The 21st Vancouver Queer Film Festival have honoured their award winning films.
This year's top prize, the $1,500 Audience Favourite Award for Best Feature, went to Shamim Sarif for
I Can't Think Straight.
It's the tale of a British Indian girl dating a British guy and a headstrong Christian
Palestinian in the midst of planning her wedding day. When the two women meet by chance and become fast friends, their lives are turned upside down. They find themselves questioning whether their undeniable attraction can co-exist with their
traditions and conventions.
The film also took Audience Choice for Best Feature Film at the 2009 Melbourne Queer Film Festival in Australia.
The $750 Hot Pink Shorts Award for best short film went to The Portside by award-winning
Vancouver director Aerlyn Weissman and poet Daphne Marlatt. The film is a historical drama that relives Vancouver's lesbian scene of the 1970s. Commissioned by the Queer History Project, The Portside is the third film in a series of creative
collaborations that honours Vancouver's queer histories.
Nine years ago, the Film Classification Board tried to prevent Weissman's documentary, Little Sister's vs Big Brother from being screened at the 14th installment of the queer film
festival in 2002, sparking outcry from the queer community. The film charted the bookstore's two-decade battle against Canada Customs book seizures.
Naoko-San by local filmmaker Rika Moorhouse won the Gerry Brunet Memorial Award ($1500), a
juried award honouring the best new short work by a BC artist. In Naoko-San, Moorhouse explores the blurred narrative of her mother's immigration story.
The Best International Feature ($500), a new festival award, was split between City of
Borders and Soundless Wind Chime .
City of Borders , a co-production between Israel, Palestine and the US by Yun Suh, takes filmgoers into the heart of Jerusalem where a queer bar called Shushan stands as an unexpected symbol of
unity. It portrays this vibrant underground sanctuary where people of opposing nationalities, religious affiliations and sexual orientations gather and create community under one roof.
Kit Hun's Soundless Wind Chime (China and Switzerland)
is a sophisticatedly fashioned Honk Kong love story of two men who meet after one of their lovers dies in an accident. Told through a series of flashbacks and fragments, this poetic drama avows that love is as much about memory as it is present-day
Jim Carrey black comedy I Love You Phillip Morris may not get a US cinema release because it contains an explicit gay sex scene.
Despite securing distribution deals in the UK and Europe, US firms are uneasy with a love scene between
Carrey and Ewan McGregor's character Phillip Morris, reports The Times.
The depiction of the sexual activity was far more than I've ever seen in a mainstream film with a mainstream celebrity, said Lewis Tice, director of publicity and
marketing for TLA Releasing: There's a graphic sex scene in the first 10 minutes that I was surprised to see.
Filmmakers are re-cutting the movie for US distribution companies in an attempt to secure a theatrical release. If no agreement
is reached, the movie will go straight to DVD.
Mostly straight, multiplex-going audiences don't want to see a romantic comedy in which two dudes get it on; unless it is meant as a joke, commented Scott Stiffler, author of Why Hollywood
Avoids Gay Movies.
The Christian owners of a seaside hotel may be prosecuted after refusing to allow a gay couple to stay in a double room.
Peter and Hazelmary Bull are facing an unprecedented court case under new equality laws.
Martyn Hall, who lives with
his civil partner Steven Preddy, has lodged a county court claim for up to £5,000 in damages alleging direct discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.
But the Bulls deny the charge, saying they have a long-standing policy
of banning all unmarried couples, both heterosexual and gay, from sharing a bed at the Chymorvah Private Hotel in Marazion near Penzance in Cornwall.
The Bulls, who have the backing of the Christian Institute, have operated their 'married only'
policy since they bought the hotel in 1986.
The hotel website says: Here at Chymorvah we have few rules, but please note that as Christians we have a deep regard for marriage (being the union of one man to one woman for life
to the exclusion of all others).
Therefore, although we extend to all a warm welcome to our home, our double bedded accommodation is not available to unmarried couples
Last August, the Bulls received a letter from Stonewall, the
gay rights organisation, saying it had received a complaint and warning the hotel it was breaking the law.
The couple's solicitor, Tom Ellis, from the Manchester-based firm Aughton Ainsworth, said: Our argument is that the regulations impinge
on the Bulls' human rights. Under the European Convention on Human Rights, people are able to hold a religious belief and manifest it in the way they act.
During the dark days of Soviet oppression, there was a joke that did the rounds in Russia. Homosexuality is a crime and the punishment is seven years in prison locked up with other men. There is a three-year waiting list.
Don't laugh too
loudly. It could soon be illegal to repeat a joke like that.
