International News Briefs

Gay therapy tossed in ‘dustbin of quackery’

UNITED STATES: California has passed a law banning therapy aimed at making gay teenagers straight, the BBC reports. The law, coming into effect Jan. 1, 2013, is the first to outlaw the practice for people under 18, according to the report. Governor Jerry Brown said so-called “conversion therapy” is not based upon science or medicine, and “will now be relegated to the dustbin of quackery.” Mental health groups and gay rights activists are applauding the move, saying conversion therapy often increases the risk of depression or suicide. Conservative groups say the ban restricts a parent’s right to care for children going through gender confusion, according to the report. In 2010, a California court overturned Proposition 8, a same-sex marriage ban for the state. An appeal was later withheld, and the issue is expected to hit the U.S. Supreme Court.

Greek recession continues

GREECE: The recession in Greece will extend into its sixth year in 2013, with the government forecasting a 3.8 per cent drop in the economy, Al Jazeera reports. The beleaguered nation’s economy is expected to drop around 6.5 per cent this year, with unemployment sitting at 23.5 per cent. Unemployment is expected to near 25 per cent next year, according to the report. The country has been trying to desperately to reign in its costs, slashing funding in health care, education and defence. Greece’s budget for next year includes nearly eight billion euros worth of austerity measures.

Eurozone unemployment rises

EUROPE: More than 18 million Europeans are unemployed, according to a recent BBC report. Unemployment rates in the Eurozone remain at a record high of 11.4 per cent according to the EU statistics agency. More than 25 per cent of workers in Spain are unemployed, the highest rate among the zone’s 17 countries. Youth unemployment rates in the country, along with Greece, remain at more than 50 per cent. In contrast, Austria and Germany have unemployment rates of 4.5 per cent and 5.5 per cent, respectively. The European Commission is warning of “a real social emergency crisis” as household incomes fall into poverty, according to the report.

Japan passes piracy laws

JAPAN: Internet users in Japan now face up to two years in prison following changes to the country’s privacy and copyright laws. Piracy has been illegal in the country since 2010. Following lobbying by the country’s music industry, users who download copyright infringing files face up to two years in prison or a fine of up to two million yen ($25,000), according to the BBC. Uploading content nets a maximum 10-year prison term and a 10-million yen fine. Japan is the world’s second-largest music market after the United States, according to sales figures. The Recording Industry Association of Japan says people in the country downloaded about 4.36 billion illegally pirated music and video files and 440 million purchased ones in 2010.

Published in Volume 67, Number 5 of The Uniter (October 3, 2012)

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