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Young and Old – time does make a difference!

Young and OldOver the last 40+ years that I have been involved in the LGBTQ community, I have been privileged to witness the acceptance of gay people into the general community – young and old, we now have more freedoms; however this has only come about through the continued pressure from individuals, groups through lobbying and through legal cases.  We have in most parts of the UK an acceptance and understanding that being ‘gay’ is normal, that it does not require “treatment” to correct an illness!  Again I said in most parts, there are however still some groups and individuals who wish us to disappear or receive corrective treatment – in most companies LGBTQ rights are now accepted; but we cannot sit back on our backsides; if we do not keep monitoring and interacting with government (both local and national) then the rights that we have fought so hard to achieve will be taken away again.

What are your thoughts on this article; I would really like to hear what you think.  Comment now or email us.Young and Old

 

 

Source: Old and young see LGBT rights in contrast

 

 

 

 

Items for further reading:

The Law is Equal for All

Law equality and the Gay Cake Case

Missing a slice of cake

This article is a concise and accurate report on the law surrounding the case known as the ‘Gay Cake’ case.  It wasn’t prosecutorial zeal which led to the court case, it was a company which failed understand the basic tenets of law and in particular contract law.

The court case was not brought by Gareth Lee, all he wanted was a cake, the case was taken up by the Equality Commission as it believed that the baker had broken the law. Subsequently, this has been proved correct by the original judgement and the Appeal Court.

No one is above the law, if we are to be a fair and equitable society we must ‘ALL’ comply with and live by the law.  If we don’t like a law, then we have legal remedies, and in the final resort, we can challenge the government.

 

Less prosecutorial zeal may be the easiest way to address such issues

Source: The great Belfast bake-off: Asher’s ‘gay cake’ decision

Equality, not when you have a Petition of Concern

Marriage EqualityI have written previously on First Minister Foster’s inability to move with what the voters have clearly indicated on; it would seem that the DUP remain blinkered to where we are as a society in regards to marriage equality, and if they are so inclined with this minority how are they with others?

I call yet again on the First Minister to stop using the petition of concern to hide behind.  This instrument is long overdue to be removed from civilised politics on both sides, to allow proper politics to move forward along with the country.

I refer the Fist Minister to a report by the BBC in July 2013 which would seem to suggest that Petitions of Concern were being abused by both main political parties, and that the 1998 Act section governing their use was not clear enough and that Petitions of Concern need to review.

The SDLP leader, Mr Durkan,  at that time said:-“I have made the point several times before and do so again that the standing orders need to be corrected in accordance with the agreement and the 1998 Act.

“The argument can also be made, and I made it at the time, that the 1998 Act could have been more explicit in providing for the procedure intended.”

Petitions of concern: Is Stormont’s safeguard system being abused?

Equality

These figures outline the number of times each party has had members sign a petition of concern. As some documents were signed by more than one party, there will be some overlap which is why the total number of petitions in this table amount to more than the total number tabled during the last mandate.

Stormont’s petition of concern used 115 times in five years

Call her Kim Jong Foster, she prefers dictatorship to democracy.

Source: Anti-gay crusade of Arlene Foster, Northern Ireland’s First Minister

Equality in Marriage Blocked Again

Government is put in place to govern, that we can all accept.  However it is supposedly done on the basis of consent and democracy.  Government is supposed to listen to the electorate (not just at ballot and election time) but throughout the duration of its time in office!  In consequence, I would draw First Minister Arlene Foster’s attention to the Mori poll published in the Belfast Telegraph in June of this year,  which shows that 70% of the electorate agrees with gay marriage. (Survey shows 70% support for same-sex marriages in Northern Ireland) – this poll clearly  indicates that the electorate has moved on, and that gay marriage is acceptable.  How much longer will the DUP continue to bury not just its head, but its whole body in the sand about what is a right – this is about equality and fairness.  Dave McFarlane, Community JournalistEquality for all

Attempts to introduce same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland are set to be thwarted for at least another five years after the Democratic Unionists insisted they would continue to block a

Source: First Minister Arlene Foster vows to continue blocking attempts to introduce same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland – BelfastTelegraph.co.uk

Equality or Freedom of Expression?