I'm not kidding. In the name of challenging homophobia , the Government is planning to push legislation through Parliament that will make it a serious crime to use any language
which could be construed as offensive to gay men and women.
The new law will even override the basic requirements of freedom of speech, one of the pillars of our democracy.
Westboro Baptist Church says it will picket the funeral of Natasha Richardson who died after a skiing accident.
Besides Richardson, who the 'church' says has been targeted because of her donations to AIDS research, her marriage to Liam Neeson,
(it's not his first) and her involvement in theater, which the 'church' sees as a haven for homosexuality,
This Government seems determined to abolish freedom of speech. It has made it a criminal offence to incite religious or racial hatred and, as of last year, there is also an offence on the statute book (but not yet in force) of inciting hatred based on
sexual orientation. If this legislative trend continues, telling someone you don't like their slacks could soon land you in the slammer.
Bucking this trend, the House of Lords inserted a "free speech" exception to the gay-hate offence,
which protects people who discuss or criticise sexual conduct, or urge others to refrain from it. Now, though, the Ministry of Justice has added a clause to the current Coroners and Justice Bill which, if passed, will repeal that "free speech"
exception. The justice secretary, Jack Straw, said that there were no circumstances in which the right to freedom of speech could justify homophobic behaviour.
When seeking to outlaw homophobic acts, Mr Straw is thinking of extreme political
groups and nasty rap lyrics. He probably doesn't have in mind the "only gay in the village" sketches from Little Britain. But his political opponents fear that that kind of comedy could fall foul of his new law
The universally reviled nutters of the Westboro Baptist Church are threatening to picket an east London primary school over its anti-homophobia work.
A row broke out at George Tomlinson primary school in Waltham Forest, north-east London, earlier
this month when some parents pulled their children out of lessons planned for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender history month. The school used books on homosexual relationships, in one case between two male penguins.
Members of the Westboro
Baptist church in Topeka, Kansas say they will picket the school next Friday afternoon.
The group's founder, Reverend Fred Phelps, was barred from entering Britain last month to stop him spreading extremism and hatred. He had intended to
picket a play about a homophobic killing.
A message on the group's website announcing their plans said: God hates the UK and the Tomlinson school fag tyranny, where conscientious parents face religious persecution for withdrawing their
children from lessons on lying fag so-called history.
Over 100 students gathered to demonstrate against six protesters from the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) advocating against the University of Chicago's employment of Barack Obama.
The WBC protesters arrived carrying signs reading God hates the
world and Bloody Obama. They allowed people to photograph them and held up their signs, smiling. At one point, Shirley Phelps-Roper, WBC's spokeswoman, sang a joyful rendition of God Hates America.
They were accompanied down the
street by a group of students mocking the WBC's message. The students held a sign reading Figs Doom Nations and planted themselves across the street from the WBC, drawing from a Biblical passage in which Jesus disparages a fig tree. If you need
scanty biblical evidence for anything, we've got it, said fourth-year Carmel Levy as he handed out flyers containing biblical citations that read: Jesus rebuked the fig as an evil abomination and God Promises Terrible Vengeance Upon Any
We just wanted the world to know that God's vengeance doesn't just fall on the gay, but also on the fruit, said fourth-year Max Shron.
WBC protesters moved to the Midway to protest the Law School at around
1:00 p.m. Far from being fazed by what they had encountered, they were delighted. I truly and dearly love it, said Shirley Phelps-Roper, the group's spokeswoman: It is so awesome when you juxtapose this little group of servants of God with this
restless mob of humanity. These people think that they have the power, this arrogant nation, to change God. The little girly boys up there with their clothes half off gyrating around—they might as well flip off their god.”
of Students for Student Affairs Martina Munsters came away with a positive impression of the counter-protest.
From what I'm hearing, it sounds like things went really well. There was no confrontation...[and] students seemed to be pretty
upbeat, she said: They even raised about $500 for charity, which I think is tremendous.
The Obama administration will overturn a George Bush policy and endorse a UN declaration calling for the worldwide decriminalization of homosexuality .
US officials said they had notified the declaration's French sponsors that the administration
wants to be added as a supporter. The Bush administration was criticized in December when it was the only western government that refused to sign on.
The move was made after an interagency review of the Bush administration's position on the
nonbinding document, which was signed by all 27 European Union members as well as Japan, Australia, Mexico and three dozen other countries, the officials said.
When it was voted on in December, 66 of the U.N.'s 192 member countries signed the
declaration — which backers called a historic step to push the General Assembly to deal more forthrightly with anti-gay discrimination.
