on the Ugandan Parliament to reject the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Further, CASW encourages social workers in Canada , who respect the unique worth and inherent dignity of all people and uphold human rights, to make their views known to NASWU.

“CASW extends its unwavering support and solidarity to the people of Uganda who are experiencing the real threat of incarceration and death based on sexual orientation,” states MacDonald. “We are appalled by their situation in Uganda and will remain vigilant in the defence of their basic human rights.”

Please click the link to access the IFSW Statement on Human Rights and Social Work in Uganda.

Electric Shock Therapist Arrested in Canada

Jim Burroway

March 27th, 2010
Dr. Louis Max’s diagram of his electric shock averson therapy device, as it appeared in March 1935 edition of The Psychological Bulletin

Dr. Louis Max’s diagram of his electric shock averson therapy device, as it appeared in March 1935 edition of The Psychological Bulletin. (Click to enlarge)

At one time, a relatively common method to try to “cure” gay people was to administer painful electric shock aversion therapy. This barbaric method was first used against gay men in 1935, and it continued, by some reports, up through the 1980’s. NARTH recently issued a report defending reparative and other conversion therapies which cited dozens of papers touting the benefits of aversion therapy.

By the 1980’s, most efforts to “cure” homosexuality using the barbaric and punitive method had largely come to an end. But not everywhere. It was still employed in apartheid South Africa right up until the fall of the regime, and one of the notorious practitioners was Dr. Aubry Levin. He was so famous for his use of electric shock therapy that he was known as “Dr. Shock”:

Among the allegations levelled at Levin was that he used severe electric shocks as part of “aversion therapy” that was supposed to “cure” homosexuals. “Political deviants” who refused to bear arms in the apartheid forces were also referred to Levin, who commanded the major psychiatric wing of the military hospital at Voortrekkerhoogte in Pretoria and rose to become the apartheid government’s head of mental health.

Levin fled South Africa just before its transition to democracy, and settled in Calgary where he became a Canadian citizen. He refused to testify before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission where it was alleged he had been guilty of gross human rights abuses. Once settled in Canada, Levin became an expert witness, performing court-ordered psychiatric assessments of convicted offenders awaiting sentence.

Aubrey Levin being taken into police custody

Aubrey Levin being taken into police custody

This past Tuesday, Levin was arrested and charged with sexual assault by Calgary police after a 36-year-old former patient alleged he was abused while under the doctor’s care. The patient reportedly had made complaints before, but couldn’t get authorities to believe him. The break came when the patient went to an appointment with a hidden camera in order to obtain evidence.

So far, it is unclear how many patients Levin handled under the courts. Police are reviewing current and past cases now, looking for further evidence of abuse. He was suspended by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta the previous Friday when the allegations first surfaced, which means that he can no longer practice in that province.

Levin is listed as a clinical professor in the psychiatry department at the University of Calgary, but the Calgary Herald reports that University officials say he is no longer teaching.

Levin will appear in Provincial Court on April 8.

Canada’s House of Commons Condemns Uganda’s Anti-Gay Bill

Jim Burroway

March 25th, 2010

Canada’s House of Commons yesterday unanimously condemned Uganda’s proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which is currently before Uganda’s Parliament. That bill, if enacted, would impose the death sentence in certain circumstances, and would even criminalize providing health services to, renting to, or merely knowing someone who is gay.

The motion before Canada’s House of Commons was introduced by New Democrat MB Bill Siksay (Burnaby-Douglas, BC). According to a press release from Siksay’s office, the motion reads:

That this House commends the Government of Canada for the clear position it has taken against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill currently being debated in the Parliament of Uganda and encourages continued direct diplomatic efforts in conjunction with other countries and organizations to see the bill withdrawn, homosexuality fully decriminalized in Uganda, and the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and transsexual Ugandans fully respected.

After the vote, Siskay said:

“I very much appreciate the co-operation of the Conservative Party, the Bloc Québecois, and the Liberal Party.  All parties in the House worked together to take a stand against this regressive bill and in solidarity with the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and transsexual community in Uganda,” said Siksay.  “Given this strong all party commitment to GLBTT rights, I hope that the government will continue to pursue this issue at all possible levels.”

“This bill is an attack on human rights and civil liberties.  Canada must continue to do all it can to see that it is withdrawn,” concluded Siksay.

