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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:

Are you ready for the New Year – 2017?

How we should get ready for 2017!

Happy New Year - 2017In America we have seen Donald Trump’s election win, and in the UK we have seen Brexit win out. Whilst we don’t know what the courts will say in terms of the Prime Minister’s rights, it is clear that the referendum has been taken and won and that the New Year will bring many changes, and that the far right seems to have gained ascendancy in terms of leaving Europe and also in terms of how we are supposed to ‘handle’ immigrants and other minorities.

President Elect ‘Trump’ has through his cabinet choices shown that he and his cronies are completely anti-LGBTQ, as all of them have either voted for some bill that denied the LGBTQ community one or all of the following:

  • job protections
  • right to marry
  • health services

In the UK we have seen the backlashes and phobias starting with people being beaten up because ‘they are not British’. Taunts like ‘ go back from where you came from’, ‘go back into the closet’, ‘your are not normal’.

It is obvious that things will get worse, especially if the Prime Minister, Theresa May, decides to push the removal of the Human Rights Act and replace with a Britsh Bill of Rights, which in all probability will be of no use at all, and probably only protect the rich and business.

LGBTQ Community

So what can we do about it?

Firstly, we need to make certain that our LGBTQ organisations are actually working for our community, and not just fund raising to ensure there existence. But also, we as a community need to be involved with these organisations – they cannot exist in a vacuum. And it is pretty obvious that funding is drying up from government and other sources.

Secondly, we need to remember that back in the 60s and 70s, whilst we did have some problems regarding personalities, we all realised that we needed to work together to achieve the common goal. This is even more relevant in the light of the attacks that are being made on our community from so many directions. We need to work together in the New Year to achieve our common goals.

LGBTQ Voting Power

Thirdly, we need to channel our voting power in the New Year. No longer should politicians of any ilk or cloth assume because they say they support they support the LGBTQ that they will automatically get our vote – they must prove they are more than fair-weather friends.

PA at Belfast Pride Snow Ball ‏ 2011

Lastly, we need to work with other groups who have experience and knowledge; they can help us develop our policies and mechanisms, the same as they can learn from us. There is strength in numbers, as well as that feeling of not being alone.

We need only look back in our history to discover how we in the past have come together and fought and won. Don’t stand alone, find friends, gather together in groups and support and learn to fight within the bounds of the law to get our rights and those of the future community

 

Further reading:

Human Rights – The Legal Act in the UK

Human Rights ActI asked a friend who is retired with a wide set of experiences in dealing with Human Rights, to give me his impression on the removal of the Human Rights Act from the UK, and what impact it would have.

He believes that repealing this Act which brings into domestic law the European Convention on Human Rights, will be a difficult job for the UK Government. Attempts here (N Ireland) to have a Bill of Rights expanding on those rights conferred by HRA are doomed in the short to medium term, despite the Good Friday obligations. He is part of the Human Rights Consortium and during the past 10 years or more since he started to attend, virtually no progress has been made.

He believes that Brexit will further complicate matters as various parts of these islands work out relationships between each other and the EU.

On the Consortium, they have encountered a lack of interest in the Bill of Rights, with the UK Government, the Irish Government and the NI Executive playing each other off. The DUP, mean as usual, don’t really have much of an idea about the value of rights, unless they are to their narrow benefit. It’s rather depressing!

He feels that one possibility is that Scotland, opposed to repeal or amendment of the HRA, might have its own Bill of Rights. It has vehemently opposed the “regressive” proposals for a British Bill of Rights.

On a case by case basis, any repeal of the HRA will be aired by the UK courts, ending up in the Supreme Court. The courts will not want to have to do what is essentially the work of Parliament. That relationship between Parliament, Government and Judiciary can be fractious at times, particularly here (N Ireland) where issues such as sexual orientation and abortion grab the attention of a very religious and conservative Attorney General.

hr-actN Ireland is still awaiting the reserved judgements in the two marriage cases and the Ashers appeal. And it looks like the current Attorney General in N Ireland is being very wide in his interpretation of his role, and there have been requests that he stand down or stop pursuing his own agenda which seems to definitely have a very select bias from my own and others  observations.

As with all these things we will have to wait and see how things develop, but of one thing I am certain the removal of the current Human Rights Act will not be to our benefit, and I honestly believe that LGBT rights and other diversity groups will suffer if it is taken away.