Cake and eat it

Editorial

This morning Jeff Dudgeon along with MIckey Murray were interviewed on ‘Good Morning Ulster‘  (click the link for the discussion which starts about 2hr 12 minutes into the programme) in relation to a statement issued by Peter Thatchell regarding his current thoughts on the Asher Cake case, which is being reviewed as we speak.

The interview lasts about 8 minutes, and in the main followed lines previously discussed.  However I believe we all have our own opinion, and also because of the review ruling due from the courts which as Jeff, indicated the judgement will probably be looking at the following points of law:

  • Freedom of Expression etc.

  • Equality

we should await the judgement.

I will draw the attention of everyone to the following extract taken from an artile on the ifex website:

 

“The Camden Principles demonstrate that the rights to equality and freedom of expression go hand-in-hand and mutually reinforce each other, and that neither one of these indispensable human rights can be achieved at the expense of the other,” says Dr Agnès Callamard, ARTICLE 19 Executive Director. “They uphold the key principles of universality and indivisibility where too many have tried to impose exceptions and hierarchy.”

ARTICLE 19 launches the Camden Principles on Freedom of Expression and Equality

 

Further reading:

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Real equality” is what the Conservatives stand for, according to David Cameron

Gay Times Logo
by Josh WitheyDavid-Cameron

British Prime Minister David Cameron spoke about how important equality meant to his party, in his speech to the Conservative’s annual conference.

Mr Cameron told party members, MPs and the press: “Ten years ago I stood on a stage quite like this one, and I said that if we changed our party, we could change our country.

“We’ve done that together.

“It wasn’t just me that put social justice, tackling climate change, equality for gay people, and helping the world’s poorest at the centre of the Conservative Party’s mission. We all did.”

This wasn’t the only reference to equality Mr Cameron made in his speech in Manchester, he went on to say: “We can talk all we like about opportunity, but it is meaningless unless people are really judged equally.

“Think about it like this: opportunity doesn’t mean much to a British Muslim if he walks down the street and is abused for his faith.

“Opportunity doesn’t mean much to a black person constantly stopped and searched by the police because of the colour of their skin.

“Opportunity doesn’t mean much to a gay person rejected for a job because of the person they love. It doesn’t mean much to a disabled person prevented from doing what they’re good at because of who they are.”

“The point is, you can’t have true opportunity without real equality, and I want our party to get this right. The party of the fair chance. The party of the equal shot.

“I want us, the Conservatives, to end discrimination and finish the fight for real equality in our country today.”

The Prime Minister made his comments on the same day the United Kingdom was knocked off the number one spot in the European Union’s Rainbow Index. The UK, which was previously number one for four years, is no longer considered the best European country to be LGBT in.

In addition to that, yesterday John Walker was denied the same pension rights for his hisband that heterosexual couples have. His partner of 20 years is only entitled to £500 of an £41,000 pension a year.

Despite the fantastic moves forward in LGBT equality, it seems the Conservative Party still have their work cut out of them to achieve true equality for all.

Robbie Rogers Wants To Be 'Extremely Flamboyant'

…At Anti-LGBT Russia, Qatar World Cups

“By being there, it is more of a statement than boycotting.”

 

CARSON, CA - MAY 26:  Robbie Rogers #14 of Los Angeles Galaxy looks on prior to the start of the game against the Seattle Sounders FC at The Home Depot Center on May 26, 2013 in Carson, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

The world’s only gay professional footballer doesn’t plan on hiding who he is at the next two World Cups.

LA Galaxy fullback Robbie Rogers told The Mirror in an interview published on Thursday that should he be called up to the U.S. men’s national team for the 2018 World Cup in Russia or the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, he wouldn’t boycott either tournament in protest of the host nation’s homophobia.

If I were to go to Russia or Qatar then I would do it and I would be extremely flamboyant about it,” said Rogers.

He continued, “I think what I’ve learned from my experience of coming out and being present in the locker room is that by being there, it is more of a statement than boycotting or something like that.”

Rogers, who became the world’s first openly gay pro soccer player in 2013 when he came out in a surprise open letter posted on his blog, has witnessed first-hand how simply being himself has shifted the reception toward homosexuality around the league.

“It’s very much changing in the MLS — I have friends in every team and they tell me how things have changed, the sensitivity to using certain words and stuff like that,” Rogers told The Mirror.

