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Mon, 25 Jan 2021
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Ex-Gay Survivor's Tales of Exorcism in Middle England

Peterson Toscano
© BBC
Peterson Toscano now performs to raise awareness of the damage conversion therapy can do.
After $30,000 for controversial conversion therapy, three attempts at exorcism and one failed marriage, Peterson Toscano finally resolved the conflict between his faith and sexuality - he was gay.

It took 17 years to accept it.

Whether called straight to gay, conversion or reparative therapy, the practice Mr Toscano put himself through purports to help individuals change their sexual orientation.

There are those who claim the practice, largely supported by fundamentalist Christian churches, to have changed them from homosexual to heterosexual. They are know as "ex-gay".

But as far as Mr Toscano - who calls himself an "ex-gay survivor" - is concerned, not only does it not work, the process is "psychologically damaging".

Mr Toscano, now 47, grew up in an average Italian American Catholic home in Upstate New York. But as a devout Christian, and member of the Evangelical Church, he found it difficult to resolve what he saw as a conflict between his sexual orientation and his faith.

"I was doing something spiritually and morally wrong that I would be punished for in the afterlife. And so there was a lot of fear and terrible desperation," he told BBC Religion.

As a teenager in early 1980s America, Mr Toscano experienced a time when the word "gay" was synonymous with Aids. Up to 1973, US psychiatrists had been classifying homosexuals as insane.

"I put two and two together and made what I thought was a logical equation at the time of saying 'that's wrong, that's bad, I need to fix it'. And then 17 years later I finally woke up and came to my senses," he said.

His years of treatment are painful for him to recall. After an interview with US National Public Radio that triggered a period of depression, he now avoids recalling the specifics.

However, he recounts one of the darkest incidents in some of his performance work. During a two-year residential stay at Love in Action, now called Restoration Path, in Memphis, Tennessee, Mr Toscano was required to record all the homosexual encounters he ever had.

He was then told to choose the most embarrassing to read out to his family.

Arrow Down

Nine 'Witch' Killers Jailed 315 Years

Gavel
© Zambia Daily Mail
The Mansa High Court has sentenced nine men to a total of 315 years imprisonment for killing and burning seven people accused of witchcraft.

And a juvenile, who is the sixth accused in the matter, has been placed on a two-year probation under the care of the social welfare department.

Ndola High Court judge Petronella Ngulube, sitting in Mansa, passed the sentence on Chipushi Kapempe, Joseph Chama, Mwewa Mwange, Rabbison Cholwe, Charles Chulu, Chola Mwape, Francis Kwesele, Derrick Ngosa and Mwape Supriano.

All the accused were jointly charged with seven counts of murder, contrary to Section 200 of the Laws of Zambia.

Particulars of the offence are that on November 21, 2012 in Samfya, the accused jointly and while acting together murdered Impson Malunga, Laban Sombo, Lutoto Chamina, Jennifer Mwewa, Alick Bufumi, Green Mecha and Enear Lumpa.

The State called 16 prosecution witnesses, who all testified that the accused persons were seen in the village looking for and taking away all the people who were killed.

The court heard from a witness, Alick Chanda, that on the material day, while he was at home with his parents Lumpa and Bufumi (both dead), he saw a group of young men who took his father away.

"They told me that the chief wanted to see my father and that they would bring him back but the following day, I was approached by police to give a statement over the death of my parents," he said.

Laptop

Thousands descend on tiny Dutch town after Facebook invitation goes viral


Amsterdam - Riot police broke up crowds of youths who turned violent in a tiny Dutch town late on Friday after several thousand people descended on the community after a schoolgirl's Facebook invitation to her sixteenth birthday party went viral.

Media reports said six people were hurt, including three seriously, after disturbances broke out in the quiet northern Dutch town of Haren. Reports said shops were vandalized and looted, a car set on fire and street signs and lampposts damaged before police broke up the crowds.

Up to 600 riot police were on the scene during the disturbances, according to one media report. There were at least 20 arrests, media said.

