London mayor Boris Johnson will this week face claims in the High Court that he failed to respect a Christian group's right to free speech by banning their posters from the side of London buses.
Johnson refused to run the advertisements which
promoted the Core Issues Trust's view that homosexuals can be reoriented through therapy and prayer. Johnson said the ads were offensive to gays, and said they could even spark retaliation against the wider Christian community. Johnson was acting
in his mayoral role of being in charge of Transport for London, which is responsible for approving advertising on buses in the city.
The posters said Not Gay! Ex-Gay, Post-Gay and Proud. Get over it! and was in response to a previous poster
campaign by Stonewall, the gay rights group, which said: Some people are gay. Get over it!
Mike Davidson, the head of the trust, and his supporters will go to the High Court to claim Johnson's ban on their poster campaign should be reversed
on the grounds that he unlawfully stifled free speech.
A Transport for London spokesman said:
The advertisement breached TfL's advertising policy as in our view it contained a publicly controversial message and
was likely to cause widespread offence to members of the public.
Update: Judge backs ban on anti-gay advert but criticises acceptance of pro-gay advert
The High Court has ruled that Transport for London's decision to refuse a Christian group's bus advertisement was not unlawful.
The advertisement had been booked by the Core Issues Trust, which works with people who have unwanted same-sex
attractions. It was to run with the slogan: Not Gay! Ex-Gay, Post-Gay and Proud. Get over it! The advert was a response to one placed on buses by gay lobby group Stonewall reading, Some people are gay. Get over it!
Issues Trust advert was withdrawn in April last year following an intervention by London Mayor Boris Johnson, who is chairman of Transport for London. TfL justified the decision at the time on the basis that it was likely to cause widespread or
serious offence to members of the public and that it included images or messages which relate to matters of public controversy and sensitivity .
Mrs Justice Lang ruled that Johnson did not abuse his position by imposing the ban. However
she said that the advert placed by Stonewall was highly offensive and that the TfL had fallen below the standards to be expected of a responsible public body .
A gay-themed play that re-imagines stories from Christianity is drawing the ire of a Massachusetts family advocacy group, as well as condemnation from religious organizations nationwide.
Titled The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told , the
production retells Bible stories portraying biblical characters as gay. The self-described satirical comedy by playwright and novelist Paul Rudnick opens its weekend run Friday night at the Academy of Music Theater in downtown Northampton. The
actors are students from the Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School in nearby South Hadley.
Brian Camenker, founder and director of MassResistance, claims religious organizations nationwide are 'outraged':
[The characters] Adam and Eve are 'Adam and Steve.' In the second act, they have the nativity scene where Mary is a lesbian who says all kinds of gross things. It's just a terrible play.
At one point, the Virgin
I'm not supposed to be pregnant, I'm a bulldyke!
Camenker believes Christians must openly oppose such 'atrocities':
And the trouble is that this is
tomorrow's America that's learning this stuff, and we need to take it a little more seriously than we are
According to Camenker, religious groups around the country have protested vociferously. He says one local newspaper
reported the school had received nearly 12,000 emailed petition messages against the production.
The bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield spouted:
I didn't know it was the responsibility of
charter schools to teach religious bigotry. [...That's the responsibility of the church!]
The school says it has no intention of canceling the play or changing its content. PVPA's head of school, Scott Goldman, has stated the play is
consistent with the school's philosophy and is, in the school's view, an appropriate theater piece for its students.
I Want Your Love is a 2012 USA drama by Travis Mathews. With Jesse Metzger, Brontez Purnell, Ben Jasper.
A feature film that includes explicit scenes of gay male sex has been banned by
the Australian Film Censorship Board. I Want Your Love , written and directed by young American filmmaker Travis Mathews, was due to screen at queer film festivals around Australia.
Festival films are generally granted exemptions from the
censorship process. Festivals provide synopses of the works they are screening but the board can then ask to see individual films.
Melbourne Queer Film Festival director Lisa Daniel says that in her 15 years at the festival, I Want Your Love is
the first film that has been refused an exemption. It has been seen in many festivals around the world, and its distributors have told her this is the first time it has been banned. Mathews is a well-known filmmaker, and the decision is an embarrassment
for Australia, she says.
