High Court rules NI abortion legislation breaches Article 8 of European Convention on Human Rights

City Hall

by Alan Meban (Alan in Belfast) 

This morning’s High Court judgement [summary] held that the abortion legislation in Northern Ireland breaches Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights by failing to provide an exception to the prohibition on abortion in cases of a foetal fatal abnormality (at any time during the pregnancy) or where the pregnancy is the result of sexual crime (up to the date when the foetus is capable of existing independently of the mother).
The application by Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission also covered the rights of women in Northern Ireland where there is a serious malformation of the foetus. However, the judgement concluded that there is no agreement amongst medical practitioners on what constitutes a serious malformation of the foetus.
NIHRC’s chief commissioned Les Allamby described it as a “landmark ruling”. The commission sought to change the law “so that women and girls in NI have the choice of accessing a termination of pregnancy locally in circumstacnes of fatal foetal abnormalities, rape or incest, without being criminalised for doing so”.

We are pleased that today the High Court has held that the current law is incompatible with human rights … Today’s result is historic and will be welcomed by many of the vulnerable women and girls who have been faced with these situations.

Around thirty members of the public and ten journalists listened to large chunks of the long judgement being read out in court over ninety minutes this morning. With only three rows of pews, a Catholic priest and a prominent ant-abortion campaigner sat alongside Amnesty staff and the Human Rights Commissioner.
Amongst the judgement’s references to international law, individual Articles within the European Convention and its appliance in other European jurisdictions, a mini-critique of an opinion piece by Fintan O’Toole, mention of John Milton’s Paradise Lost, and the waiving away of the significance of opinion polling to gauge societal, there was mention of the local political situation.

It was noted that in an April 2015 interview, First Minister Peter Robinson indicated that the Department of Justice’s proposals for the reform of the law in Northern Ireland were “doomed”. Mr Justice Horner commented:

This unavoidable inference from the inaction of the Department to date and the comments of the First Minister is that the prospect of any consultative paper, never mind legislative action on pregnancies which are the consequence of sexual crime, is even more gloomy.

Later in his judgement, Mr Justice Horner noted that this application fell into the category of “difficult or unpopular” decisions that can be more easily grasped by the judicial system that legislatures, providing a detached view, albeit not accountable to the electorate.
Amnesty’s My Body My Rights campaign manager Grainne Teggart reacted to the judgement saying:
Today’s court decision is a damning indictment of the Northern Ireland Executive’s failure to prioritise women’s healthcare. It’s shameful that the Courts have had to step in because politicians have repeatedly failed Northern Ireland’s women. Northern Ireland’s abortion laws must be brought into the twenty-first century and into line with international law as a matter of urgency.
Sarah Ewart’s first pregnancy was given a fatal foetal diagnosis and had to travel to England to terminate her pregnancy since NI laws didn’t permit her to receive medical treatment. She reacted to the judgement:
I hope that today’s ruling means that I, and other women like me, will no longer have to go through the pain I experienced, of having to travel to England, away from the care of the doctors and midwife who knew me, to access the healthcare I needed.
Mr Justice Horner noted that while pre-natal life does not enjoy full Article 2 protection in the UK, there is a legitimate aim to protect it where that foetus will be viable but the unborn child faces non-fatal disability:
There should be equality of treatment between, on the one hand, the foetus which will develop into a child without physical or mental disability and, on the other hand, the foetus which will develop into a child with a physical and/or mental disability which is non-fatal. However, it is illegitimate and disproportionate to place a prohibition on the abortion of both a foetus doomed to die because it is incapable of an existence independent of the mother’s womb and the viable foetus conceived as a result of sexual crime.
While there was evidence that forcing young women to travel to GB can have the consequence of imposing an intolerable financial and mental burden on those least able to bear it, there was “not one iota of evidence” that the imposition of criminal sanctions on these women in these exceptional cases has resulted in the saving of any pre-natal life.
For women without family or charitable support, such criminal provisions requiring them to travel to have an abortion would impose a heavy financial burden upon them which would weigh heavier on those with limited means:
The protection of morals … should not contemplate a restriction that penalises the impoverished but can be ignored by the wealthy. It is surely not controversial that requiring women in these exceptional categories to go to England, that is those carrying FFAs and those pregnant as a result of sexual abuse, will place heavy demands on them both emotionally and financially.
While the matter could be left to the Supreme Court to decide, it was better to for the High Court to give a “local” view. [Ed – Perhaps a veiled reminder that a London court would be less likely to understand or take into account the local sensibilities in NI, with a greater likelihood that GB legislation would be applied to NI.]
No party to the application and no argument made in court addressed whether it is possible to read the current legislation in such a way to ensure no offence is committed in respect of the termination of FFAs and pregnancies due to sexual crime before the foetus is able to exist independently of the mother.
Parties have until 9 December to make further submissions on this topic, and a final view on the what relief should be applied is expected before Christmas.
It is thus possible that it may not even be necessary for the Assembly to legislate in reaction to this judgement.
Photo – Kenneth Allen via Wikipedia