MP Siksay became the first openly gay non-incumbent to be elected to Parliament in 2004. Siksay serves as the NDP’s Critic in the shadow government for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Transsexual issues.

What’s Good For Uganda Is Good For Canada?

Jim Burroway

December 6th, 2009

That’s what the College of Prayer thinks. Two members of College of Prayer introduced the notorious “Kill Gays” bill in Uganda’s Parliament, with the full blessing of the head of the College of Prayer’s Ugandan campus. Now Bruce Wilson at Talk To Action has found that College of Prayer Canada head Rev. David Chotka wants to plant some seeds for Ottawa:

When the team returned to North America, they received a phone call from David Chotka, COP Canada. David said, “I have three-twelve members of the Canadian Parliament who have heard about what God is doing in Uganda and would like to attend the Parliamentary COP [College of Prayer — ed.] in Uganda next year. They are interested in bringing the College of Prayer to the Canadian Parliament.” It seems that God continues to expand our spheres of influence. The extraordinary favor of God is resting upon us. All glory to His name!

While I doubt that this will bear much fruit in Canada, this is indicative of COP’s ambition. Great catch by Bruce Wilson.

Click here to see BTB’s complete coverage of recent anti-gay developments in Uganda.

Canada PM To Denounce Uganda’s “Kill Gays” Bill

Jim Burroway

November 28th, 2009

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced on Thursday that he will raise the issue of Uganda’s proposed Anti-Homosexuality Act at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) which began yesterday. Transport Minister John Baird made the announcement before Parliament on Thursday:

Transport Minister John Baird made the announcement today in Question Period in answer to demands by NDP MP Bill Siksay that the Prime Minister meet “face-to-face” with the Ugandan leader “to help stop this bill.”

“The current legislation before Parliament in Uganda is vile, it’s abhorrent. It’s offensive. It offends Canadian values. It offends decency. We strongly condemn that and the Prime Minister will make that strong condemnation as well,” Mr. Baird said.

The Conservative Prime Minister is just one more important voice denouncing Uganda’s proposal to institute the death sentence for LGBT people. On Tuesday, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa Stephen Lewis demanded that discussions of Uganda’s proposed Anti-Homosexuality Act be placed on the agenda.

Click here to see BTB’s complete coverage of recent anti-gay developments in Uganda.

United Church of Canada Urges PM To Bring Up Uganda’s “Kill Gays” Bill at Comonwealth Meeting

Jim Burroway

November 28th, 2009

The United Church of Canada, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, sent a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, urging the leader to raise the issue of Uganda’s proposed Anti-Homosexuality Act at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting taking place in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. In the letter sent Thursday, acting Executive Minister Patti Talbot wrote:

[I]t is with shock and dismay that we have learned that the Ugandan Parliament is in the process of bringing to law an Anti-Homosexuality Bill that would lead to the criminalization of homosexuality as well as the restriction of free speech and organization in support of the legitimate civil rights of its population.

…Canada’s own Charter of Rights and Freedoms enshrines the rights of all people regardless of their sexual orientation. As Canadians then, we are responsible for becoming more aware of discrimination against homosexual persons, taking action to ensure that they enjoy their full civil and human rights in society, working to end all forms of discrimination against them, and personally supporting the victims of such discrimination.

In the next few days there is an opportune moment at the summit of Commonwealth leaders for Canada to show leadership in advocating for the protection of the human rights of all people, especially those who are most marginalized, such as gay, lesbian and bisexual people in Uganda. At this summit we urge you to raise these issues and speak firmly against this regressive proposed legislation by the Parliament of Uganda.

The United Church of Canada was formed in 1925 as the result of the merger of Canada’s Presbyterian, Methodist and various congregational churches. The UCoC joins the Anglican Church of Canada in calling on the Canadian government to publicly denounce the bill.

Click here to see BTB’s complete coverage of recent anti-gay developments in Uganda.

Canada’s Anglicans oppose Uganda’s ‘Kill Gays’ bill

Timothy Kincaid

November 20th, 2009

From the Episcopal News Service:

The Anglican Church of Canada’s Council of General Synod has expressed its dismay and concern over the draft proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill currently before the Ugandan Parliament.

