Picket outside church event on 'converting gays'

Gay Conversion therapy doesn't work

Gay Conversion therapy doesn’t work

On Saturday 18th January 2014, the Ballynahinch Baptist Church hosted the ‘Setting Love In Order’ conference organised by the Core Issues Trust.  The Trust was arguing for ‘freedom for gay people to approach psychiatrists and counsellors about their homosexuality’; this was a thinly disguised message about converting gays, or in other words ‘conversion therapy’.

 

One of the discussions was entitled: Don’t want to be gay any more?  Sorry we’re not allowed to help you! Is that ethical?’  This is a thinly disguised approach to gay conversion therapy, which Robert Spizer in 2001 was promoting, Spitzer renounced and retracted his own study in 2012, stating “I was quite wrong in the conclusions that I made from this study. The study does not provide evidence, really, that gays can change. And that’s quite an admission on my part.”He also apologized to the gay community for making unproven claims of the efficacy of reparative therapy, calling it his only professional regret. Spitzer has requested that all “ex-gay” therapy organizations such as NARTH, PFOX, American College of Pediatricians, and Focus on the Family stop citing his study as evidence for conversion therapy.

 

Pro-gay protestors outside the church were there to give the message that therapy has been discredited, it doesn’t work.  And also to give out a positive message that being LGBT is not wrong, it is not bad, and it is not broken so it doesn’t need ‘fixed’.

 

Further reading:

  1. Wikipedia-Conversion Therapy
  2. Belfast Telegraph – Protestors picket church event on ‘converting’ gays
  3. Belfast Telegraph – Row over ‘gay conversion’ conference to be held at church

Washington Post: Parents Pressure Gay Son To Change

“Readers of The Sun know and speak and write words like poof and poofter. What is good enough for them is good enough for us,” Sun editorial, May 1990.

 

Twenty-three plus years later, in the USA we have a parent who is rejecting her son because he is gay (see below).  IN July 2012 the BBC political reporter, Brian Wheeler, wrote an article entitled ‘Gay Politicians and the Tabloid Press’  which was a review of the book Sex, Lies and Politics: Gay Politicians in the Press, and also a commentary on whether the press has moved forward from its bigotry.

The conclusion is that we in Britain, and obviously in the USA, still have a long way to go in accepting and embracing all of the LGBT Society

By , Published: November 18

DEAR AMY: I recently discovered that my son, who is 17, is a homosexual. We are part of a church group and I fear that if people in that group find out they will make fun of me for having a gay child.

 

He won’t listen to reason, and he will not stop being gay. I feel as if he is doing this just to get back at me for forgetting his birthday for the past three years — I have a busy work schedule.

Please help him make the right choice in life by not being gay. He won’t listen to me, so maybe he will listen to you. — Feeling Betrayed

DEAR BETRAYED: You could teach your son an important lesson by changing your own sexuality to show him how easy it is. Try it for the next year or so: Stop being a heterosexual to demonstrate to your son that a person’s sexuality is a matter of choice — to be dictated by one’s parents, the parents’ church and social pressure.

I assume that my suggestion will evoke a reaction that your sexuality is at the core of who you are. The same is true for your son. He has a right to be accepted by his parents for being exactly who he is.

When you “forget” a child’s birthday, you are basically negating him as a person. It is as if you are saying that you have forgotten his presence in the world. How very sad for him.

Pressuring your son to change his sexuality is wrong. If you cannot learn to accept him as he is, it might be safest for him to live elsewhere.

A group that could help you and your family figure out how to navigate this is Pflag.org. This organization is founded for parents, families, friends and allies of LGBT people, and has helped countless families through this challenge. Please research and connect with a local chapter.

 

 

Further reading:

 

Tel Aviv's Gay Holocaust Victims Memorial Unveiled

By ARON HELLER 01/10/14 11:49 AM ET EST AP

tel aviv gay holocaust memorial

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Israel’s cultural and financial capital unveiled a memorial Friday honoring gays and lesbians persecuted by the Nazis, the first specific recognition in Israel for non-Jewish victims of the Holocaust.

Tucked away in a Tel Aviv park, a concrete, triangle-shaped plaque details the plight of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people under Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich. It resembles the pink triangles Nazis forced gays to wear in concentration camps during World War II and states in English, Hebrew and German: “In memory of those persecuted by the Nazi regime for their sexual orientation and gender identity.”

