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10 days of Gaelife: Wed 7th to Fri 16th January 2009

Wednesday, 7th January

The news media caught up with the hideous comments that were aired by the BBC on 29th December concerning lesbians. In the programme, The Most Annoying People of 2008, LoRo appeared at number 43. Some unknown “DJ” and a repulsive “porn actor” decided to air their views about the couple – according to the London Independent:

[DJ] Spoony said: “Let the munters and mingers get each other – that’s cool because no-one really wants them.

“But when they’re hot and fit and Hollywood superstars, they should be saved for guys – not me, but other guys.”

[Ron] Jeremy, 55, said he would like to have a threesome with the couple and even described ejaculating over them.

“Those two girls are both very good-looking, so I would love to be in the middle of that,” he said.

“They would do each other, do me, do each other, back and forth, then I do a pop and it’s over.

“The polite thing to do is to pop on both of them.”

Unlikely allies, Tory MP Anne Widdecombe and UK gay activist Peter Thatchell, have spoken out strongly against the show’s content. And what was Auntie’s response to complaints about this? Read on:

The BBC has clear guidelines around the representation of people of all cultures and backgrounds on all our channels and stations and we’re committed to reflecting the lives and concerns of all our diverse audiences.

Most Annoying People 2008 was a light-hearted and comedic look at people and events that have annoyed, amused or appalled us over the last 12 months. The contributors to the programme were expressing their own personal views and opinions. What’s key is the context in which those comments were made. In this case they were meant in a light hearted way with no malicious intent.

Why not share your own views, by sending a complaint to Ofcom and to the BBC directly? I did, and it was quite the catharsis.

How appropriate, then, that the BBC did not make Stonewall‘s Workplace Equality Index.

Thursday, 8th January

On the other side of the Atlantic, a Florida senator has proposed legislation to allow same-sex couples to adopt. In what 365gay.com describes as “the most repressive of its kind in the country”, the current law allows same-sex couples to foster only, but not to adopt. Sounds remarkably similar to our own little island.. Observers don’t hold out too much hope for the proposal – just a few short months after the state voted to ban same-sex marriage – and the usual “pro-family” types are already chirruping against it, but perhaps it will be the beginning of improvements for LGBT people in Florida.

In somewhat more optimistic news further north along the Eastern seaboard, New York’s Senate has elected a supporter of same-sex marriage and other LGBT issues as its Senate Majority Leader. Democrat Malcom Smith was elected after much wrangling with three conservative, dissident Democrats who are opposed to his pro-gay stance. So far, it appears that Smith did not make any concessions in that respect to gain the support of the three.

Friday, 9th January

More good news, from two respective countries. Firstly, in the Eastern US again, New York City Council Speaker, and ‘sister’, Christine Quinn (right) has been named by The Irish Echo as “Irish American of the Year”. Quinn, who visited Ireland in 2006, was praised for her work as member of the Council and in relation to Irish causes. She has also boycotted the New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade as a result of its decision to ban the inclusion of LGBT groups. Take that, AOH.

Back to this side of the Atlantic again then to Africa, and some good news out of bad from one of the most homophobic government’s in the world. In Uganda, a court found in favour of two LGBT activists in ruling that the authorities violated their privacy in a raid on the activists’ offices. Victor Mukasa and Oyo Yvonne, members of SMUG (Sexual Minorities Uganda, and a fabulous acronym), were successful in their lawsuit, after documents were seized, Mukasa was subsequently compelled to flee the country temporarily, and Yvonne was made to strip naked during the raid “to prove she was a woman”.

Saturday, 10th January
While the BBC refuses to apologise for its broadcast of sexually degrading comments about lesbians, the Carphone Warehouse thought better: they apologised to a customer who discovered among his documents a note from a member of staff describing the customer as “a big gay”.

Sunday, 11th January
Although everyone has known it for years, a politician from Poland’s ruling party has put the question directly to the country’s biggest internalised homophobe: Jarosław Kaczyński – are you gay?  We have yet to hear a response from the former leader of a nation that instigated a database compiling information on Polish homosexuals, and who still had the nerve to tell the world that his government’s homophobia was “a myth“.

Monday, 12th January

The National Lesbian and Gay Federation got so caught by awards fever that they decided to launch their own show – The Galas. You can log on to their site here and nominate your person of the year, volunteer of the year, blogger of the year and journo of the year among others.

The Iona Institute was in an ecstacy of Catholic smugness when the Irsh Times printed the results of the Institute pole in which 92% of people said they thought children should be raised by a mother and father. Not everyone agreed with the Institute as shown in this letter printed int the same paper.

