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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:

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

Justice?

Human Rights

Editorial:

The definition of justice varies from individual, to individual, depending upon what has happened, how it has affected that individual, and also on how it has affected the societal group that he or she belongs to.

The Law Dictionary defines justice as: 

“Protecting rights and punishing wrongs using fairness. It is possible to have unjust laws, even with fair and proper administration of the law of the land as a way for all legal systems to uphold this ideal.”

Law Dictionary: What is JUSTICE? definition of JUSTICE (Black’s Law Dictionary)

So you are probably asking why I am discussing this topic, and as you can probably guess it is because of an article written in one of our daily newspapers, in this case The Telegraph:  ‘The Church, the police and the unholy destruction of Bishop Bell’

I have to state that I have no knowledge of Bishop Bell, or of the case that is outlined in the news article, indeed in terms of religion I am an atheist – but open to discussion.  My problem with religion is that man is involved, and to often man has used religion as a means to elevate themselves above the ordinary being.

So to get back to the article; Charles Moore, the writer of the article writes critically on how it appears that church in an attempt of heading off bad publicity, has decided that Bishop Bell is ‘guilty’ of a sexual crime without there having been a court case to assess the evidence. Indeed the Church has gone even further, in that it has demoted Bishop Bell, flowers placed on his memorial in the cathedral are removed, and what was the ‘George Bell house’ (a centre for vocation, education and reconciliation) is to be renamed shortly.

The fact that the church has jumped in with both feet, instead of following the due process of law, is why I have an argument with the Church.

The key legal principle – the presumption of innocence – is being set aside’

I would urge you to read the article, to then to read the article ‘Police State UK: The Rights You Didn’t Know You’d Lost’ written by  /

 

I believe in justice, but justice must be seen to be done fairly and without favour to one side or the other.  I will leave you with the last paragraph from Charles Moore’s article…

 Justice is not guaranteed by passionate feeling against a particular, horrible crime such as child abuse. It depends absolutely on proper process. When public bodies set that process aside, what trust or “transparency” is left? If Bishop Bell had been a Nazi war criminal, the charges against him would have had to reach a far higher standard of proof than those by which the Church of England has destroyed him. The restoration of justice should be its New Year resolution. 

 

When and where is being gay grounds for asylum?

The Economist explains – Nov 19th 2013,

Hand reaching on LGBT flag

GAYS and lesbians in many parts of the world are celebrating. Fifteen countries allow homosexual couples to tie the knot, and in Britain a same-sex marriages bill will become law next year. Fifteen states in America have said “I do” to gay marriage. But elsewhere the picture is less rosy. Homosexuality is a crime in more than 75 countries, which threaten sentences ranging from fines to the death penalty. Because of this and abuse by their fellow citizens, every year thousands of gays and lesbians apply for asylum in more tolerant countries, citing fear of persecution. When and where is being gay grounds for asylum?

Many anti-gay laws are a hangover of the British empire. In 1533 the English parliament passed “An Acte for the punysshement of the vice of Buggerie”, the punysshement in question being death. Whereas gay sex has been legal in France since the late 18th century, it was banned in England until 1967. This helps explain why so many former British colonies in Africa still have anti-gay laws, while so few of the old French colonies do. It’s not always the fault of the Victorians, however: in some other countries, notably Russia, things have taken a recent turn for the worse.

The rules on asylum vary considerably. Italy automatically gives refuge to those from a country with anti-gay laws, while Spain makes it a lot harder. Many applications have been denied by countries that argued that gays can go home and avoid abuse simply by concealing their sexuality. America, Britain and a few others have stopped making this argument, but some European countries have continued to use the “be more discreet” defence. No longer. Earlier this month the European Court of Justice ruled that gays count as a “social group”, meaning they are eligible for asylum if they can demonstrate persecution (defined as the enforcement of prison sentences—mere fines or sporadic application of the law may not count). The verdict followed a similar ruling last year that religious refugees could not be asked to hide their faith or abstain from worship to avoid abuse back home.

But how can asylum seekers prove they are gay? Many authorities rely on absurd stereotypes to reject asylum claims: in Britain, for instance, gay applicants have been quizzed on their taste in music, according to Livio Zilli of the International Commission of Jurists, a human-rights lobby. Some applicants have gone to extreme lengths to prove their sexuality, including filming themselves in the bedroom. Sorting real from fake claims presents countries with a problem. They must solve it swiftly: because of the court ruling, the number of applications may well increase.

Saudi Arabia Rules?

Adel-Al-Jubeir-with-Ban-Ki-moon

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon greets Saudi Arabian Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir. Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

 

Editorial:  Is there a conflict  within the United Nations regarding the appointment of Mr Faisal Bin Hassan Trad, Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador at the UN in Geneva, as he has been elected as Chair of a panel of independent experts on the UN Human Rights Council. (LINK)

To any reasonable minded person you would definetly think so, especially as Saudi Arabia has insisted that the  UN keeps LGBT rights out of its development goals (LINK)

We ask you the readers what do you think of this situation?