The landmark joins similar memorials in Amsterdam, Berlin, San Francisco and Sydney dedicated to gay victims of the Holocaust. While Israel has scores of monuments for the genocide, the Tel Aviv memorial is the first that deals universally with Jewish and non-Jewish victims alike and highlights the Jewish state’s rise as one of the world’s most progressive countries for gay rights.

“I think in Israel today it is very important to show that a human being is a human being is a human being,” Mayor Ron Huldai said at the dedication ceremony, where a rainbow flag waved alongside Israel’s blue-and-white flag. “It shows that we are not only caring for ourselves but for everybody who suffered. These are our values — to see everyone as a human being.”

Israel was born out of the Holocaust and its 6 million Jewish victims remains seared in the country’s psyche. Israel holds an annual memorial day where sirens stop traffic across the nation, it sends soldiers and youth on trips to concentration camp sites and often cites the Holocaust as justification for an independent Jewish state so Jews will “never again” be defenseless.

But after 70 years, Tel Aviv councilman Eran Lev thought it was time to add a universal element to the commemoration. Lev is one of many gays elected to public office in Tel Aviv, a city with a vibrant gay scene that has emerged as a top international destination for gay tourism.

“The significance here is that we are recognizing that there were other victims of the Holocaust, not just Jews,” said Lev, who initiated the project during his brief term in office.

As part of their persecution of gays, the Nazis kept files on 100,000 people, mostly men. About 15,000 were sent to camps and at least half were killed. Other Nazi targets included communists, Slavs, gypsies and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Unlike their persecution of Jews, however, there was no grand Nazi plan to exterminate gays. Nazis viewed being gay as a “public health problem” since those German men did not produce children, said Deborah Dwork, director of the Strassler Family Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Clark University in Worcester, Mass.

“The idea was to change their behavior, not to eradicate them, not to murder them,” Dwork said.

The policy was far from sweeping — as evidenced by the rampant homosexuality among the ranks of the Nazi Party’s SA paramilitary wing, which helped pave Hitler’s path to power. The most famous gay Nazi was Ernst Röhm, one of the most powerful men in the party before Hitler had him executed in 1934.

Later, the Nazis outlawed homosexuality and the Gestapo set up a special unit targeting homosexuality. In the Buchenwald concentration camp, the Nazis carried out experiments to try and “cure” homosexuality. Those sent to the camps were forced to wear pink triangles, compared to the yellow stars that Jews bore on their clothing. Gay Jews wore an emblem that combined the two colors.

Today, Israel is one of the world’s most progressive countries in terms of gay rights. Gays serve openly in Israel’s military and parliament. The Supreme Court grants a variety of family rights such as inheritance and survivors’ benefits. Gays, lesbians and a transsexual are among the country’s most popular musicians and actors.

Moshe Zimmermann, a professor from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the memorial project’s historical adviser, said the Tel Aviv monument marked a big step in Israel by ridding itself from what he called a monopoly of victim hood.

“We are finally shedding the load of being the lone and ultimate victim,” he said. “We can learn from this that by recognizing the victimhood of others, it does not diminish the uniqueness of your own victim hood.”

 

Further reading:

 

  1. Original Article – Huffington Post
  2. BBC News Article
  3. BN&S Commentary
  4. The Gay Holocaust Lagers

History Recalled – the Letter that OUT did not print about Peter Mandelson coming to Ulster

(Out-take from upstart November 2000)

 

HISTORY RECALLED  – The Letter That OUT did NOT print

 

OUT Letters

Prince Street Station

PO Box 630

New York NY 1001

 

Dear Editor,

 

‘MANDY’ MANDELSON & NORTHERN IRELAND

 

In your January 2000 edition (issue 74) you carried an item about Peter Mandelson — the former Cabinet Minister, and Tony Blair favourite — being given the job of Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.  It was strongly implied that we quaintly reactionary Ulster-folk would be horrified at having a ‘Sodomite’ sent amongst us, a notion gleaned from the self-consciously fashionable (and stupid) Gay publications produced in London.  A city which is 55 minutes away from Belfast by plane, but several light years psychologically – think Manhattan and Juneau.

