The Myth Of “Patient Zero” Is Finally Laid To Rest

safe sexReporting is about being as accurate as you can with the information currently available; unfortunately to often it has been about sensationalism, trying to get readers, and playing to the gallery when the ‘reporting’ has been about the LGBT community.

This article reflects how once again, how we as a community where used as scape goats for waht is now recognised as a national and international problem.  People have sex, but unless we educate properly in our schools, and continue to educate about safe sex, no matter what gender, then we will have problems.

Burrying our collectives heads in the sand, saying to people don’t have sex, are not working – we need to show people the right way of doing things, including contraceptives, and then maybe we will get a grip of the various sexual diseases which are plaguing our society

Myth of patient zero and gay sexThirty-two years after his death in 1984, Gaétan Dugas remains a legendary figure …

Source: The Myth Of “Patient Zero” Is Finally Laid To Rest / Queerty

Equality, not when you have a Petition of Concern

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

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

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

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

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

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

Equality

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

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

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

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

Equality in Marriage Blocked Again

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

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

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

Park service releases LGBT history study

LGBT History

History to everyone is important, but for those who have not been able to have their full identity because of family or societal pressures, or laws which punished their very existence, history can become a poison chalice.  It is extremely comforting to know, that one country, which even though it still has its share of bigots and organisations which seek to continue this persecution, is moving forward and recognising the LGBT community and taking note of its history –  in this case it is the National Park Service of America.LGBT History

Positively, I have just heard that the Scottish Government is seeking to pardon all those LGBT people who have a criminal record due to draconian laws which punished you for being gay!

Unfortunately, due to government filibustering, England and Wales will have to wait for some time for Westminster to bring forward a possible legal instrument for doing the same job.

And for Northern Ireland, the political posturing of both the main parties, means that it is highly unlikely that any law will see the statue books within the next 5 years.

The laws were unjust within the UK, and because of them so much of our history has been lost, as people rightly seeked to protect themselves and their families; I hope that sometime soon we can stat to put together our own history and to have it incorporated into the mainstream history – it is jsut as valid, and when you consider people like Alan Turing and how he and others in other professions helped to win our freedoms, then we must strive to get equal.

 

Breaking news & opinion from the B.A.R.

Source: The Bay Area Reporter Online | Park service releases LGBT history study

Russian Embassy mocks Europeans as ‘gay pigs’ as warships taunts Bris | Daily Star

RussiaRussian Humour.

As with all reporting, you need to take a step back and try to see if it is balanced.  Lovely headlines do not make for in depth reporting.  Yes, the Russian fleet (or part of it) did sale up the North Sea; however we did know about it, it was a planned sailing, so why the big headlines from the papers.  Secondly, Russia is doing no more today than it has been doing for the last 10 plus years, and whilst the West is in disarray it will continue to do so!

If the UK, which is now going to disconnect from Europe, is worried then it needs a cohesive defence plan, not the piece meal one which it now seems to offer to its voting population.  If we have restrictions due to our balance sheet, then we must be realistic about what we can and can’t do.

For me the worrying thing in Russia, is its backward stepping in terms of LGBT rights, the rights of woman and in particular their right to a free, safe abortion when necessary.  For a country which has as its political background and current leanings Communism, it is very funny (and not funny amusing) on how much the church and indeed now outside American groups seem to be influencing Russian policy!

 

Russian humourSource: Russian Embassy mocks Europeans as ‘gay pigs’ as warships taunts Bris | Daily Star

IBM VP Claudia Brind-Woody

Diversity Policies

Claudia Brind-Woody, vice president and managing director IBM

Diversity Policies: A policy on workplace diversity: Makes a commitment to anti-discriminatory practices and fosters equal opportunity through the removal of systemic barriers. Can reinforce compliance with human rights legislation. Is a statement of an organization’s values

LGBT diversity policies, procedures, advocacy and impact – Business Insider

Claudia Brind-Woody, vice president and managing director, speaks to BI about LGBT and  diversity and how it is shaping the wider tech and business community.