 

‘And Then I Danced: Traveling the Road to LGBT Equality’ by Mark Segal

Snap 2015-11-30 at 15.31.56Lambda Literary

Review by Gena HymowechNovember 24, 2015

And Then I Danced is more than a memoir; it’s a revelation. In writing about his life, Mark Segal not only shines a light on his own achievements but on those of others, including Marty Robinson and Craig Rodwell. These names, like Segal’s, are not as well-publicized as they should be, and that’s a huge part of why this book is so vital. Equally important is how Segal shatters mistaken beliefs about queer history.

Growing up poor and Jewish in a Philadelphia housing project, discriminated against, and living in conditions that are beyond frustrating; Segal experiences the perfect training ground for life as a gay activist. In just a few lines, he perfectly describes the unique heartbreak being poor brings. His mother has taken him to buy a toy after his father practically had a nervous breakdown because he wasn’t able to give Segal something he wanted:

As we entered Wilson Park, [Mom] asked if I liked my toy. I reached into the bag and my train was gone. I said nothing. Seeing my reaction, she took the bag and found the hole in the bottom through which my toy had fallen out. She just started to cry. Watching my mother cry after all that had occurred that day, I wanted to cry and yell as well, but instead I got sick to my stomach. I just stood there in silence, awash in guilt.

As a boy, Segal is tempted mightily by the sexy men’s fashion section of the Sears and Roebuck catalogs, but represses his feelings. Eventually, he sees an episode of the pioneering David Susskind Show, featuring a man from the Mattachine Society. The author’s path is clear; he must go to New York.

But once he lands, things are not as they appear. Robinson tells Segal that the group isn’t in tune with younger activists. This is one of the most important myths Segal busts: The gay movement was not unified and was segmented by, among other things, age and class.

About a month after Segal is in New York, the Stonewall Uprising happens.

Stonewall, notes Segal, wasn’t the first gay protest (it was preceded by the Compton Cafeteria riot in San Francisco and the Dewey’s sit-in in Philadelphia). It wasn’t as big as you might think (Segal estimates a few hundred participated). It wasn’t one night (try four). It was not about Judy Garland dying, and it only included a small representation of the gay population. “[A]nyone with a decent job or family ran away from that bar as fast as they could to avoid being arrested. Those who remained were the drag queens, hustlers, and runaways.”

The movement Stonewall gives birth to results in a different kind of activism involving the media. Segal starts doing zaps, or “nonviolent protests that put us in a light that was not stereotypical.” In front of about 60 percent of America, he interferes with a Walter Cronkite broadcast. It’s a brilliant strategy, taking the weapon out of the hands of an oppressor and using it as a tool of activism.

Segal really puts the movement in context for the post-Stonewall generation. Activism in the 60s and 70s wasn’t about big corporations or celebrity spokespeople, he notes, and most gays didn’t appreciate the efforts activists were making. It also wasn’t the gig you took if you wanted to be a millionaire. Segal finally figures out a way to be paid for his activism by publishing the Philadelphia Gay News, which he still runs.

The flaws here are minor. Obviously, the death of his mother and the raising of his son are important to him, but they don’t translate into riveting copy, and his account of what it was like to help create the Philadelphia Freedom Concert & Ball, starring Elton John, feels pointless.