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Policing Board publishes update reports on LGB and Transgender human rights recommendations

Following the publication in 2012 of the Human Rights Thematic Review on the policing with and for people who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual (LGB) and/or Transgender, the Policing Board has now published two reports on how the 18 recommendations made by the Review are being implemented by the PSNI.

The Review looked at how the PSNI engage with LBG and Transgender individuals across a range of circumstances – as members of the public generally; as victims of crime; as suspects; and as employees or potential employees.

Chair of the Policing Board Anne Connolly said:  “The Board recognises the positive progress made by the PSNI in this area since we published our Thematic Review in 2012.  We know, however, that many LGB and Transgender people in Northern Ireland continue to be the target of hate crimes which can have a devastating impact upon their lives, their families and the wider community. Hate crime is a wider societal issue that cannot be tackled by the police alone yet the police play a critical role in a victim’s experience.

Despite increasing budgetary pressures, the police must therefore continually seek to improve their response, to bring more offenders to justice and to build confidence in people to report incidents and we welcome the fact that tackling hate crime is a strategic priority for PSNI.”

Ends

For further information, please contact the Northern Ireland Policing Board’s Communications Office on 07801738795.

Notes to editors

  1. To view the update report on LGB people click here and the for update report on Transgender people click here.
  2. To view the 2012 report, click here.
  3. In recognition of the fact that gender identity is in no way connected with or related to sexual orientation, a commitment was made in the thematic review that any further reporting on transgender issues would be separate from LGB. Thus two update reports have been produced, one reporting on policing with and for transgender individuals and one reporting on policing with and for LGB individuals.

Notes to editors ends.

Old Testament Christianity in NI is seriously out of touch

 

 

Humanist Brian McClinton

Humanist Brian McClinton

The Ashers Case was much more than about the icing on a cake.

It encompassed some of the basic values at the heart of liberal democracy.

Contrary to the view of evangelical Christians, the verdict, like the gay marriage referendum in the Republic, was a triumph for both freedom and equality.

 

Ashers argued that the message on the cake was against their freedom of conscience. But it was nothing of the kind. Freedom of belief is an empty concept if we deny our opponent the same freedom we demand for ourselves. As George Orwell put it, “if liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear”.

Orwell knew that throughout history every tyranny in the world has demanded freedom of speech when it was a minority or in opposition, only to deny it to everyone else once it acquired power. Freedom of speech only for our own point of view is really a total contradiction of liberal democracy.

Is it not also being intolerant to wish to suppress an opinion you dislike? Is the bakery’s ‘freedom of conscience’ not really a euphemism for the freedom to be intolerant? And is it not also fundamentally unChristian in that the Golden Rule of doing unto others as you would want them to do unto you is an alternative form of the principle of showing respect and tolerance for opposing views?

Fundamentalist Christianity and its associated political parties do not have a good record of supporting freedom of opinion here. During the period of Stormont rule they censored plays and films, and they were still doing it recently when they sought to ban a play in Newtownabbey and a painting in Banbridge. Freedom of conscience was in reality a euphemism for religious privilege.

Ashers also discriminated against the customer on grounds of sexual orientation and political opinion. Essentially, people owning businesses which provide public services cannot pick and choose their customers on these grounds. In this way the judgment struck a blow for both sexual and political equality.

In the Irish Republic 62 per cent of voters have just given their support for gay marriage. Like the Ashers ruling, this too enhances freedom and equality. It means that gay people who love each other can now choose if they wish to marry – a freedom which in no way inhibits a straight couple’s similar right. It also means that they will no longer be treated as second-class citizens and thus it entrenches their sexual equality.

In short, it establishes the Irish Republic as a truly pluralist democracy.

Northern Ireland is now the only part of the British Isles that still prohibits gay marriage, and the fact that a gay man had to bring a court case merely to establish his right to put a political message on a cake demonstrates how far it has to go.

The Archbishop of Dublin has stated that the Catholic Church needs a reality check. Clearly, all the main churches on the island need to examine the reasons why they seem to show less Christian tolerance and generosity of spirit than the mass of Irish people.

As for Northern Ireland, the question that has to be asked is whether the exclusive Old Testament conception of Christianity that has long dominated this society is seriously out of touch with the open and inclusive values of the modern world.

• Brian McClinton is a director of the Humanist Association of Northern Ireland

Stockport Academy Tackles Homophobia

Editorial: When will homophobia be stopped in our schools in Northern Ireland.  When will Stormont and our politicians come together to fight homophobia.  We have just had an election, it will be interesting to see if they stand by the Friday Agreement on Human Rights.

The following article was republished from Gay Times

Students produce moving video in light of Anti-Homophobia Week

Students at the Stockport Academy have made a moving drama piece to coincide with Anti-Homophobia Week.

The short video is called Everybody’s Disapproval and is set to Hozier’s song Take Me To Church.

The emotive piece is shot in black and white, recreating and reinterpreting scenes from Hozier’s original video. It features both a young gay and lesbian couple being the victims of homophobic abuse.

