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:

Tom Daley's fiancé Dustin Lance Black gets the green light from ABC for his new gay rights period drama When We Rise

Mail Online Logo


Dustin Lance Black’s mini series, When We Rise, has officially been officially picked up by ABC after two years in development.

The eight hour mini-series focusing on the gay rights struggle in America, in the 20th Century, penned by the 41-year-old Oscar-winner is set to be put into production in 2016 by the channel.

According to Variety the confirmation of When We Rise will see Tom Daley’s fiancé reunited with director Gus Van Sant – who worked on Milk alongside Lance.

All stations go: Dustin Lance Black's mini-series, When We Rise, has officially been officially picked up by ABC after two years in development

All stations go: Dustin Lance Black’s mini-series, When We Rise, has officially been officially picked up by ABC after two years in development

Following in the vein of Milk, which told the story of California’s first openly gay elected official, Harvey Milk, the show focuses on the political struggles of the LGBT community in the late 20th Century.

Chronicling the tale of a diverse family of activists in the 1960s and 70’s, When We Rise will focus on the groups pioneering work to conquer one of the last legs of the U.S. Civil Rights movement.

Tom Daley and Lance Black

The wait is over: The eight hour mini series focusing on the gay rights struggle in America penned by the 41-year-old Oscar-winner (pictured with faince Tom Daley) is set to be put into production in 2016

Lance, who is now engaged to British Olympic diver Tom, 21, has worked tirelessly as for marriage equality and gay rights.

Clearly excited by the news, Lance took to his Instagram last week and shared a snap of himself alongside Milk producer Bruce Cohen and civil rights campaigners Roma Guy, Ken Jones and Cleve Jones.

Pictured in San Francisco, the screen writer and director can be seen beaming in the picture – clearly delighted with the news from ABC.

He captioned: ‘Thanks for a great trip #SanFrancisco! With Producer Bruce Cohen and #SocialJustice heroes Roma Guy, Ken Jones and Cleve Jones. #WhenWeRise prep begins!’

Earlier this year, in October, Lance and Tom announced their engagement in The Times newspaper after dating for two years.

Lance Bruce Cohen and Roma Guy Ken Jones and Cleve Jones

Delighted: Clearly excited by the news, Lance took to his Instagram last week and shared a snap of himself alongside Milk producer Bruce Cohen and civil rights campaigners Roma Guy, Ken Jones and Cleve Jones Read more:


How has Ireland's gay rights referendum changed activism?



ATHENS, 2. NOV, 09:13

2015 Gay Pride

Participants in the 2015 gay pride in Dublin, the first one since the referendum that approved gay marriage. (Photo: William Murphy)


Five months after gay marriage was approved by the Irish public in a landmark referendum, the office of Irish president Michael Higgins formally signed the country’s new marriage equality law into effect on Thursday (29 October).
On that same day, on the other side of Europe, gay rights activists gathering in Athens from across the continent fretted that the high-profile victory could lead some to draw the wrong conclusions.
Activists generally oppose referendums, because when the majority is allowed to decide on the rights of a minority it rarely works out well for the minority. (Photo: Mortimer62)
The activists were meeting at the annual conference of the International Gay and Lesbian Association of Europe (ILGA).

The Irish victory loomed large over the occasion. It marked the first time a country approved gay marriage through a popular vote, was a major turning point in the movement for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) rights. With the US Supreme Court legalising gay marriage in America just one month later, many gay people thought, “we’ve finally made it”.

All countries in Cold-War-defined Western Europe, barring Italy and Greece, now have some form of legal recognition for same-sex couples.

The North Atlantic now has same-sex marriage on all of its shores, barring the rocky cliffs of Northern Ireland. Malta, often thought of as being an island outpost of the Vatican, shocked observers earlier this year when it not only enacted gay marriage, but also instituted the world’s first legal recognition of transgender rights.

But don’t put down the placards just yet, the ILGA leadership told the activists in Athens.

“I get very often the comment, ‘now that you’re starting to get marriage all over, surely you’re nearly done,'” said Evelyn Paradis, secretary-general of the ILGA.
“No. The LGBTI equality agenda has never been all about marriage. Marriage is not the be all and end all.”

She noted that for a lot of people, employment discrimination is actually a much more important issue than marriage, and there is still much work to be done on that front, particularly for transgender people.

Even on the marriage front, it should not be assumed that what happened in Ireland will inevitably be replicated in the rest of Europe. There is still no gay marriage in the countries of Central Europe, including Germany, Switzerland and Austria.

Swiss citizens may even vote to enact a constitutional ban on gay marriage in a referendum in February, becoming the first Western European country to do so. Such bans already exist in a handful of Eastern EU member states including Poland and Bulgaria. Russia’s abuse of its LGBTI population, whether by the government or by its citizens, has become notorious.

The ferocious resistance and street protests by a large segment of the French public to last year’s passage of gay marriage law in France showed that even in the West, the public still needs convincing regardless of the legislation on the books.