What Segal does best is provide an accessible history. And Then I Danced makes a great college textbook, or just an excellent guide for young queer leaders. The most important lesson one can learn from Segal’s life is that, no matter what, you just have to keep on fighting.

And Then I Danced: Traveling the Road to LGBT Equality
By Mark Segal
Open Lens/Akashic Books
Hardcover, 9781617754104, 400 pp.
October 2015

– See more at: http://www.lambdaliterary.org/reviews/11/24/and-then-i-danced-traveling-the-road-to-lgbt-equality-by-mark-segal/?utm_source=+Lambda+Literary+Review+November+27th%2C+2015&utm_campaign=Newsletters&utm_medium=email#sthash.4jF2N97f.dpuf

Gay CURE Watch

 

Gay CURE Watch

Thanks to over 1,600 All Out members who chipped in, we’re launching GayCureWatch.com – an online tool where anyone around the world can report dangerous gay “cure” facilities and seminars in their community. We’ll then use our huge people power to work together and get these places shut down for good.

We know you can’t catch “gay” and you can’t cure it either – but around the world, extremist groups are promoting dangerous “therapy” sessions and seminars to “fix” people for who they love, using tactics from degrading verbal abuse to painful electroshocks and drugs.

SO, HOW DO WE FIGHT BACK?

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You report

Stories from friends, ads, or any promotions of “conversion” therapy.

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We get to work

Mobilising millions of people around the world to fight back.

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We stop them

Shutting them down and counting another win for love!

 

 

Do this by registering all items on the gaycurewatch website

Over the River With Two Dads: An Interview With Author Linda Ashman

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Over the River...

 

Our daughter received her annual birthday greeting and gift of $10 from the Toy House here in Jackson, MI. It’s one of our favorite places to shop as it’s a local, family-owned business plus they have really cool stuff for both kids and adults alike. While Anna ran around ringing the birthday bell and posing for her picture for the November birthday wall, I took a moment to check out the new books in the store’s book section. The holiday books were pushed to the front and one caught my eye. It was Linda Ashman’s Over the River & Through the Wood: A holiday adventure. We sing the song to our kids as we have to cross either the Maumee River or the St. Joseph River to get to either one of our parents’ house each holiday.

I was pleasantly surprised to find a same-sex male couple with kids as one of the family groups as I read and followed along with the story line. The owner of the store came by and I pointed out the couple and he laughed. I cautioned him that in our rather conservative town (one of the allegedly birthplaces of the Republican Party) this type of family might not fly. He shook his head and asked me how many copies of the book I wanted.

I decided to do my homework and sniffed around on line for the author. I found her on social media and asked her if she wouldn’t mind chatting about the book, its genesis and the gay dads. This is our chat:

Hi Linda! Thanks for taking my questions! You included a same-sex couple with kids in your book, why? Was this in the works prior to the SCOTUS ruling last June or was it there all along?

The book got its start three years ago when my Sterling Publishing editor, Meredith Mundy, asked me to write a contemporary take on this classic holiday song. As part of the update, we felt it was important to show a modern family — one with a variety of family types, including a same-sex couple with kids. So, yes, the book was in the works well before the Supreme Court ruling (the journey from idea to published picture book is a long one!).

Yes it is! My book took several years from idea to publication. I noticed that the other families in the book look diverse as well. The one couple appears to have two children of Asian descent. We can assume that they were adopted?

Yes. We wanted the characters to be diverse in multiple ways so that lots of kids (and adults) would recognize themselves and their families in the illustrations. The story involves four far-flung siblings and their families making their way — by various means — to Grandma’s house. In addition to the family headed by two dads, there’s a biracial couple and their child, a family with two adopted kids and a couple with three kids and two dogs.

Both of my nieces were adopted and they are African American. I am totally getting them this book for Christmas! So were you prepared for the negative criticism and reviews that you shared with me in our initial chat on Facebook?