But 70 U.N. members outlaw homosexuality — and in several, homosexual acts can be punished by execution. More
than 50 nations, including members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, opposed the declaration. The declaration was also opposed by the Vatican.
Archbishop Akinola from the Church of Nigeria wants all witnesses to gay weddings to be sentenced to a year in jail
If ever you think the Anglican church of Nigeria cannot get more incoherently bigoted about gay people, you're wrong. The latest
proof comes in a position paper submitted by the church to a parliamentary committee which is planning a law against gay marriage. Homosexuality is already illegal in Nigeria, of course, as is gay marriage. But the proposed law would provide three years
in jail for gay couples who got married, and five years for any witnesses. Earlier drafts have proposed long jail sentences, also, for anyone who argues in favour of gay marriage.
If ever a law were a simple incitement to hate, this is it, and
here is Archbishop Akinola of the Church of Nigeria cheering them on.
A New York group protesting against a number of arrests of innocent gay men in adult businesses for allegedly loitering for the purpose of prostitution has met with the District Attorney for Manhattan.
Members of the Coalition to Stop the
Arrests held a meeting with DA Robert Morgenthau after string of about 30 arrests.
According to the coalition, there has been an epidemic of false arrests of gay men who were targeted by undercover police posing as prostitutes.
City News reports that the DA voiced his willingness to act on the arrests.
The first thing Morgenthau said was, 'We are going to investigate all these cases,' said Joey Nelson, a member of the Coalition to Stop the Arrests.
Pinter, also a coalition member and one of the men who was arrested last year said: They really seemed genuinely concerned that something wrong was happening here.
The group was founded by Pinter, after his own arrest.
said an attractive young man approached him at the Blue Door video shop last October. As it turned out, the man was an undercover police officer.
He described the man as charming and persistent , adding that they agreed to go home to have
sex but as they were leaving, they man offered him $50 for the meeting.
Pinter said he thought it strange but did not respond. He then alleges he was hustled by a number of other undercover officers and arrested for loitering for the purpose
Uganda's Minister of Ethics and Integrity, Dr. James Nsaba Buturo has told a conference organized to discuss the ways to fight Homosexuality that he will soon submit a bill on pornography and homosexuality for discussion in Parliament.
The conference that took place at Parliament was organized by Defend the Family International, an organization in the United States of America that was formed to fight homosexuality.
Buturo says pornography is partly a cause of homosexuality
since it negatively affects the morals of the victims of pornography and makes them easily susceptible to the vice of homosexuality.
Buturo says the government will not only end at making laws against homosexuality but will also engage in
sensitizing schools and churches in the fight against this vice.
The President of Defend the Family International, Scott Lively says it is good for the government of Uganda to criminalize homosexuality but the government should subject the
criminals of homosexuality to a therapy rather than imprisoning them.
Lively says this is aimed at the criminals recovering from homosexuality which is the main objective of those fighting homosexuality and not to punish homosexuals through
imprisonment. He says even schools should borrow this idea of therapy in dealing with gay students.
A demonstration thousands strong in Bujumbura, Burundi last week called on lawmakers to criminalize being gay..
It was the largest protest yet since President Pierre Nkurunziza came to power in 2005, attracting between 10,000 and
The protesters were angry that senators had rejected an amendment that would criminalize being gay when voting on a new draft criminal code law on February 17. In November, Burundi's lower chamber of Parliament had voted in favor
of the amendment that prescribes two years in jail for being gay.
Speaking to reporters at the event, CNDD-FDD Party Chairman Jeremie Ngendakumana said, The CNDD-FDD is protesting today to support the [view of the] majority of Burundians that
homosexuality should be punished by law.
lThe second gay pride parade in Chiang Mai, Thailand, was called off at the last minute Feb. 21 following virulent on-site protests by 30 red shirted members of a group called Rak Chiang Mai 51.
Pride organizers said they
feared the march would descend into violence, despite the presence of 150 police officers.
Rak Chiang Mai 51 spokesman Petchawat Wattanapongsirikul said pride events should be held in other cities, such as Phuket and Pattaya: Chiang Mai people
cannot accept this and will stop the parade by all means, even violence.
Channel 4 has come under fire from Islamic leaders over a television documentary showing how gay and lesbian Muslims suffer under their laws.
Its director has already had death threats. Now station chiefs are bracing themselves for a
backlash. Its digital channel More 4 will show A Jihad For Love tonight.