The response to Mandelson in Northern Ireland has been pretty muted, apart from the odd mildly satirical article about his spending the Christmas holiday with his Brazilian ‘friend’, with a local television personality who is also famously (and rather futilely) closeted.  Gayness is simply not pass-remarkable in this part of the world anymore, partly due to the work of this organisation over nearly thirty years.

Other groups have of course played their part: the major one being Cara-Friend the befriending and welfare wing of the over-all Gay movement, which has helped tens of thousands of lesbians, gay men, bisexual, transsexual, transgender and transvestite people to come to terms with themselves, over the past quarter of a century. The Pride committees have also done a great deal to make the community come forward.  2000 will be Belfast’s Tenth LGBT Pride and all the stops will be pulled out to make it a memorable festival.

That might be difficult, because in 1999, Pride enjoyed talks from Bishop Pat Buckley on the ‘ethical’ aspect of being Gay, while Jeff Dudgeon (about whose struggle against the UK government at the European Court of Human Rights, BBC Radio 4 UK broadcast a dramatisation in November 1999) gave a workshop on Roger Casement’s wide and deep connections with Belfast.  There was a Civic Reception in City Hall addressed by the Deputy Mayor Ms Marie Moore, and a half-hour programme shown on prime time television.  There were many other events and workshops, a poetry -reading and an art exhibition among other things.

NIGRA since 1993 has organised solidarity actions with ILGO (the Irish Lesbian & Gay Organisation of New York) in its struggle against the bigotry of the AOHA (Ancient Order of Hibernians in America).

Yours faithfully,

Seán McGOURAN

Secretary,

NI Gay Rights Association

[The above letter was sent in January 2000, by ‘snail-mail’, we think.  The date ‘November 2000’ had to do with the erratic production of upstart, a private concern that depended on whether or not the people producing it were employed and in funds.]

Brave Tom Daley

On Dec 8 Donald MacLeod, a columnist in the Sunday Post,  made comment about Tom Daley and his decision to come out – and how brave he had been.

It was nice of him to congratulate Tom, but his other comments were to a degree not supportive. Tom, like many other young people in today’ society, has had to find his own route through the maze of sexual hangups that our society places in front of us. It shouldn’t be a shock, it shouldn’t even need commented on, but that fact that it has been shows how far society still needs to go to accept LGBT people

 

Well Done Tome

Well done Tom –

.

USI PINK TRAINING – Gay Rights

USI PINK TRAINING

QUB Peter Froggatt centre

Friday 22 November 2013, 7pm

 

OPENING SPEECH BY JEFFREY DUDGEON MBE

My thanks go to the Union of Students in Ireland for inviting me to open their Pink Training Event tonight and to Laura Harmon (and Ben Archibald) for organising it.

Your numbers here tonight, in the hundreds, (c. 300) and your enthusiasm are seriously impressive.

Pink Training has been happening almost as long as Belfast Gay Pride which is quite something for the student world, where corporate memory is necessarily brief.

My student days in Dublin were gay enough but not in organisational terms. I was at the university of life, with too many evenings spent in the famous, indeed unequalled, Dublin gay bar, Bartley Dunne’s, in the late 1960s.

It was only after gay liberation that our anger and indeed rage was channelled into groups and meetings, by which time I was back living in Belfast. QUB was very much in the vanguard having hosted a Gay Liberation Society from about 1972. One of the founders was the theatre director Andy Hinds from Derry. It was a curious mixture of town and gown that worked. relationships were intense too.

Indeed GLS, by 1975, had a grant and offices in an unused building round the corner in 4 University Street. Best of all we organised and ran discos in the Queen’s Students Union which became famous in the worst of times in this city, for fun and dancing. We were so popular gays were in danger of being outnumbered by straights.

Then we knuckled down to thirty years of equality campaigning not least by means of my successful Strasbourg case, funded in part by those very same discos.

The Northern Ireland Gay Rights Association (NIGRA) was born, and Cara-Friend (CF), the befriending and information organisation. Both exist to this day.

Our twilight existence where we were getting funding and support – despite being criminals, indeed part of a conspiracy, came to an abrupt end in the great police round-up of 1976. All male NIGRA and CF committee members were arrested although none – after months of waiting – were ever charged.