So far, I’ve seen just one negative comment: A reviewer on Amazon considered it “inappropriate” for his toddler. While I wasn’t completely surprised by that sort of response, it still caught me off guard. It’s hard to understand how a story about a loving, inclusive family can be considered inappropriate.

I am so very sorry for him and his kids. Sigh. So much work to do! Have there been any positive reviews or comments

Yes! Aside from that one isolated comment, the reviews have been extremely positive. Publishers Weekly gave it a starred review, and other major publications — Kirkus, School Library Journal, and Booklist — have all praised the book and the diversity of the characters. In addition, the personal feedback I’ve received from readers — especially those who see themselves reflected in the book — has been especially gratifying.

By the way, what is your own experience with same-sex couples? It appears that you and your amazing illustrator have some as you’ve nailed the look. (Urban setting, snappy glasses, etc.).

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Well, thank you on behalf of Kim Smith, the book’s fabulous illustrator. Kim and I both have a number of gay friends, some single and some married, and few of them fit any sort of stereotype. Many years ago, I shared an apartment in Los Angeles with my friend, Paul, who is gay (and is now married to his longtime partner). My son has grown up with kids with same-sex parents and doesn’t think twice about it. I like to think his generation is a little more open-minded; let’s hope so.

True, and with SCOTUS back in June, we’re quickly becoming the new normal. My kids will now ask if a same sex couple is married. That is something I never would have considered when I was a kid. So how does this book/story relate to your own family’s holiday traditions? Why did you choose to write about this time of year?

Like the characters in the book, my husband and I have family members scattered across the country. Since we’ve moved a fair amount — from Los Angeles to Denver to Chapel Hill — the gathering place tends to change from year to year. This year we’re going to a friend’s house nearby — no long journeys involved!

It must be the year for that as we’re staying local as well. Although my husband’s father is a retired chef, I always look forward to holidays at their place. Speaking of, for many LGBT folk, the very thought of the holidays induce great amounts of stress and angst. However, aside from the travel issues that are germane to the story line, the gay couple seem pretty at ease with the family event. Were you aware of the stress that many of us feel this time of year?

The holidays can be hard for so many people — we all dream of those harmonious Rockwellian gatherings and, for most of us, that’s not the reality. I imagine the anxiety and tension are that much greater for LGBT folk, especially if they feel they can’t be who they are around family members. A friend of mine was unable to tell his parents he was gay until well into his 30s — so some of the people at holiday gatherings knew, and some didn’t. Very stressful.
But you’re right — the gay couple here is clearly part of a loving family in which people genuinely like and respect each other. The beauty of picture books is that sometimes you get to create the world you want to live in.

So were you intending to normalize the same-sex family or just present them as is… without agenda, without comment, without a story?

Another thing I love about picture books is that the illustrations convey so much meaning — you don’t have to spell everything out in the text. So, through the illustrations, readers take in this beautiful, happy family — and, oh, by the way, those kids have two dads, and not everyone seems to be the same color or ethnicity. So, yes, I wanted the two-dad family to seem unremarkable — like the other families in the book. I also hoped that kids who don’t often see themselves in picture books might see themselves and their families here. When I read the book to a friend’s daughter, she pointed to a family portrait in one of the illustrations and asked, “Who took the picture?” It was a good reminder that, to young kids, the characters in books are real. So when kids see all sorts of diverse people and family configurations in their books, it becomes a little more ordinary when they see them in real life. And maybe that leads to more understanding and inclusiveness for everyone. I hope so.

So what are your plans for the future?

Our son goes off to college next year, which feels like a seismic shift in our normal routine around here. Not sure what it will lead to, but I’m trying to stay open to the possibilities. In the meantime, I’ve got more books coming out in the next few months, and more writing projects in the works.

Linda, thanks so much for chatting with me! Enjoy your holiday!

You can find more about Linda and her book here: http://lindaashman.com/about-the-books/over-the-river-and-through-the-wood/

Images reprinted with permission from Over the River & Through the Wood © 2015 by Linda Ashman, Sterling Children’s Books, an imprint of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. Illustrations by Kim Smith.

New research says sex education ignores gay and lesbian relationships

New research from Birmingham City and Sheffield Hallam universities say teachers always depict young people as straight.