However, Rogers said there still is room for progress abroad, noting that there aren’t “really any out footballers around Europe or South America.”

He said Russia and Qatar “are extremely homophobic.” Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar, while Russia has also outlawed “homosexual propaganda.”

The lack of openly gay additional male soccer players around the world has caused theoppressive anti-LGBT political and cultural stances of Russia and Qatar to become tertiary issues to FIFA, which is already accused of corruption surrounding Russia and Qatar’s World Cup bids.

For Qatar’s part, the country has promised to find a “creative” solution to accommodating LGBT fans and players, but has preposterously lumped the problem into their additional question of how to serve alcohol, which is also illegal in Qatar, at the games.

Rogers has been critical of each country before. In January, he told Sky Sports that both World Cups were “insane,” saying, “If you look at the next few World Cups, they are in places where, if I were to go, I would possibly be imprisoned or beat up.”

It’s a threat that outgoing FIFA president Sepp Blatter has completely failed to address, other than joking in 2010 that gay players and fans should “refrain from any sexual activities” during 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Rogers’ World Cup hypothetical could be more than just that. Although he last capped for the USMNT in 2011, recent conversations suggest Rogers, who has since switched from forward to fullback, may have another shot for a call-up following success in the MLS.

At the Galaxy’s first-ever Pride Night last month, in a powerful moment, Rogers scored his first goal since coming out and joining the team in 2013.

Hopefully for Rogers, it’ll be the first goal of many more in LA, and perhaps one day, in Russia or Qatar as a member of the U.S. men’s national team.

Lawsuit Filed Against Walmart For Refusing Health Care Coverage For Same-Sex Spouses

Editorial:  In July 1999, Asda became a subsidiary of the American retail company Walmart, and today is the United Kingdom’s second-largest chain by market share.

ASDA Walmart Supercentre

 

 Tuesday, July, 14th, 2015, 9:05 pm

A class action lawsuit against Walmart was filed in U.S. District Court in Boston on Tuesday morning. The lawsuit alleges that, prior to 2014, the nation’s largest retailer violated gender discrimination laws by denying health insurance benefits to the spouses of legally married gay employees.

The suit was filed on behalf of Jacqueline Cote, an office manager at a Swansea, Massachusetts store. Cote’s wife, Diana Smithson was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012, but she was denied health care coverage, because Walmart refused to provide coverage for spouses in same-sex marriages. As a result, the couple has incurred over 150,000 dollars in medical debt, while Smithson continues to fight her cancer.

The class action lawsuit was filed by two advocacy groups – Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) and the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs (WLC). Peter Romer-Friedman, WLC’s Deputy Director of Litigation, explained the rationale for the lawsuit, arguing:

Walmart broke federal law when it denied vital benefits to workers who have same-sex spouses. In an era where marriage equality is supported by the American people and the U.S. Supreme Court, it is hard to believe that Walmart would treat its LGBTQ workers so poorly. Because Walmart’s discrimination harmed working families across the country, we are filing a national class action to ensure that Walmart finally provides these families the equal benefits federal law guarantees.

Walmart revised their policy to begin covering same-sex spouses on January 1, 2014. However, Cote and Smithson were legally married in Massachusetts in 2004. On January 29, 2014, the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) issued a determination that Walmart’s refusal to provide health care coverage to Jackie’s wife constituted unlawful sex discrimination.

According to Reuters, a Wal-Mart spokesman declined to comment, beyond stating that the company’s policy of denying benefits coverage to same-sex spouses before the 2014 change was legal. Whether the policy was legal will now be up to the courts to decide.

However, legal or not, the nation’s largest retailer chose to deny coverage to a woman with cancer, simply because she was in a same-sex rather than an opposite-sex marriage. That policy was discriminatory. While Walmart has already begun to change the way they treat same-sex spouses, they should also make amends and compensate those couples they discriminated against prior to 2014.

 

Coming Out Cards

‘Coming Out Cards’ Provide The Perfect Response For A Newly Out Loved One

Posted:

Coming out is never easy.

However, for individuals who have never loved or been close to a member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) community, knowing how to respond to someone’s coming out can also be challenging.

