18 Sep 2009


The Times reported yesterday that UNISON and GMB are in talks again about a possible merger which would make them a super-union. This would bring the membership to about 2 million.

Good on you Alan Johnson

Alan Johnson has declared that he will refuse to share a platform with the BNP on BBC's Question Time. Good on him.

Readmore in The Guardian

I say No platform for the Fascists.

8 Sep 2009

Neo-nazi terrorist jailed

A white supremacist found guilty of planning a racist terror campaign involving home-made bombs has been given an indeterminate sentence, the BBC has reported.

An Old Bailey judge said Neil Lewington, 43, from Reading, must serve at least six years in jail. He was a member of the National Front. Witnesses said that he told them he wanted the Ku Klux Klan brought back. The court heard Lewington had an "unhealthy interest" in the London nail bomber David Copeland, America's Unabomber and Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. Evidence was also given that he planned to target Asian families with tennis ball shrapnel bombs that he had made in his bedroom.

He was convicted in July of having explosives with intent to endanger life and preparing for acts of terrorism after being arrested by chance at Lowestoft, Suffolk, for abusing a train conductor. He was found to be carrying bomb parts.
So what do the fascists have to say about one of their own again being convicted for terrorism rather then spreading their Islamaphobic lies and hate mongering that Islam = Terrorism.

Lou takes G7 to task

See here.

7 Sep 2009

More News from Budapest Pride

This year the Pride march took place under extremely heavy police protection -police helicopter flying over the centre of town, lots of riot police, the main march avenue was fenced off, smaller streets leading towards the avenue were fenced off too. As a result the protesters and also other people willing to observe were prevented getting anywhere close to the march.

This was in complete contrast to the last time that Ilga-Europe attended the March in 2007 when Jobbik supporters, neo-nazis, religious protesters marched side by side infiltrating the march throwing fire bombs, smoke bombs, bottles filled with sand, eggs, excrement and spat at us. at the end of the march, we were huddled in to a refugee style camp locked away from the protesters. The police had not been expecting any trouble that year so were not prepared. Needless to say, that night ended up with a vicious attack on a lone gay man walking home.

This year, Paata and Juris from Ilga-Europe delivered speeches just before the march.

Juris said "The reason we are here today is to let you know that you are not alone in your struggle for equality and respect, your struggle against violence and intimidation. For many years Hungary was a role model for many countries and many LGBT people, especially in Central and Eastern Europe. What is happening recently here is worrying not just for you, its worrying for all Europe. Raise of racist and homophobic sentiments here in Hungary is not just a problem for Hungary, it is a problem for all Europe. Therefore we are here today to march with you, to let you know that the hearts and minds of millions of Europeans are with you today. Let’s march with pride, dignity and determination. Let’s show Hungary and the whole Europe, that violence, threats and intimidation will not defeat us. Because we know – the future of Hungary and Europe lies not in hatred, violence and division, it lies in unity, respect and equality! Thank you and have a great pride!"

Paata, a board member of Ilga-Europe and LGBT activist from Georgia said "Fellow activists, dear friends, It is my pleasure to be here with you today and show my solidarity as a representative of ILGA Europe. ILGA was founded over 30 years ago, and gay pride events have been staged since 40 years. But our fight for equal rights, dignity and respect had never stopped ever since. If we look through the century long history, we will not find any guarantee that progress in achieving equal rights cannot be reversed, neither is equality ultimately attainable task, it is achieved through elaborate effort and devotion. Indeed, not a single movement could achieve change without having fought for it day by day. And as I said, this fight is continuous and there always are good reasons for it. In fact, what we witness recently is a great setback in eastern parts of Europe in terms of ensuring equal rights of each and every citizen. Number of countries like Hungary have joined the EU, the place where it is hard to imagine such restrictions of civil liberties that have occurred in last couple of years. Depriving right to free assembly is at stake today in many EU countries. And we cannot be absolutely sure of what else can be challenged tomorrow? Free speech? Right to privacy? Our jobs? Our families? Or perhaps our very right to life? We cannot be sure whether the state and society decides to move to our bedrooms. We will never find this out unless this happens. And this will happen unless we stand here in solidarity with each other, lesbians, gays, bisexual, trans, intersex , queer and of course our straight sisters and brothers, who chose to stand by us and show their solidarity which is so crucial! When I heard of violent attacks against the pride marches in recent years I was shocked. I could not imagine this would ever happen in Budapest, the city where I have lived and studied at Central European University 8 years ago, where I came out, where I got involved in LGBT activism, where my life was changed dramatically. Yes it was here when I first felt proud of who I was. And today I am bringing this pride back to you, to support you and cheer you up. Be proud and never give up! I wish you a great pride!"

Cary Jonson, the new Director of IGLHRC was also in Budapest for Pride. as was a former Prime Minister of Hungary.

