30 Oct 2007

What did Clumsy Cameron really say?

The BBC reported the headline today 'Lithuanians riled by Cameron quip'. The Tories responded saying that David Cameron meant no offence at an off-the-cuff remark at the Arts Council last week. The Tory leader's apparantly commented that he hoped no grants were given to "one-legged Lithuanian dance troupes". This hit the headlines in the Baltic state and
Ambassador Vygaudas Usackas wrote to Mr Cameron saying it had caused "great concern" in his homeland. The Tories said he had been referring to concerns that grants ended up with unusual causes and meant no offence. The remark was reported in the Mail On Sunday last week sating that Mr Cameron had been overheard referring to "one-legged Lithuanian lesbians". His office later said that was not correct and he had referred to "one-legged Lithuanian dance troupes", to make a serious point about Lottery grants.
The story was picked up by Lithuanian newspaper Lietuvos Rytas, and prompted a letter from the Lithuania's ambassador, Mr Usackas who wrote "It would be incredibly helpful to understand exactly what you [Cameron] meant when referring to 'Lithuanians' and how this relates, if at all, to the Arts Council. This will enable me to pass your [Cameron's] message to the many Lithuanians living in the UK and also to their homeland, where this report has caused a great deal of concern." A Tory party spokeswoman said that Mr Cameron had plucked the word "Lithuanian" from the air and had not intended to make a comment about the country or its people and that he was making a point about the perception that grants can end up going to unusual causes." She added that; "It's not in any way a slight to Lithuania, with which we have very friendly relations."

So it is fine for Mr Cameron who has disabled children to quip about disabled people. Also it would not surprise me if the Mail on Sunday has quoted him quite correctly and having just returned from a LGBT Conference in Lithuania, such comments would be insensitive and idiotic. The climate in the country against is LGBT people is particularly hostile. And then to even think that it is okay for the leader of a major political party who thinks that he could be Prime Minister to refer to any other country or nation in such a way, it makes you wonder what state our nation is in. As a disabled lgbt person, words fail me. Both the man and his party have no understanding of equality.

Also read article in Pink News for further details and lack of reaction from CEHR!

29 Oct 2007

30th October is Women's No Pay Day

The Fawcett Society and UNISON are calling on the Government to take clear steps to tackle the gender pay gap. They want greater transparency around pay, reforms to outdated pay laws and for women to be entitled to take group actions so the burden is not on individual women to speak out. Dave Prentis, General Secretary of UNISON, said: “Two-thirds of UNISON members are women and we have campaigned long and hard to get equal pay. But, equal pay is not just a wish list of the trade unions; it is the law of the land. Thirty years on, the Equal Pay Act is still seen by many employers as a take-it-or-leave-it bit of legislation - this cannot go on. The law must be implemented robustly across the UK and the Government must do its bit to fund equal pay for the public services”.

Sign the on-line petition now to stop women being ripped off.

UNISON accepts Local Government Pay Deal

51.6% voted for strike action and 48.4% against with a 24.4% turnout. See here for UNISON's official reaction. Read Jon's union blog for his reaction in which despite his disappointment, he outlines the difficulties that we may well have had sustaining the strike.

UNISON is now going to focus on the 2008 settlement whih no doubt will be another battle.

28 Oct 2007

Gays told to Go Home

Just arrived back from Vilnius after attending the ILGA-Europe Conference 2007 which as always is enjoyable, thought provoking and rejuvenating as well as humbling. It was particularly humbling this year as we saw first hand, what it is like to have a gay rally banned by the mayor. Usually we are invited to a civic reception! We were also subjected to a counter demonstration outside the hotel where the conference was held and more frighteningly smoke bombs were let off in the clubs that we were socialising in and some delegates were threatened. At least some of us can go home to our relatively safe countries where we are accorded protection from discrimination. Not so our friends from Lithuania. Fortunately, there were high profile guests and politicians who witnessed these events and the media coverage was very wide - now at least the Lithuanian Government know we are watching.

See BBC News and ILGA-Europe for further details of media coverage of the incidents and the conference.

20 Oct 2007

Craigs Back to Blogging

He has posted two articles today:

"Craigs back" and "I support the Reform Treaty" - That's Him - not me! Not that I don't support it - I have not just come about it yet!

See Craig's LGBT Blog for more......