Links to further reading

To protest book ban, straight and gay Israeli Jews and Arabs passionately kiss

LGBTQ Nation – January 12, 2016

A kiss is not just a kiss

In this case, a kiss is not just a kiss.

 

As hundreds of men demonstrated this summer by locking lips to protest Kim Davis’ antics, gay kisses are the hottest trend in activism — and now Israeli Jews and Arabs are getting in on the action.

After the Israeli Ministry of Education decided to ban a book depicting a love affair between a Jewish woman and an Arab man, TimeOut Tel Aviv made a video with members of both groups hellbent on proving that love does indeed conquer all.

Some knew each other prior to the shoot and some were complete strangers, though all were committed to furiously making out the name of solidarity.

 

Check out the video below, and pick out your favorite couple.

Army law which allowed soldiers to be sacked for being gay finally thrown out

 

Express Logo

 

 

 

 

AN outdated legal ban which forced gay men out of the armed forces is set to finally be officially removed from armed forces legislation.

soldiers and LGBT Flag

The law, which prohibits gay men, lesbians and transgender personnel from the forces, was put into force in 1994.

Existing rules state homosexuality is incompatible with military service and engaging in a homosexual act can constitute grounds for discharging a member of the armed forces

The ban was written into law in the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 yet has been disregarded since the European Court forced the British government to allow homosexuals to serve in 2000.As such it has been ignored in practice since 2000, yet technically remains in force.

ncompatible with military serviceGETTY

Existing rules state homosexuality is incompatible with military service

MPs have now agreed a new Armed Forces Bill, which legislates for the UK during peace time. The law cleared its final House of Commons hurdle yesterday.The Government amendment to get rid of the sexuality discrimination laws was added to the Bill unopposed.

The Bill, which also deals with changes to armed forces pensions, will now proceed to the House of Lords for further scrutiny.

 laws was added to the BillGETTY

The Government amendment to get rid of the sexuality discrimination laws was added to the Bill

Defence Minister Mark Lancaster said the existing rules were “inconsistent with the department’s current policies and the Government’s equality and discrimination policies more generally”.Mr Lancaster said when the provisions were originally put in place it was government policy that homosexuality was “incompatible with service in the armed forces” and therefore people who “engaged in homosexual activity were administratively discharged”.

But since 2000, he said the rules “have had no practical effect and they are therefore redundant”.

The Bill also deals with changesGETTY

The Bill also deals with changes to armed forces pensions

He added: “These provisions in no way reflect the position of today’s armed forces.“We are proud in defence of the progress we have made since 2000 to remove policies that discriminated against homosexual men, lesbians and transgender personnel so that they can serve openly in the armed forces.”

“This amendment is a practical step which shows that this Government is serious about our commitment to equality in this area.”

Shadow defence minister Toby Perkins welcomed the move.He said: “Removing this from the statute book will be a welcome step forward so that the explicit refusal to discriminate against homosexual service men and women is expunged from the service book just as it has in practice been outlawed.

“It is very clear that this is an important step forward and it is one we welcome very strongly.”

Anti-gay armed forces laws set to be officially removed

By WMNDavidWells  |  Posted: January 11, 2016

soldiers

Existing rules state that engaging in a homosexual act can constitute grounds for discharging a member of the armed forces.

And while the policy was abandoned in 2000, it still technically exists in law.

But MPs have agreed to change that as the Armed Forces Bill cleared its final House of Commons hurdle.

A Government amendment to get rid of the relevant discriminatory laws was added to the Bill unopposed.

Defence Minister Mark Lancaster said the existing rules are “inconsistent with the department’s current policies and the Government’s equality and discrimination policies more generally”.

Mr Lancaster said when the provisions were originally put in place it was government policy that homosexuality was “incompatible with service in the armed forces” and therefore people who “engaged in homosexual activity were administratively discharged”.

But since 2000 “these provisions have had no practical effect and they are therefore redundant”.

“These provisions in no way reflect the position of today’s armed forces,” he said.

“We are proud in defence of the progress we have made since 2000 to remove policies that discriminated against homosexual men, lesbians and transgender personnel so that they can serve openly in the armed forces.”

He added: “This amendment is a practical step which shows that this Government is serious about our commitment to equality in this area.”

The shadow defence minister Toby Perkins welcomed the move.

He said: “Removing this from the statute book will be a welcome step forward so that the explicit refusal to discriminate against homosexual service men and women is expunged from the service book just as it has in practice been outlawed.

“It is very clear that this is an important step forward and it is one we welcome very strongly.”

