Pride and protest in Hattiesburg

LGBT in the SOUTH Conference 


By Felicia Blow

My first trip with the Campaign for Southern Equality and my first trip to the Deep South were one and the same. Although I’ve lived in the South all my life, I’ve never ventured farther than North Georgia (well, Florida, technically, but I wouldn’t consider Disney World the Deep South), and making the drive to Hattiesburg, Mississippi earlier this month was daunting for a couple reasons: I get carsick and restless on long drives, and I was a newcomer to CSE where the staff has built strong connections and relationships with Hattiesburg locals. I wasn’t really sure what to expect.

Southern Pride-1

My awesome coworkers Chloe and Ivy, right before we hit the road!

As we packed up the car, I volunteered to take the first shift driving to keep occupied. I marked each border we crossed ­– city limits, county, state – as the highway wound us back and forth out of the mountains. We had a short, but sweet stopover in Birmingham for the night, where we ate at a delicious Asian food truck with extremely generous portions. It was an unexpected find and reminded me of something I’d see back in Asheville, with its love of fusion food and novelty eats. I dove into the heaping plate of pork eggrolls, grateful for good food and a break from the car ride, and by then I’d started to feel settled into the trip. There are few better ways to get comfortable with a group of people than by traveling together. We jammed to Top 40 in the car and crammed into a hotel room on the outskirts of downtown, Ivy taking one for the team, sleeping on a stiff, squeaky sofa bed.

I would have regretted the short amount of time we spent there if I hadn’t known we’d be returning in a month for Birmingham’s own convening. So the next morning, we arrived in Hattiesburg and immediately got to work, shopping for snacks and setting up the space for the next day’s convening at the Spectrum Center, a fairly recently opened LGBT community center – and the only one in Hattiesburg – run by Sara and LB Bell, longtime leaders in CSE.

We had a late night and an early start the next morning to get the food set up and tie up loose ends before people started arriving, so I downed some coffee and we were off and running. I had to do some public speaking at the start of the convening, which is never my first choice, and I characteristically rushed through it, but since I started in August, the whole staff has been great at getting me to do things I’d usually shy away from. I got through it and spent the rest of the day in a picture-taking frenzy, uploading things to Facebook and Twitter, inviting people to come out.

As it was, we had an amazing turnout; there was barely enough room for everyone to sit in the small house-turned-center. It always energizes me to be in a space full of folks who are engaged – with the work and with each other – and who are committed to learning, working, and making change. There’s something undeniable about it, and dropping in on sessions throughout the day showed me how much people were taking away from this event that I’d had an, admittedly small, hand in helping to create in the last month and a half.

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Awesome attendees after a great day of learning and connecting.

There’s something exciting and warming about bearing witness to a sense of community among others; I’m always glad to be invited into those spaces, and in this one I felt immediately welcome. It’s something I love about the South, and it’s more than just run-of-the-mill Southern hospitality. For some, the notion of Southern Pride might seem like a paradox in and of itself, but those of us from these states know there is reason to be proud, both of where we come from and of who we are. The next day at Southern Fried Pride, Hattiesburg’s first ever Pride celebration, it was evident how many people had banded together to make this possible. How much love, and, as it soon became clear, how much courage and conviction it took.

Southern Pride-3

Nationwide, tensions are high around rights and safety for LGBT folks and people of color, and day after day there is news of another mass shooting. Two had taken place just the day before. So when protesters arrived, their intentions unclear and their affiliations muddled – Christian, Confederate, Klan – I was terrified for a moment. Even with the local police presence and relatively small number of protesters, the fact remained that we were a group of people of all kinds of racial, sexual, and gender identities, and the cause for concern was not unwarranted. A few weeks later one of the protesters was arrested for bombing a Wal-Mart in Tupelo, Mississippi after the store’s decision to discontinue selling confederate flags. Sometimes that gut feeling just can’t be ignored.

But as the day wore on, it seemed their only goals were intimidation and attention. Some of them set up in camper chairs and took selfies with their flags (I can only imagine how one would caption that), and ultimately, after entering the parade through downtown – some trailing behind, some directly inserting themselves, rubbing shoulders with us – they packed up early and headed home.