European Union Transgender and Transsexual Duiscrimination and Inequality Study

Press for Change are carrying out a major research project research project for ILGA and TGEU to document and compare the conditions for trans people across Europe. They need as many trans people as possible across Europe to complete an online survey about their own experiences. The survey is available in 13 different European languages.
PLEASE ask ALL of your TRANS friends, including part-time cross dressers (transvestites), full time cross-dressers, travestie, transgender, transsexual, bi or a-gendered and poly gendered people - and anyone in between to complete this questionnaire, no matter whether they are having medical treatment or not. BUT each person must only complete it ONCE.
People should feel free to use whichever translation of the survey they prefer.
Where some words or phrases may not be the usual ones preferred in a country, please try to tolerate this and still answer the survey questions.
The online survey is available at: http://www.pfc.org.uk/node/1524
Please fill it in as soon as possible.
Any questions email : survey@pfc.org.uk

LGBT Labour launch Dorothys List

At Labour party Conference, LGBT Labour launched Dorothy's List, a Campaign Fund established to support Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Trans candidates standing to represent the Labour Party in Parliament. There are huge barriers for LGBT candidates, particularly women, and it is hopes that this will go some way to showing solidarity and support. LGBT Labour has set a fundraising target of £2,000 to support candidates at the bye-elections and the next General Election—and so it is asking for donations, whether one-off or by standing order.

You can download this leaflet for further details.

Pink Potter

Dumbledore is Gay announces Harry Potter author J.K Rowling. Albus Dumbledore is the headmaster of Hogwarts school in her famous series of books loved by children and adults alike which have also been encapsulated on film.

Rowling made her revelation to a packed house in New York's Carnegie Hall on Friday, as part of her US book tour. and during audience questions, was asked if Dumbledore found "true love". She responded by saying "Dumbledore is gay," adding he was smitten with rival Gellert Grindelwald, who he beat in a battle between good and bad wizards long ago. The audience gasped, then applauded. "I would have told you earlier if I knew it would make you so happy," she said. "Falling in love can blind us to an extent," she added, saying Dumbledore was "horribly, terribly let down" and his love for Grindelwald was his "great tragedy".

Fan sites have long speculated on Dumbledore's sexuality as he was known for having a mysterious, troubled past. Rowling told the audience that while working on the planned sixth Potter film, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, she saw the script carried a reference to a girl who was once of interest to Dumbledore. She said she ensured director David Yates was made aware of the truth about her character.

Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell welcomed the news about Dumbledore and said: "It's good that children's literature includes the reality of gay people, since we exist in every society.
"But I am disappointed that she did not make Dumbledore's sexuality explicit in the Harry Potter book. Making it obvious would have sent a much more powerful message of understanding and acceptance." And a spokesman for gay rights group Stonewall added: "It's great that JK has said this. It shows that there's no limit to what gay and lesbian people can do, even being a wizard headmaster."

She said she regarded her novels as a "prolonged argument for tolerance" and urged her fans to "question authority". But she added that not everyone likes her work. Christian groups have alleged the books promote witchcraft. The author said her revelation about Dumbledore's sexual orientation would give them one more reason.

16 Oct 2007

Ignorance against Trans Carer

Blackpool Care Worker faces prejudice and ignorance from service user's family just because she is Trans. See Blackpool Today for full story. Trans people have some protection in employment and are also covered under the Gender Equality Duty. But cases like this present a dilemna for service providers. It is not the receipient of the service who is discriminating against her carer but her family. Ideally Blackpool should refuse to provide an alternative carer but if the family refuse, it is the elderly woman who is suffering. However, the carer also has the right to dignity, to be treated fairly in her employment, not to be discriminated against and be recognised as a woman.

15 Oct 2007

Lib Dem Leader Steps Down

Menzies Campbell has resigned with immediate effect. See BBC News for more details.

12 Oct 2007

Police probe "homophobic" student

Fergus Bowman is now being investigated by police into comments made in a student newspaper after claims that he made anti-gay and racist comments on the Internet.
Officers at Preston Police's diversity unit are looking into the comments Fergus Bowman made on social networking site Facebook which could lead to a hate crime conviction. Bowman was a second year politics and religious student at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN) and is from Catterall, near Garstang. He has quit his position of the Conservative Future Society at the University of Central Lancashire Student Union (UCLan) and been thrown out of the political party following the comments. Police have contacted the university and the company behind Facebook to gather further information about the incident before making a report to the Criminal Prosecution Service (CPS). Sgt Phil Orm, of the diversity unit, said: "The police are aware of the situation and an investigation is being undertaken into it. "A report will be submitted to the CPS following the investigation and they will judge whether a prosecution should be made." In an interview with UCLan student newspaper, Pluto, the student said his comments were "a private joke" between friends.

