Apr 112013
 
UK - Architecture firms fail to support gay equality in the workplace according to Stonewall

Built environment companies have again failed to feature on Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index, leading the campaign to warn of stifled output

Architecture does less to promote sexual diversity and tackle homophobia than banking and the armed forces, a leading gay rights campaign group has warned.

Stonewall said lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) employees’ productivity could be at risk as it singled out architecture and the construction industry for failing to keep pace in the drive to support sexual diversity.

The criticism came after architecture and built environment companies once again failed to feature in its annual Workplace Equality Index of 100 leading firms.

Top 10-ranked companies included heavyweight consultancy Accenture, closely followed by the Home Office and computing giant IBM.

The league table started in 2005 and is based on a ranking of companies efforts to improve sexual orientation equality. Transgender rights are not covered by Stonewall’s remit.

Chris Edwards, who joined the charity as client manager in 2010 after six years at CABE says: ‘When I was working at CABE I found it depressing that there were so few built environment-related organisations working with Stonewall.

‘There are no planning firms, no architecture or landscape architecture firms. Many of the other sectors are so well represented and it just seems there’s an obvious gap.’

In addition, only four built environment companies are participating in Stonewall’s Diversity Champions Programme, representing just 0.6 per cent of the 627 participating organisations. Edwards argues this is disproportionate when 12 per cent of the UK’s workforce is employed in the construction and property sector, suggesting it highlights a wider reluctance in the construction industry to address sexual orientation equality issues.

This could be having an adverse effect on productivity. Stonewall research has shown that lesbian, gay and bisexual employees are more productive when they feel they can be open about their sexual orientation in the workplace. ‘There’s a lack of appetite to tackle [inequality] and for whatever reason, compared with other sectors, [practices] just haven’t yet cottoned onto the business benefit of tackling sexual orientation equality,’ says Edwards.

‘It’s not just a nice thing to do that will make your gay staff happier, but it should be seen as something that affects the entire business, irrespective of sexuality.’

Without industry-wide statistics it is hard to judge the impact of homophobia on gay and lesbian architects. However, in this edition of AJ Dieter Gockmann, director at EPR architects, has revealed the impact it had on his early career (see interview, page 22).

Calls for greater recognition and support for LGB architects were heard at last month’s Out in Architecture conference, organised by Architects for Change at the RIBA. One stumbling block identified by architects comfortably ‘out’ in the profession was homophobia in the wider construction industry.

Feix and Merlin director Julia Feix explained she had never been disadvantaged by being openly gay in practice, but said: ‘Working in architecture, which is so closely linked with the construction industry, means that you are inevitably exposed to varying amounts of casual homophobia and sexism you would sadly naturally associate with the varying building trades.

‘Sexism is in my opinion the more obvious problem if you’re a woman in a senior architectural role; homophobia is more likely to be a problem for gay men.’

She added: ‘London is a very easy place to be gay but I have sat in client-contractor meetings where jokes about a transgender employee were openly shared across the table, no one batting an eyelid at the clearly very offensive and discriminatory banter everyone just laughing along. It’s moments like this when I realise we have a long way to go yet.’

Some conference delegates argued homophobic banter among clients or on site can pressurise lesbian or gay architects to keep their sexual orientation secret to avoid compromising potential business.

The issues are heightened when practices send employees overseas to more conservative countries. Andrew Best, a director at Buro Happold said: ‘In some countries, homosexuality is illegal, even incurring the death penalty in some places. Companies need to think through policies around sending site architects abroad for prolonged periods.’

LGB Architect survey

The AJ is conducting an anonymous survey of gay, lesbian and bisexual architects to find out how practices are meeting their needs. To take part, please visit:surveymonkey.com/s/LGBarchitects.

Apr 112013
 
Paul Kasonkomona

A prominent human rights activist has been granted bail in Zambia after he was arrested for appearing on a live television calling for homosexual relationships to be decriminalised.

Paul Kasonkomona pleaded not guilty at the magistrate’s court in the capital, Lusaka, to the charges – being idle and disorderly in a public place.

Homosexual acts are illegal in deeply conservative Zambia.

Mr Kasonkomona could face one month in prison or a fine if he is found guilty.

Earlier in the week, South Africa-based campaign group Ndifuna Ukwazi demanded Mr Kasonkomona’s release, in an online petition addressed to Zambia’s President Michael Sata.

He was detained as he stepped out of the studios of the privately owned Muvi TV in the capital on Sunday evening.

Sources at the television station told the AFP news agency that police tried to stop the interview and take Mr Kasonkomona off air but the management refused.

‘Advocating homosexual rights’
The BBC’s Mutuna Chanda in Lusaka says it was busy court session, with Mr Kasonkomona’s wife and father in attendance.

The particulars of charges read out in court said Mr Kasonkomona was in “a public place advocating homosexual rights to be respected in Zambia”, he reports.

Mr Kasonkomona’s lawyer argued that as his client was being charged with a misdemeanour he should be granted bail.

The rights activist was ordered to pay 5,000 kwacha ($930, £605) and the trial is due to start on 15 May 2013.

In a separate case at the High Court, his lawyers are suing for unlawful detention as he was kept in police cells for more than 48 hours before being charged.

Last week, a group of gay couples attempted to register their marriages but were stopped and the government ordered the arrest of anyone practising homosexuality, AFP reports.

In 2011, both the UK and US warned they would use foreign aid to push for homosexuality to be decriminalised in Africa.

South Africa is one of the few African countries where it is legal.

 

 

 

BBC News – Zambia gay rights activist Paul Kasonkomona gets bail

 

 

Apr 112013
 
Yevgenia Albats

Chief editor of the "New Era" Yevgenia Albats criticized homophobic statements by Vladimir Putin during his press conference in the Netherlands on April 8. Then he, in particular, noted that he could not imagine a gay marriage in Chechnya, as their legalization would lead to "victims."

In an interview with radio station "Echo of Moscow" on April 9 she accused the Russian president is that he used the substitution of concepts and deliberately confused the topic of homosexuality and pedophilia. "But what Putin does not understand that homosexuality has nothing to do with pedophilia, I do not. Hence, there is a very deliberate substitution of concepts "- said Albats.

"The second thing that struck me even more, it is that Putin is always appealing," Behold, we did not understand. That is, God forbid, gay marriage in Chechnya - there was grabbed by the arms, "and so forth," - she said.

"So, from the earliest history of mankind is a concept that is called the" rule of thumb ". Rule of thumb - it comes from ancient Rome, from the gladiator fights, when the life or death of the gladiator determined crowd, tribune. If death, then it means that the finger turned down, right? Here, the whole development of humanity, not only in philosophy but also in terms of development of the state institutions, mode, and so on followed the part of the defense of the rule of thumb "- reflects Albats.