Their short video concludes with a few statements and statistics to reinforce the overall message. “End homophobia today.”

The Academy is renowned for their zero tolerance to bullying and has previously received the Diana Award in 2014 for their campaign work in anti-bullying.

Words Tom Richardson, @tom20richardson

Scrapping Human Rights Act 'would breach Good Friday agreement'

Republished from The Guardian –

Belfast-based human rights organisation says Conservative government’s plans to ditch HRA will also violate international treaty

Theresa Villiers

The Committee on the Administration of Justice is seeking an urgent meeting with the Northern Ireland secretary, Theresa Villiers, about the implications of scrapping the HRA. Photograph: Will Oliver/EPA

 
Scrapping the Human Rights Act would be a breach of the Good Friday agreement that sealed the peace process in Northern Ireland, a Belfast-based human rights organisation has said.

The Conservative government’s plans to ditch the HRA would also violate an international treaty as the agreement in 1998 was an accord between two sovereign states – the UK and the Irish Republic, according to the committee on the administration of justice.
The CAJ (Committee for Administration of Justice) is seeking an urgent meeting with Theresa Villiers – who was re-appointed by David Cameron as Northern Ireland secretary in his new cabinet – about the threat to the HRA.

In a letter to Villiers, the CAJ’s director in Northern Ireland, Brian Gormally, points out that European human rights law was incorporated into the 1998 agreement.

He says article 2 of an annex to the Good Friday agreement binds the UK internationally to the multi-party deal, which was endorsed in joint referenda on both sides of the Irish border in May 1998; and, after it was ratified, both governments lodged the agreement as a treaty with the United Nations.

Gormally notes that in the section of the agreement guaranteeing the rights of minorities, the British government commits to “complete incorporation into Northern Ireland law of the European convention on human rights, with direct access to the courts, and remedies for breach of the convention, including power for the courts to overrule assembly legislation on the grounds of inconsistency”.

This part of the agreement is going to be used, for example, by campaigners who are seeking to overturn the ban in Northern Ireland on gay marriage, a challenge that has been blocked by the assembly in Belfast but will now be taken to the European courts.

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The CAJ director says any move to tamper with or dump the HRA would undermine Northern Ireland’s fragile peace settlement.

“The secretary of state should urgently clarify the government’s position as to whether it intends to breach the Belfast/Good Friday agreement in this way. Such a step would make the UK an international outlaw and significantly roll back the peace settlement in Northern Ireland.”

Gormally stresses that the Human Rights Act and and the European court of human rights, and states’ compliance with them, had nothing to do with EU membership.

Founded in 1981, the CAJ monitors human rights abuses by the state and the security forces in Northern Ireland.

Human rights organisations from around the world raise concerns about Commonwealth record on LGBTI rights

Reprinted from Kaleidoscope Trust March 9, 2015

The Commonwealth Equality Network, a coalition of more than 30 human rights organisations including the Kaleidoscope Trust, has raised concerns about the Commonwealth’s record on LGBTI rights in an open letter directed toward Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma. To mark this year’s Commonwealth Day the coalition of NGOs urged the Secretary-General not to forget that same sex activity is illegal in 41 of the 53 Commonwealth countries.

The letter recognised that some progress had been made in the Commonwealth. The 2013 Commonwealth Charter commits members to oppose discrimination on any grounds. Last year the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Kamalesh Sharma issued a statement calling for respect for all citizens regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. However the letter states that more needs to be done to address the pressing needs of LGBTI communities who face criminalisation, discrimination and persecution in all Commonwealth countries.

The Commonwealth Equality Network is a representative body of organisations working in Commonwealth countries to advance the rights of all, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The organisations that make up the network have issued a list of specific asks to the Commonwealth. These include:

  • that the Commonwealth Secretariat should do more to identify and support good practice amongst member states;
  • that member states should engage more with their own civil society, who have knowledge and expertise on the challenges faced by LGBTI people and how those challenges can be effectively and sensitively addressed
  • that the Commonwealth institutions should give better support to civil society, that has led the way in promoting human rights in the Commonwealth.

Ifeanyi Oruzalike, TCEN member in Nigeria, said:

“This is a historic time for LGBTI people across the Commonwealth. Increasingly our voices are unified and we are demanding that the Commonwealth recognise and protect our basic rights to dignity and equality. It is a bitter irony that while this year’s Commonwealth Day celebrates the contribution of young people, across the Commonwealth young LGBTI people face discrimination, criminalisation and persecution.

Even though many of its members continue to criminalise LGBTI people we believe that the Commonwealth can be a platform for progressive change. With its unique shared values and history, its egalitarianism and its respect for difference and diversity, the Commonwealth can become a place where the rights and dignity of all its citizens are championed and their equality protected.”

Commonwealth Day is celebrated across the Commonwealth by young people, schools, communities and civil society organisations on the second Monday in March every year. It provides an opportunity to promote understanding on global issues, international co-operation and the work of Commonwealth organisations. The theme for 2015 is ‘A Young Commonwealth’.