Research released this week, suggests that sex education lessons in schools ignore gay, lesbian and bisexual relationships and in make some students feel “problematic”.

According to the Independent, one teacher who had been teaching sex and relationships lessons for eight years, told researchers: “In terms of the promotion of homosexuality and lesbianism, we don’t really get into all that.

“If they openly want to discuss homosexuality, I don’t think the classroom is the best way to do it.  It’s something that we say if you have concerns about we have the drop-in clinic with the school nurse.”

Another teacher commented that she would use “some really horrible quotations” to show how some people refer to gays and lesbians, explaining: “We look at them and we talk about why people might say things like that.” The researchers point out that this approach could single out young gay, bisexual and lesbian students, making them think they are “problematic”.

The same teacher added: “In early puberty… You can feel a very strong attraction to the same sex as well as the opposite sex.  It doesn’t mean that you are lesbian or whatever.”

Lead researcher Keeley Abbott said: “Our findings highlight a lack of understanding among teachers around what constitutes real inclusivity within the context of sex and relationships education.

“Lesbian, gay and bisexual students could be left vulnerable here with a lack of any sex education that is relevant to them.”

Other researchers from the project suggest that teachers should be using more general language like ‘partner’ so young LGB students aren’t excluded.

Last month, the Chair of the Education Select Committee, Neil Carmichael, called for inclusive sex education in schools. Writing for PinkNews he said: “We recommended that Personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education should be made compulsory in all schools and that compulsory guidance for schools should be fully updated, to ensure that PSHE is appropriately inclusive of information about same-sex relationships.”

 

How do you prove you are gay?

A culture of disbelief is traumatising asylum seekers!

People who have been persecuted because of their sexuality are facing Home Office officials who refuse to believe them, use explicit questioning and make stereotyped assumptions

Immigant looking out window

A Ugandan man, Robert Kityo, was denied asylum last week on the basis that the Home Office wasn’t sufficiently convinced that he was gay. The question of evidence is the problem facing gay men and lesbians seeking protection in the UK because of persecution due to their sexuality. Often coming from one of the 80 countries where gay relationships are a criminal offence, they are faced with a culture of disbelief when they seek protection here.
It used to be the case that claims for asylum from gay men and lesbians were refused as the Home Office reasoned claimants could return to their home countries and just be discreet: refrain from same-sex relationships and hide their sexuality.

It took a case at the supreme court to overturn this. In the same way as you cannot be expected to hide your religion, the court said you couldn’t be expected to hide your sexuality.

Since then, the Home Office has changed tack in the way it refuses these asylum claims. Instead of telling applicants to be discreet, it just doesn’t believe them when they say they are gay.

So how do you prove you are gay? No one arrives in the UK with a certificate stating their sexuality, just as no one in the UK has such a certificate. Instead applicants have to rely on the believability of their oral testimony at their Home Office interview. At which stage your own feelings about your sexuality, your reluctance for it to be known publicly, your lack of words related to sexual issues (in English or your own language) all come into play. Plus having to relive the trauma of how you were persecuted.

And to compound this, research we at Asylum Aid did with Amnesty International UK all shows that the Home Office is using too rigorous a standard of proof.

Princess Oni from Nigeria has been through the asylum process herself. She told me that it is like a vicious circle. You find it hard to disclose the harm that’s happened to you and the reason for it and the Home Office official looks doubtful and repeats questions. This makes you feel more anxious and confused and speak less coherently, and the official disbelieves you further.

How much better if a circle of protection were used where the official believed the claimant – as is recommended in rape cases in the UK. Seeing encouragement from the official, claimants find it easier to speak out. Less stressed, they’re more likely to remember everything relevant to their case, and the evidence they provide will be more complete. This enables the official to assess their credibility more accurately and make a decision that is right first time.

At Asylum Aid we regularly provide legal representation for asylum applicants who have fled violence, imprisonment, discrimination and ostracism by the state and/or by their family simply because of their sexuality. We frontload these cases. This means we spend time taking down the applicant’s narrative, supporting them to tell us all the traumatic details. We supplement this with medical reports. And we obtain country reports – what is the current situation for gay men or lesbians in Uganda or Nigeria or Jamaica?