"All mankind is on the development of the protection of the individual, the individual groups from the crowd. And Putin in its rhetoric in Europe, which put a thousand lives just for the principle of protection of the individual from the crowd - the protection of religious beliefs, the protection of philosophical views, ideological views, any desired views of the individual from the crowd - he goes out and to this audience, he shows himself a man who understands that the role of politicians and leaders is not to go with the crowd, where the crowd ran after them and I skipped, but rather to lead people, knowing that humans are not rational fears peculiar psychosis. So, in fact, the leader must turn to the crowd and show what in English is called «vision», ie the ability to see the world is wider, more clearly than it is accessible to people who are at the bottom, "- says the journalist.

"And suddenly we see that Putin - he did not even behind public opinion, but just far away, he still sat there back off into the scoop, at the corner of the thick" - sums it.

"Putin does not understand, that the enlightened European leader, namely, Europe went through a period of enlightenment, insanely painful process of enlightenment, he, on the contrary, it's this fear of the crowd - it should not be making a big fuss, and in every way to use it, but on the contrary, its objective - protect individuals, some groups of the population. This, in fact, is its function as a guarantor of the rights of all Russians "- sure Albats.

"Here is the backwardness - is it suddenly climbed inside. It has become quite obvious that mentally whether Putin returned to the time when he was young and he served in the KGB, this age some things. It's hard to say. But this, of course, this is really dreadful. Just the trouble, "- she laments.

"I understand, if he acted with such a performance in Zimbabwe or anywhere in Nigeria, right? Or in Iran. Probably, it would find a response. But such a performance in Europe - is, of course, terribly for the leader of the country that claims to be a place in the modern civilized world ", - concluded the journalist.


GayRussia

Yevgenia Albats: Rhetoric Putin monstrous leader for modern civilized country

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Apr 112013
 
Taxi in Russia

St. Petersburg gays offered a new service - a dedicated taxi where all the drivers - the representatives of sexual minorities. </font><font>Most taxi drivers do Shuttle buses from the gay clubs, but often they send people to the airport, and even to work.

The"gay-taxi" service utilizes 20 cabs, and all drivers undergo a rigorous selection process. As explained by one of the co-founders of the firm's Online812 novel, prospective drivers come to him on the advice of friends. Although he says that Staff checks the security service, actually he was unclear about the specific hiring process. Under typical conditions, gay people utilizing ordinary taxis find it tough to be themselves. Very often the person who sits down in a taxi, wants to chat. And what would he be able to talk about with a straight driver?

With driver-gay you can always be sure of your safety, and quietly kissing in the back seat. "The other taxi drivers need to think about the reaction. There have been cases where gays just beaten. We have no such "lurid Novel advantages of their taxis.

Peak loads occur in the second half of the week, when people go to clubs. For a month of work were regular customers who communicate directly with drivers, bypassing the dispatcher service.

Gay women taxi podvozilo only once. However, the interest is there, and soon the work plan to take the experienced voditel′nic. The representatives of the minority sex will feel more comfortable. Also in the plans is to expand the fleet of expensive cars, a Mercedes and a BMW. Many gay men like driving cars of representative class.

Externally distinguishable from ordinary gay taxi cannot be — the Rainbow on board, no one is going to draw it is unsafe. The firm is not registered officially they enjoy another license fleet.

Attacks here are homophobes. Like the novel, assures all drivers — strong guys who can fend for themselves. The cars are equipped with alarm buttons, and to have the assistance of the security service may always be.

The cost of the trip in a taxi – 25 rubles. per km. This is even lower than the competition. For example, the taxi 777 and "my city" in the same leg take 30 rubles, "Fortune" – 28 rubles.

В Петербурге появилось гей-такси – Город 812

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Apr 112013
 
Nederland - Idea for symbolic 'gay zebras in Zutphen

A pedestrian crossing in Rainbow colors. From red to violet. Possible soon in Zutphen.

The proposal for this particular crossover comes from mountain City Councillor Babs importance.

She requested the college this week to adopt an active attitude towards gay acceptance. In doing so, she thinks to a colored zebra crossing.

"The aim is to showcase as a municipality does not tolerate discrimination for their sexual orientation. Zutphen is a fair progressive municipality, but it is also important that you do something. That you contribute to raise awareness, "said Berg, whose story was received with applause in the Council. "A pedestrian crossing in Rainbow colors, as for example in Tel Aviv or San Fransisco, is there a means for. But you would possibly also can think of the famous Rainbow flag. "

The municipality does not respond, leave a proposal a better funiture arrangement spokeswoman know when prompted. "We are going to study the feasibility." She points out that such a zebra crossing may be only symbolic. "The legislation provides that zebra crossings should be white."

In Utrecht is also a rainbow zebra crossing this year.

Read more on this topic in the Stentor Edition Zutphen, from Thursday 11 april

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Idea for zebra ' symbolic ' gay in Zutphen

Apr 112013
 
Barletta Pride 2013

"Institutional Integrity": with this motivation Commissioner extraordinary, Anna Maria Manzone, rejected a week ago asking for sponsorship of the event "Barletta Pride" organized by the provincial section of Arcigay "mine vaganti", since it should take place in early June, then at the beginning of the new next elections consiliatura.

Michele Pio Antolini . Which has therefore asked the candidates for mayor, city officials next, take a public stand for or against the initiative: “We invite the candidates for mayor to share our claim communicating with an official document of the current city administration, or our Committee, its willingness to provide the support to Barletta Pride 2013, if elected. In this way, we believe we can overcome the objection on which, to date, is based the denial to the support of Barletta Pride 2013. ”

The first mayoral candidate to respond to the invitation is Cosimo Cannito , a member of the Socialist Party, which states: “Any initiative is intended to bring to the streets willing to affirm civil rights will always have my consent. If such a solicitation and awareness is designed and built with the tools of culture, with a playful and aims to involve everyone, even better. Making of civic engagement is a feast for all brilliant and then the good mood is good for health !
So I agree with the section Arcigay Bat “The Loose Cannons” and the president Pio Antolini on the importance and need for the council to acknowledge the support provided by the organizers Barletta Pride 9 to 15 June next.

So the request Arcigay to express my views, as a mayoral candidate, on how I’d do it myself, I answer yes, I concederei sponsored by the Pride Barletta .

Responded to this request, however, I would say two things. addition to statements of intent are the facts regarding the affirmation of civil rights, gender issues and the fight against discrimination.

Last summer during the Democratic Party, at a meeting on civil rights just the president of Arcigay Antolini Pius appealed to the directors for the time being to establish a register of civil unions . The commitment was made ​​and not kept. Barletta does not have one. It ‘ the easiest thing that you should and can do to make a common qualities of a semblance of civilization and monsters to make sense of reality, yet still lacking.

