The French parliament on Thursday definitively adopted legislation that could lead to year-long jail terms for anyone found guilty of insulting homosexuals or women. \nThe justice minister, Dominique Perben, believes the laws are necessary to combat an increase in homophobia, but they have been condemned by advocates of free speech who say they are too strict and unworkable. \nThe law puts anti-gay and sexist comments on an equal footing with racist or anti-semitic insults, allowing French courts to hand down fines of up to 45,000 euros and jail sentences of up to 12 months for "defamation or incitement to discrimination, hatred or violence on the grounds of a person's sex or sexual orientation." \nProferring an anti-gay insult, including any remark "of a more general nature tending to denigrate homosexuals as a whole," in public -- meaning on air, in print or at a public meeting -- is also an imprisonable offence, while private sexist or homophobic taunts between individuals could incur fines of up to 375 euros. \nGay and feminist groups have welcomed the law, which is in part a response to a significant increase in verbal and physical attacks recorded against homosexuals in France. \nThe number of violent acts against gays doubled to 86 last year. \n"It's great and welcome news," said Ronan Rosec of the campaign group SOS Homophobie. \n"Gays in France just do not want to be abused, physically or verbally, any more." \nAnother gay rights organization, Inter-LGBT, said the law marked "the crossing of a decisive bridge" for France. \nThe feminist group Les Chiennes de Garde, or Guard Bitches, added that it hoped the law would lead to a fall in the number of physical attacks on women "by first outlawing verbal violence." \nBut the legislation, which also establishes an impartial body, the High Authority against Discrimination and for Equality, to help victims of bias, has drawn as much criticism as praise, particularly from advocates of free speech who say it will be difficult to enforce and will lead to self-censorship. \nIn theory, critics say, the law could mean that devout Christians who denounce homosexuality as "deviant" would be prosecuted; comedians can no longer make mother-in-law jokes; the producers and distributors of the camp comedy film La Cage Aux Folles could end up in the dock; and parts of the Old Testament might be banned. \nThe media campaign group Reporters Without Borders said that a society "advances towards tolerance ... via freedom of expression and debate, and not through repression." \nThe Catholic church in France also expressed concern that the law might prevent clergymen from expressing their opposition to legalizing gay marriage. \nEven the national commission on human rights, a government advisory body, has criticized the law, arguing that courts "will face great difficulty defining what is an insult, and will thus have to condemn words ... certain films, books and even the Bible could fall under its remit." \nThe Book of Leviticus, for example, describes male homosexuality as "an abomination."
THE ANSWER? The drug uses neutralizing antibodies produced by the human immune system, which the team isolated from the blood of 60 recovered patients A Chinese laboratory has been developing a drug it believes has the power to bring the COVID-19 pandemic to a halt. A drug being tested by scientists at Peking University could not only shorten the recovery time for those infected, but even offer short-term immunity from the coronavirus, researchers said. Sunney Xie (謝曉亮), director of the university’s Beijing Advanced Innovation Center for Genomics, said that the drug had been successful in animal testing. “When we injected neutralizing antibodies into infected mice, after five days the viral load was reduced by a factor of 2,500,” Xie said. “That means this potential drug has [a]
‘SERIOUS QUESTIONS’: Three US senators sent a letter to the US commerce secretary asking whether the project ‘takes into consideration national security requirements’ US Senator Chuck Schumer and two other Democratic colleagues have written to top US administration officials asking for details of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd’s (TSMC) plan to build a US$12 billion fab in Arizona. Hsinchu-based TSMC on Thursday last week announced that it would build a plant to make 5 nanometer chips by 2024 that would have the capacity to produce 20,000 semiconductor wafers per month. The world’s biggest contract chipmaker already has one chipmaking fab in Camas, Washington, and design centers in Austin, Texas, and San Jose, California. It said it planned to start construction in Arizona next year and
VULNERABLE: Many women do not report sexual harassment by their landlord over fears they could lose the roof over their head, an expert said A growing number of landlords are asking tenants for sex in exchange for housing as COVID-19 lockdowns and job cuts have left many struggling to pay their rent, housing experts said. A survey by the National Fair Housing Alliance of more than 100 fair housing groups combating discrimination across the US found that 13 percent had seen an increase in sexual harassment complaints during the pandemic. “If I did not have sex with him, he was going to put me out,” one woman facing eviction by her property manager told the alliance in an podcast on its Web site. “As a single
MOM’S LONG CAMPAIGN: Mao Yin had been brought up in Mianyang, Sichuan Province, without any idea that he was the target of a decades-long, high-profile search A Chinese man who was stolen from his family as a toddler has been reunited with his parents after 32 years. Mao Yin (毛寅), then two-and-a-half years old, was snatched in 1988 when he was walking home from nursery with his father. His parents finally embraced him again on Monday in Xian, where he was born. After Mao vanished, his mother Li Jingzhi (李靜芝) quit her job and launched a decades-long search for her son, that included sending out more than 100,000 flyers and appearing on numerous TV shows. That long campaign helped 29 other families find their own missing children and made