By the way I searched lgbt, and lesbian and gay on the Conservative Future website and it did not come up with anything. I did find this quote from a member who was speaking about NUS Conference though "Going to the NUS conference has given me the opportunity to promote Conservative policies in student politics, however much of the week is dominated by irrelevant left-wing debates that do not reflect the genuine concerns of everyday students who we seek to represent".

On Facebook there is a group L.G.B.Tory which amongst it's aims include to support the Conservative party in decisions which directly help better the lives of members of the LGBT community and to dispel the stereotype that Conservatism means homophobia by increasing our profile by helping to support LGBT candidates in politics. Difficult tasks face the group I think. And by the way the group is open to anyone - you don't have to be Tory or LGBT.

I think I will stick with LGBT Labour because ONLY LABOUR CAN DELIVER EQUALITY AND HAS DONE SO FAR.........

11 Oct 2007

Human Tissue and Embryos Act - Update

The Government has published it's response to the Joint Committee's recommendations. It is welcoming that the Government appears to reject the need for the for a requirement for a second parent in lieu of a father. However, they have not totally rejected the idea of printing the fact that a child has been donor conceived on the birth certificate and stated that they will keep this under review (See previous blog Labelling Our Children;

69. The idea of including ‘by donation’ on donor-conceived children’s
birth certificates is a matter that has been raised in the past. The
Warnock Committee stated: ‘We are of the view that consideration should be
given as a matter of urgency to making it possible for the parents in
registering the birth to add “by donation” after the man’s name.’ The Government’s position to date is that it is preferable that parents are
educated about the benefits of telling children that they were donor-conceived rather than forcing the issue through the annotation of birth certificates.
70. However, this is a sensitive area and the Government
recognises the Committee’s concern, as well as the importance of allowing
donor-conceived people access to information about their genetic background.
We believe that the issues need to be considered carefully, including
constructive dialogue with stakeholders, and we will keep the matter under

Lets hope that the right stakeholders are consulted - including the children!

Homophobic Tory Student Suspended

Fergus Bowman, a second year politics and religion student, showed how intelligent some young Tories really can be following his suspension from the the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN) and the Conservative Party after being linked to homophobic and racist groups on Facebook. One of the groups called 'Homos burn in hell' had pictures of the 'Ku Klux Klan' posted and Bowman, chair of the UCLAN Student Union Conservative Futures Group, was supposedly the creater of the group. A number of homophobic and racist statements and comments have also been attributed to him. When confronted by the local paper the Lancashire Evening Post, he said that it was just a bit of fun and that he does not condone homophobia in anyway.

Another good reason to vote Labour!

9 Oct 2007

October is Black History Month

Black History Month is a remembrance of important Black people and events in African American and history. It is celebrated annually in the United States and Canada in the month of February, while in the UK it is held in the month of October. Black History Month was established in 1976 by The Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History but the origins go back to 1926. The month-long celebration was an expansion of Negro History Week, which was established in 1926 by Carter G. Woodson, director of what was then known as the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. Woodson selected the week in February that embraced the birthdays of both Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. The celebration may have had its origins in the separate efforts of Mary Church Terrell and the African American collegiate fraternity Omega Phi Psi. The former had begun the practice of honoring Frederick Douglass on February 14, the date he used to mark his birth. The Omegas established a "Negro Achievement Week" in 1924. Woodson was friends with Mary Church Terrell and worked with her and the National Council of Colored Women to preserve Douglass' home and personal papers. Woodson was also a member of Omega Psi Phi. While Terrell's celebration of Douglass was a local event and the Omega Achievement Week was part of their community outreach, Woodson broadened the scope of the celebration in three significant ways. First, he conceived of the event as a national celebration, sending out a circular to groups across the United States. Secondly, he sought to appeal to both whites and blacks and to improve race relations. For this reason, he chose President Lincoln's birthday as well as Douglass'. Finally, Woodson viewed Negro History Week as an extension of ASNLH's effort to demonstrate to the world that Africans and peoples of African descent had contributed to the advance of history. Each year, ASNLH would select a national theme and provide scholarly and popular materials to focus the nation's "study" of Negro history. As such, Negro History Week was conceived as a means of undermining the foundation of the idea of black inferiority through popular information grounded in scholarship. The theme, chosen by the founders of Black History Month, for 2007 is "From Slavery to Freedom, Africans in the Americas."
The Negro History Week Movement took hold immediately. At first it was celebrated almost exclusively by African Americans, taking place outside of the view of the wider society. Increasingly, however, mayors and governors, especially in the North, began endorsing Negro History Week and promoting interracial harmony. By the time of Woodson's death in 1950, Negro History Week had become a well-established cultural institution. Indeed, it was so established that Woodson had begun to criticize groups for shallow and often inaccurate presentations that did not advance the public's knowledge of Negro life and history.
With the rise of the Black Power Movement in the 1960s, many in the African American community began to complain about the insufficiency of a week-long celebration. In 1976, the ASNLH, having changed its name to The Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History, responded to the popular call, citing the 50th annual celebration and America's bicentennial. For more on the association visit ASALH.org.