The other thing that I dwell briefly is the timing of Barletta Pride . On June 9, next we go to vote for the round of balloting, maybe yes maybe no. I do not know precisely what is expected in the program of Barletta Pride for that day, so I wonder if it is logistically difficult to reconcile the two. If it is not the problem there would not even from the point of view of organization – logistics. ”

Gay Pride in Barletta. Cannito mayoral candidate: “Favourable to the sponsorship of the City” | Edition of Barletta – Andria – Trani – The Italian newspaper

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Apr 112013
 
500 coppie gay

The school of sculpture at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Catanzaro on the occasion of the conclusion of the project "Hermes: linking network to fight sexual and gender stigma" approved and financed by the European Union Daphne III programme, conceived and proposed by the Department of theories and methods of human and Social Sciences of the Università degli Studi di Napoli "Federico II", in collaboration with the Complutense University of Madrid, University College Dublin School of Social Justice and associations "Le Kassandre", "Arcigay Napoli Antinous" and "Palermo", HOSTED by activates the largest social integration project on Calabria from 25 May to 25 October 2013.

Local families, voluntarily propostesi host in their homes for six months same-sex couples in financial difficulty, from all over Italy and guests will repay sharing daily experiences of confrontation culinary, social, creative, ethnic and cultural diversity. If the economic crisis that our country is experiencing becomes urgent, on the other hand the availability and acceptance of Catanzaro show that the inhabitants towards the guests, became a source of growth towards the development of ethical and cultural values. Many of the international economic GDP can be measured by the degree of integration and the degree of host connected to it and the examples are many, and on the basis of these principles is intended to secure the emancipation of Calabrese. Catanzaro is ready to take revenge. If until now no important sign of emancipation in the dynamics of gender equality was never marked at national level from Calabria, now the city is ready to welcome and especially to accommodate 500 gay couples from all over Italy. The initiative is part of a larger project enabled by the Academy of Fine Arts in Catanzaro and especially the school of sculpture, which emphasizes the need for time integration as a tool for economic and cultural growth. The art as a means of spiritual elevation must be about involving others, because instill the individual is the result of experiences with others and whether they have been up to the expectations of integration and happiness an entire social world will be improved for reflection of them. A video presentation, collect the impressions of people and a willingness to accommodate couples for the long term and in their homes.

students involved in the project:

Mariateresa Sorbara/Simone Fabietti/Leonardo Cannistrà/Colao/Valeria Dardanus/

Carmela Cosco/Donated/Laura Salvi/Francesca De Fazio/Vincenzo

Salem/Martina Parretta/John Row

Integration project: 500 gay couples in Catanzaro

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Apr 112013
 
Stop the violence

Last night, my friend Buzz O’Neill was beaten up on George’s Street in Dublin for being gay.

Buzz explained what happened over on GCN, “I kissed my friend goodbye on the corner of the laneway, beside the dry cleaners and there was a taxi stopped beside me. One of the guys in it shouted ‘fucking faggot’ out the window. I told him to ‘fuck off’, and he spat at me out of the taxi.” The man and three others got out of the taxi and proceeded to attack Buzz. Luckily, the bouncers from The George were there to intervene.

Yes, this still happens. Yes, this is Dublin in 2013. Yes, this is gay-bashing.

On Sunday, the Constitutional Convention will be voting on whether to recommend to the government to provide for marriage equality. It’s a tale of two cities. On one end of the spectrum, a kiss-in is being organised to take place outside the Gaiety on Sunday, and Pantibar will show the results of the Constitutional Convention vote live. Meanwhile, homophobes are beating a bloke up outside a bar.

When I tweeted that I hoped Buzz was ok, the reaction from people was one of shock. Wow, people still get beaten up for being gay in Dublin? It’s surprising, right? As cities go, Dublin is pretty gay, but sometimes it’s easy to forget that the city’s general atmosphere of tolerance, open-mindedness, diversity, acceptance and care is in fact a bubble – a bubble that can be burst with a punch in the eye outside The G on a Wednesday night.

Why is this still happening? Let’s get real here. I’m not surprised someone shouted “fucking faggot” at someone coming out of The George. I’m really angry and sad that Buzz got beaten up, but this happens. It’s happening less, but it happens. People have their own personal reasons for engaging in a homophobic attack. But until gay people are actually afforded the same rights as straight people, in their relationships, workplaces, schools and families, until then, we have to face up to the fact that Irish law views gays in pretty much the same way as thugs on George’s Street do. Our legislation gay-bashes us. Our media gay-bashes us. Our TDs who fight the tide of equality gay-bash us. Religious leaders gay-bash us.

Polarised debate
The topics of gay rights and specifically gay marriage have received more and more coverage over the past decade. It’s a huge movement, and while some societies are affording lesbians and gays equal marriage rights, many aren’t. Many see civil marriage rights as an inevitability, but there’s a real problem with how the debate has been and continues to be framed here. I’m sick of it. It’s time to stop positioning gay people as punching bags – both figuratively and literally – in the context of this debate.

The main problem with how the Irish media frames the debate is around a skewed view of what ‘balance’ is. ‘Middle Ireland’, the ‘silent majority’, the ‘mainstream’, gay people are told, are not ready for something so drastic as equality. I don’t know about you, but I never actually hear that middle ground. What I hear again and again is yet another articulate gay person trying to hold their temper while they are subjected to ignorant and juvenile arguments. And I hear an opposing view, generally one from the far out end of Catholicism, blustering about children’s rights (which Civil Partnership denies, thank you very much), and trying desperately to fight against equality with arguments based on their own personal belief systems or grievances. I don’t hear middle Ireland. I don’t hear a middle ground. I don’t hear the mainstream. I don’t hear the 71% of Irish people who believe the Irish government should amend the law to provide civil marriages for same-sex couples, or the 75% who said they would vote yes in a referendum to extend civil marriage to same-sex couples, or the 72% who believe that denying civil marriage to same-sex couples is a form of discrimination*. I don’t hear the voices of teenagers and grannies who think “I don’t mind, actually.” All I hear is hate.

Constructing polarised conversations for the sake of ‘good radio’, ‘watchable TV’, ‘lively debate’, or an urge to get a radio programme or TV show’s hashtag trending doesn’t serve anyone because no real information emerges. All you come away with is conflict and division. Facts and reason are drowned out by emotional arguments and inaccuracies. It’s pointless. And while listening to Pat Kenny’s radio programme yesterday morning where the editor of GCN, Brian Finnegan, was met with bizarre anti-equality arguments from Gerry Fahey, a sickening feeling resurfaced. Because there is something more insidiously harmful going on. Broadcasters will cite ‘balance’ as a defense for allowing these views to be broadcast. But I’m sorry, there is nothing balanced about someone going on air and voicing opinions that are hateful and discriminatory. The pro-marriage equality side doesn’t do that, yet the anti side seems to have a free pass to bang on about whatever paper thin argument, conspiracy theory, or downright homophobic view they want. I am OVER it.