Source: IBM VP Claudia Brind-Woody: LGBT diversity policies, procedures, advocacy and impact – Business Insider

‘Gay cake’ row: born-again Christian bakers lose court appeal | UK news | The Guardian

The Cake and Ashers'Court Case Settled. A lot has been written over the months regarding this court case, and indeed some of it was factually wrong.  The facts were that an order was placed with no intention of setting up any individual, business or organisation up for in-adverse publicity.  A contract was entered into, and money was exchange – a normal business transaction.  Therefore the contract should have been honoured, possibly with a note to the person who placed the order that the business would not be able to fulfil any future orders of this nature.

A judgement from the court has now been made, the decision reach, and it is now time to step back and try to move on amicably.

Judges uphold ruling that Ashers Bakery discriminated against gay man by refusing to make cake with pro-gay marriage slogan

Source: ‘Gay cake’ row: born-again Christian bakers lose court appeal | UK news | The Guardian

FREE IRISH CITIZEN DR. HOMA HOODFAR

 

Free Dr. Homa Hoodfar

Free Dr. Homa Hoodfar

Free Dr. Homa Hoodfar, a 65-year-old professor of anthropology, who holds Irish citizenship was arrested in Iran on 6 June following months of questioning by the Revolutionary Guards. She is being held in the notorious Evin Prison with no access to her family or lawyer, and is likely in solitary confinement. She is a prisoner of conscience. Dr. Homa Hoodfar is a prominent and respected scholar and anthropologist at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, whose decades-long teaching and research activities relate to development, culture, gender, and electoral politics. She holds Canadian, Irish and Iranian citizenship.

Dr. Homa Hoodfar was arrested on 6 June in Tehran after being verbally summoned to the Office of the Prosecutor in Tehran’s Evin Prison. She went to the prison with her lawyer who was not allowed to be present when she was taken away for questioning by officials from the Revolutionary Guards. When her lawyer requested to see Dr. Homa Hoodfar, after several hours had passed, prison officials told him to go home. They told him he was no longer allowed to see her because she was a “security prisoner”. All subsequent attempts by her family and lawyer to see her, including giving her personal items such as clothes and medication, have been denied by officials. Though she has not been heard from since her arrest, Amnesty International believes that she may be held in Section 2-A of Evin Prison, which is under the control of the Revolutionary Guards, as is common practice for such detainees.

Irish citizen, Dr. Homa Hoodfar travelled to Iran on 11 February primarily to visit her family but also to conduct historical research on women’s participation in elections since 1906. On the evening of 9 March, the day before she was due to leave Iran, officers from the Counter Intelligence Unit of the Revolutionary Guards raided her home and confiscated her personal belongings, including three passports, mobile phone and computer. For the next three days,  she was repeatedly summoned for questioning. During these interrogations, in which she was not allowed to have a lawyer present, she was asked about her work and about the emails that the authorities had found in her computer. Her interrogators also asked her questions such as “Are you a feminist?” and “What is feminism?”

Dr. Homa Hoodfar has a neurological condition called myasthenia gravis, which is a chronic autoimmune neuromuscular disease that affects the nerves and muscles, causing certain muscles to become weak. Her family has not been allowed to take her the medication she needs to help control the symptoms. There are serious concerns that while in detention she may not receive the specialized medical care she needs for a neurological condition.
Research is not a crime. No one should be targeted for the peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression and association. Amnesty International considers Dr. Hoodfar to be a prisoner of conscience.

Join our call for the immediate and unconditional release of Dr. Homa Hoodfar.

 

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Wednesday June 15th is Irish AIDS Day

World Aids Day 2016

Wednesday June 15 is Irish AIDS Day and Gender Orientation Sexual Health HIV (GOSHH), based on Davis Street in Limerick City, will mark the day by providing free Rapid HIV Tests.