“The proposed bill would severely impede the human rights of Ugandan citizens both at home and abroad by infringing freedom of speech, peaceful assembly, freedom of organization, and legitimate advocacy of civil rights,” the Council of General Synod said Nov. 15. “It would impose excessive and cruel penalties on persons who experience same-sex attraction as well as those who counsel, support, and advise them, including family members and clergy.”

Canada’s Council of General Synod called upon the Church of Uganda to oppose the bill. It also called “upon our own Government of Canada, through the minister of external affairs, to convey to the Government of Uganda a deep sense of alarm about this fundamental violation of human rights and, through diplomatic channels, to press for its withdrawal…”

Meanwhile Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury has remained too busy to oppose the proposed execution of gays in Uganda. He was in Rome today meeting with the Pope to discuss Rome’s poaching of anti-women and anti-gay Anglicans.

Click here to see BTB’s complete coverage of recent anti-gay developments in Uganda.

Gay Canadian Sues Church

This commentary is the opinion of the author and may not necessarily reflect that of other authors at Box Turtle Bulletin.

Timothy Kincaid

July 15th, 2009

Jim Corcoran is no doubt a valued member of the family at St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Ontario. (National Post)

Mr. Corcoran, 50, began as an altar server just before Christmas. He said St. Michael’s did not have altar boys and he thought that creating a group of adult altar servers would help the priest during Mass. Many Catholic parishes have adult servers.

But he’s also an idiot.

Mr. Corcoran is a gay man married to his partner. He and his priest (and you, and I, and the neighbor’s cousin’s cat) all know that the Catholic Church has some pretty restrictive beliefs about the participation of gay men in the life of the Church. Mr. Corcoran cannot have thought that his efforts would be universally praised and appreciated.

And, as could be expected, several parishoners signed a letter to the Bishop and Corcoran was removed.

So he’s suing.

A gay man has filed a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal against a Catholic bishop after he was removed from his volunteer job as an altar server because of his sexual orientation.

Now in the US, Corcoran would be tossed out on his ear. I hope that in Canada they do the same.

Don’t get me wrong. I think the decision of the Church was stupid. Corcoran probably isn’t even technically in violation of the Vatican policy; he and his partner are chaste. And the motivation of the parishoners appears to have been pettiness and spite and was primarily an attack on the priest.

But the issue isn’t whether the Church is right or wrong. The issue is whether the Church should be allowed to make its own policies, however stupid they may be.

And I come down on the side of self-determination and freedom – both for Corcoran and the Church. St. Michael’s should be entitled to deny liturgical authority to whomever they please for whatever reason they please, and Jim Corcoran should be entitled to cross the street to a church that operates more to his pleasing.

Guess Who Else Isn’t On Board With the U.N. Resolution to Decriminalize Homosexuality

Jim Burroway

December 5th, 2008

Mark, at Slapped Upside the Head, has a good take on yesterday’s news that the Vatican is opposing a U.N. resolution calling on member states to rescind laws outlawing homosexuality — which in some countries includes the death penalty. We discussed the Vatican’s intrinsically disordered logic here. Mark has his own take here.

There are a lot of countries which have already signed on to the declaration, including: Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, Uruguay, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, Andorra, Liechtenstein, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, Ukraine, and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Those last three are rather surprising. Also surprising co-sponsors are three African countries: Gabon, Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau. That’s quite an impressive list.

So, who’s missing? Well, let’s see. Oh look: the United States and Australia.

Marriage Rights Around the World

Timothy Kincaid

May 15th, 2008

The following countries offer some form of recognition to same-sex couples:

Marriage

Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, United States (Massachusetts, California)

Civil Unions

New Zealand, Brazil (Rio Grande do Sul), Argentina (Buenos Aires, Rio Negro), Mexico (Coahuila), Uruguay, United States (Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New Jersey)

Registered Partnership or Domestic Partnership

Denmark, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Finland, Luxembourg, , Slovenia, United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Italy (City of Padua), Switzerland, Hungary, Australia (Tasmania), United States (Maine, Washington, Oregon)

Other Methods of Limited Recognition

France (PACS), Germany (Life Partnership), Croatia (Law of Same-Sex Relationships), Andorra (Stable Union of a Couple), Mexico (Mexico City – PACS), Colombia (Common-law marriage inheritance rights), Israel (Limited recognition of foreign legal arrangements), United States (Hawaii – Reciprocal Benefits; New York – recognition of out-of-state legal marriages)

Although recognition is in a rapid state of change, this is my best understanding of the current rights provided. Several nations are in the process of adding or revising recognition.