It lifts the lid on the battle gay and lesbian Muslims face as they struggle with their faith and their sexuality. The documentary not only shows gay Muslims daring
to kiss, holding hands and talking about getting married, it also provides harrowing reports on the suffering they have faced under Islamic law. And it reveals the death threats and punishments handed out to gays in countries including Egypt and Iran.
Indian film maker Parvez Sharma – who spent six years making the programme – revealed: I have had death threats on my blog after making this film. Some countries have even banned it. I've been called an apostate because Muslims think I have
insulted Islam but I think it will open up a debate.
Islamic leaders in the UK have attacked the documentary, saying it will offend, anger and shock. An Imam from Europe's largest mosque The Baitul Futuh based in Surrey condemned the film
last night, saying: These people should not be confessing their sins to the television cameras. They should be doing it in private to God and seeking forgiveness.”
Last night a Channel 4 spokesman defended the documentary. She said: This is a sensitively made documentary that has played to critical acclaim at film festivals internationally and is a legitimate area for a documentary film-maker to explore.
True Stories: A Jihad For Love will be shown on More 4 at 10pm tonight.
A U.S. Supreme Court ruling this week affirmed the Casper, Wyoming City counsels decision not to allow anti-gay pastor Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas to place an anti-gay monument in one of it's city parks, when the justices
unanimously agreed that governments receiving monument donations for public parks are not compelled to take everything they are offered.
The city had placed a Ten Commandments statue, donated by the Fraternal Order of the Eagles, in a plaza along
with other monuments of historical significance and Phelps had sought to place his own monument in the Casper plaza condemning homosexuality.
Phelp's monument stated: Matthew Shepard Entered Hell October 12, 1998, in Defiance of God's Warning
‘thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind; it is abomination. Leviticus 18:22.
Matthew Shepard was a student at the University of Wyoming who was tortured and subsequently murdered because he was gay.
The Casper City Council
had denied Phelps' request in both 2003 and 2007.
Phelps had argued it was his First Amendment right to have his monument included.
Viewers across Asia saw a censored version of the Oscars after television chiefs removed gay references from Sean Penn's best actor speech.
The STAR satellite channel, which broadcasts to more than 300 million viewers in 53 countries, also
cut the sound when Dustin Lane Black, who wrote the screenplay for Penn's film, Milk , addressed all the gay and lesbian kids. Milk is the story of Californian gay rights activist Harvey Milk.
Both Penn and Black backed gay
marriage in their speeches and called for equal rights for homosexuals.
Gay Asians voiced their anger at the broadcaster, which censored its evening telecasts of the awards ceremony.
As a gay man, I am truly offended, Pang Khee
Teik, a prominent Malaysian arts commentator, wrote in a letter sent out to several media organisations. Stop censoring the words that describe who I am. Pang said the move sent a message ... that gays and lesbians are still shameful things to be
censored from the public's ears.
Jannie Poon, STAR's Hong Kong-based spokeswoman, stressed that the company had no intention of upsetting any viewers ...BUT... said it has a responsibility to take the sensitivities and guidelines of
all our markets into consideration.
The fundamentalist US family church notorious for picketing the funerals of dead soldiers plans to carry out its first protest in Britain this week.
Followers of the virulently anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church have threatened to picket a sixth
form college in Basingstoke, Hampshire during a staging of The Laramie Project , a play about an American youth murdered because of his sexuality.
The 'church' from Topeka, Kansas is mainly composed of relatives of the founder, pastor Fred
Phelps, who style themselves the most hated family in America.
Their core belief – that God will punish the West for its acceptance of homosexuality – has seen them protest at dozens of servicemen's funerals brandishing garish placards
stating God hates the USA and Thank God for dead soldiers .
Details of the church's first picket in Britain was posted on their website with the slogan God Hates England; Your Queen Is A Whore.
Some of the best
Bible preaching in the history of the world came out of that dark dismal land, but now it is full of all abominations, the notice read: God will shortly destroy the UK and the world, but not until they have got the plain, clear message so that
they will be without excuse.
The target of Friday evening's demonstration will be the Central Studio arts venue at Queen Mary's College, where local gay group Freedom Youth is staging a
small production of the The Laramie Project this week. The play, which has roused the ire of Westboro followers in the past, tells the story of Matthew Shepard, a gay teenager tortured and murdered in small town America in 1998.
Miller, Conservative MP for Basingstoke, said that she had contacted the Home Secretary to see what action the Government may be considering in relation to possible attempts by the Phelps family to enter the country.
She condemned the church's
highly inflammatory language and behaviour and said the young people who had worked on the play would not be intimidated by threats.