Impact
Consider the impact of hearing those viewpoints every time a marriage equality debate happens. Think about the psychological damage it does. Being told that you’re subordinate in a society you contribute to is so incredibly hurtful. The pain of being told that you don’t deserve equal rights just because of how you were born doesn’t go away. And every time a Liveline or a Pat Kenny or a Prime Time or a Last Word or a Tonight With Vincent Browne or a George Hook or a Late Late stokes those flames, it burns and blisters inside all over again.

Think about the confirmation and boost that genuinely homophobic people get from hearing their arguments reinforced on radio or TV. Think about the confidence it gives them. Enough confidence, perhaps, to give a “fucking faggot” a thump on the street.

Think about the impact it has on people who are struggling with their sexuality, who have to listen to people saying: you’re not equal to me, you don’t have an equal role in society, you don’t deserve the things that I have, your relationships aren’t as important as mine, you are less than me, you shoudn’t have children, and I will fight tooth and nail to ensure discrimination against you remains enshrined in law. How long can you expect people to block those punches for? How long must a minority remain on the ropes and be told j

LGBT people have a unique set of psychological and mental health challenges because of discrimination in society. A 2009 study of over 1,100 LGBT people in Ireland** titled Supporting LGBT Lives: A Study of the Mental Health and Well-Being of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People yielded the following results and more. 80% of LGBT people in Ireland have been verbally abused as a consequence of their sexuality. 25% have been punched, kicked or beaten as a result of their LGBT status. 8% have been attacked with a weapon – a knife, gun, bottle or stick – on at least one occassion as a result of being LGBT. 9% have been the victim of a sexual attack as a consequence of being LGBT. 50% have been called abusive names related to the sexual orientation in school. Over 25% have been verbally abused in the workplace. 10% admit to missing work because they were afraid of being attacked or threatened in the workplace for being LGBT. A staggering 90% of LGBT people have experienced feelings of depression at some point, and 60% directly link that depression to social and or personal challenges connected with LGBT identity including stugma and social isolation. 25% have taken medication prescribed by a doctor for anxiety or depression. 84% engage in binge drinking intermittently or regularly, 60% feel they should reduce their intake of alcohol. The study found that heavy alcohol consumption was strongly associated with a need to ‘mask’ distressing emotional states, and using alcohol as a coping mechanism or form of self-medication. 27% have self-harmed at least once. 18% have attempted suicide at least once. If producers and presenters looked at these statistics, and realised the heightened vulnerability of LGBT people’s mental health before engaging in another ruthless marriage equality debate, they might rethink ‘balance’.

If you honestly think the anti-equality rhetoric doesn’t have an impact, check out what’s happening in France right now. Homophobic attacks have tripled in the wake of the anti-gay marriage movement. We need to stop giving hate a platform. It has real consequences.

Referendum fear
The polls say Ireland is ready for marriage equality, but a referendum might have to be part of that change, even if many would argue that it’s not necessary. I’ve been working on an oral history of the marriage equality movement in Ireland over the past six months, and there’s one common reaction when talking to gay rights campaigners about the prospect of a referendum: aprehension bordering on fear. LGBT people don’t fear a referendum because of the result. We all know the Irish public is ready to accept their lesbian and gay brothers and sisters, children, friends, colleagues and parents as equals. The terror associated with a referendum is not about the score, it’s about the fight. It’s not going to be a clean one. The vitriol and misinformation the anti-equality representatives spread is traumatic for LGBT people.

The messages of hate, the horrible insinuations, the derogatory remarks, the bigotry and ignorance and spitefulness, are all trademarks of those who fight equality, and in a referendum setting they have the potential to become amplified to a piercing level. It takes a lot of resiliance not to feel beaten down by that. LGBT people need strength in the roaring red face of hate, but also solidarity, support and kindness. LGBT people have thick skin. But that hate gets under your skin no matter how thick it is. It permeates every part of your psyche, it can make you feel angry and isolated, lonely and hurt. And I don’t think any minority should be asked to put up with that.

A dead argument
At the heart of all the arguments against gay marriage are two things that are also at the heart of gay-bashing. The first is fear. Fear of change. Fear of progress. Fear of disrupting a status quo that serves those who control and maintain it. Fear of sexuality. Fear of examining one’s own sexuality. The second is homophobia. I’ve never been met with an argument against gay marriage that isn’t rooted in homophobia. It might be homophobia as defined by religion. It might be homophobia defined by ignorance, or by living a closed, single-minded life devoid of contact with other people of different races, creeds, upbringings, sexualities, professions and political philosophies. It might be homophobia born from insecurity with one’s own sexuality. There are some opponants to gay marriage who at this stage are so obsessed with gay people that they would almost qualify for having their own float at Pride. Often when listening to their emotional red-eyed arguments, I can’t help but think of that proverb – when you point a finger at someone, three point back at yourself. Then there’s the arguments against gays having and raising children. It comes down to the outrageous belief that gay people, particularly gay men, are a threat to children. It’s such a horrible accusation and insinuation to make, but it’s one that’s out there and one that almost without fail is subtly or blatently projected in every debate about gay marriage and gay parenting. When I hear it, my stomach lurches, and I can’t imagine how the amazing gay parents I know feel. And when that insinuation is made by members of the Catholic Church, an organisation that for decades colluded and covered up the rape and abuse of children… well, what can you say?

Now I know marriage isn’t a perfect institution. I know there are problems with it. I know some gay people feel as though marriage has monopolised the gay rights debate. I know some people feel it’s a middle class debate. I know some lesbian feminists and queer men have a problem with gay people supposedly buying into a heteronormative institution. I also know other lesbian feminists and other queer men who recognise all of these things and still say lesbian and gay people deserve the right to marry. We all deserve equality and access to every institution straight people have access to, even if those institutions are a bit shoddy. Like many people, I have no intention of getting married. But I fervently believe everyone has the right to. Because as long as legislation gay bashes, so will thugs on the street.

Over the past four years, there has been endless discourse about rebuilding Ireland, questioning what kind of future we envisage, and what kind of society we want. And while it most certainly is always darkest before the dawn, when the sun eventually rises, it should rise for everyone.

*Source: Marriage Equality Millard Brown (Lansdowne) poll 2012
**PDF of report.