There were four hours left in the day for Pridegoers to celebrate unopposed, but the contrast between the great hospitality I experienced and the sharp hostility of their presence stuck with me. I knew I’d be back to this region again in a month’s time, in Birmingham, and wondered if we’d face similar resistance there. It’s a fearful and confusing time to be living in, but it’s important to hold that tension and uncertainty while we figure it out

Anti-gay armed forces laws set to be officially removed

By WMNDavidWells  |  Posted: January 11, 2016


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

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Military chapels ordered to allow gay marriages after 18-month stand-off

Metro Logo
Military chapels ordered to allow gay marriages after 18-month refusal
(Picture: PA)

Church heads have been ordered to permit same-sex marriages in military chapels following an 18-month stand-off.

In 2014, regulations were passed to allow same-sex marriages in the 190 military chapels in England and Wales, despite opposition from some Conservative MPs. No such marriages have taken place since then, however, due to the employment of a ‘veto’ by church leaders.

Defence minister Penny Mordaunt today said she had a duty to ‘consider the rights’ of gay military personnel, and had asked military chaplains how ‘Parliament’s sanction’ will be enforced, effectively ordering them to permit same-sex marriages.

‘The Ministry of Defence allows same-sex marriages in military chapels, but none of the Sending Churches using the chapels currently allows same-sex marriages to be conducted there,’ she said.

C2PWR7 Dover Castle. The Upper Chapel in the Keep.
(Picture: PA)

‘I have asked the Chaplaincies of the three Services to advise me on how Parliament’s sanction of same sex-marriages may be fully implemented.’

The Ministry of Defence declined to expand on Ms Mordaunt’s remarks, but it is understood the defence minister, who is also the MP for Portsmouth, has posed a series of questions to teach sending church about their stance on the marriages.

The sending churchs include the Church of England, the Church of Scotland and the Roman Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist, United Reformed and Congregational churches.

Read more:

City Law School students to compete in inaugural LGBT Moot

City University of London

by John Stevenson (Senior Communications Officer)



Two teams will be participating in the UK’s first-ever LSE-Featherstone Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Moot 2015-16.


Two teams of City Law School students will be participating in the UK’s first ever Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) mooting competition organized by the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

LGBT Moot The LSE-Featherstone Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Moot 2015-16, takes place at LSE’s New Academic Building on Lincoln’s Inn Fields, from March 5th to 6thand is the first of its kind dedicated to considering areas of sexual orientation and gender identity law. The competition is named in honour of Baroness Lynne Featherstone, a campaigner for LGBT rights and the architect of the UK’s equal marriage legislation in England & Wales. Baroness Featherstone also commissioned the first ever UK Government’s transgender action plan. Academic Programmes Moot Director, Emily Allbon, said: “It’s fantastic for City students to be participating in the LSE Moot. I knew there would be significant interest in the opportunity from our students and we’re pleased to have selected participants from across our LLB, GDL and BPTC programmes. Our teams are very much looking forward to competing”.

The LSE-Featherstone Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Moot 2015-16 is inspired by the Williams Institute Moot Court Competitionheld annually at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Law, now in its 12th year.

City Law School Lecturer, Dr Grietje Baars, who is preparing the students for the Moot, said:

“I’m extremely excited at the opportunity this moot affords students to think through impact of law on LGBTQIA identity and community and our ability to live queerly in the UK today. The LSE Moot, moreover, promises to connect students with other LGBTQIA students, scholars and practitioners as well as allies from around the country through a series of lectures, events and workshops. Our call for participants received a huge response and I can’t wait to start working with our two teams.”

Chinese Court Takes Historic Step Toward Advancing Same-Sex Marriage

|With the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage in June, more than 20 countries across the Americas, Europe, and Africa now recognize unions between two men or two women. Yet not a single Asian nation has joined them. That may be about to change.

Movement within China’s court system indicates that the world’s most populous country could be the first in Asia to join the ranks.

A Chinese court has agreed to hear a case that could grant a same-sex couple the right to marry, Reuters reports.

Sun Wenlin, a 26-year-old gay man hoping to marry his partner, filed a complaint against the Changsha Furong District Civil Affairs Bureau, which denied his request to register the marriage, in Hunan province in December. Sun told Reuters that a local court agreed on Tuesday to hear his case.