Members of Anonymous, the nebulous online community that has previously organised protests against the Church
of Scientology, are already planning counter-demonstrations outside the college on Friday, posts on internet message boards indicate.
A homophobic American cleric who runs a website called God Hates Fags and was allegedly planning to picket a play showing in the UK has been banned from Britain by the home secretary, Jacqui Smith.
Fred Phelps had vowed to come to Britain
with his daughter, Shirley, to picket a school play in Basingstoke.
There was no evidence that the Phelps family, who tour the US spreading their message and have expressed a wish to come to Britain to preach at Speakers' Corner in London, had
made arrangements to carry out their threat of picketing the play, but the Home Office said Phelps and other members of his family would be banned from entry if they arrived.
A UK Border Agency spokesman said: The home secretary has excluded
both Fred Phelps and his daughter from the UK. Both these individuals have engaged in unacceptable behaviour by inciting hatred against a number of communities.
The government has made it clear it opposes extremism in all its forms. We will
continue to stop those who want to spread extremism, hatred and violent messages in our communities from coming to our country … regardless of their opinions and beliefs.
A lesbian who fled Iran after her girlfriend was arrested and sentenced to death in Tehran has won her battle to be granted asylum in Britain.
Supporters of Pegah Emambakhsh who claimed she would be executed if she was deported back to her
homeland, welcomed the Government's change of heart last night after their hard-fought, four-year campaign.
Ms Emambakhsh came to the UK in 2005 fearing for her life, but last year she lost a court battle to stay in this country. Following a
high-profile campaign involving gay rights groups, MPs and The Independent, the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, agreed to reconsider her case.
Yesterday, Lesley Boulton, of the Friends of Pegah campaign group, said: We have just heard that Pegah
has finally been granted refugee status in the UK. This is fantastic, wonderful news and a great reward for all the hard work put in to ensure she was not sent back to Iran – so thank you, thank you, thank you. This has been a long struggle but it is a
real vindication of what can be achieved when we all work together.
Asylum rights groups have been pressing the British Government to introduce a moratorium on returning gay and lesbian refugees to Iran, where homosexuality is still
considered a crime. But the Home Office made clear last night that it was not prepared to grant a blanket exemption in such cases. A spokesman for the UK Border Agency said: We consider each case on its individual merits and, whenever someone needs
our protection, we grant it. We constantly monitor the human rights situation in countries like Iran and press for an end to abuses, but we do not believe that everyone claiming to be a homosexual from Iran is in need of international protection.
Under Iran's strict Islamic laws, lesbians found guilty of sexual relations can be sentenced to 100 lashes, but for a third offence the punishment is execution. Ms Emambakhsh came to the UK after her partner was arrested and sentenced to death by
stoning. Speaking through her asylum representative in Sheffield, Ms Emambakhsh said at the time: I will never, never go back. If I do, I know I will die.
A Michigan television station in the United States has pulled a one hour programme paid for by a notoriously homophobic family group.
The American Family Association (AFA) had paid for airtime on WOOD-TV to screen Speechless: Silencing
It claims to reveal the truth about the radical homosexual agenda and its impact on the family, the nation and religious freedom.
WOOD-TV General Manager Diane Kniowski said earlier this week that it would not
run the AFA programme this Saturday as planned: Our station is being bombarded with calls and messages, and we find ourselves in the middle of someone else's fight.
The programme, which is available online, claims hate crimes laws target
preaching what the Bible says about homosexuality, gays play a key role to play in the spread of all STDs and HIV/AIDS and employment protection based on sexual orientation will force churches to hire homosexuals.
The Human Rights Campaign,
America's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organisation, had urged its members to contact the station and ask that they pull the programme.
Police in New York City are allegedly targeting gay men in video stores and other adult establishments for arrest under the charge of prostitution.
The arrests seem to follow a similar pattern time after time: a handsome young man chats up an
(often older) gay man, suggests that the two leave the business in order to engage in consensual sex, and then, as the pair leaves the establishment, offers to pay for the encounter.
The comment about payment does not have to be acknowledged or
agreed upon to in order for police waiting outside to seize the target and place him under arrest.
It seems that gay men have become pawns in what may be a legal game to target and close adult oriented businesses under the city's so-called nuisance abatement law,
which provides grounds for the city to order the closure of businesses at which criminal activity is demonstrated.
And it's certainly no coincidence that these sex stores are getting closed down after a slew of prostitution arrests.
Update: False Arrests
15th February 2009. See Gay City News
Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau has agreed to meet with community leaders about the
false arrests of gay men for prostitution at Manhattan porn stores.
