Gay California Sate Senator Targeted by QAnon Trolls for Sex Offender Registry Bill

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Friday August 7, 2020

In this Jan. 21, 2020, file photo, state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, speaks at a news conference in Sacramento, Calif. On Wednesday, July 15, 2020, Sen. Wiener announced a bill that would make more people eligible for jury duty. Wiener said the bill will make juries more diverse
In this Jan. 21, 2020, file photo, state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, speaks at a news conference in Sacramento, Calif. On Wednesday, July 15, 2020, Sen. Wiener announced a bill that would make more people eligible for jury duty. Wiener said the bill will make juries more diverse  (Source:AP Photo / Rich Pedroncelli)

Out California state senator Scott Weiner has proposed legislation that would bring equality to a law regarding the state's sex offender registry. But trolls from the far-right conspiracy theory website QAnon have targeted him with anti-LGBTQ and anti-Semitic harassment, reports Mother Jones.

The law treats heterosexual and gay people differently by focusing on specific sexual acts and creating more leeway when heterosexual contact has supposedly occurred.

As Mother Jones explains:

Current California law gives judges the discretion to not add people of certain ages to the registry who may technically be in violation of statutory rape laws. The leeway allows judges to determine that in certain circumstances — say a 19 year-old having sex with a 17 year old — it would be inappropriate to add a person to the registry. But the law only allows such discretion for people accused of vaginal intercourse with a minor; judges have no say in instances of digital penetration, anal, or oral sex.

Advocates in the LGBTQ community have taken note of the glaring disparity, which Weiner's bill addresses. But online trolls have mischaracterized Weiner's bill and its purpose, and right-wing sites have peddled the untruths that the bill would amend the law in such a way as to allow significantly older people having sexual contact with children to avoid having their names put onto the registry, media sources, including Newsweek, reported.

Weiner himself has come in for intense online harassment - a situation that Weiner, as a public official, cannot legally address by blocking those who target him with abusive or threatening messages. The lawmaker has been the target of death threats and baseless claims that he is a "pedophile."

Media sources identified the likely course of these attacks is QAnon, a widespread collection of conspiracy theorists whose baseless claims include the so-called "Pizzagate" story, which claims that a Washington, D.C. pizzeria uses an on-site basement in a child trafficking scheme - despite that establishment not having a basement.

Weiner has a long history of legislation that addresses inequalities faced by LGTBQ people, including a bill that modernized California's HIV transmission law, a bill that made it easier for California residents to obtain PrEP, and provisions that protect older LGBTQ people.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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