The consequent case at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg took six long grinding years before we won in 1981. A year later the government was forced to decriminalise in a law put through the House of Commons late at night against the wishes of all NI political parties (and shamefully even gay Unionist MPs I later discovered).

This was a European first and laid the groundwork for a host of later successes at the Court, not least in the south of Ireland where we eased the path for David Norris and for Alexander Modinos in Cyprus. And it was even quoted in the recent US Supreme Court Texas sodomy case.

My lawyer antagonists at the Court prospered. The UK’s lead barrister against me, in time, became the President of the Strasbourg Court, while Sir Brian Kerr was to become the NI Lord Chief Justice and now sits on the UK Supreme Court.

But we won. We beat them. A successful group effort in Belfast and beyond made the difference.

It remains unquestionable and remarkable – and maybe it tells you something – that the two best-known, and most written about, gay characters in the last 100 years were both Irish, and both went to jail, although only one to the scaffold.

Roger Casement, whose biography I have written, was brought up partly in Antrim, going to school in Ballymena. He became an Irish separatist and helped found and arm the Irish Volunteers (Óglaigh na hÉireann), the forerunner of the IRA, exactly a century ago. His landing of arms from Germany in 1916 led to a charge of treason and the death penalty exacted by an inevitably anti-gay government.

It matters that Casement was gay, not least because it is unlikely, otherwise, he would have been such a rebel. (I reprinted those diaries in my book, including the never-before-or-since published 1911 diary which is the most seriously sexual.)

One of the complaints of those argue that the Casement Black Diaries are forged – and there are still a number who say so – is that homosexuals are trying to turn Casement into a gay icon.

This assertion infers that gay men are, as a class, historically minded, which has more than a grain of truth. The notion however that Casement has a cult following like James Dean or Marilyn Monroe is laughable.

He is no gay icon, as he did not address the matter in his career but he lived the life extensively, wrote it up more so and that is interesting. He did however become something of a religious icon because of his saintly looks.

Up close, everyone is human so it is unwise to admire too much – Oscar Wilde, WH Auden, Christopher Isherwood, James Baldwin, Harvey Milk, Peter Tatchell might be or become gay icons. But they are, or were, like us all, flawed, and sometimes less than attractive.

My personal icon would be the 1950s law reformer and Ulster Unionist MP, Harford Montgomery Hyde. He was also author of The Other Love, a History of Homosexuality in Britain and Ireland, which is still a book to consult although overtaken, where Ireland is concerned, by Brian Lacey’s 2008 work Terrible Queer Creatures – Homosexuality in Irish History.

Montgomery Hyde did more for us than most, and paid the price in career terms by being deselected for his North Belfast seat in 1959. This was as a result of being the most prominent MP in the House of Commons pressing for decriminalisation.

One of his opponents then was a young preacher, Ian Paisley, who came to prominence as leader of the Save Ulster From Sodomy campaign in the 1970s. His sidekick was Peter Robinson now our First Minister. We had our work cut out dealing with their disturbing and at times intimidating and extensive operation.

Being anti-gay or trying to keep us criminal rarely blighted political and legal careers. But we won. They didn’t. It is they who have changed, if grudgingly.

One becomes history after two generations, even if still alive. I know. I am just that. History.

But I still have a life in politics to a large degree, and to a smaller degree now in gay matters particularly in relation to policing and law reform. Others, in a range of organisations, do the bulk of the work.

We have continued to achieve significant victories around equality. One example is the election to councils of the first out lesbians and gays. These are people selected as candidates by their parties in full knowledge of their sexuality and then voted in by the electorate.

And one of those councillors, Andrew Muir, is currently the Mayor of North Down. He is from the Alliance Party, interestingly elected in part by his DUP colleagues.

And unnoticed, indeed unremarked, a gay member of the Ulster Unionist Party is one of its two representatives at the talks chaired by Dr Richard Haass and Professor Meghan O’Sullivan of the New York Council on Foreign Relations.

I – for it is me – have just come from two meetings and four hours with the American pair, tasked to try and find a way forward, with the five executive political parties, on the dividing issues of Flags, Parades and The Past. Hence my photo-opportunity suit and imperial purple tie.