Ilga-Europes message of support to Budapest Pride:

Leave him alone

Well Michael Jackson has finally been buried. He has had so many funeral services, it is as if it is to make sure he is dead and that he was not going to rise. There are so many rumours about the circumstances around his life, his death, his health just before his death, the cause of his death, drug use - but why don't people just leave him alone. People speculate on whether he would have ever completed his 02 concerts.

We have all seen the video of his rehearsal recorded soon before he died and he looked a bit rusty but pretty fit. So what f he was losing his hair, he was middle aged and used all sorts of preparations, straighteners on it and it had even caught fire once. And as for the drugs, they were all legally prescribed and it is easy to become dependant on the types of drugs he was taking. As for the concerts, we will never know.

His life was thwart with difficulties and so seems his death. But his music has inspired generations, globally and music does make the world go around and is a universal language.

So leave him alone and let Michael Jackson finally rest in peace.

6 Sep 2009

When Pride is a Protest

In the UK, Pride is an event where lgbt people can get together and celebrate the fact they are lgbt and the advancements that we have achieved in gaining equality over the years. We can take a break from our campaigning and activism and have a party in a relatively safe and secure space with other lgbt people and our family and friends. By doing so we are protesting against the hetero-normative, daily activities that are usually going on around us.

And there is a cost to pay for some of these events particularly if entertainment, facilities and security is laid on. But where else can you go for a full day's concert and only pay a tenner? Some of the organisers could be a bit more choosy with their sponsors and consider more ethical rules making sure that the sponsors recognise trade unions, have good employment and diversity policies which they actually put in to practice, have good fair trade records, are not corrupt and this is a genuine campaign that we can pursue.
I have attended a number of Pride events over the years both in the UK and abroad. In some countries, where Pride marches are banned and LGBT people face protests, hostility and violence for taking part in a Pride event which I have witnessed then 'Pride is a Protest'.
However, the Pride is a Protest group and campaign is a bit confused in my opinion. They claim to be a global, autonomous activist movement that aims to put the politics back into pride! They state that they campaign against profiteering, exploitation and commercialisation of queer and LGBT community events and festivals and organise their own grass routes events.
On their site under Manchester Pride Investigation, select the link and it takes you direct to the website of G7. Surprise, surprise, he had to be in it somewhere. And they also have connections with Reclaim the Scene which claims to be a grass-roots collective of people from all walks of life, tackling all that's bad about the scene, celebrating what's good and making Manchester Pride one we can all be proud of.

This year leaflets were produced titled 'Reclaim the Scene' which contained information lifted from the G7 website. These were distributed at Manchester Pride containing the logos of NUS, UNISON and the Queer Youth Network.

The NUS apparently passed a motion joining UNISON in their support of 'Pride is a Protest'. The May 09 newsletter of Pride is a Protest states:

"NUS LGBT Campaign national “Pride is a Protest” Motion passed 'Following the lead after UNISON’s LGBT group voted to support the Pride is a Protest movement the National Union of Students LGBT campaign voted in favour of a motion last weekend at their annual conference in Nottingham to proactively declare “Pride is a Protest” and will be marching around the country with placards that read “Pride not Profit” (censored by Manchester last year). Trade union types who oppose a commercialised model of pride organisations who have put so much hard work into ensuring what could well be the biggest representative bodies now formerly support the spirit of “Pride is a Protest” within their own campaigns for this year. Remember – Pride is a Protest is an autonomous collective and there is a multitude of individuals and groups who share our ethos and will no doubt be very visible and vibrant this year at events around the country.NUS LGBT Conference 2009 Final Motions:http://resource.nusonline.co.uk/media/resource/CD7%20Final%20Motions.pdf

The NUS represents the needs and wishes of over 7 million students though 600 higher and further institutions. UNISON is Britain and Europe's biggest public sector union with more than 1.3 million members.Both LGBT campaigns are fully recognised bodies within each union. Their membership combined is almost as people who voted Labour in the last general election. Although democratically elected and accountable (give or take a bit of paperwork and the odd heated debate!) this news is a credit to all the many years of unsupported, frontline and grassroots action and campaigning that until recently has been ignored.Well done to all those people involved in the more structured political areas of public life to ensure the LGBT community has an even louder voice when calling for grassroots, community-focused pride festivals.'
Well the author of this ought to get their facts rights. At the UNISON LGBT Conference, where the motion was passed, whilst it was carried, it was not carried unanimously. The number of delegates at that conference was 209 and 38 of those will not have had voting rights in any event as they will have been members of the National LGBT Committee. The motion is only LGBT Conference policy and does not binf the whole of the union. For it to be UNISON policy, it would have to be carried at the annual National Delegate Conference.
The actual motion carried at the 2008 LGBT Conference calls on the National LGBT Committee to:

1 Organise mobilisation of unison members and delegations at pride events to openly oppose and challenge any attempts by pride organisers to vet, doctor or censor LGBT liberation activists organising at pride events, and to stand in solidarity with such activists. This should include distributing material condemning such actions on stalls, and encouraging unison members in all sectors to display materials highlighting and condemning such actions in their delegations to pride parades, where they are present;
2 Where they exist, organise linking up with 'pride is a protest' initiatives at pride events and marching alongside our fellow LGBT activists, putting forward the UNISON agenda in line with the policy and campaigning priorities put forward by LGBT conference;
3 Produce materials aimed at young workers for distribution at pride events setting out the work Unison has done, and is doing, to further the LGBT liberation agenda, as well as highlighting the benefits of trade union membership.
It is important to note that the instruction in point 2 states UNISON should link up with 'Pride is a Protest' initiatives putting forward the UNISON agenda in line with the policy and campaigning priorities put forward by LGBT Conference.

The Pride is a Protest Group also talk about the rip off wristbands for Manchester Pride sending you to a website called of all things Gay Mafia Watch which harps back to 2007. The Gay Mafia Watch says they are an anonymous, independent and impartial group of observers who felt the need for there to be a “watchdog” asking questions and raising standards within the LGBT Media sector. They watch Britain’s Gay Mafia who they claim are made up of an elite class of businessmen, entrepreneurs and politicians in cahoots with Multinational Corporations and dodgy underground figures. They state that the Gay Mafia as a term has many historic and contemporary connotations but the mafia-style, aggressive culture of the gay scene, the media and even a number of corrupt non-profit bodies is more visible than ever.
Maybe they have been watching too many episodes of The Godfather or even playing Mafia Wars for too long on Face book.

G7's legitimisation of the BNP

Following on my from my last post when I blogged about G7 and his apparent dislike of all things connected with the LGF. I refer back to his quote over the funding:

"The LGF is a registered charity. In the year ending 2008, £623,103 of its income came from several NHS Primary Care Trusts. This represented around 55% of its total income of £1,122, 280 for that financial year."

Therefore, 45% of their income must not come from the NHS - Simple elementary mathematics.

G7 then goes on to say that the LGF are playing politics with public money. On his website, he states:

"I don’t support the British National Party (BNP). On the other hand, it is a legal political party in this country, with politicians who have been elected democratically."

Well, there is no other hand, legitimising a fascist party is just how they become mainstreamed into the political system. Look at Le Pen of the Front National in France and Jobbbik in Hungary.

G7 then refers to an article on the LGF website which is an interview with Searchlight which urges LGBT voters to vote against the BNP. It goes on to say:

"This is a disgraceful abuse of the LGF’s position, charity status and NHS funding. It should provide a service for everyone. Any involvement in politics should be limited to lobbying for the various causes it is concerned with and maybe highlighting the differences in policy between the various parties.

Encouraging people to campaign against one particular political party is well out of order in my opinion, especially when an inducement is offered. Hilariously, in the
About Us section of the LGF website it states:

Diversity: We believe we should be accepting of others and celebrate people’s difference.

Fairness: We believe everybody should be treated with dignity and respect.

The worst part is that this is exactly the kind of thing that is alienating certain LGBT people and driving them right into the arms of the BNP. They feel that the narrowly-focused Canal Street ‘community’ in Manchester isn’t for them. "

I am sure that when the LGF provides it's core services, it does so without discrimination to service users and does not ask about political belief. The LGF is key in campaigning against hate crime and homophobia and this should include campaigning against the BNP. The rise in incidences of hate crime since the BNP were elected speaks for itself. It s well out of order in G7s opinion to encourage people to campaign against one particular party. Well, in my opinion, that sounds really suspect when that party have been exposed as homophobes, racists and fascists. As for LGF treating everyone with fairness, respect and dignity, I am sure this applies to people who deserve it but maybe G7 wants to read up a little more on what the BNP actually do say about us as do any LGBT people who feel alienated and are being driven into the arms of the fascist BNP.

And by the way I am not part of the 'Canal Street Community'.

On the 31st May 2009, G7 updated his website with this:

"The Charity Commission supports ‘a charity’s right to campaign provided that they are clear about the link between the campaign and their objects and remain independent of political parties. However, in the case of the LGF’s article about the BNP, the Commission decided it wasn’t as clear as it should be. So it will write to the charity to ‘highlight this issue’ and remind them to ‘clearly demonstrate the link between the political party’s policy and their objects when campaigning’."

Well, I would not have thought the LGF would have much difficult with showing the link between the homophobic hate, hate crime and other anti-gay discrimination propaganda contained in the BNP's policy and the LGF's objects around campaigning.

G7 v LGF

The lesbian and Gay foundation (LGF) Motto s 'Ending homophobia Empowering People'. They provide a holistic approach to health services and include tackling hate crime and homophobia as part of their agenda. They are a registered charity and produce an annual report and accounts.