 

 

 

Una Mullally

Gay-bashing, gay marriage, and how the media needs to get a grip. | Pop Life

Apr 112013
 
Arne Zillmer von den Stader Jusos freut sich auf viele Teilnehmer

Still one of the most common swear words in Germany's football stadiums is "Gay". Complete fan curves spread homophobic content every week. But there are movements. The nationwide active campaign "Football fans against homophobia" committed against rights machinations and intolerance in the stadium. Now also the young socialists from the district want to put a sign of Stade.

The SPD youth organization organized a football tournament against discrimination on 16 June. Motto: "kick it! Football tournament against racism and homophobia". The event is supported by the campaign "Football fans against homophobia". "We very pleased, that we get the support of such a well-known campaign. Also the famous banner, which was already at the games of big clubs such as HSV, Werder Bremen or St. Pauli watch, will be with us on the spot ", says Arne Zillmer of the Young Socialists, has reported to the tournament.

Kick It

The event should all people enjoy football sharpen, "regardless of origin, gender, or sexual orientation" Zillmer. Racist and homophobic sayings are unfortunately everyday life in the Football League. "We want to show that there is another way," Zillmer said.

The tournament starts at 13: 00 in the gym at the Porta Coeli school in heavens gates. There is not an entry fee or admission. All sports enthusiasts aged 14-35, regardless of sportiness, Club membership, or sex can participate. It is played in teams with five players.

Apr 112013
 
Les pro-mariage gay manifestent et dénoncent les agressions homophobes

Thousands of supporters of marriage for all gathered Wednesday evening in Paris to denounce the intensification of punch shares and attacks organized by the extreme fringe of the opponents to the Bill.

In a tense where the rapporteur of the Bill, the socialist MP Erwann Binet, has decided to cancel its next public meetings for security reasons, and a few days after the assault of a homosexual, Wilfried de Bruijn, the streets of Paris, thousands of marriage for all activists gathered outside City Hall in Paris, Wednesday, April 10, in the pouring rain, to denounce "hatred that has intensified in recent weeks".

The call including Act - Up, SOS homophobia, AIDS, and the collective Yes-Yes-Yes, the demonstrators gathered in front of the City Hall chanted "Homophobia kills, Bal homophobic!". They were joined by the PS candidate for mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo, who denounced "violence of the words which begets violence of acts".

Since last week, supporters of marriage for all worried in fact multiplication of pressures and punching operations: the home of Senator IDU Chantal Jouanno has been the subject of a siege by the French spring April 4 while Senator ecologist of the Val-de-Marne, Esther Benbassa, claimed to have received threats by phone and mail.

These attacks are the result of speech by spokespersons of the homosexual anti-marriage, denounces Wilfried Bruijn, injured in the face last Saturday while he was walking the streets of Paris with his companion. "The demonstration for all is responsible for, but must be defined, they are responsible for what? Is that they are responsible for my injury now? What is Frigide Barjot me has pulled a tooth? What is Christine Boutin hit me in the head? No, well obviously not. "But I'm talking about something else: they hold a discourse of exclusion from months and months, and it creates a climate in which people can exceed acceptable limits in physical action", he said to FRANCE 24.

Rassemblement contre l'homophobie devant l'Hôtel de Ville de Paris, le 10 avril 2013

Rally against homophobia before the City Hall of Paris, April 10, 2013

"Of the outfits excited and malicious"

Have homosexual anti-marriage been overwhelmed by their extreme fringes? Operations in recent days pushed the UMP and the organizers of the demonstration for all to distance themselves with supporters of French, collective spring that says "accompany" the actions of "harassment of representatives of power".

Frigid Barjot said on France 2 "condemn firmly the acts of vandalism, insults, catches people party", organized by "of excited, malicious, cells at the limit of delinquency". Another spokesman for the anti-marriage for all, Xavier Bongibault, considers fight homophobia and be a moderator homosexual anti-marriage. "If Frigide Barjot, Laurence Tcheng and I had not taken the head of the demonstration for all November 17, it would currently be Alain Escadet and Civitas which would be at the head of the movement against this Bill, and what would it be so if it was them at the head of this movement!" So no we are absolutely not responsible for this climate,"he said to FRANCE 24.

The bill introducing the marriage and adoption for all is currently under discussion in the Senate. The upper House has already approved the first two articles of the Statute.

Gay pro-marriage manifest and denounce the homophobic - FRANCE - FRANCE 24 assault

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Apr 112013
 
Men kiss among other couples participating in the Guinness World Record attempt in the longest continuous kiss in Pattaya on Feb. 12, 2012

Thailand, which has arguably the most laid-back attitudes in Asia if not the world toward its very visible lesbian, gay and transgender communities, appears set to consider the passage of a same-sex civil union bill sometime in 2013, gender rights activists say.

For two months, lesbian, gay and transgender activists have been pounding the pavements of Bangkok and other cities, seeking to collect signatures for people who support the recently drafted same-sex marriage bill.

After wandering for hours in the sun, 50-year-old Natee Theerarojanapong, the president of Thailand’s Political Gay Group, rested on a footpath and talked about the community’s campaign to win support for the measure.

“I will fight until Thais accept that we’re all human beings. And that we deserve the right that everyone shares,” said Theerarojanapong, who has collected more than 1,000 signatures so far. “We need the right to love, to be loved and the right to stay with our beloved one, like everyone does.”

If passed, Thailand’s measure would be the first legal recognition for same-sex couples in Asia, much of which is notoriously conservative. Eight of the 11 countries that have legalized same-sex marriage are in Europe. Only Argentina, Canada and South Africa are outside Europe.

In Taiwan, which holds what is billed as Asia’s largest annual gay rights parade, a same-sex marriage bill has been pending in the legislature since 2003. A same-sex Buddhist couple married in Taipei last year without waiting around for the law. Last July, Vietnam said it would consider an amendment to the country’s marriage laws allowing for same sex marriages, but so far there has been no movement.

After being denied the right to marry in Thailand last year, Theerarojanapong and his partner filed a petition with the National Human Rights Commission, arguing that he has been discriminated against because of his own sexual orientation. The first petition for marriage registration between same-sex couples filed in Thailand, it was followed by a move by the House of Representatives to draft a bill on same-sex marriage which was finished in January and is now awaiting a hearing session.

Despite Thailand’s lenient attitude toward gay sexual practices, much of Thai society also remains deeply conservative, and getting the bill through the parliament is expected to be difficult.

Wirath Kalayasiri of the opposition Democratic Party, who presented the bill to the House, described it as a dicey political move. While gay and transgender establishments dot Bangkok’s main business district, last year a national government-sponsored survey showed that nearly 60 percent of Thais believe that same-sex marriage is unnatural and sets a bad example for children.

Those attitudes could be changing, as they appear to be changing all over the planet. Last July Nok Yonlada, nee Kirkkong Suanyos, won a district seat in the Nan Provincial Administrative Organization after campaigning openly as a transsexual – followed by news media from Japan, Germany, Mexico, the United States and the UK.