In rejecting Kityo’s case, the Home Office defended the guidance and training it has given its staff to deal with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex applicants. When compared with how LGBT cases are dealt with throughout Europe, it has a right to be proud of its guidance.

Our asylum system is forcing vulnerable teenagers to relive their trauma
Gillian Hughes
Read more
However, our experience and that of the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group (UKLGIG) is that that guidance is not routinely implemented, nor is the training. Despite the guidelines, UKLGIG’s research found Home Office officials using inappropriate and sexually explicit questioning and stereotyped assumptions about lesbian and gay relationships.

Lesbians interviewed by social researcher Claire Bennett talk about not being able to win in a system that feels like a game where the Home Office is trying to catch you out. Having a sexual identity that had been repressed for so long suddenly “outed” and then disbelieved is felt as a devastating blow.

One woman told Bennett, “It’s my life … And you look at me and you tell me that you don’t believe me … it’s almost as if you’re denying me my very existence.”

• Some names have been changed

The Guardian Logo

Read also:  Daily XTra – Uncertain future for Gay Syrian Refugees

Poster for LGBT helpline could go up in every GP surgery

pinknews_logoNick Duffy

 

Helpline Switchboard has sent 10,000 posters to GP surgeries across the country, offering free support to people who are struggling with their identity.

Switchboard runs a provides confidential phone, e-mail and instant messaging services to support people who want to talk about sexuality and gender identity.

As part of a new campaign, it has sent posters for GPs to display poster offering “calm words when you need them most”.

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Dr Christian Jessen, who backed the initiative, sent a letter alongside the poster advocating for it.

He wrote: “We all know that patients come to see us when they’re worried not only about their physical health but also when they have concerns about their mental, emotional or sexual health.

“Questions about sexuality and/or gender identity are often associated with teenagers, but as I am sure you will have experienced, patients can come to us with these concerns at any age, and their questions can be very tricky to answer.

“Switchboard – the LGBT+ helpline is one the UK’s oldest LGBT+ charities which has provided crucial information and support to callers for over 40 years.

“It’s a voluntary organisation which provides an information, support and referral service for lesbians, gay men, bisexual and trans* people and anyone who needs to consider issues around sexuality and/or gender identity.

“They promote a positive attitude to being lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans* and are confidential, welcoming, supportive and non-judgmental.

“Switchboard volunteers are committed to discussing safer sex to prevent the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. And while volunteers don’t try to influence the decisions of callers, Switchboard does aim to make all callers aware of their own sexual health.”

It adds: “Switchboard and I implore you to please display it in your waiting room so that those who may need their help can discover them, and I also hope that you will find Switchboard useful to refer your patients to, if needed.”

Dave Maher, co-chair of Switchboard says: “At Switchboard we promote a positive attitude to being lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans.

“We’re confidential too and welcoming, supportive, non-judgmental.

“All our volunteers are also committed to discussing safer sex to prevent the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.”

The charity was previously known as the London Lesbian and Gay Switchboard, but re-branded earlier this year to adopt a name that is more inclusive of all LGBT people.

Olympic diver Tom Daley recently auctioned a pair of his own swimming trunks to raise money for Switchboard.

 

Editorial:

NIGRA will be contacting Switchboard to see if they are including Northern Ireland surgeries in their distribution list; and we will update you as soon as we know.

R&B artist Russell Elliot debuts beautifully choreographed music video

Queer R&B singer Russell Elliot has released his debut single Around, and the accompanying video is a wonderfully executed story of unrequited love.

The clip, choreographed by the award-winning Kuperman Brothers, also features dancer Alonso Guzman as his love interest.

Russell told Smoothie Tunes: “The song is about a boy I met in college. He wanted me but not meaningfully. He wanted me but not as badly as he wanted heteronormativity, or privilege, or comfort.

“Around is the confrontation I couldn’t bring myself to address in the moment. Frankly, it’s the “go fuck yourself” I never gave him in person.”