I was reading their 2008 / 2009 annual report and saw that they received
  • £4000 (0.3%) Donor Supporters Scheme - via receipt of monthly donations
  • £102, 000 (8%) Events, donations and corporate sponsorship - from charity challenges, corporate sponsorship and other donations.
  • £965k (77%) Charities Activities Income - for goods and services provided for the benefit of the LGF’s beneficiaries.£241k (16%) Fees and other sales - advertising in OutNorthWest, room hire, counselling and training.

They do receive some support from the NHS for the health services that thy provide. The G7 website states in the year ending 2008, £623,103 of its income came from several NHS Primary Care Trusts and that his represented around 55% of its total income of £1,122, 280 for that financial year.

The LGF annual report states their expenditure for 2008 / 2009 was:

  • £46k (3.5%) Research - Expenditure on our research projects.
  • £25k (2%) Governance - General running costs to meet constitutional and
    statutory requirements.
  • £138k (10.4%) Generating Funds - This is the cost of raising voluntary income and costs associated with our other generated income.
  • £596k (45%) Services - Expenditure on our services including health,
    therapeutic and advice services, plus our condom and lube scheme.
  • £23k (1.7%) Grants Paid - Support to smaller LGB groups in the
    local area
  • £492k (37.2%) Information - Expenditure on our magazine, website,
    resources and other types of information giving..

So why then does G7 have nothing else to with his time then to try and bring down the LGF. First he blogs about two employment tribunal rulings against them quoting Pink News for further information. This is all well and good and bad employment practices need to be exposed. I, as a trade unionist, do not believe that anyone should be discriminated against or unfairly dismissed and it is even more concerning when such practices take place n an organisation which s supposed to value diversity. However, the LGF have paid their price.

G7 then continues on his blog to outline the funding crisis that LGF is facing. He states that they are owed money by advertisers and that they have cut down the number of publications of their magazine. The LGF state themselves that they can no longer rely on the same level of public funding. None of this is hardly a revelation. We are in a recession, where money is tight for businesses and they probably pay their bills for advertising at the last minute if at all. Public funding of charities is being scaled down as funding of public services is being cut. As a public service worker being offered a 1% pay increase and with colleagues in local government and the national health service facing redundancy due to funding cuts, then inevitably there will also be cuts in donations to the community and voluntary sector.

And if G7 has not had enough with having a go at LGF, read more here what he says about the LGF playing politics with public funding. This s because the LGF urged LGBT voters to use their vote n the Euro elections and ran an article in their magazine OutNorthWest where all parties standing for election were invited to say why LGBT voters should vote for them. They also published on their website an article exposing the homophobia of the BNP and an interview with Searchlight. I have more to say about this here.

Free fertility rights for Lesbians on the NHS!

Now that I am back to blogging, I have just got to get this little irritation off my chest. Since the amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act came into force earlier this year which removed the need for providers offering fertility services such as IVF to take into account the need for a Father when considering the future welfare of the child, many LGBT organisations have been stating that the NHS now offers free fertility treatment for Lesbians. This is not actually accurate. Free fertility treatment has always been available for all women. However, single women and Lesbian couples were basically at the back at the list and often denied access because of the previous requirements that amongst other matters when considering the welfare of the child included this need to consider the need a father. When due to the arduous campaigning of LGBT organisations, trade unionists, LGBT supporters we succeeded in getting an amendment we had to go with a compromise which was to consider the need for supportive parenting. The new Act also introduced other rights for same-sex parents bringing parenting into the 21st century at last.

Lithuania's Section 28

The Parliamentary plenary sittings in Lithuania will start from 10th of September and the new amendments to criminalize "propagation of homosexual relations" will be put on vote.

The amendments are:

Amendment to the Penal Code (registered under number XIP-668(2))

Inclusion of the new Article 310¹ . Promotion of homosexual relations in the public places
1. A person promoting homosexual relations in public places is committing a

criminal offence which is punishable with public works or fine or arrest.
2. Legal person is also responsible for this criminal offence.

Amendment to Administrative Code (registered under number XIP-667(2)

Inclusion of the new 214³º article
Article 214³º. Promotion of homosexual relations or financing of promotion in public places.
Promotion of homosexual relations or financing of promotion in public places is to be fined by fine from one to five thousand litas.

These amendments were under consideration at the Committee on Legal Affairs who were accepting suggestions for further amendments until August 23. LGBT Activists, MEPS, the European Parliament LGBT Inter-group, LGBT Organisations all wrote expressing their concerns to the chair of the Committee Mr. Stasys Sedbaras sending copies to the Lithuanian national equality body - Ombudsperson for Equal Opportunities Ms Ausrine Burneikiene. She has a duty and full powers to protect from sexual orientation discrimination at the national level.