The film focuses on a young gay man who is preparing to leave San Francisco after living there for 10 years. The film shows his last 36 hours in the city, and a party thrown for him by his friends, in which his ambivalent
feelings about departure are clarified.
The film was also on the program at Sydney's Queer Screen and the Brisbane Queer Film Festival.
Jain Moralee, director of Queer Screen, said she was very disappointed that she would be unable to show
the work. The sex scene, she says, is a six-minute montage of friends, housemates and partygoers that is part of the narrative context of the film. She describes Mathews as a filmmaker who explores the line between narrative and documentary.
Update: Petition to Overturn the refused exemption status of the film I Want Your Love
There is no reason why this film should not be shown to a paying adult audience within the context of curated film festivals. I Want Your Love has screened at every
major queer film festival in the world and is getting a DVD release in the United States this month. Why are we the only country in the world to refuse its citizens the right to see it?
To: Ms Lesley O'Brien -
director, Australian Classification Board
We the undersigned believe that your decision to refuse exemption to Australian queer film festivals to screen Travis Mathew's film I Want Your Love is wrong.
Want Your Love shows us the modern gay experience with intimacy and frankness. It has a level of reality that is refreshing and reflects what life is really like for many gay men. Honest, intimate depictions of gay love and sex do not harm us to see.
I Want Your Love shows love and sex between happy, healthy and consenting gay men. While it contains actual sex, it is shown within a non-violent, intelligent and artistic narrative. This element is therefore not gratuitous and should
not form a reason why it should be refused exemption.
We believe there is no reason why this film should not be shown to a paying adult audience within the context of curated film festivals. I Want Your Love has screened at every
major queer film festival in the world and is getting a DVD release in the United States this month. We ask you to reflect on why we are the only country in the world to refuse its citizens the right to see it?
In light of this,
we ask you to overturn the refused exemption status of the film I Want Your Love.
The Oscar-nominated star James Franco has weighed into the censorship debate via a Youtube message, in which he speaks directly to the Australian Classification Board.
Franco describes the banning of I Want Your Love as hypocritical
and disappointing :
Travis is making this film, including sex, because he wants to explore story and character and the nuances that sex contains.
Because films have been banned
because of sex, sex and films hasn't had a chance to grow and become a sophisticated storytelling device. And frankly adults should be able to choose. They're not going in blind. I don't know why in this day and age, something like this --- a film that
is using sex not for titillation but to talk about being human --- is being banned. It's just embarrassing.
The Australian Classification Board not just embarrasses by the films it chooses to ban and the inconsistencies in its
approach --- it also embarrasses by the films it allows to screen, or simply doesn't bother to review.
An Istanbul court has shocked repressive Turkey by ruling that consensual sex between two men is natural. The landmark ruling contradicts rulings made in the past by the country's Supreme Court, Gay Star News reports.
The ruling involved a
merchant who was caught selling 125 DVDs of gay porn. The man faced up to four years in prison as Turkey's penal code outlaws citizens from owning, selling, distributing and publishing unnatural sex videos.
In a surprise ruling, however,
Jude Manmut Erdemli said that sexual orientation cannot be considered unnatural and it should be respected. What is more remarkable, the judge pointed to the legality of gay marriages in the United States and in Europe. He explained in the ruling:
Today, it is possible to have gay marriages in modern countries. International regulations prohibit discrimination regarding peoples' sexual preference, and it is therefore an obligation to respect their sexual
orientation. In this respect, most of the European countries see gay relationships as equivalent to marriage. Contemporary societies allow [gay relationships] to achieve this legal status and therefore the contents of the DVDs can not be seen as
Although the court ruled that the trader was not guilty of selling unnatural porn, he was found guilty of the unauthorized selling of porn and received eight months in prison.
Extremist muslim websites are abuzz against Muslim members of the British parliament who voted in favour of gay marriage legislation and there are fears that the Muslim parliamentarians could face serious intimidation after extremist clerics issued
fatwas against the MPs declaring them to be apostates .