Can Figure-Skating Make You Gay?

Jim Burroway

April 8th, 2008

That question was posed by a letter writer to Canada’s National Post blog, “Full Comment.” The writer concluded that the answer was yes. My favorite response in the comments was this one:

To paraphrase, some are born gay, some achieve gayness and some have gayness thrust upon them.

I’ll have to remember that one. It’s like I’ve said before, I don’t think there will ever be a one-size-fits-all explanation.

HIV+ Canadian Stopped At The Border

Jim Burroway

March 31st, 2008

The United States is one of only thirteen countries in the world which bans travelers with HIV from entering the country. This puts the U.S. in the distinguished company of Iraq, China, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Sudan, Qatar, Brunei, Oman, Moldova, Russia, Armenia, and South Korea.

Nice company. And America’s offensive enforcement of that ban mirrors what one might expect from any one of those other twelve:

The Surrey, B.C., man was on his way to Bellingham, Wash., for the Remembrance Day long weekend last November to shop, with the Canadian dollar trading at about $1.07 against the greenback. After lining up for four hours to reach the U.S. customs booth, he was asked where he worked.

“I said I was on disability. He said what’s my disability. I said I have HIV,” said the 47-year-old, who was diagnosed in 1989.

The customs officer told him he needed a special visa waiver to enter the country, even though Canadians do not require a visa to travel to the United States.

“He hauled me into a backroom. … He put on a set of rubber gloves to hold each of my fingers. Nobody else wore rubber gloves. Then he fingerprinted me, photographed me, ran me through the FBI’s most-wanted list and told me to go back to Canada and not return until I came back with a waiver,” Mr. Rooney said. “I felt like I was being treated like a terrorist.”

The U.S. Senate is expected to vote on a bill sponsored by Sen. John Kerry to lift the travel ban soon. Then maybe the U.S. can join the community of civilized nations. Like Canada.

AIDS Nonsense From the Far Left

Jim Burroway

March 31st, 2008

We often debunk the junk science emanating from conservatives. Rarely do we mention junk science from the left. It’s not because it doesn’t exist; it’s just rarely anti-gay, so it often escapes our attention.

The Canadian bills itself as “Canada’s new socially progressive and cross-cultural national newspaper.” But from its web site, it’s unclear how often the paper is published, but a scan of its headlines show a strange fascination with conspiracies, especially if they get to use the word “eugenics”:

For one whose looking for weird stuff to debunk, there’s treasure to be had here. Like this one by AIDS conspiracy theorist Alan Cantwell:

HIV-AIDS was created with the use of Gay men as targets for Eugenic experiments suggests U.S. doctor
There is no doubt that AIDS erupted in the U.S. shortly after government-sponsored hepatitis B vaccine experiments (1978-1981) using gay men as guinea pigs. …

The widely accepted theory is that HIV/AIDS originated in a monkey or chimpanzee virus that “jumped species” in Africa. However, it is clear that the first AIDS cases were recorded in gay men in Manhattan in 1979, a few years before the epidemic was first noticed in Africa in 1982. It is now claimed that the human herpes-8 virus (also called the KS virus), discovered in 1994, also originated when a primate herpes virus jumped species in Africa. How two African species-jumping viruses ended up exclusively in gay men in Manhattan beginning in the late 1970s has never been satisfactorily explained.

Those two paragraphs alone have a lot of whoppers which are easily refuted. Let’s break it down:

The first AIDS cases were recorded in gay men in Manhattan in 1979. Not quite. The first known case of AIDS was found in a 1959 blood sample drawn from an unknown man in Leopoldville, Belgian Congo (today’s Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, formerly Zaire). This was long before the hepatitis B vaccine experiments that Cantwell is so sure started it all.

The epidemic was first noticed in Africa in 1982. By having this sentence follow the previous one, Cantwell seems to suggest that the African epidemic followed the American one. But just because the African epidemic wasn’t noticed until 1982 doesn’t men that’s when it started. In fact, as early as 1983, researchers had identified an epidemic already well underway. In fact, it was well established in some parts of Zaire in 1976.