Previously in June 2009 when the Lithuanian parliament first adopted the amended Law on the Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information., it introduced a law similar to section 28 outlawing “propaganda of homosexuality and bisexuality” because of the detrimental effects on minors. Information on homosexuality and bisexuality would also be banned from schools and any other places where it can be accessed by youth.

This was despite campaigning by MEP’s, the European Parliament LGBT Intergroup, Ilga-Europe, IGLYO (International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Youth and Student Organisation), Lithuanian Gay League, other organisations and a veto on the law on 26 June 2009,by Valdas Adamkus, the former President of the Republic of Lithuania. On, 14 July, the Lithuanian Parliament once more adopted the Law on the Protection of Minors Against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information which means that President Adamkus’ veto was rejected.

In an interview, to the newspaper Verslo žinios, current President Dalia Grybauskaitė commented that “In my opinion, this law contains homophobic provisions. There cannot be any ‘higher’ reason which would aim to overshadow fundamental human rights. I promise that I will never sign any law which will contradict fundamental human rights.” Despite the fact she criticised this law and said she will never sign a law which breached fundamental human rights, she is obliged by the country’s constitution to sign this law. (Source: www.delfi.lt)

During the campaign, Michael Cashman, MEP said "It is my duty as an elected member of the European Parliament to act strongly against grave attempts to diminish human rights of EU citizens". Cashman, who is President of the Intergroup continued “This new law is a spit in the face of the European values. To limit freedom of expression based on homophobia is a clear breach of EU’s fundamental rights and principles.”
The campaign continues. Lithuania intends to host Baltic Pride in Vilnius from May 7 - 9, 2010.
The photograph is of delegates to the Ilga-Europe Conference in Vilnius 2007 standing outside the hotel facing up to anti-gay protesters. UNISON delegates had brought their TUC flag with them.

5 Sep 2009

Summer of Prides and Carnivals

You know it's getting Winter, the nights draw closer, it's getting colder and damper, X-factor has started, Big Brother has ended, it doesn't stop raining up North, Blackpool Illuminations have been switched on and Pride and Carnival events have ended.
This year my trail started early with what was supposed to be a recuperation trip to be looked after by my friend in Luton for my birthday. It coincided with the chance to experience the opening of the UK Centre for Carnival Arts (UKCCA). This was a spectacular international and multi-cultural event . With music and live bands in the town centre during the day and a torchlight costume arade early evening from the town centre to the newly opened centre, the rest of the night was a show case of dance, costume, gymnasts and music. The night culminated with the the sun and the moon and everyone singing 'We are the World'.
Later this year, my friends who live in Riga invited me and some friends over for a weekend break. This coincided with Baltic Pride and was yet again an experience not to be missed. What with not knowing whether or not it was going ahead or not in the first place and then confronting the protests but it was well protected by the police and we spent a very pleasurable day in the park. Riga itself, is a beautiful city and the day after Pride strolling around was quite surreal as you were not sure whether you were talking to someone who had been calling for you to be exterminated the day before. I have been to Riga many times and have a number of friends living there.
My home town of Preston hosts an annual Caribbean Carnival. Photos and video from this year's Carnival taken by Creative Mixed Media can be found here.

Usually on my agenda is London Pride which follows TUC LGBT Conference. The day started off as a funny old day with me and three of my friends travelling 'gayly' on the tube to Baker Street. As we were pulling into a station, one of three thugs started shouting racial abuse at my friends saying it was disgrace that they were allowed to be in a trade union and in 'our capital city'. Two of my friends were wearing 'proud to be lgbt in a trade union'. My friends were all Black. After the shock of the abuse and realising that I was the only other white person on the carriage, we didn't let it dampen the rest of the day. The rain did threaten to dampen us at times but that also kept off. We marched with the UNISON group behind the Greater London Advan before staffing the stall for the rest of the day.

Then there was UK Black Pride in Regents Park on 15th August. This was one of the highlights of my Summer and as usual the event was chilled out, entertaining, friendly, with community stalls and was credit to the organisers going from strength to strength. Beverley Knight gave a great performance. The fact that she had performed at Party in the Park in Preston earlier that day and still made it to London, meant that she really wanted to be there. Dancing the night away at the Oysters UK after party at the Oak Bar, I had a great time. I managed to make a weekend out of this one spending some time strolling around Hyde Park, Regents Park, Soho and staying in a nice little boutique hotel so had a refreshing break at the same time as supporting my Black LGBT comrades.