The purpose is that History books had barely begun covering black history when the tradition of Black History Month was started. At that point, most representation of blacks in history books was only in reference to the low social position they held, with the exception of George Washington Carver. Black History Month can also be referred to as African-American History Month, or African Heritage Month. One of the few U.S. history works at that time told from an African American perspective was W.E.B. DuBois' 1935 work "Black Reconstruction."
In the United Kingdom (UK), Black History Month is celebrated in the month of October. The official guide to Black History Month in the UK[] is published by Sugar Media, Ltd., who produce 100,000 copies nationwide.

Part of the aim of Black History Month is to expose the harms of racial prejudice and to cultivate black self-esteem following centuries of socio-economic oppression. It is also an opportunity to recognize significant contributions to society made by people with African heritage.

[Article courtesy of Wikipedia]

Also visit Infoplease website for more information on Black History and icons.

8 Oct 2007

At last incitement to gay hatred to be made a criminal offence

Nearly two years after the heinous murder of 24 year old Jodi Debrowski on 14th October 2005, there has never been a more salient time for Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary to announce that a new offence of incitement to hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation will be introduced in the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill. He added that he would consider similar protections for trans and disabled people. UNISON, LGBT Labour and Disabled Groups have long campaigned for the recognition of incitement to hatred against LGBT and disabled people and this move is more than welcome and overdue.

Whilst many police forces recognise homophobic and transphobic hate crimes against lgbt people, there are have been no specific criminal offences based on hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation and therefore offences are dealt with under the ordinary criminal law.

Jodi Dobrowski was 24 when he was brutally beaten to death in a homophobic attack. His killers were sentenced to murder and ordered to serve not less than 28 years in prison. This was a landmark case in Britain, where Section 146 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 was utilised in sentencing the killers. This Act empowers courts to impose tougher sentences for offenses motivated or aggravated by the victim's sexual orientation in England and Wales. But still other murders have taken place. On 30th January 2007, Malcom Benfold, a 57 year oold gay man was beaten to death in Blackpool after suffering severe head injuries. His 23 yeard old murderer, had gone out to gay bash homosexual man and received a life sentence and ordered that he must serve at least 18 years in prison.

On making today's announcement, Mr Straw said "It is a measure of how far we have come as a society in the last ten years that we are now appalled by hatred and invective directed at people on the basis of their sexuality," and "It is time for the law to recognise this."

Some religious groups claim their members could face seven years in jail for expressing their views about homosexuality under the proposed new legislation. The Christian Institute claim that the proposed incitement law restricts free speech, targets Christians and will stifle debate about homosexuality. It objects to the extension of incitement to racial hatred laws to sexual orientation as "homosexuality is a chosen lifestyle. " Christians are already protected from incitement to religious hatred by law. These are the religios groups that held placards up at Pride saying we will all burn in hell and took their children to vigils shouting abuse and showing hatred towards lgb people duting the debate on the goods facilities and services regulations debates.

With the increase in fascism and attacks from the far right all across Europe, there is no better time than now to send a message that incitement to hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation will not be tolerated.

For more details of the Governments announcement on the proposals to outlaw incitement of hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation see BBC News.

In memory of Jodi Dobrowski Born 1981 Died 14 October 2005.