In Malta, a politican was so enraged with the Pope’s latest hate-filled homophobic statement that he excommunicated himself from the church.

February is LGBT history month in the UK and, to mark it, the Petrie Museum in London is holding a festival of events celebrating homosexuality in ancient Greece. There will be seminars, readings and exhibitions of all things gay and is definitely worth a look if you’re over the water.

Tuesday, 13th January

There is uproar when Prince Harry is caught on camera saying some rather unprincely things. He used the word Paki and the media went into meltdown, but surely his homophobic remarks warranted the same reaction. You’d be hard-pished to find anything about it on the news even when Stonewall called for an apology.

Meanwhile, the Scottish gay community is calling for a lift on the ban gay marriage. At the moment, under current legislation, couples can have a civil partnership but not a marriage, and not in a faith-based ceremony.

The Scottish government should read this report from America, which shows that apparently it’s good for your political career to vote for gay rights.

The murder of trans activist Cynthia Nicole is just the latest slaying of trans women in Honduras. In addition to these violent crimes, police attacked people handing out HIV/AIDS information.

In more news from the Americas, a teacher in Chile has been sacked for being a lesbian. Sandra Cecilia Pavez Pavez had been a teacher for 23 years but had her teacher licence taken from her when she admitted to church officials that she’s a lesbian. Ms Pavez is taking the school authorities to court. Go girl!

Some angry lesbains got their knickers in a twist over the new movie Lesbian Vampire Killers, saying that it is “shamelessly catering to men’s girl-on-girl fantasies”. However, the maers of the film insist it’s about strong women and “you can read it as a feminist text as well”.

After being taken to court for lack of equality, the council of London suburb Islington has launched a charter of LGBT rights.

Wednesday, 14th January

It seems the pink pound isn’t immune to the current economic conditions. Huge gay media outlet PlanetOut has axed half of its workforce. Added to that, Clonezone one of the world’s largest gay chains, has gone into liquidation.

Things have gotten gayer in Sundance. The film festival has announced it is launching a Queer Lounge in which they will screen gay films. IFI take note.

Also in the art world, there was news that Susan Sontag’s (left) diaries have been published.

In a ‘you don’t say’ report published today, it seems that family acceptance of a person’s sexuality is key to their mental health.

With the inaureragtion of Barack Obama on the horizon, gay group were wondering what his policies will be in relation to lgbt rights. Meanwhile, over here in the EU, the parliament recommends recognition of same-sex marriage. However, things are still pretty bad in Iraq, with torture not uncommon.

An ad campaign in Florida is trying to scare people into believing that trans people are predetory and dangerous. Last year, Gainseville in Florida decided that transpeople should have the right to use whichever public toilet they feel relates to them. Now, opposers to the law have launched an ad campaign which makes it look like the law gives sex abusers the right to hunt victims in public toilets.

Ten years after President Mbeki bloked Edwin Cameron from taking a seat on the Constiutional Court, Cameron has finally taken up the position. Mbeki barred him as Cameron is openly gay and was one of the most high-profile poeple to come out about his HIV-positive status.

Also in South Africa, a gay couple were refused a civil ceremony for no reason. They had been given a date to marry, arrived at the civil office but were told by the offical that it was not ‘normal’ and that he only does ‘normal’ marriages.

Thursday, 15th January

The UN are working towards the release of 9 gay men in Senegal. The men were jailed for ‘acts against nature’. The EU is also supporting mutual recognition of same-sex relationships.

The international gay communuty is calling on lgbt youth to unite and get active. To sign up to the LGBT Youth World List visit www.iglyo.com or www.ilga.org.

Legendary London gay venue G.A.Y is closing its doors. The club, which is housed in The Astoria, has been forced to shut down to make way for London’s Crossrail. The G.A.Y. night will now take place in Heaven.

Gay footballers in the UK have had enough and are calling for tougher measure to end homophobia in the game. After the arrests of many people, including a 13-year-old at a match recently, the group The Gay Footballers Supporters Network have said that not enough is being done.

Friday, 16th January

The tragic case of Shaun Dykes shows hownhomophobic chanting can result in tragedy. The 17 year-old gay man committed suicide while people jeered and goaded him, with some even taping footage on their mobile phones, according to an inquest into his death.

A recent study on prejudice found that gay is the new black when it comes to intolerence and hatred.

A group of legal experts in America have come to the conclsuion that the Prop 8 outcome could be illegal.
“Proposition 8 creates the dangerous precedent that the legal and civil rights of minorities, indeed, of any individual or group, could be excised from the California Constitution and the courts would be powerless to reverse such discrimination,” they said.

The men charged with raping a woman because she’s a lesbian, have pleaded not guilty to the crime. The trial continues.

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