Pictures from the scene showed party-goers wearing T-shirts with "Project X" written on them -- apparently a reference to the movie Project X, in which three high school seniors throw a party that gets out of control as word spreads.

Some 30,000 people received the invitation from a girl announcing her birthday party on Facebook, according to media reports. The party was intended to be a small-scale celebration, but the girl did not set her Facebook event to private and the invitation went viral.

Newspaper

Tree trimmer crushed to death by palm fronds in Los Angeles

A tree trimmer was apparently crushed to death by heavy palm fronds that fell on him while he worked, authorities told The Los Angeles Times.

Emergency personnel responding to a call on Saturday about a trapped tree trimmer in Hollywood found the body of an unidentified man buried in palm fronds about 30 feet above the ground, according to the Times.

"Palm fronds like this have been known to weigh as much as half a ton," Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey told the newspaper. "In these scenarios, the tree trimmer can be crushed, asphyxiated or have their neck broken."

Humphrey added that the cause of death has not yet been determined.

Handcuffs

2 Year Olds Fingerprinted and Given Mugshots By Olympic Security Firm

Prison staff from scandal-hit security firm G4S took the fingerprints and mugshots of children as young as two who visited inmates at a new jail.

The practice was stopped only after a string of complaints to jail bosses at HMP Oakwood, a privately run prison in Staffordshire that holds 1,605 offenders.

The Mail on Sunday has discovered that over-zealous staff forced children who were visiting family members to pose for pictures and have electronic fingerprints taken, which were then stored on a computer at the prison.

Ambulance

Man Longing to Be 'One With the Tiger' Jumps into Zoo Cage


The man who jumped out of the Bronx Zoo's monorail into the tiger exhibit was charged with trespass Saturday, according to law enforcement officials.

Alarm Clock

Wal-Mart Shoplifter Kills Security Employee, Then Self


A man who tried to steal undershirts valued at $16 from a Wal-Mart in Margate, Fla., shot and killed a loss prevention employee there Friday evening, police said.

Bizarro Earth

Mother Kills Her Children Then Commits Suicide

A 34-year-old Florida woman apparently killed her two children in their house and then committed suicide by hanging herself from a ceiling fan, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said Saturday.

Deputies responded to a house in unincorporated Clearwater, west of Tampa, shortly after 2 a.m. after receiving a call for help. They discovered Dawn Brown and her two children, ages 5 and 9, dead in the house.

Bizarro Earth

Possible Random Sulfuric Attack on Woman

A man allegedly threw sulfuric acid on a woman who was walking into a Golden Hill laundromat just before 6 a.m. Saturday, police confirmed.

The assault happened at 1015 25th St. The suspect fled the scene by car.

The woman was taken to a hospital and treated for second-degree burns on her face, arms and back. Officials said the victim was injured pretty badly.

Stop

Victorian Catholic Church Reveals 620 Abuse Cases

No Child Abuse
© Karenr/Dreamstime.com
The Catholic Church in Victoria has revealed that at least 620 children have been abused by its clergy since the 1930s, sparking a fresh call for an independent inquiry into sex abuse.

The Catholic Church in Victoria revealed the number in a submission to a state parliamentary hearing on Friday but said the instances of abuse reported had fallen dramatically from the "appalling" numbers of the 1960s and 1970s.

"It is shameful and shocking that this abuse, with its dramatic impact on those who were abused and their families, was committed by Catholic priests, religious and church workers," Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart said.

Last year Pope Benedict XVI told Australian bishops that their work had been made more difficult by the clerical sex abuse scandal which has rocked the church as he exhorted them to "repair the errors of the past with honesty".

The full submission was not released publicly but the church said most of the 620 criminal abuse claims it had upheld over the last 16 years related to incidents 30 to 80 years ago, with very few related to abuse that has taken place since 1990.

Archbishop Hart said the church had taken steps to redress the issue, including a program implemented in the 1990s involving an independent investigation, an ongoing program of counselling and support, and compensation.

"This submission shows how the church of today is committed to facing up to the truth and to not disguising, diminishing or avoiding the actions of those who have betrayed a sacred trust," he said.