I also spent a day at Manchester Pride which for me is always a bit too crowded but the day I spent there was enjoyable enough. I met up with people from LGBT Labour and UNISON and managed to look around the stalls. The Parade was pretty impressive but the weather unfortunately was not.
I was a bit disappointed that I could not make it to Notting Hill Carnival this year. I last went two years ago and I think I shall try and make it next year although it is at the same time as Manchester Pride. I can always try and do both in the same weekend. It is a shame that the carnival seems to attract such bad press such and that the newspapers headline with the fact that there were more than 200 people arrested and that a 15-year-old boy was stabbed. I don't in the least condone gun and knife crime and it is sad to see that a young man was stabbed. Yet, it seems to be forgotten that when you have an event where there are hundreds of thousands of people attending that 200 arrests are a small minority in comparison and that should not overshadow what is one of Europe’s greatest cultural events.

Leicester Pride

Leicester Pride took place today (5th September 2009) and went ahead without trouble that was expected following the homophobic posters that had been put up prior to the event taking place. The posters which appeared to be home-made and printed on A4 paper contained messages such as 'Capital punishment for gays' and 'God abhors gays'. They were placed on the local LGBT centre and around a small area in the city centre.

Police are now inspecting CCTV footage to see if they can identify the perpetrators.

Budapest Pride 2009 - Update

Update on Budapest Pride

BUDAPEST, Sept 5, 2009
In excess of 2,000 people
took part in Budapest’s “Gay Dignity” march this afternoon.

And there was not a protester in sight, thanks to a massive security operation in the Hungarian capital. Last month, neo-Nazi groups had promised to disrupt the gay parade.

The featured photo shows the UK Embassy flying the Rainbow Flag.

Italy, Politics and the Church

Dino Buffo the editor of Italy's newspaper of the Italian Bishops Conference Avvenire has resigned after "defamatory" media attacks which claimed he was gay. He had criticised Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi for his "immoral" lifestyle.

In recent months Berlusconi has been alleged to have had extra-marital affairs which followed his wife Veronica Lario filing for divorce. He also was criticised for not upholding traditional marriage values. His party has also been criticised for holding fascist views.

In a front-page campaign, Il Giornale, editor Vittorio Feltri, claimed Buffo was gay and had been involved in a scandal involving an alleged male lover in 2004.
According to the newspaper owned by the Berlusconi family, Buffo paid a fine for allegedly harassing a woman over the telephone who it claimed was the life of his male lover. Buffo has admitted being fined in the case but denied he was sexually involved with the man.

Buffo has rebutted the claims but resigned to 'protect his family'. He has been backed by the Vatican, which issued an immediate statement supporting him.

Berlusconi is currently suing at least two Italian and two foreign newspapers for their coverage of the scandals surrounding him

Homophobic Attacks On the Rise in Italy

22nd August: In the Gay Village in Rome, a man, fed up with a gay couple kissing, assaults them with a glass bottle and then tries to kill them with a knife. They are severely injured with one in hospital in a critical conditions. Initially the man gets reproached by the police, but not arrested. Then, after much pressures, he finally gets arrested.
25th August: The LGBT club Muccassassina in Rome is set on fire with petrol and completely damaged. Fortunately is was closed and nobody was inside during the fire.

26th August: Naples - a couple of gay man are assaulted and verbally abused by a group of men in the street of the city center.

1st September - Two petrol bombs explode in the Gay Street, in San Giovanni in Lateranom Rome. A man is injured.

The government continues to promote the legitimisation of the traditional heterosexual family . They still have not enacted any law to protect LGBT people and to recognize our rights. Italy needs laws and education policy to promote awareness, non-discrimination, inclusiveness.

Call to boycott HSBC Bank

There have been reports that HSBC Bank has been homophobic to an openly gay employee from Bangalore who has been an activist in India homophobically. HSBC is an international bank that claims to be the world's largest bank catering to every individual's needs but it is claimed not in the case of this gay person in India who has suffered harassment and intimidation.

Activists in India are sending out an appeal to to boycott HSBC Bank. They are asking people to hit back where it hurts the bank most - deny them the privilege to handle your money.

Here is what you can do:

>Close your savings and current accounts with the HSBC bank and move it to another bank that knows how to respect LGBTI persons
>If you have taken loans from HSBC, renegotiate these loans with another bank and move it to them.
>Return your HSBC Credit cards
>Do not let HSBC manage your assets or your investment portfolio.

Please spread this request to all your LGBTI networks and groups, and to all supporters.

Budapest Pride Rising Up for Diversity and Human Rights

Budapest Pride takes place today and solidarity goes to all who are attending. UK Gay News has reported that thirteen Embassies, including the UK representing countries on four continents, have issued a joint statement supporting Budapest Pride due to the protests that are expected. Movement for a Better Hungary (Jobbik) which is at the forefront of the homophobic protests working with other far right extremists is gaining ground and had three MEPs elected earlier this year.
Ilga-Europe has sent a messages of support to the organisers of Budapest Pride and will be formally represented at the event.
I was at Budapest Pride in 2007 and experience first hand the violence from the far right who through fire bombs, eggs, glass bottles filled with sand and excrement at us. That year the police were not prepared for the trouble. This year, they have said that they will provide better protection.
The photo above is from Budapest Pride in 2007.