Nonetheless, “It’s very risky for me to support the bill,” Wirath said. “There is a lot of teasing from my colleagues saying, ‘Wirath, are you becoming homosexual?’ I know they were only joking, but it is still insulting,” he says.

Many also say the bill still has many loopholes. “The bill declares that it’s only for same-sex marriage, but sexuality is more complicated than just the same or opposite sex,” said Anjana Suvarnnanond, the founder of Anjaree, Thailand’s first lesbian group.

Lawyer Nampufa says that Thai law doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages, civil unions or domestic partnerships and that it’s time to update the country’s marriage law, which has been in place since 1953.

“In fact, homosexuality itself has never been illegal in Thailand. They simply conclude that the marriage can only be approved when both the man and woman consent. So why not amend the law?”

The Sexual Diversity Network is drafting its version of the same-sex marriage bill, in case the House-sponsored version is denied cabinet approval. Vitaya Saeng-aroon from the network says what they’re doing is pushing for equality.

“Some gay groups are afraid that this will stir up the issue and turn public opinion against us, but for me, it’s clear that if we don’t start now, we’ll never have the rights that we should have,” he says.

Saeng-aroon says members of the LGBT community are like second-class citizens.

“It seems like we can do anything, but actually there are many things we can’t do,” he says.

KANNIKAR PETCHKAEW

Thai Gays Say What God Hath Joined, Let No Man Put Asunder | The Irrawaddy Magazine

 

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Apr 112013
 
Uruguay - Un día de festejo, promesas, carcajadas con votos de todos los partidos se aprobó el casamiento entre personas del mismo sexo

The day ended up being historical, although it had begun early with the broad front by proposing to change the lyrics of "Rice pudding" so - in search of gender - equality "senorita" became "little person" and "sewing" to begin to "want" to stop.

Beyond the ineffable proposal of occasion, and as planned, the Chamber of Deputies gave final approval to the so-called "egalitarian marriage law" that allows, among other things, the marriage of persons of the same sex. Some of the people who aspired to that right, at least some of the most striking, fell short last night the bar of Parliament to show their excitement to the cry of "equality!" and "freedom!".

The explosion of joy that sealed the passage of the law, was followed by some kisses between men and one than another caress between women.

The protesters had remained silent during much of the session although heads leaned forward on the Rails when he spoke the Deputy head Valeria Rubino. The parliamentary is a lesbian and said living with his partner wife and a nine-year-old daughter. "She is listening to everything we say here", he said after listening to white Deputy Pablo Abdala warn about the risks of a gay or lesbian couple to adopt a child to raise him. Rubino was dedicated during the meeting to knitting a wool scarf with the colors of the Rainbow.

Those same colors - representing "diversity" - were those of the flag that a few members of the Frente Amplio had hung on the front of the annexe to the Legislative Palace.
This led to the white Jaime Trobo to warn that the fact sat a worrying precedent and requested, no luck, the flags were removed.

Another nationalist, Gerardo Amarilla, was the target of taunts from a group of demonstrators who made it "looks" from the bars when he was arguing against equal marriage. The Presidency of the Chamber, in charge of the colorado Germán Cardoso, claimed to be respect the legislator so evicting the present penalty. While all this was happening, several legislators — some of whom had argued in favor of the gay - rights talked each other room and outpatient and made jokes or funny comments in which the word "fucking" was commonplace.

While in bars a man old bridesmaid dress walked from one side to another encouraging his companions, parliamentarians referred to the "historic moment" that existed with the vote on a law that puts the Uruguay in the list of the twelve countries that allow gay marriage.

When the law was voted by 71 votes in 92, the public erupted in a standing ovation that forced the eviction of the bars. After the collective black sheep held a press conference in which stressed that a had been in favor of "democracy, equality and freedom" and promised to participate in the campaign against the decline in the age of accountability. Then they went to celebrate may 1 square.

Before leaving his home, an official of the Legislative Palace crossed with one of his companions in the lounge of the lost steps and yelled: "!"Tas happy now! you're going to be able to marry! "." The other replied with a laugh that it was rumbling between marble walls.

Leonardo Pereyra

A day of celebration, promises, laughs and whispers about the "fucking"

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Apr 102013
 
2013-04-10_174944

The House of Representatives approved on Wednesday by 71 votes to 92, the proposed equal marriage law, which was approved by the Senate last week. Thus Uruguay became the second country in Latin America to allow this type of union.

It is granted that in a few days will be enacted into law by the Executive.

The Debate
During the debate heard very different positions on family composition and the effects that the law may bring to society. The nationalist deputy Gerardo Amarilla expressed negative feedback to the project on the grounds that "undermines marriage and the family" and "disrupts the rights of the child, considering an object."

For his part, Deputy colorado Fernando Amado said in this debate can not mix politics with philosophy. "We are discussing politics, permeated with philosophical aspects", reproached and added: "The discussion is interspersed".

"The symbol of the word marriage is what it costs to deliver (...) The basis of society is the family, but the family prefab. But that which is based on love and love is not homosexual or heterosexual, "he said. The deputy official, Daisy Tourne joined his arguments and said: "I do not admit that the state tell me that marriage is a union between persons of the opposite sex to procreate."

For its part, the government deputy Sebastián Sabini said they will vote "confident and happy" the bill.

"Tomorrow we will be a more just, more equal and more rights for everyone," he said.

He recalled that Article 8 of the Constitution only distinguishes people by their talents and virtues. "Neither gender nor sexuality fall within the talents and virtues," he said. He added that if the sole purpose of marriage was procreation, "we would have to ban marriage for some couples."

"A marriage is the union of two people who love each other. Nothing more, nothing less, "he said.

Meanwhile, Rep. Pablo Iturralde expressed nationalist vote against the proposal on the grounds that the bill modifies the legal framework to heterosexual marriage. "It should have created a framework for regulating gay marriage, but without changing the regulating the heterosexual" he said.

In the same line also said the nationalist Pablo Abdala. He said he was "willing to legislate" about it and that it was necessary, but that the project was flawed.

"We have all warned that the reform of the civil code is riddled with errors," he said.

Meanwhile Pedro Saravia, a member of the National Alliance, said he agreed "with the origin and principles" that led to the project, but for their mistakes and desprolijidades ends up being "a mess". He said the Senate became worse than it was.

"I can not as a lawyer and legislator generate a legal tool to come to correct mistaken with another law within 60 days," he said. He added: "The trouble is not a good counselor when you have to legislate."

He said that the heterosexual and homosexual unions "are unequal" because some can procreate and others not.