To be an active Unionist does not mean you are an ex-gay, something some seem to believe.

Finally, coming up to date on campaigning, what are the current issues being addressed by local activists?

In truth, we are heading towards becoming a protected species and need fear little or no hostility from officialdom. This may not hold for ever, I would caution.

However the perennial issue of violence against LGBT people remains, as can be seen from the recent trial of the murderers of Andrew Lorimer in Lurgan and of Shaun Fitzpatrick in Dungannon. In Andrew’s case the sentences were pitiful and it is to be hoped that they are reviewed by the PPS. Indeed it would be of assistance if you were to consider writing to Barra McGrory (the head of the Public Prosecution Service) accordingly.

The fact remains that über-violence is meted out in these horrendous attacks. That will take decades to reduce as it involves one of the baser instincts in many males – fear of women. And of homosexuals – homophobia in the strictest sense of the word against gay men and lesbians. And Transphobia especially so, a greater treason, as can be seen from their casualty count world-wide.

Otherwise gay or equal marriage, the blood donation ban and changing of the adoption laws are the issues of today.

Each of these reforms can and will be advanced in the courts. Our local Assembly for complicated reasons can’t or won’t do the needful. It came into being and is, to a degree, supported by those who want to avoid changing such laws.

So be it. We can get round them but it is producing the same anger and rage as we felt in the 1970s. And the same productive resistance.

So far the Minster of Health has lost cases on adoption and blood donation. How he proceeds, if he does at all, remains a matter of concern.

Gay marriage which will soon be uniquely absent in these islands is a harder nut to crack. Reform will be a matter of trench warfare in the local courts while ultimate victory, in a successful Strasbourg case, may be a decade away.

So welcome to Belfast. Do enjoy your days and nights here, and the pleasures of the city, take care in relation to illegal pills being peddled which have caused ten deaths here in recent months, and thank you for your kind reception.

To conclude, I open this USI weekend of Pink Training.

 

Jeff Dudgeon (NIGRA Treasurer)

'Is Green A Part Of The Rainbow? Sharia, Homosexuality, and LGBT Rights in the Muslim World: Some Critical Reflections'

Professor Javaid Rehman Brunel Law School, Brunel University London

Friday 6 December 2013, 1–2pm

Room MD008, Magee Campus

Light refreshments will be provided

The seminar will examine the legitimacy and validity of the claims for criminalization of homosexuality and discrimination against LGBT individuals from within the Sharia, as practiced in modern Muslim societies. It demonstrates that several passages of the Qur’an acknowledge homosexuality and celebrate sexual diversity, and that it is therefore inaccurate to suggest that there is a prohibition of homosexuality in Islam and to advocate criminalization or adoption of discriminatory practices targeting sexual minorities. Furthermore, it is argued that religious views and societal practices that suppress queerness or discriminate against LGBT persons are not only incompatible with human rights law, but also contradict the fundamental principles of the Sharia. Contrary to most of the established scholarly approaches, the paper argues that Sharia neither prohibits nor punishes homosexuality. To the contrary, a genuine enforcement of the laws based upon the Sharia in contemporary Muslim societies requires absolute recognition and celebration of diverse gender identities.

Javaid Rehman is a Professor of Islamic Law and International Human Rights Law and is the Director of Brunel University Research Centre, Security, Human Rights and the Media (SHRM). He was Head of Brunel Law School, Brunel University (2009-2013). During 2002–2005, he was a Professor of international law at University of Ulster (Magee). Professor Rehman was a member of the International Bar Association (IBA) Taskforce on International Terrorism (2009–2011). Professor Rehman is a member of the executive council of the Asian Society of International law and is a member of the International Law Association (ILA), and acts as the co-rapporteur for the ILA’s Committee on International Law and Islamic Law. His authored books include International Human Rights Law (Longman 2009) and Islamic State Practices, International Law and the Threat from Terrorism (Hart publishing 2005).

RSVP: Emer Carlin e.carlin@ulster.ac.uk

Experienced a hate crime in Belfast? Victim Support NI want to know about it

victim_support_logoIf you have experienced any hate crime in Belfast in the last few years, then please fill in the survey which is being conducted by Lisa Faulkner from the Jordanstown campus of the University of Ulster for Victim Support NI.