Freedom to Love

This year's World Outgames also included the International Conference on LGBT Human Rights and Workers Out in Copenhagen. Themed Love of Freedom – Freedom to Love, the conference had an abundance of speakers who were highly acclaimed international LGBT human rights activists, lawyers and politicians. .

Amongst speakers were Thomas Hammarberg, Commissioner for Human Rights at the Council of Europe, Parvez Sharma, Muslim gay filmmaker who is currently touring the world with his debut film ‘A Jihad for Love’ , a documentary which shows that homosexuality and Islam can and do co-exist, Ritt Bjeerregaard, the social democrat elected Lord Mayor of Copenhagen, Cleve Jones, Vitit Muntarbhorn, UN Special rapporteur on human rights in the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, Suk Hong, an actor from South Korea who lost his livelihood when he came out and Lawrence M Mute, Commissioner with the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights.

Thomas Hammarberg said that transgender people should have their human rights fully respected which was in recognition of the launch of the issue paper 'Human Rights and gender identity'.

Georgina Beyer was reported has giving a memorable speech. Her career from drag queen performer, dancer and sex worker to the first out Transgender elected Mayor and then MP in New Zealand under Helen Clarke’s Government is very inspiring. I have heard her speak and she is the sort of speaker that can rally people around.

Kemone Brown who works as a volunteer research co-ordinator for Women for Women in Jamaica was also another featured speaker who is always inspirational. She told the conference about the climate of being lgbt in Jamaica and how unsafe it could be. However, Kemone is not willing to stand back and fights for better living conditions and anti-discrimination for lgbt people in Jamaica and across the Caribbean. She also advocates amongst youth on HIV and Aids promoting safer sex.

Rasha Moumeh, Human Rights Watch spoke about her work on issues of sexual and gender justice in the Lebanon. She also spoke about the situation in Palestine, Middle East and North Africa.

There were a number of workshops including on the reading down of 377 in the Delhi High Court which also touched on Commonwealth countries in general, LGBT Human Rights and the European Union, Working with European Trade Unions for LGBT Human Rights and Unions and LGBT Organisations working together for LGBT rights.

The International Business Equality Index was launched at the Conference with BT being named as the world’s most lgbt friendly business.

Mapping LGBT Rights and Protection

The ‘Rainbow Europe’ map has been produced by Ilga-Europe and reflects the legal situation for lgbt people in Europe such as protection from discrimination, recognition of LGB families and parenting rights, inclusion of sexual orientation in hate speech/crime legislation. The map also highlights areas of ‘Rainbow Europe’ where there is still criminalisation of consenting same-sex acts, unequal age of consent and where Pride events have been banned during the last 10 years.

  • 2 countries’ constitutions refers to sexual orientation in their anti-discrimination provisions
  • 13 countries and 1 territory bans sexual orientation in employment
  • 25 countries and 5 territories ban sexual orientation discrimination in employment, access to good and services
  • 15 countries refer to sexual orientation in hate speech/crime legislation
  • 5 countries allow same-sex partners to marry
  • 13 countries and 2 territories allow same-sex partners to register their partnerships
  • 13 countries recognise cohabitation of same-sex partners
  • 9 countries entitle same-sex partners to apply for joint adoption
  • 11 countries allow second partners adoption
  • 10 countries provide fertility treatment for lesbian couples

Areas of discrimination and inequality:

  • 2 countries and 3 territories still have unequal age consent for consenting sexual acts between adult men
  • 1 territory still criminalises consenting sexual acts between adult men
  • 8 countries banned LGBT public events during the last 10 years
The Rainbow Europe map can be downloaded here.

The Alien Legacy of Section 377

There have been media reports coming out in India that say that the government will not oppose in the Supreme Court, the Delhi High Court Verdict on Section 377 of The India Penal Code. NDTV has said that it has exclusive information that in a note prepared by the Cabinet, the government will tell the Supreme Court that it doesn't find any legal error with the Delhi High Court ruling that read down section 377, decriminalising homosexuality.It goes on to say that the government leaves it to the Supreme Court to take the final decision on the High Court's judgement, which said the consensual gay sex is legal.

LGBT activists in India say that if these reports are true, it is probably one of the best thing that can happen in the supreme court, and in our long march to decriminalisation but that we should be prepared for surprises.

The High Court of Delhi ruled in Naz Foundation (India) Trust v. Government of NCT Delhi and Others that Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code is unconstitutional. The judgment, handed down on July 2, 2009, reinterprets the law that criminalized same sex relations and carried a penalty from 10 years to life in prison and a fine. This law will no longer apply to consensual sexual acts of adults because it violates Articles 21 (protection of life and personal liberty), 14 (equality before law) and 15 (prohibition of discrimination) of the Indian Constitution.