On February 5, 2013, the House of Commons voted by 400 votes to 175 to legalise gay marriage in Britain. Muslim MPs Sadiq Khan, the Labour high-flyer, Rushanara Ali, Sajid Javid,
Shabana Mahmood and Anas Sarwar voted for gay marriage. Rehman Chishti voted against the move while Yasmin Qureshi and Khalid Mahmood MP abstained from voting, fearing opposition from their constituents.
At least three Pakistani clerics have said
that these MPs needed to repent and renew their faith, which means that they stand expelled from the Islam for supporting same sex marriages. They have also said that their Islamic marriages stand annulled and they needed to read Kalma again to become
The News understands that police forces in Britain have taken notice of the fatwas and the threats against the MPs. Also, the MPs have privately said that they fear for their lives after the delivery of fatwas on them by clerics.
Russia's Parliament has backed a bill which outlaws the propaganda of homosexuality among minors in a move that will restrict fundamental human rights and is in breach of the country's international obligations to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual,
transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people from discrimination, Amnesty International has said.
The State Duma voted almost unanimously in favour of the controversial measure with only one parliamentarian against and another abstaining, during the
The bill faces two more readings in the State Duma, after which it must be approved by the upper house (Federation Council) and President Vladimir Putin before it can become law.
The law would make the promotion of
homosexuality among minors an administrative offence in federal law, with fines of up to 500,000 roubles (US$ 16,200).
David Diaz-Jogeix, Europe and Central Asia Programme Deputy Director at Amnesty International said:
This law is an attack on the right to freedom of expression. There is no legal definition in the Russian law of what constitutes propaganda of homosexuality and the law could be interpreted very loosely.
perversely presumes that the moral, spiritual and psychological development of children is best served by denying them access to support and information that can help them make informed, autonomous and responsible decisions.
is an unjust law.
LGBTI activists organized today a Kissing Day protest in front of the Duma. Kissing couples were pelted with eggs and verbally abused by supporters of the law,. Police reportedly detained 20 LGBTI activists.
Charges against British theatre producer David Cecil were dropped by a Ugandan court on 2nd January. Cecil, who faced trial for producing a play with a gay theme without permission from the country's Media Council, told Index the magistrate had
declared the case dismissed as the prosecution had failed to disclose any evidence.
Cecil was arrested in September last year, when his theatre company refused to halt its production of The River and the Mountain pending a content review by
the Ugandan Media Council.
Index on Censorship and David Lan, the artistic director of the Young Vic, launched a petition calling for the charges against Cecil to be dropped which was signed by more than 2,500 people, including director Mike
Leigh, Stephen Fry, Sandi Toksvig andactor Simon Callow.
Cecil told Index:
Evidently, there is a minority in the government and cultural industry who are willing to sacrifice the constitutional right to freedom
of expression to their personal prejudices. However, the unsuccessful prosecution of this case is encouraging, and I pray that those working in the cultural industry are not put off by this oppressive and self-interested minority.
Mike Harris, Head of Advocacy at Index on Censorship said:
We're very pleased for David that the magistrate has dismissed this case --- but concerns remain over the state of free speech in Uganda. Since this prosecution, the Media Council has intervened to censor yet another
political play. The government and its agencies need to do more to defend free speech.
David Cecil, the British theatre producer arrested in Uganda in 2012 for staging a play with a homosexual protagonist, is being held in police custody after being threatened with deportation.
Immigration officers took Cecil from his home in the
outskirts of the capital, Kampala, on Thursday to Jinja Road police station, where he is being held. Fridah Mutesi, a human rights lawyer in Uganda, said the government did not disclose the grounds on which Cecil was being deported, but that it had the
power to deport individuals deemed undesirable .
In January Cecil was charged with disobeying lawful orders by the Uganda media council, which said he had staged The River and The Mountain despite being told not to. The case was dismissed
owing to a lack of evidence. It is believed that the deportation order is a result of his staging the play, which Cecil has described as a comedy drama about a gay businessman killed by his employees . The producer's lawyer, Godwin Buwa, said the
government was unhappy about Cecil's court case last month being dismissed.