The aim of the survey is to map services / provisions for victims of hate crimes in Belfast and to capture their views and opinions of the services.

The survey will close on 5th November 2013.

Please complete the survey by visiting https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/VVDMTHN

For help and support contact Victim Support NI on 028 9024 3133; website www.victimsupportni.co.uk.

15 years after Matthew Shepard: so much achieved for gay rights, but so much more to do

I remember reading my copy of Gay Times about the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard. At the time I ended up in tears, and this evening re-reading about the murder, looking at photographs of those responsible as well as of that infamous fence in the State of Wyoming and the well known family photo of Matthew. The Matthew Shepard Foundation posted the following status on Facebook, and I feel that we should spread it wider.

1243162_595280560534122_1768961158_o“15 years ago this evening, Matthew Shepard was driven from the Fireside Lounge in Laramie, Wyoming to the outskirts of the city by two strangers who did not like that he was gay. They tied him to a fence, beat him with the butt of a gun, and left him for dead.

“The Casper Star Tribune, Matthew’s hometown newspaper, ran a beautiful story of the contradictions Wyoming still has in the acceptance and treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

“These contradictions parallel those at the national and international level as well. Just because same-sex couples can get married in 13 states and the District of Columbia doesn’t mean that these couples don’t have to think about their rights when they go on vacation. Or get transferred for work and move to one of the 29 states in which you can be fired for being gay, 33 for being transgender.

“While progress has been made over the last 15 years, we have a long way to go before we have true, meaningful equality.”

— Matthew Shepard Foundation Facebook page

So much achieved, yet so much still to do

So much has been achieved for gay rights across the world in the years since Matthew’s cruel death, but we have still so much to do. Fifteen years on, the same homophobia seen in Wyoming in 1998 is very much alive and well here in Northern Ireland.

  • A man had his nose broken nose during a homophobic assault on the Dublin to Belfast train between Newry and Portadown in December 2012. (Belfast Telegraph)
  • Henry McDonald wrote in the Guardian that the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland found in some research that 80% of homophobic attacks here in Northern Ireland are not reported.
  • Thug jailed for homophobic attack in Belfast gay bar reported in the Belfast Telegraph in June 2013
  • In September three men admitted the manslaughter of Andrew Lorimer in Lurgan in what is a suspected homophobic attack.
  • A drug addict took a legal high before he attacked a man and shouted homophobic abuse at him, a court heard in July 2013. (BBC News)

The cases illustrated above are those which have made it into a quick search on Google. I am sure that there have been many more homophobic incidents since this time last year. As the Police Service of Northern Ireland has said in the past,

“Hate crime is unacceptable, no one deserves to experience it and no one deserves to get away with it. To stop it, report it, do not suffer in silence.”

It is clear to me that we must continue to stand up for our rights, not just against homophobic attacks but the anti-gay policies of the DUP health minister, Edwin Poots, who seems to be leading a new crusade against our rights in his relentless appeals against decisions of the Northern Irish Courts relating to the Gay Blood Ban, and Adoption by Gay Couples.

Anyone interested in working towards full equality for all who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, please get in touch and help stand alongside our brothers and sisters in the Matthew Shepard Foundation working to ‘Erase Hate’ now.

Civil Liberties – is the legacy living on?

Martin Luther King jnr

 

Over the last few weeks papers, television and radio have been referring to Martin Luther King jnr’s speech ‘I have a dream’ which was delivered in Washington on August 28, 1963.

The speech was the high point of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom; which in itself became the focal point of a campaign against discrimination, voting restrictions, unfair treatment by the police and statutory barriers against social mobility and economic opportunity.

The impact of this speech was felt across America, and then across the world, and whilst MLK was not initially billed as the main speaker, his speech has now become synonymous with Civil Rights, and led within two years to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the 1965 Voting Rights Act being passed in the USA.

Rustin Bayard and Martin Luther King jnrMLK developed his commitment to a principle of non-violent action through the tutelage of Bayard Rustin, a man March on Washington Aug 28who was black, gay, and a Quaker.  Bayard’s own life had been through many phases. Bayard was brought up by his grandparents acting as his parents, who were methodists ( he later found out that his ‘sister’ was his mother).  He was a member of the Young Communist League until 1941 after the Nazi invasion of Russia led the U.S. party to switch gears into building American opposition to fascism, and racial justice issues fell by the wayside.