For this reason, queer teen John Hansen began making “Coming Out Cards” — free eCards that can be sent to a newly out member of the LGBT community as a small gesture of support and compassion. The cards are often tongue-in-cheek, adding a lighthearted air to what can be one of the most difficult times of a queer person’s life.

“Coming out is often isolating, and continuing a dialogue with someone who has recently come out can make them feel much more comfortable and confident,” Hansen told The Huffington Post. “It can make such a huge difference to remind them that you’re listening, that you understand and that you’re there for them. I hope these eCards will do exactly that.”

The Huffington Post chatted further with Hansen this week about the “Coming Out Cards” and the impact he hopes they achieve. Check out the interview, as well as the cards themselves, below.

Coming Out-2Coming OUt-1

Why did you decide to create these “Coming Out Cards”?
John Hansen: For a while now, I’ve noticed that there are greeting cards for almost every occasion, yet very few geared specifically towards coming out. And so, about a month ago, I decided to change that. Because I’m not much of a designer, a big part of the eCards for me has always been the message — I wanted the cards to feel fun and positive and conversational all at once, so that they’d read like a friend’s dorky text.

Why do you think this resource is so important for the queer community?
The eCards certainly won’t change everything — one of the many pressing issues facing the queer community is acceptance, and it’s brave LGBTQIA+ people across the world who are fighting to make acceptance the norm. But my hope is that these cards will help in that “after coming out” stage, both by putting a smile on a queer person’s face and by letting them breathe deeply because they know they truly are supported.

Coming Out-5Coming Out-4Coming Out-3

In your opinion, why are affirmations of support crucial to the healthy lives of queer people?
Though not every queer person will need an affirmation of support, I do think that — especially in the beginning stages of the process — many people are still deeply uncertain about how their sexuality or gender will affect their relationships, and little affirmations of support can help remind them that it’s going to be okay. Coming out is often isolating, and continuing a dialogue with someone who has recently come out can make them feel much more comfortable and confident. You honestly don’t know what’s going through their mind — they might still be insecure about their sexuality or gender, for example, or they might have had bad coming out experiences in the past and are worried that this one will also turn sour. It can make such a huge difference to remind them that you’re listening, that you understand and that you’re there for them. I hope these eCards will do exactly that.

What do you hope to see from this project in the future?
I’d really love for the cards to reach the right people — by which I mean queer people who might find them funny, yeah, but also others who are supportive of the LGBTQIA+ community but who aren’t quite sure how to express it. I hope these cards will bridge the gap for anyone who is struggling to convey their admiration for a loved one who has recently come out.

Want to see more “Coming Out Cards”? Head here.

Let Us KnowEditorial:  Do you think you would ever use a Coming Out Card?  Have you already used a Coming Out Card?  Write and let us know.

Some Celebrities Who Have Come Out As LGBT

Matt Bomer 2012Gillian Anderson 2012Jodie Foster 2013Wentworth MIller 2013

 

LGBT Groups Welcome Employment Protection For Gay Teachers

outmost_logo

The Government yesterday passed through a report stage bill that will amend Section 37.1 of the Employment Equality Act.

The amendment will allow employees working in religious run organisations, such as schools and hospitals, to be open about their sexuality without fear of dismissal.
INTO LGBT Teachers’ Group welcome the amendment, saying that the change will have a hugely positive effect on teachers.

Speaking outside the Seanad, Chairperson of the INTO LGBT Teachers’ Group Anne Marie Lillis commented, “LGB teachers can be secure in the knowledge that speaking about our families and our relationships, in the same way as our colleagues and that being gay or lesbian will have no bearing on job security or on prospects for promotion. When signed into law this legislation will end the threat of discrimination in primary schools based on sexual orientation.”

Sheila Nunan General Secretary of the INTO added, “The INTO has always advocated for the equal treatment of our members and to remove the weight of discrimination being felt on the grounds of sexual orientation. These amendments will further that aim and ensure that the lives of our teaching colleagues significantly improve. It is a victory for all teachers in our classrooms throughout the country. This is the culmination of the hard work our members of the LGBT Teachers’ Group have done over many years”.

The Bill has to still pass the final stage before being introduced into law. The INTO LGBT Teachers’ Group acknowledged the work of Senator Ivana Bacik, Minister Aodhán O Ríordáin, Senator Averil Power and Senator Katherine Zappone who worked in progressing the Bill.