Be wary of referendums
So what lessons can be drawn from the Irish experience?

The referendum loomed large over this year’s ILGA summit. Gráinne Healy, the chairwoman of Marriage Equality Ireland, who led the yes campaign, was greeted like a rock star as she gave her keynote speech.

Some in the audience were moved to tears as she described the jubilation felt after 62 percent of Irish voters said yes to marriage equality. But it was an awkward jubilation, she noted, because she disagreed with the very premise of the vote.

“Let’s be clear, it was always the preferred option that marriage equality would be legislated for if at all possible,” said Healy. “None of us campaigned to hold a referendum in the early days, referendums on the rights of a minority should never happen.”

It is a conundrum for the gay rights movement as it moves on to a post-Ireland chapter.

Now the movement’s most high-profile victory, perhaps the moment activists felt the most proud, was the result of a referendum in Ireland. But activists oppose such referendums on principle, because when the majority is allowed to decide on the rights of a minority it rarely works out well for the minority.

In the United States, almost all of the referendums held on the issue in the past 15 years have voted against gay marriage, including ‘proposition 8’ in California in 2008, which annulled the state’s legislatively-enacted gay marriage.

Up next: Slovenia
Gay rights activists will again have to confront the referendum issue in December, when Slovenian voters will decide on whether to undo a gay marriage law passed by the government last year.

Before enacting the law, the Slovenian government had changed the constitution to expressly forbid referendums being called on issues of human rights, after a previous gay marriage law was undone by a referendum in 2012.

But the country’s constitutional court ruled last week that gay rights cannot necessarily be considered human rights, at least not until the court has considered the question. A referendum will go ahead in December.

Slovenian gay rights activist and academic Roman Kuhar told the ILGA conference that although they will fight hard to convince voters, he is not optimistic.

“I guess we will have the same story again that happened in 2012 – a long painful period of lies, a situation where there’s no dialogue possible,” said Kuhar.

“They will recruit very disciplined and well-established networks of people who oppose this kind of legislation. They’re very active on social media, and they have an even better network than Facebook – the church. The local priests are well organised and every Sunday they are telling people to go out for the referendum. And referendums in Slovenia are on Sunday mornings.”

At the same time, the activists in the room had to acknowledge that the Irish gay marriage outcome felt a lot nicer than the French gay marriage law enacted in 2014, which was imposed by French President Francois Hollande from the top down with no public involvement. It left a question of legitimacy hanging over the decision, even though it had been passed by democratically-elected representatives of the people.

In Ireland, there is no doubt over whether gay marriage enjoys public support.

Lessons learned
Later in the day, gay rights activists from around Europe met in a workshop to discuss what lessons can be learned from the Irish example.

Healy told the attendants how her campaign convinced the public, and Gabi Calleja, an activist from Malta, described how her campaign convinced politicians. And while the activists appreciated the Irish example, they mostly felt that a referendum would not yield the same positive result in other countries such as Malta.

Sam Mueller, a campaigner with the Green Liberal party in Switzerland, noted that the Swiss referendum question in February will be couched in a question about tax reform, and many people probably won’t even realise that their vote would have the effect of banning gay marriage.

“The fear is that people will think about the tax issue and not the marriage issue,” he said. “So we will need to create videos like they did in Ireland to inform people about what their decision will mean to LGBTI people. We need to show them that it’s about their neighbour or their friend.”

Miha Lobnik, another activist from Slovenia, said there is not enough time between the court’s decision last week and the referendum in December to conduct a campaign such as they had in Ireland.

“A referendum is not won like a football game, where two teams compete and the better one wins. It’s about who brings more supporters to the stadium. That’s why it’s very hard for us in countries with small LGBTI groups. It’s an excellent example that we have from Ireland, but we need more time for that”, said Lobnik

European Commission comes out
The European Commission has been hesitant to get involved in the gay marriage debate because the EU has no power over civil marriage laws.

But next February the Commission is going to launch the first EU ‘awareness campaign’ to try to convince the European public that gay people should have equal rights.

The Commission is expected to soon release a new eurobarometer poll surveying Europeans’ feeling about LGBTI people. The results, seen by this website, showed that a majority of Europeans support equal rights and gay marriage, but there is a big difference between member states. Gay activists still have a lot of work to do to change minds in Eastern Europe.

“For us it was a shock, we knew the situation was bad in some countries, but when suddenly you quantify the monster behind you, it becomes very scary,” said Juan Gonzalez Mellizo, who works in the non-discrimination unit at the European Commission.

There is a stark East-West divide. For instance, while 91 percent of people in the Netherlands support gay marriage, only 17 percent in Bulgaria do.

The highest proportions of people who said they would be comfortable working with gay and lesbian colleagues were found at EU’s Western extremes, with Ireland, the UK, the Netherlands and Sweden all responding around 90 percent positive.