Whether the court sides in Sun’s favor, even the decision to hear the case is a step toward LGBT equality.
These Same-Sex Couples Couldn’t Get Married in China, So They Came to America

“In China, courts often reject politically sensitive cases, so the fact that the lawsuit is accepted signals some official willingness to address discrimination against LGBT people, which is encouraging,” Maya Wang, a China researcher at Human Rights Watch, told Reuters. “But we will need to see if they actually win the case. If they do, it’d be a truly watershed moment for LGBT rights in China.”

China decriminalized homosexuality in the late 1990s and took it off the list of official mental disorders in 2001. Since then, the unofficial attitude toward homosexuality is what’s known as “the three nots” approach: “not encouraging, not discouraging, and not promoting.”

Sun states that after he filed the complaint, police attempted to investigate his home and approached family members. He told the Global Times that the police officers who came to his home emphasized the importance of having a child and carrying on the family name, reflecting the nation’s more traditional values. LGBT people living in China are banned from adopting a child and are not protected under antidiscrimination laws, according to international organization Out Right.

Sun is confident in his case, telling Reuters that China’s marriage law “says there is the freedom to marry and gender equality.” He also notes that national laws describe marriage as being between a “husband and a wife” rather than a “man and woman,” and that such labels could be applied to homosexual couples.

This article was originally published on TakePart.

Teacher to be compensated over comments on gay son

Bernie Marron says principal made critical comments about her son’s sexual orientation

 Bernie  Marron told the Equality Tribunal she was looking for an acknowledgment that what had happened to her was wrong and sought no financial compensation.

Bernie Marron told the Equality Tribunal she was looking for an acknowledgment that what had happened to her was wrong and sought no financial compensation.


 A primary school has been ordered to compensate a teacher after the Equality Tribunal found she had been harassed on religious grounds and discriminated against because her son was gay.

Resource teacher Bernie Marron took the case against the board of management of St Paul’s, a Church of Ireland primary school in Collooney, Co Sligo, which is under the patronage of the Bishop of Tuam.

Ms Marron (53), who worked at the school for seven years, said the principal made a series of critical comments about her son’s sexual orientation, saying a “normal boy” would not spend an afternoon shopping for clothes.

She said the principal also raised her son’s speech and attire at a valedictory service at a local secondary school. She told the tribunal he said her son’s pink blazer was not appropriate and questioned what kind of mother Ms Marron was to have a son like that.

Negative effects

Ms Marron said the principal – who denied the allegations – also made a series of comments which were critical or discriminatory towards Catholics.

She said the principal criticised the behaviour of Catholics in church, commented on the negative effects of Catholics joining a local Church of Ireland secondary school and referred to Church of Ireland members as “our children” and the “right people”.

Ms Marron, a non-practising Catholic, said she felt repeatedly undermined by the principal and complained to the school in September 2013. The issues, however, were not dealt with properly by the school.

The chair of the board of management, however, told the tribunal it responded to the allegations “as best they could”.

The principal of St Paul’s denied Ms Marron’s allegations and expressed shock that they had been made.

Regarding Ms Marron’s son’s speech, the principal said she herself had been upset by the boy’s comments about his classmates, which included her own daughter. The principal denied making any statement about the complainant’s son shopping for clothes.

The principal said she was shocked to learn of the allegations and said she had never discriminated against the complainant and had sought to include her at all events involving the school.

In its finding, the Equality Tribunal found as fact that the principal made the derogatory comments attributed to her by Ms Marron.

The tribunal found the principal’s use of the words “us” and “our” in relation to children and adults of different religions amounted to harassment.

Comments on the sexual orientation of Ms Marron’s son and her parenting undermined her dignity at work and amounted to discrimination by association.

Ms Marron told the tribunal she was looking for an acknowledgment that what had happened to her was wrong and sought no financial compensation.

The tribunal, however, ordered the school to award her €3,000 on the basis that the case would attract a significant award of damages in the ordinary course of events.

Equality training

It also ordered that the school undertake equality training to cover discrimination and harassment.

Ms Marron told The Irish Times she took the case in order to challenge a culture that allowed personal opinion and beliefs to override other people’s human rights.