The law was introduced in the 1860s during British colonial rule to criminalize non-procreative sex, specifically sex between men, Section 377 has been used by police and other individuals to entrap, harass and blackmail those with non-conforming sexual orientations and gender identities and human rights defenders. This law has encouraged sexual and physical abuse of gay men and transgender people in police custody. Although the law is silent on lesbianism, it has facilitated an environment where family violence against lesbians and bisexual women occurs, leading to women’s injury, death, and suicide.

Whilst the judgment is limited to Delhi, it is widely anticipated by LGBT activists in India that similar challenges will be brought in other cities, hoping courts will favorably reference the Delhi decision. The Delhi High Court, along with the Mumbai (Bombay) and Chennai (Madras) High Courts, usually leads other High Courts in India when it comes to legal trends.
Human Rights Watch have produced a report 'This Alien Legacy' which describes how laws in over three dozen countries, from India to Uganda and from Nigeria to Papua New Guinea, derive from a single law on homosexual conduct that British colonial rulers imposed on India in 1860

4 Sep 2009

Baltic Pride

It was a rocky ride all the way for Baltic Pride. After being giving the go ahead to proceed on May 16th, more than half of the members of the Rīga City Council – 34 in all – then signed a letter to the executive director of the city, Andris Grīnbergs, calling on him to repeal the permission “as the decision taken by the commission is in violation not only of the normative acts that are listed in the letter, but also of the interests of people in Rīga…” The letter also stated that the march in the streets should be banned “because of a real threat against public security and morality,” . Mozaika the Latvian LGBT organisation met with Grīnbergs and the police and they understood hat a prohibition on the march would be unlawful. However, Riga City Council Commission continued with it's prohibitions on the Baltic Pride march. Mozaika then applied to the Administrative Court which lifted the ban on the Baltic Pride March which was scheduled for the following day. A representative of the Riga City Council at the court could not provide clear justifications why the City has banned the March. The Court hearing was attended by the representatives of No Pride Movement, Roman Catholic Church in Latvia and a religious sect New Generation. All three asked the Court to be allowed to participate in the hearing as interested parties but were refused permission.
Bans on LGBT Pride Marches were also lifted by the Latvian courts in 2005, 2005 and 2006. The Pride March in 2006 in Riga resulted in a hotel being held under seige.

So after all the ups and downs, finally the march went ahead. Just under 600 people took part in Baltic Pride. It was the first time that it had been jointly organized by lgbt organizations representing Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. The anti-gay protesters came out in force but it was very well policed and there were no reported arrests. The area around Vērmaņdārzs Park in the city centre was the focal point for the march and the celebration area was sealed-off by police. Security was tight for those who wanted to take part and gain entry to the park. The protestors gathered outside the park in cordoned-off areas. There were placards and posters with hate messages and the protestors called for LGBT people to be exterminated in gas chambers.

One anti-gay activist Liga Dimitere, wife of Kaspars Dimiters, who is a well-known Latvian religious figure, was allowed into the secure area. She then walked backwards at the start of the parade. Dressed in a long black dress and wearing a white scarf, she carried a heavy wooden cross around her neck, She called on the Mothers of the Baltic States to wear white scarves and come to the march and “save the souls of their children from the sodomites, which are going to celebrate the “victory day” of their morbid pride. The government of my country allowed it and resigned from preventing our children from this unchastity”. She did not shout but every now and then would stop, so the Pride marches just down and then rose up at intervals to give a Mexican wave effect. Towards the end of the march, she threw herself to the ground and her husband knelt at her side praying. The pride marchers just walked passed her.

Taking part in the march were people from around 15 different countries, in addition to the three Baltic States. They came from as far apart as the Faroe Islands to Turkey, arranged by Amnesty International. Ilga-Europe, Pride London, which is ‘twinned’ with Riga Pride. A section of the march was also holding placards which said marching for those who can’t which was very significant.

Richard Moon, the UK ambassador invited guests to the UK embassy for tea and biscuits. He used the opportunity to present Mozaika with the FCO LGBT toolkit which had been translated into the three Baltic languages.
Next year, Baltic Pride will take place in Lithuania.

Bloggers Block

This year I have suffered major 'Bloggers Block' despite major issues that I have wanted to write about. This started due to sufferng from 'adhesive capsulitis' which to us lay people is frozen shoulder. But now I am back to doing somersaults and handstands and thus from hereon

Back to Blogging

4 Jun 2009

Still time to vote in the elctions

Still about two and a half hours of voting to go. Still time to get out and vote as well as time to ring up a few family and friends and remind them of the importance of as many people voting as possible to keep out the fascist BNP who have a real chance of gaining a seat.

We need as many people to get out and vote as possible to keep the dascists out!