State Senator Tom Duane said, I told him why it so important to meet and why the community is up in arms about this and he agreed, though an exact date has not been set
On hand were a number of familiar LGBT activists: Brendan Fay, Gilbert Baker, Ann Northrop, Father Tony, Eric Leven, John Weis and journalists Andy Humm and
Duncan Osbourne. It was Osbourne's relentless pursuit of this story that brought the entire illegal campaign to light.
More than $83 million was donated to support or oppose the ballot initiative that abolished same-sex marriage in California, according to campaign filings recently released.
Filings show that elected officials, businesses, churches and
individuals poured more than $28 million into the campaigns during the contest's closing days. The final tallies show that opponents of Proposition 8 raised $43.3 million in 2008 and had a little more than $730,000 left on hand at year's end. The
measure's sponsors raised $39.9 million and had $983,000 left over.
The race was the most expensive ballot measure on a social issue in the nation's history. Proposition 8 passed to outlaw same sex marriage with 52% of the vote. Gay marriage
backers have asked the California Supreme Court to overturn it.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the first time assigned a dollar value of nearly $190,000 to its role in getting the initiative passed.
Focus on the
Family, the evangelical Christian media empire based in Colorado, reported giving $657,000 in cash and services to promote Proposition 8.
The Church of Scientology never has been shy about attempting to silence critics. Now, however, two gay activists - one of them a former Scientologist - claim the organization has broken the law by obtaining and disclosing confidential medical records
belonging to those who oppose its policies.
Graham Berry, the attorney for gay activists "Angry Gay Pope" and "Happy Smurf" (the former Scientologist), called the public revelation of their HIV-positive status by lawyers for
the Church of Scientology downright sickening, illegal and an insult to members of the LGBT community and HIV patients worldwide.
The disclosure of information protected under both state and federal law was part of an effort by the church
to stop protests at its "Gold Base" near Hemet, California.
According to Happy Smurf, Scientology policy states that homosexuals are ‘low on the tone scale' and should be ‘disposed of quietly and without sorrow.' To
that end, the men aver, the church is lobbying Riverside County to pass an ordinance that will restrict protesting at Gold Base.
Scientology considers the presence of two HIV-positive men to be a threat to the well-being of the alleged 500
church workers at the base, and is seeking to restrict protests in a move that may constitute a restriction on First Amendment rights of activists in Hemet, the activists and their attorney assert.
The new injustice bill contains a measure to protect people from incitement to hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation.
In May the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill created for the first time an offence of incitement to hatred on the
grounds of sexual orientation.
However, an amendment by Tory peer Lord Waddington, a former Home Secretary under Margaret Thatcher, was added to the legislation.
His amendment to the offence of using threatening language with intent to
stir up hatred on grounds of sexual orientation said that urging someone to change their sexuality should not count of itself as threatening or as intended to stir up hatred.
While he claimed his amendment was about free speech, in
effect it gives people leeway to claim they were just following their religious beliefs when inciting others to hate gay, lesbian or bisexual people.
If Christians can argue that their faith gives them a get-out clause, it could make a
prosecution more difficult.
The Coroners and Injustice Bill, part of the government's legislative programme for this session of Parliament, contains a clause removing the Waddington amendment.
A spokesperson for gay equality organisation
Stonewall, told PinkNews.co.uk:
Last year, the House of Lords voted to retain an exemption to the new incitement to hatred protections. Stonewall believes this is unnecessary and could mean that a very small number of people of extreme views
attempt to avoid prosecution by citing a 'religious defence'. Stonewall is pleased that the government is now seeking to remove this exemption. It will mean stronger protection for lesbian, gay and bisexual people from those who stir up hatred against
European MPs have passed a resolution that will support gay marriage
Italian Communist Giusto Catania tabled the pro-abortion, pro-gay resolution with the aim of improving Europe's fundamental human rights.
The motion called on
each of the 27 member states to legally guarantee access to sexual and reproductive rights.
The resolution is based on the Charter of Fundamental Rights, part of the Lisbon treaty, which have yet to be passed into law.
Much of the
resolution deals with xenophobia, and the rights of children and refugees but one part stressed the need to raise public awareness of the right to reproductive and sexual health, and calls on the member states to ensure that women can fully enjoy
these rights, to put in place appropriate sex education, information and confidential advisory services, and to facilitate access to contraception in order to prevent all unwanted pregnancies and illegal and high-risk abortions.
public funds should be made available in every EU country to ensure that ethnic minority women, in particular, can have full access to such services. It also calls on all EU member states to recognise same-sex civil partnerships equally with
The resolution will have go before the EU's Council of Ministers before becoming law. But even before it is rubber stamped it will act as a soft law used to put every EU government under pressure to abolish any
existing restrictions in their laws on abortion.