GOSHH, formally known as Red Ribbon Project, has been involved in HIV activismGOSHH since it was first set up in 1989 by a group of gay men in Limerick and is currently promoting community based rapid testing as part of the Know Now campaign. GOSHH have been providing Rapid HIV tests for the last four years and are part of the first scheme to take a national approach to Rapid HIV testing. By making the test free of charge it removes the barrier of cost which was sometimes a factor in people not testing for HIV.

KnowNow, is an exciting and innovative new approach to enabling more people to know their HIV status. If people have HIV then the earlier they become aware of their status the better it will be for their long term health outcomes. In addition, most HIV is transmitted by people who are unaware that they have HIV, so early diagnosis can further reduce onward transmission rates.  The test uses a pin prick of blood from your finger and the results are available within 60 seconds.

Ann Mason, GOSHH Manager stated how important it is for people to know their HIV status: ‘These days HIV is a treatable infection and the sooner someone living with HIV accesses treatment, the sooner the medication will reduce their viral load to undetectable. One of the goals of our testing service will be that everybody living in the Mid-West will get to know their HIV Status and be aware of Sexual Health Services within their locality. It is also important to encourage people to openly discuss their HIV Status with their sexual partner.”

While there has been a significant and welcome improvement in treatment for HIV, concern remains regarding the rising numbers of newly diagnosed cases in Ireland. New HIV diagnoses nationally have increased by 35% since 2011. A total of 498 people were diagnosed with HIV in 2015, compared with 372 in 2014. To date in 2016, there has been a 42% increase in the number of people being diagnosed with HIV – with 214 new diagnoses, compared to 151 in the same period last year. This increase now translates to an average of 10 people per week being diagnosed with HIV.

The latest HIV diagnosis figures also show that HIV remains an issue of critical concern for gay and bisexual men. The figures for 2015 show that gay and bisexual men are the group most likely to acquire HIV in Ireland. There remains a clear need for gay and bisexual men to know their HIV status.

To coincide with Irish AIDS Day, GOSHH will also launch a peer support group for people living with HIV in the Mid-West Region. The group provides a time where members can gather to share experiences, difficulties, thoughts, feelings, emotions, and positive aspects of the process they are going through in a confidential setting.

GOSHH will be providing free rapid HIV Tests on Wednesday June 15th at its centre on 18 Davis Street, Limerick. No appointment is necessary and results are available in 60 seconds.

For more details on Rapid Testing and the Peer Support Group please contact GOSHH on 061 314354 or email support@goshh.ie

 

GOSHH Roadmap

 

‘The Pulse’ gay night club in Orlando

Onlookers

Onlookers

The Pulse

The Pulse

I was deeply shocked to hear of the sheer scale of the casualties at ‘The Pulse’ gay night club in Orlando.
It is hard to comprehend the enormity of the act and the awful nature of the suffering of the members of the LGBT community.
Those who survived will never be the same again, while the lives of so many, mostly young victims out enjoying themselves on a Saturday night have been cruelly and abruptly ended.
Such attacks on gay venues, with high casualty rates, have occurred before – in London, the US and Israel, while there have been single murders in Belfast like that of Darren Bradshaw at the Parliament Bar (and the Rev David Templeton), and more recently three gay men who were killed in London by a bomb at the Admiral Duncan pub.

 

Northern Ireland is no stranger to mass murder.  Our community knows there is a reservoir of hatred out there that can be motivated to action by political organisations and by religious hate speech. In this case it was Islamist.
The people of Belfast will I know express their solidarity with the people of Orlando, a city in Florida many of us know well and have visited.  Your pain having to bury so many fine people will be hard to bear.

I have asked that our City Hall officials put arrangements in place to allow citizens to show their sympathy to our American friends and that the City Hall gates be opened for people to gather in the grounds on Tuesday at the planned demonstration of support.
Jeff Dudgeon (Belfast City Councillor and NIGRA Treasurer)

 

Further reading:

 

 

 

Onlookers

Onlookers

Swat Team

Swat Team