“I was hurt and angry by the experience. No one should be subjected to judgment about their parenting or their son’s right to be themselves,” she said.

She also said the case raised the wider issue of the lack of an effective complaints-handling mechanism

Celebrity support for first UK LGBT clothing brand

Penarth Times Logo



CELEBRITIES have given their support to the first UK LGBT clothing brand which has been set up by a woman from Penarth.


Rugby legend Gareth Thomas and Ian ‘H’ Watkins from the band Steps shared an image of themselves on social Gareth Thomas and Ian 'H' Watkinsmedia wearing items from Fern Coslett’s debut collection.

Miss Coslett, 20, launched Elm Apparel with backing from the Vale of Glamorgan council’s young entrepreneur bursary scheme.
It features a range of androgynous casual wear inspired by the culture and issues of people in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Miss Coslett’s mum, Angela Coslett, made the suggestion to get in contact with the Welsh icons, as they are currently starring in Aladdin at the New Theatre in Cardiff.

Inspired by the idea Miss Coslett quickly packaged the items she though would be best suited to the stars, selecting the very popular geometric bear design for Gareth Thomas and the festive ‘Make The Yuletide Gay’ sweater for Ian ‘H’ Watkins, who recently announced he and his partner, Craig Ryder, are expecting twins via surrogate.

Shortly after delivering the packages to the New Theatre,

Miss Coslett received a message via twitter from Ian, thanking her and confirming he and Gareth looked forward to modelling items with both stars later tweeting an excited image of them wearing the products, to their thousand of followers online.


Church MIlitant Logoby Ryan Fitzgerald  •  •  December 21, 2015

And Pope Francis lent a hand

rainbow flag

LJUBLJANA, Slovenia ( – Same-sex “marriage” was shot down by voters in the central European nation of Slovenia last week.

So-called marriage equality had been effectively forced onto the Slovenian people by their parliament in March, but conservatives in the country challenged it and ended up having it put to a vote.

The referendum required at least 343,104 citizens to vote for it to count. More than 380,000, or around 36 percent of the population, turned out, so the results will be enforced.

And the earliest count, with nearly 90 percent of all votes accounted for, shows that about 63 percent voted to repeal “gay marriage.”

That outcome may very well have been helped by Pope Francis, who didn’t hide his views on the matter last Wednesday when he urged Slovenians to stand up for the traditional family.

“I wish to encourage all Slovenians, especially those in public capacity, to preserve the family as the basic unit of society,” His Holiness declared to Slovenians at his general audience.

At the end of the latest cultural battle, despite the prior approval of same-sex “marriage” back in March, there still has not been a single legal marriage between two persons of the same sex in Slovenia

10 People Who Really Made A Difference In A Landmark Year For LGBT Rights


By The Gay UK, Dec 22 2015 04:55PM

Earlier we reported on the disappointing list of 6 people The Independent published as having made 2015 a landmark year for LGBT rights worldwide.

Writer Matthew Hoy shares his top 10 landmark personalities with THEGAYUK who made 2015 a truly exceptional year in the LGBT equality movement.

Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera


Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera is an out Lesbian, LGBT rights-activist and co-founder of Uganda’s first LGBT publication – Bombastic. In June she appeared on the cover of arguably one of the most prestigious publications in the world – Time Magazine. It is hoped that this will help shine a light on LGBT issues on the continent which often go unseen.
“All we need is respect, and protection from violence, and our basic inalienable human rights. Speaking out and bringing attention to the plight of LGBT people is life. I will not be silenced by anyone.”

ALSO READ: Independent Fails To Hail Any Gay or Bisexual Men As Important For Landmark Year

Casey Conway

Casey Conway, an Aboriginal Australian and former national rugby league player for the Sydney Roosters, came out as gay this year. Following a shoulder injury he retired from rugby at the age of 22 and went on to work with vulnerable and homeless youth. In coming out he said the following about his work, “I’ve worked with kids who are homeless because they’ve been kicked out of home when they came out [as gay]. They’re suffering not only because they don’t have a home, but because of their mental health and a raft of other issues.”