 

 

Reid Ewing, Modern Family Star, is gay

Reid Ewing has confirmed that he is gay in a very nonchalant, matter of fact way, and for those of us involved in politics and normality, that is the way it should be.  Being gay is normal, and it shouldn’t be any more news worthy than being married, being parents, being a brother or sister.

Reid also discussed why he underwent cosmetic surgery, and body dysmorphia during his Twitter discussion, which is where he confirmed that he was gay!

Reid is an actor, and is currently known for his role as Dylan in the hit TV show from ABC ‘Modern Family’  –  the Modern Family Wiki describes Dylan as  warm, a tad dim but sweet and loves his girlfriend a lot.  I will let you judge, but the character is in no way a representation of the real Reid Ewing I believe.

Here are two pics to let you know who he is is, and also a link to a quick search I did in Google for other pics:

 

Reid Ewing-1 Reid Ewing-2

 

Links:

Google search general:

Northern Irish gay couple among first to marry in Republic

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17 November 2015

 

Darren and Tony Day

Darren and Tony Day were among the first couples to be married in Ireland (Photo: Darren and Tony Day)

The first same-sex wedding has taken place in the Republic of Ireland – and a Northern Irish couple were among the first to be able to call each other “husband and husband”.

Tony and Darren Day, from County Antrim, had their wedding celebration in County Monaghan on Saturday. However, as same-sex marriage is not yet legalised – or recognised – in Northern Ireland, the short ceremony earlier today made their union official.

Tony and Darren had initially planned to have a civil partnership and had booked a hotel for 14th November. However, as time passed and – following a referendum – it became clear that the Republic of Ireland was set to introduce same-sex marriage, they became hopeful that they would actually be able to get married.

Darren, whose birth surname was Baird, admitted that it had been “a happy coincidence” that he and Tony were able to make history as one of the first same-sex couples to marry in Ireland, but the historical significance of the occasion mattered less than being able to be legally married. He said: “It’s been lovely to exchange our vows and to make it official, to finally be able to call each other husband and husband. Tony was joking that we would only be able to do that for 10 minutes until we went back over the [Irish] border [but] as far as we’re concerned, we’re married – we got married on this island.”

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Parker walks down the aisle with Darren and Tony (Photo: Darren and Tony Day)

The ceremony on Saturday had no legal basis, but was a celebration of the couple’s love before 220 guests. Tony’s eight year old son, Parker, walked with them up the aisle. Darren said: “It was so sweet, and I’ve never sensed a feeling of love like that. Parker suggested holding our hands and walking us up the aisle, which was amazing for a child so young to have that idea.” Tony said “We held the wedding on Saturday and just tied up the legal bits today in a very small ceremony.”

Speaking to KaleidoScot, Tony was keen to explain how much the day meant to both of them. “We met about six and a half years ago online. We would never have thought what happened today would happen for us, we just always figured getting married would never be an option. We are delighted and slightly saddened at the same time. Delighted that we were able to do it, but saddened that when we crossed the border back into our home country it’s not recognised as a marriage.”

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“We held the wedding on Saturday and just tied up the legal bits today in a very small ceremony” (Photo: Darren and Tony Day)

Asked how their marriage has been received back home in Northern Ireland, Tony said that most people have been positive. “Most of the comments we’ve seen have been very supportive”, he said. “Of course you are gonna get haters – you can’t please everybody all of the time. As our celebrant Eileen Morris said during our ceremony ‘those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.’”

Tony added that he believed marriage equality will eventually come to Northern Ireland. He told KaleidoScot: “I think eventually it’ll be recognised. It’s always just a matter of time for these things. General opinion is changing, we just need our main political party to try to catch up.”

The party he is referring to is the Democratic Unionist Party, who recently blocked a motion in support of same-sex marriage after a majority of assembly members had voted in favour of it.

John O’Doherty, from the Rainbow Project – a Northern Irish organisation promoting health and LGBTI rights – told KaleidoScot: “We at The Rainbow Project send our congratulations to Tony and Darren. Both have been long time supporters of ours. Tony and Darren are Married and should be recognised as such. Our campaign continues and hopefully it won’t be long until their marriage is recognised in Northern Ireland.”