"But I will recognize the same rights. There are common bonds: the feelings, the capacity to love children, to educate them. They should have the same rights. Regarding the ability to adopt, I agree: Nobody gave the assurance that a heterosexual couple educate better than a gay couple, "he said.

Ivan Posada, MP for the Independent Party (IP) said that what we vote is "the act of recognizing those rights that are essential to all human beings" and that he would vote in favor.

Also coincided with the view that the law has improprieties and warned: "It is not the first time that the Senate amendments bring wrong remedies."

Meanwhile, Alvaro Delgado said the Senate was "scribbles" to amend the law and this creates difficulties in its implementation, but anyway will vote.

"Among the form and substance, let us bow at the bottom," he said, while confident that within 90 days generate an amended bill to correct the errors to which he referred.

The nationalist also Jaime Trobo, would vote against, calling it "wrong and inappropriate" the law is being discussed.

"The Constituent understands that parents are a man and a woman," he said.

Instead, the Socialist deputy said Maria Elena Laurnaga no natural joints, on the contrary, there are "social and cultural constructions that are endorsed by the law."

"There has to be risk capacity to change some ways. Because the ways to make the contents. You know very well, "he said.

Laurnaga was interrupted by the ruling also Berta Sanseverino. The deputy said that the law was voted by members of the four parliamentary parties creates "an extraordinarily strong legitimacy and a climate of acceptance that allows too marginalized to ultraconservative sectors".

The project called gay marriage was approved on April 2 in the Senate with votes of legislators from the three main parties.

The Observer continues the discussion around Twitter. Read here the most important interventions

The project.
The original project grew out of a text written by Black Sheep Collective demands that promotes homosexual groups and taken up by members of the Frente Amplio.

"We are living a historical fact. Today Uruguay pay off your debt with many Uruguayans who still suffer discrimination, "said Federico Graña, one of the leaders of the Black Sheep Collective, told The Associated Press. "Today statewide given dignity to the love between two people of the same sex," he added.

If approved in the House of Representatives the bill should be enacted into law by the government within 10 days after the vote.

"Depending on the necessary procedures, we estimate that the first gay couples will be married 90 days after enactment of the law is, it should be in mid-July," said Grana.

Uruguay will thus become the twelfth country in the world and the second in Latin America after Argentina to allow gay marriage throughout its territory. Besides the marriage between same sex, the bill includes other controversial issues, such as allowing gay couples to adopt children.

The Uruguayan legislation allows same sex couples to legalize their union - although not as marriage - and that they aspire to adopt children.

The text to be voted on Wednesday also involves changes to all-gay marriage or not, as for example in deciding the order of names of parents when naming a child, biological or adopted, or begin the process of divorce decision either spouse, so far only women have that right thanks to a standard 1912.

The Church
The Catholic Church urged lawmakers to act "conscientiously" and reject the project and in a statement on the website of the Episcopal Conference of Uruguay said "call equally to unequal realities pretext of equality, non- is inconsistent assimilations justice but will only further weakening marriage. Finding a real difference not discriminate. "

He added that "legislating from abroad following models" without "deepen legal consequences that involve alterations to the set of Uruguayan society on the issue of the family," he adds.

Michelle Suarez, also a member of Black Sheep Collective and participant in the drafting of the original text, told the AP that the new law will also allow foreign gay couples to marry traveling to Uruguay, as already happens with heterosexual couples, "always they meet for regular immigration procedures. "

"This is an issue of freedom of choice of the people and of justice," said Senator Rafael Michelini told The Associated Press at the time of approval in the Senate. "From freedom because the state should not get involved in who to marry one and justice because if you marry abroad with a person of the same sex, if Uruguay then resumes her marriage is recognized," he added.

Uruguayan justice acknowledged for the first time in June a marriage between persons of the same sex to accept request for a Uruguayan and a Spanish previously married in Spain who wanted to formalize their status in the country.

The equal marriage is law in Uruguay

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Apr 102013
 
Government tears up rainbow crossing

A rainbow pedestrian crossing laid across one of Sydney’s busiest thoroughfares for the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras has been torn up by the New South Wales Government overnight.

The brightly coloured crossing across Oxford Street in bustling Taylor Square had become a tourist attraction after being set in place by Lord Mayor Clover Moore, with people having photographs taken on the crossing.

Roads Minister Duncan Gay says the council had not kept to a deal to remove the crossing from the road by the end of March.

His office says cameras monitoring the road showed the crossing had become a safety hazard.

Road workers moved in late last night and began tearing the crossing up.

Mr Gay says the crossing was removed at night because that was the easiest time to do it.

“Look, we did it at night because frankly that is the safest and best time,” he said.

“There is the least traffic about and frankly less chance of (Independent MP) Alex Greenwich and his mates harassing the staff as they go about their work.”

Mr Greenwich says pleas to the Government to preserve the crossing fell on deaf ears.

He says removing it is an aggressive act against the city’s gay and lesbian community.

“They have not explained why they have done it and many people would assume that this is some sort of vendetta against the city of Sydney that they’re trying to enact,” he said.

“The city has made it clear they’re prepared to remove it if they’re instructed to. It seems the Roads Minister himself wanted to be the one to dig up the iconic crossing.”

Mr Greenwich says the Government has torn up an initiative that could have become a new icon for Sydney.

“The Assistant Police Commissioner, Mark Murdoch, said it was an innovation in pedestrian safety,” he said.

“If we look around the world, installations like Abbey Road and a rainbow crossing in west Hollywood have also caused no accidents.

“There’s no justification for this aggressive act.”

A local resident who watched the removal says she is sad to see the crossing go.

“It’s upsetting, it’s sad to see a bright, nice colourful rainbow being replaced by dirty old tarmac,” she said.

“Like if it was a pothole and dangerous to people they would have left it there but it’s just a shame, it seems like a waste of money and just a shame.”

 

 

 

Government tears up rainbow crossing – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Apr 102013
 
Singapore city skyline

Following the Singapore High Court’s decision to dismiss a challenge to the country’s anti-gay sex laws, Tania De Rozario recaps a long list of injustice and discrimination suffered by gay people, and argues why equality is needed right away.

… it is not that the courts do not have any role to play in defining moral issues when such issues are at stake. However, the courts’ power to intervene can only be ­exercised with established principles. The issue in the present case no doubt is challenging and important, but it is not one which, in my view, justifies heavy-handed judicial intervention ahead of democratic change.
- Singapore High Court Justice Quentin Loh

***

When Mathew Shepard was murdered in Wyoming in 1998, I was 17. I got the news from a close friend who had recently relocated to the US to pursue her education. She was in the process of coming out and wept over the phone, after having attended a candlelight vigil her school had held.