Jaime Lopez Vela and Alexi Ali Mendez

It made worldwide headlines when Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriages were legal and that previous legislation defining marriage as “something to be celebrated between a man and a woman” was in fact un-constitutional.
This issue however would have never come before the Supreme Court had it not been for the likes of Vela and Mendez, both LGBT activists and lawyers who together fought various game-changing legal battles across the country eventually leading to the landmark ruling by the Supreme Court this year.

Xavier Bettel

When Xavier Bettel decided to declare his undying love for Gauthier Destenay in marriage, he became the second sitting world leader and first in the EU to marry their same-sex partner. This hopefully set an example for LGBT youth across the EU, that it is in fact okay to be gay and that marriage is about love.

Elena Klimnova

This year Russian LGBT activist, Elena Klimnova, faced tough criticism and even fines from the Russian government for her site Deti-404. The site was a treasure trove for LGBT teens in the homophobic state to share their stories of harassment and to offer support. Despite facing repeated prosecution and threats from members of the public, Elena has fought for this brave cause and given LGBT teens a ray of hope in an ever-depressing environment.

Richard Fung

Richard Fung is an award winning documentarian who was awarded this year’s Kessler Award for his contributions to LGBT Studies. One of his most notable works was his film entitled “Orientations” which explored the Asian-Canadian gay and lesbian communities that existed underground in the 1980s.


This year the small Asian state became the first in Asia to provide explicit protection for LGBT people from discrimination, violence and abuse as part of its new constitution.
Upon hearing this news, Ty Cobb, Director of HRC Global said, “We congratulate LGBT Nepalis and their allies for this historic victory, and hope to see other nations across Asia and the globe take similar steps to ensure full legal equality for their LGBT citizens.”

Israel Gay Youth Organization

This year the Israel Gay Youth Organisation took the first steps in its planned outreach into the LGBT-Arab community with the translation of its site into Arabic and the opening up of online forums wherein Arab youth can discuss their fears and concerns.
In an interview with Haaretz, one of the new Arab counsellors had the following to say, “Arab gay youth have no sources of information about being gay…Until the age of 18, I thought I was the only gay person in the world. I was completely cut off. We didn’t even have sex education at school. I went looking for a boy who had left our school, and I was told he was gay. I met him, he was in an art school and he introduced me to the community. Until 12th grade I never met a gay person or went to a gay party.”

This is the first step in the right direction in offering LGBT education to Arab youth.


The LGBT Group of the Conservatives Party was proud to boast this year that at the 2015 General Elections, the Tories had put forward the largest number of openly LGBT candidates forward totalling 37. No matter what your political affiliation it is a great moment when a political party can boast about how many LGBT candidates it has, as this will only encourage more LGBT youth to become active politically.

by Matthew Hoy

Gay man wins court fight to avoid extradition to Dubai on theft charge

Belfast Telegraph logoPUBLISHED 22/12/2015


Dubai, UAE

A gay Briton has won his battle to avoid being extradited to the United Arab Emirates, where homosexuality is illegal.

Mr Halliday said in a statement quoted by The Guardian newspaper: “I have been through a distressing eight months of uncertainty not knowing if I would face extradition to UAE to face accusations that I firmly believe I can prove I am not guilty of.

“It is not the clearing of my name that I feared. It was more a serious question as to whether there was a realistic prospect of me being able to prove my innocence at trial given the UAE’s unfair justice system (has a) poor track record in (its) treatment of foreign prisoners and particularly members of the LGBT community.

“Thankfully, after today’s outcome, I can now continue my life without fear of the prospect of extradition.”

Gay sex is punishable by death according to UAE federal law and carries a 10-year prison term in Dubai.

Mr Halliday, from the Midlands, is reportedly accused of taking money from a safe at a department store where he worked as an operations manager.

The UAE made formal request for his extradition in June last year.

The Guardian quoted District Judge Jeremy Coleman saying in his ruling: “The trial, treatment and conditions of those accused or convicted of criminal offences in the UAE is still the subject of complaint and is often alleged to fall well below the required standards … Taking into account Mr Halliday’s own circumstances, I cannot be satisfied that he would not be at significant risk.”

A Crown Prosecution Service spokeswoman said: “We are carefully considering the judgment.”