Meanwhile, the SNP’s shadow armed forces spokeswoman Kirsten Oswald also backed the amendment.

She said: “It is scarcely credible that we are discussing this in 2016. It is discriminatory and it is offensive that this provision exists.

“Notwithstanding the fact that it hasn’t been used in reality for a number of years, it is most welcome that the Government are finally removing the provision as they should.”

The Armed Forces Bill legislates for the UK to keep its Army during peace time.

The latest version contains provisions relating to armed forces pensions and to the powers of Ministry of Defence fire fighters.

The Bill will now proceed to the House of Lords for further scrutiny

Read more: http://www.westernmorningnews.co.uk/Anti-gay-armed-forces-laws-set-officially-removed/story-28505362-detail/story.html#ixzz3x1a13qaM
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Map shows Europe still divided over equal marriage

Equal marriage is still constitutionally banned in many Eastern European countries.

A map recently uploaded to Imgur shows the progress of equal marriage through Europe from 1989 to the present day and beyond.

In 1989, only Denmark recognised same-sex couples in civil partnerships. Throughout the 1990s, many Eastern European countries passed constitutional amendments banning the recognition of same-sex partnership. Bans in countries like Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, and Serbia are still in place today.

 

 

As of 2015, same sex marriage is recognised in the UK (excluding Northern Ireland), Iceland, Norway, Sweden, France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, The Netherlands, and Denmark.

Germany, Switzerland, Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Croatia, and Greece all give couples access to civil partnerships – but not marriage.

The completed map shows a stark contrast between Western Europe, where the majority of countries have adopted equal marriage, and Eastern Europe – where bans are still in place.

The map includes equal marriage laws that have yet to come into effect – such as Estonia later this year Finland in 2017.

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

 

UK Government launches consultation into future of civil partnerships

Reported from Pink News:

The 12-week consultation by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) closes on 17 April 2014, and allows any member of the public to complete and return a form online or as a hard copy to be considered.

During the parliamentary debate around the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act, which will take effect on 29 March 2014, this consultation was tabled as a response to many questions around civil partnerships.

There are several possible outcomes. Some wish for civil partnerships to be opened up to opposite-sex couples, in order to give the option of civil partnerships or marriage to any couple.

Others have suggested that same-sex couples in civil partnerships could be automatically converted to marriage, and civil partnerships could be phased out altogether.

A third option of “grandfathering” the 2004 Civil Partnerships Act, which would mean that gay couples already in civil partnerships would remain so, but no civil partnerships would be issued in future.

A message from Helen Grant, Minister for Equalities, said: “We recently celebrated a historic moment for our society – making marriage available to everyone, regardless of their sexuality or gender. Now all couples will be able to enjoy the opportunity to demonstrate their love for each other and the commitment they wish to make through marriage.

“Over time, the fact that same sex couples can now marry will clearly affect the future of civil partnership. It is right, therefore, to start a review of the operation and future of the Civil Partnership Act 2004. We are doing so by launching this consultation to seek people’s views on the main options for any future changes.”

A straight couple from London last month announced their engagement, but said that they would get civilly partnered rather than married, in order to push for full marriage equality.

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell repeatedly called for the coalition’s equal marriage plans to include civil partnerships for heterosexuals.

He criticised Culture Secretary and Minister for Equalities, Maria Miller, for ruling out the measure during the same-sex marriage debate.

Last year a DCMS spokesperson said: “Civil partnerships were created for a very specific reason – to give same-sex couples access to legal rights at a time when society was not ready to give them access to marriage.

“Now that the time is right to extend marriage to same-sex couples, it is also right that we should consider the future of civil partnerships. There are strong views on both sides of this debate, and we have listened to those views. A proper review will allow us to look at the issues in a considered and thorough way, giving full consideration to the implications of any changes.”

Do LGBT people use NI Libraries? If so, what are your views?

NIGRA Secretary, Dave McFarlane has been corresponding with Sean Beattie from Libraries NI about the the LGBT community’s use of the Library service. Sean is keen to meet with members of Northern Ireland’s LGBT community to discuss:

  • How often people who identify as LGBT use the library service?
  • What you use the library service for?
  • What you would look for when using the library (internet access, LGBT section etc)?

Sean is keen to carry out a survey across the LGBT community in Northern Ireland along the same theme.

LibrariesNIAnyone interested in meeting Sean and working to improve the LGBT provision in NI libraries, please contact Dave McFarlane directly using the form below:


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