Censors at Facebook social networking site have removed the cover image of the Sep 11, 2008 issue of the Canadian gay magazine, Xtra, with only a vague explanation: Facebook was trying to protect children from viewing the image.
Garro is the associate editor of the Toronto gay and lesbian newspaper. She uploads each issue's cover image to the Friends of Xtra Facebook group.
But this week, she received a message from Facebook, warning her that one image had been deleted
from the Friends of Xtra group:
to ensure Facebook remains a safe, secure and trusted environment for all users, including the many children who use the site.
Facebook declined to answer Xtra.ca's repeated attempts for an interview, so we are unable to
clarify how the sight of naked breasts might create an unsafe environment for youth.
The social-networking site recently came under fire for deleting pictures of women breastfeeding their children. Facebook spokesman Barry Schnitt told the
New York Times that the company has no plans to change their strict no-nudity policy: Certainly we can agree that there is context where nudity is not obscene, but we are reviewing thousands of complaints a day.Whether it's obscene, art or a natural
act — we'd rather just leave it at nudity and draw the line there.
Worse yet, there's no transparency in Facebook's decision-making process. Facebook typically refuses to elaborate or engage in discussion after it censors an image.
The Vatican envoy to the Netherlands has been called to a meeting to defend the Catholic teaching on sexuality and marriage by the Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister.
At the request of homosexualist activist groups, Maxime Verhagen, a Christian
Democrat, has demanded that the Papal Nuncio to the Netherlands, Monsignor Fran็ois Bacqu้, respond to accusations that the Church opposes gay rights.
Verhagen said, The Netherlands is unpleasantly surprised by the opposition of
Pope Benedict XVI to a UN declaration on human rights and homosexuality.
Verhagen noted that although there were points of agreement with the Vatican statements, the judgments of the Pope on homosexuality are cause for concern because they are unnecessarily offensive, as can be seen, and do not contribute
to a worthy debate.
In December, the Vatican was attacked in the international press for refusing to endorse the UN motion claiming to decriminalise homosexuality. The motion, which is not legally binding, was introduced by Verhagen
and by his colleagues from France, and has been signed by only 66 of the UN’s 192 member states. Thus far, although the United States, Russia, China, Guatemala, El Salvador and some African countries have also refused to endorse the resolution,
only the representative of the Vatican has been publicly called on the carpet by Verhagen.
Nine men were handed unusually harsh sentences of eight years in prison after being tried on charges of conspiracy and unnatural acts, a term used to criminalize homosexuality, according to their lawyers and gay rights groups in Senegal.
The men were arrested on December 19 at the home of Diadji Diouf, a prominent gay activist who works with AIDS organizations to prevent the spread of the disease in the largely clandestine gay community in Senegal, according to Joel Nana, a program associate for the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.
Diouf, who was among those arrested and sentenced, runs an organization that provides condoms and counseling to gay men in Senegal, a largely Muslim country that has become increasingly intolerant of homosexuality in recent years.
A Christian relationship counsellor who was sacked after he refused to give sex therapy to homosexual couples has lost his case for unlawful discrimination.
An employment tribunal ruled that the national counselling service Relate was entitled to
dismiss Gary McFarlane after he said that encouraging gay sex went against his devout religious beliefs.
The decision prompted Christian groups to demand a rethink of religious discrimination laws, following a string of other high-profile cases
in which courts have found against Christians who claim they have suffered as a result of standing up for their beliefs.
Andrea Williams, director of the Christian Legal Centre, which supported McFarlane in his claim, said the religious
discrimination law was in danger of becoming a dead letter , while the Christian Institute said there was a growing feeling among churchgoers that religious discrimination laws only applied to Muslims and other minority faiths.
brought his claim for unfair dismissal after he was sacked in March 2008. In 2006, after he qualified as a psychosexual therapist, he made it clear to his employers that his strong Christian beliefs meant he did not feel able to give sex therapy advice
to homosexuals. Fellow counsellors objected to his stance and claimed his views were homophobic, and in March 2008 he was sacked.
An employment tribunal panel unanimously rejected his claim, though the panel decided McFarlane had been wrongfully
dismissed as Relate had not followed the correct dismissal procedures. The panel said McFarlane's claim had failed because: The claimant was not treated as he was because of his Christian faith, but because (Relate) believed that he would not comply
with its policies and that it would have treated anyone else of whom that was believed, regardless of religion, in the same way.