How two African species-jumping viruses ended up exclusively in gay men in Manhattan beginning in the late 1970s has never been satisfactorily explained. Here, Cantwell’s referring to the Herpes-8 virus, which we now know causes a form of cancer known as Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS). This disease was a very common opportunistic infection among those whose immune system was compromised. Being a transplant patients has been one historic risk factor due to anti-rejection medications which work by lowering the immune system. KS was also common among many ethnic groups in the Mediterranean, Middle East and Africans living in Africa.

The virus which causes KS may have been discovered in 1994 but the disease was first described in the medical literature by Dr. Moritz Kaposi back in 1872. Because KS has been quite common in Africa, there have been thousands upon thousands of medical reports on the disease throughout the past century. For evidence, all you have to do is go to the National Institutes of Health’s PubMed database, type in “Kaposi’s sarcoma” and press “GO.” As of this writing, you’ll find references for 10,850 articles in professional journals going back to 1948. That’s quite an achievement since PubMed rarely indexes articles published before 1950.

This is pretty elementary stuff that any dermatologist would know. It takes a lot of ignorant — willful ignorance even — for a retired dermatologist like Alan Cantwell to pretend these facts don’t exist. But like all such conspiracy theorists, he has to either ignore fundamental facts or bend them beyond all recognition for his crackpot theories to survive (like some other theorists we know). Cantwell’s theories are so nutty, he had to start his own publishing house just to get his books into print. Nobody else would touch them. But it just goes to show that the practice of abusing science isn’t confined to one end of the political spectrum.  It’s everywhere.

Hat tip: Stefano

Will the Real John Westcott Please Stand Up

Timothy Kincaid

March 17th, 2008

westcott.jpgOn the 3rd, a Canadian television network pulled the following advertisement from the air, citing violation of their policies. The spot ran seven times in Sudbury, Ontario and was scheduled to run the whole year. But a Facebook campaign brought the ad to the network’s attention and they promptly ended its run.

You hear about gay rights, gay marriage and the gay lifestyle being taught in our public schools to children. But what many people don’t realize and seldom hear about is that many homosexuals don’t want to be homosexual. What many who are struggling with homosexuality don’t realize and seldom hear is that they can change. I should know. For 13 years I used to be one.

Now from the text, it sure seems that the narrator is quite troubled about what is being taught “in our public schools” there in Sudbury.

So who is this concerned Canadian ex-gay? Catholic Online describes him as

The 30-second spot is narrated by John Westcott, the founder of Exchange ministries, an organization that seeks to help practicing homosexuals who wish to leave the lifestyle. Westcott is himself a former homosexual, as is his wife Amanda.

The narrator’s name sounded familiar to me so I did a bit of research. And I found an ex-gay named John Westcott, but this one is not a concerned Sudbury resident nor was he married to Amanda. But his picture sure looks the same.

A small classroom on the campus of Calvary Assembly of God in Winter Park, Fla. is the place. John Westcott leads a group of 15 men in worship without a microphone or speakers.

Two years later, he began dating Dena, a former lesbian he met through the group. Today, they have three children and have devoted their lives to helping others who want to leave the homosexual lifestyle.

So now it’s time for the real John Westcott to stand up. Are you a former homosexual worried about Canadian education? Are you a Floridan? Are you married to Amanda or Dena? Or perhaps all of the above?

Living Waters Ex-Gay Ministry In Montreal

Jim Burroway

September 28th, 2007

Peterson Toscano has learned that the Living Waters ex-gay ministry will be giving a twenty-five week “healing program” at a conservative Anglican church in Montreal, Canada. Headed by Andrew Comiskey, a former president of Exodus International, Living Waters has been expanding aggressively, with a presence in Canada and Europe. Former ex-gay leader Vonnie Pits issued an apology for her role in a Living Waters-based program she set up in New South Wales, Australia.  Peterson observes:

Often Living Waters uses extreme methods that involve forms of exorcism (deliverance/healing prayer) and rely on teachings that believe that people become gay through demonic influences and the sins of ancestors. This is a simple explanation of what they believe, but you get the idea. This is a group that is far far off the radar and not based in science or reality. They also charge for their services.

Read the stories of Christine, Eric, Euguene and Tom (a former Living Waters leader) to find out a little about their times at Living Waters programs.

Newer Posts | Older Posts