Rustin was a deeply committed pacifist, owing largely to his Quaker background, and got thrown in jail for conscientiously objecting to service in World War II. It was his introduction of Gandhi’s tactics of nonviolent resistance (which he learned when visiting independence activists in India) to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr which served as a platform for MLK’s enduring success in civil liberties along with his oratory.

Bayard being gay, and also that he had been arrested for 1953 and sentenced under the lesser charge of ‘sex perversion’, was often used by his enemies both in the establishment and in the civil liberties camp as an indication of his unsuitability.  However, it is interesting to read the FBI synopsis on him:

Federal Bureau of Investigation internal memorandum (25th January, 1966)
Rustin is a very competent individual who is widely known in the civil rights field. He is personally familiar with numerous individuals with communist backgrounds. As one of Martin Luther King’s closest advisers, he is in a position to wield considerable influence on King’s activities. Technical coverage of Rustin is an important part of the overall coverage of King, who is the most prominent civil rights in the country today. Because of the influence being exerted on King by persons with subversive backgrounds, it is necessary for us to maintain coverage of individuals such as Rustin. In order to fulfill the Bureau’s responsibilities to uncover communist influence in racial matters, it is recommended that technical coverage of Rustin be continued.

Bayard SingsBayard Rustin, has been a man written out of history due to his abilities and to him being black and gay; fortunately society has moved on today, and more importantly the USA has a black president who this year has recognised the importance of Bayard by awarding him Presidential Medal of Freedom earlier this month.

Unfortunately some 50 years after MLK’s speech, and it’s impact worldwide, I must report that civil liberties in the United Kingdom are under threat.  Our freedoms, whether we are of the LGBT community, black, white, religious or non-religious are important to us.  History has shown that we must fight and succor our civil liberties; that we must not allow governments to sequester them int he pursuit of security.  So having said this how do we in one of the first democracies of the world now have one and a half times as many surveillance cameras as communist China (Tom Kelly, Mail Online,  Aug 2009).  According to the Association of Chief Police Officers,  as at Aug 2011, there are in actuality 1.85 million CCTV cameras in the united kingdom.

To this we can also see the implementation of ‘Stop and Search’.  In June of this year, it was stated that there were a million stops each year, with only 9% leading to court cases (BBC, July 2, 2013).  However an article in the Sunday Post dated August 25, 2013, said that in the last year the Scottish Police have actioned six hundred and twelve thousand (612,000) stop and searches in the last year – approximately a 50% increase, with only thirteen percent (13%) possibly finding anything!

I do not believe that England and Wales only did 400,000 stop and searches over this period, and looking back a few years ago I wrote about the police tactics of stopping people and confiscating cameras and videos during various times of unrest ‘in the interest of the public’. A tactic which has since been clarified as being unjustified.

Our civil liberties belong to us:

Civil liberties in the United Kingdom have a long and formative history. This is usually considered to have begun with the English legal charter the Magna Carta of 1215, following its predecessor the English Charter of Liberties, a landmark document in English legal history.  However it could be argued that the Declaration of Arbroath of 1320 in Scotland was the first attempted implementation of civil liberties in part of the United Kingdom.  Today the United Kingdom’s relationship to civil liberties has been mediated through its membership of the European Convention on Human Rights.

In other words, civil liberties are the “rights” or “freedoms” which underpin democracy. This usually means the right to vote, the right to life, the prohibition on torture, security of the person, the right to personal liberty and due process of law, freedom of expression and freedom of association.[3]

(Wikipedia, 2013)

I call upon everyone to monitor their police and security forces, their local and national government – don’t allow the United Kingdom to become a ‘police’ state.

banksy-search S&S KNow Your Rights

 

Further Reading:

Wikipedia –Civil Liberties in the United Kingdom
Wikipedia – Bayard Rustin
The Atlantic – Article by Kerry Eleveld ‘Obama, Bayard Rustin, and the New LGBT Civil Rights Movement
Spartacus Educational – Bayard Rustin
Washington Post – Wonkblog – Meet Bayard Rustin, the gay socialist pacifist who planned the 1963 march on Washington