2009 has begun with complaints about a BBC Three show called The Most Annoying People of 2008 , which was broadcast several times over the festive period. People are complaining about a bit that featured Ron Jeremy when he described what he wanted
to do to Lindsay Lohan and her gal pal Sam Ronson.
Human rights activist Peter Tatchell blasted the show, saying: The remarks by BBC Radio 5 presenter DJ Spoony and straight US porn actor Ron Jeremy were gratuitously sexist and homophobic. The
BBC should have never broadcast them. A public apology is due from the BBC.
Okay, these comments may be pretty dumb, but c'mon! Surely a human rights activist has better things to do with his time than throw his penny in about some crappy
clip show on BBC Three? Here we have a man who tried to slap a citizen's arrest on Mugabe and slags off the pope for homophobia... good causes... but a stupid throwaway comment on a rubbish TV show?
A 79-year-old man from the Netherlands has been found guilty of indecency with several Gambian men.
A court sentenced Frank Boers to pay 100,000 Gambian dalasis (ฃ2,500) in lieu of a two year prison sentence.
Boers was arrested at
the city's international airport when officials found he was in possession of nude pictures of himself and some Gambian men and other pornography.
Gambia, a mostly Muslim country of 1.7 million people, punishes homosexual acts, even in private,
with up to seven years in prison.
oers conviction follows the President Jammeh's pledge to crack down on gay people in the country. The Daily Observer reported that the President had issued: An ultimatum to homosexuals, drug dealers,
thieves and other criminals, to leave the Gambia or face serious consequences if caught. Any hotel, lodge or motel that lodges this kind of individuals will be closed down, because this act is unlawful. We are in a Muslim dominated country and I will not
and shall never accept such individuals in this country.
In the wake of their arrests the Foreign Office updated its guidance for British visitors.
Although there are no laws specifically covering
homosexuality in the Gambia, the Gambian Criminal Code states that any person who has, or attempts to have, "carnal knowledge" of any person "against the order of nature" is guilty of a felony and could face imprisonment.
Gambian courts may interpret homosexual acts as falling under this part of the Code.
The Code also states that gross indecency between men, whether in public or private, is a felony and anyone committing this felony could face imprisonment.
We have received reports that the police are actively enforcing this Code.
Half an hour after the 9pm watershed adult film actor Ron Jeremy – captioned on screen as a porn legend – described in graphic detail lewd acts that he wanted to perform on Hollywood star Lindsay Lohan and her lesbian lover.
Nutter politicians and lobby groups reacted in supposed
anger to the segment on the programme Most Annoying People 2008 .
It was first broadcast on December 29 but repeated over the New Year period and is still available to view online.
Another guest on the BBC3 show, Radio 5
Live presenter DJ Spoony, referred to lesbians as munters and mingers, prompting supposed fury from gay rights activists.
Nutter MP Anne Widdecombe has demanded to know who sanctioned broadcast of the programme: What was their
reasoning behind choosing a porn star as an interviewee at all – and why was the pre-recorded show screened?
You would think that following the debacle with Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand, they would have gone out of their way to
ensure anything going out was within the limits of decency. This was a holiday period when children tend to stay up later and there is a strong risk that children would have seen it.
Indecency is just ingrained at the BBC. They are
Jeremy, who has appeared in almost 2,000 hardcore movies, said of Lohan and Ronson: ‘These two girls are very good-looking. I would love to be in the middle of that: They will do each other, do me, do each
other, do me, back and forth. Jeremy also said of Lohan: Men are wishing they could be with her and change her mind, thinking “Yeah, she is a lesbian now because she never met me.”
BBC Radio 5 Live presenter Spoony, 38,
said of lesbians: Let the munters and mingers get each other. That's cool because nobody wants them. But referring to Mean Girls star Lohan and Ronson, he added: When they're hot and fit - Hollywood superstars - they should be saved for the
Gay rights activist Peter Tatchell branded the remarks by Jeremy and Spoony gratuitously sexist and homophobic. The BBC should have never broadcast them and should issue a public apology. Spoony should be suspended by the BBC
and only be allowed to continue presenting his Radio 5 Live programme after he has apologised on air and promised not to repeat his homophobic garbage.
Ron Jeremy's comments were needlessly offensive. He's a sexist pig, which no right-thinking
woman, lesbian or straight, would want to meet, let alone have sex with.
The BBC today said that it had received 13 complaints about the programme to date.
A spokeswoman said: Most Annoying People 2008 is 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 are expressing their own views and opinions, which are meant in a light-hearted way with no malicious intent.