The crime affected me deeply. Shepard, 21, was killed because he was gay. He was driven to a deserted field by two men, tied to a fence, and beaten unconscious with a handgun. When he was spotted the next day by a passerby, he was still unconscious – so badly beaten that he was initially mistaken for a scarecrow. His injuries were too serious to be operated on. He died in hospital.

The violence of the crime shook me with a ferocity that I have never quite forgotten. Shepard and I had been almost the same age at the time. And while I’d never hidden the fact that I was gay, the urgent realisation that such hatred for queer people exists, is what pushed me, unequivocally, out of the closet for good. The image of Shepard that I stared at online for hours remains embedded in my memory today; it reminds of why I must exist, visibly, as a queer person: because there are simply too many of us who can’t.

Tonight’s (April 9) judgment upholding 377A has not just made me angry; it has literally and justifiably, distressed me. I am distressed about what this judgment says about our courts, about what it implies for my friends who are gay and male, about what it says about this country and about how it affects my relationship to my country-of-birth.

The lead-up to this court case was nothing new: religious leaders encroaching upon secular society, political leaders hurting their behinds on fences, slippery-slope arguments pivoting the fate of an entire nation’s moral fabric upon whether or not the sex lives of homosexual men continue to remain criminalized – a claim so baseless that it would be laughable if the inanity of its constant regurgitation was not so mind-numbing. Oh, and let’s not forget the 377A-suporters who petitioned the government to invest taxpayer money into “conducting a comprehensive study into the ill-effects of promoting homosexuality in culture”. Er. Right. Because honest socio-cultural inquiry involves conducting a “comprehensive study” based on conclusions one has already come to.

If this is the level of discourse Singapore is leaning towards, then our aspirations to become a first-world nation –a nation of compassionate hearts, critical minds and progressive debate– is doomed.

And if the ill-will and ignorance propagated against queer people onlineprior to this court case, is not reason enough to repeal 377A, I don’t know what is. The fact that a senior pastor responded to the debate with what sounded pretty much like a battle-cry, set alarm bells off in many heads: He told his church that “we must not be oblivious to our responsibility as an army to push back the powers of darkness”, that the church “must get herself into battle footing, and be battle-ready”, that “the first salvo was fired”, that “churches are beginning to mobilise themselves”, that “the war will be winnable” and that “the church will arise victorious”.

If one religious community had raised this “war-cry” against another, I am pretty sure that the law would have intervened in half the time it took him to take the incriminating evidence of his own violent imagination out of his post. But because it was a rally-cry against equal rights for homosexuals, no action has been taken and his “apology” has seemed to suffice. Double-standards, much?

During the Shepard case, the murderers’ lawyers claimed “gay panic” in defense of the crime, as if it was a justifiable reason to torture and murder someone. Even after they were found guilty, it took a decade of politics following Shepard’s tragic death for Wyoming to finally pass a hate crime bill pertaining to sexual orientation. Even in those final proceedings, Republican Party member Virginia Foxx, in an effort to block it, claimed that Shepard’s death being called a “hate crime” was a hoax.

Does Singapore need a similar tragedy to occur for our court to understand the importance and role of the law in relation to minority communities? Does Singapore need a similar tragedy to occur in order for us to abolish laws that actively and/or tangentially persecute specific groups of people?

If all people are not afforded equality under the law, then the law exists solely to serve the ideologies of a select few. By retaining this law on grounds that “the courts’ power to intervene can only be exercised with established principles” and that the issues in this present case “is not one which… justifies heavy-handed judicial intervention”, what the court is essentially saying is that its job encompasses waiting for tides to change before it officiates any “difficult” decisions… even if it believes in the fairness of those decisions. Is it therefore adopting the role of an administrator of the status quo rather than the role of an institution that stands for justice? If this is the case, I am not sure what the courts are there for, because from my experience, the status quo tends to take care of itself just fine.

One of the repeated arguments reiterated by supporters of the status quo, was the idea that repealing 377A will lead to the destruction of the basic family unit and the moral fabric of society. That is where conservatives and I have someone in common: The idea of family is important to me. And I believe that anything powerful enough to destroy families or demean the moral fabric of society, needs to be dealt with. Let me give you a few examples:

I have a friend who was beaten up by his father when he came out as gay, and subsequently sent to another country. I have another who was dragged across the floor by her hair and thrown out of the house. Late last year, the media covered a story about a group of public bus-drivers in uniform hurled derogatory words at a transgendered woman for simply existing in a public space. A few months ago, the papers covered a story about a woman who was gang-raped in an effort to “correct” her sexuality.

This is what breaks up family units and destroys the moral fabric of our society; beliefs – cultural or otherwise – that demonise, stigmatise, alienate and harm fellow human beings. Not people fighting to repeal an archaic colonial statute that labels people criminals based on who they have consensual sex with. Take it from first-hand experience, if you must: When I was twelve, I was “exorcised” against my will; a seven-hour-long ordeal intended to cast “lesbian demons” out of my body. Four years later, when my mother found out I was dating a girl, she informed me that I was going to hell.

These stories are all around us. If you have not seen or heard them, then you are going out of your way to not see or hear them. And if the court is telling us that legally-induced stigma does not add to already rampant culturally-induced stigma, then it is it is practising denial, and not justice.

The trouble is that 377A is not just about criminalisation of homosexual sex. It is a symbol that says, yeah, it’s legitimate, based on sexual orientation, to deny a graduate a teaching job, to deny a teenager a role model on television, to tell someone that they are less of a legitimate human being. It is sends a message to the public, telling them that it is ok to label someone else, not of your sexual orientation a faggot, dyke, ah qua, sinner, deviant, sick because technically, they should be in jail anyway. It is a symbol that says it is legitimate for religious leaders to position satire as fact and demonise an entire community by claiming that gay men want to “sodomise your sons”. It validates and is rooted in the very same violence that drive gay teens to suicide, drives wedges between parents and children, leads to pretend marriages that end in shambles. It is a statute that effectively institutionalises inequality.

Dear High Court: I would like my male, gay friends to not be criminalized under my country’s “justice” system. I would like to dispense with a law that institutionalises discrimination against LGBT people in secular society. I would like the homophobia that 337A helps perpetuate to not end in me or anyone I love being bullied, beat up, called names, sexually assaulted, dismissed from their jobs. I would like to live in a country that values families, children and general humanity enough to understand that the discrimination 377A perpetuates does not sit well in a society “based on justice and equality”.

Dear High Court: I would like for all this to happen before it takes a tragedy to open our eyes to the fact that discrimination against homosexual people is not the mark of a “kinder and gentler society” and not at all a symbolic gesture of “My Singapore”.

Dear High Court: I am not prepared to wait for “democratic change” to occur at such a cost. And when it comes to justice, I am not prepared to wait at all.

 

 

 

Tania De Rozario

Fridae | Not prepared to wait