It was the lowest in the EU’s Eastern extremes, with only 21 percent in Slovakia saying they would be comfortable and 27 percent in Romania. Only 7 percent of people in Bulgaria said they would accept their child being gay.

Gonzalez Mellizo said the intention of the Commission’s awareness campaign is to turn the situation around by the time another survey is taken in two years. The campaign will target the countries where acceptance is the lowest, and it will focus in on the populations that are most likely to have their minds changed – youth and the ‘movable middle’.

Just like the Ireland referendum marks a turning point in the LGBTI rights movement in Europe, the awareness campaign marks a turning point in EU involvement on this issue.

The previous Commission under Jose Manuel Barroso was more cautious on the issue of gay rights, saying it was a matter for member states. But the new Commission vice-president, Dutchman Frans Timmermans, says he feels passionately about gay rights, and while speaking at the ILGA annual gala in Brussels earlier this year, he hinted that the Commission could even pursue the issue of gay marriage and adoption rights based on EU guarantees of free movement.

The European courts could find that a gay couple married in one EU country who are unable to move to another member state because it wouldn’t recognise their marriage is being presented with an unreasonable hurdle.

Such a Commission challenge is unlikely any time soon, however. In the mean time, the EU executive hopes that just focusing attention on the issue will be enough to change minds enough to spark action at national level, as was seen in Ireland. In effect, they want to emulate the Irish ‘yes’ campaign on a European scale.

“This is the coming out of the Commission,” said Gonzalez Mellizo. “In the past years we were doing a lot, but quietly. We are changing from being supporters to being activists.”

But the Commission is stressing that it needs the help of other activists to make what happened in Ireland happen across Europe. The LGBTI rights movement across Europe is now strategising on how to pivot their strategy in a post-Ireland world.

NB: ILGA sponsors EUobserver’s Focus section on Equality and LGBTI rights, but has no editorial influence over this or other articles

The Queen of Ireland: Gay rights movie released in Northern Ireland is sheer bliss

A charismatic drag queen is the star of this documentary about the Republic’s gay marriage referendum, writes Andrew Johnston

The Queen of Ireland couldn’t have timed its Northern Ireland release better. The documentary about marriage equality in the Republic of Ireland arrives in the same week the DUP scuppered a majority Assembly vote to allow same-sex weddings in the north.

  After watching this deeply affecting film, the anger, sadness and frustration felt by many at the party’s underhand use of a petition of concern will be intensified. Director Conor Horgan’s beautifully shot and edited movie follows Panti Bliss, the drag queen alter-ego of Co Mayo-born performer and activist Rory O’Neill, who somewhat inadvertently became the LGBT movement’s figurehead in the run-up to May’s marriage rights referendum. In her towering heels and extravagant, blonde wig, she is an imposing presence, yet O’Neill’s larger-than-life character is as persuasive as she is visually arresting. In his own words, Panti is a “giant cartoon woman”, but she is also an eloquent and incisive commentator, who counts the likes of Stephen Fry and Madonna among her legion of fans, and in 2014, received an Irish Person of the Year Award.

Her creator’s life has certainly been an eventful one. The Queen of Ireland takes us from O’Neill’s childhood in the small town of Ballinrobe, where he was, as he puts it, “the local gay”, through the perhaps inevitable art college years, to the development of his stage persona during hedonistic adventures in London and Tokyo. Eventually, O’Neill comes home to a relatively more progressive Ireland and embarks on a campaigning trail that ultimately leads to the Republic becoming the first country to approve same-sex marriage through a public vote. The Queen of Ireland isn’t just powerful because of the emotive subject matter; it has a rich dramatic arc, too. There is tragedy when O’Neill suffers a serious health setback, and when he invokes costly legal proceedings with contentious remarks made on RTE’s Saturday Night Show, a row that is dubbed “Pantigate”. But there is triumph when he returns to Ballinrobe to perform to a sold-out crowd in a marquee in a car park near his family home, and later, when the ‘Yes’ result is returned in the referendum. As a stand-up, Panti is smart and hilarious, albeit one you might not take your mother to see (and indeed, O’Neill tones down the swearing and explicit sexual references for the homecoming gig, attended by his elderly parents). Panti’s abrasive one-liners earn The Queen of Ireland its 15 certificate, but behind the facade, O’Neill reveals a complex personality. He is as humble and kind as his self-described “court jester” drag act is outrageous. It may be Horgan’s film, but it’s O’Neill and Panti’s show, and as narrator, the cross-dressing star steers the narrative to its startling denouement – Ireland’s legalising of gay marriage. To see same-sex partners celebrating in streets where 22 years previously homosexuality had been punishable by prison delivers an emotional punch on a par with any feel-good flick. If you’d pitched this tale to a Hollywood producer in the early Nineties, you might well have been laughed out of the room. The realities of being a gay man or woman in Ireland in the Seventies and Eighties are well covered through extensive interviews and newsreel footage, and it’s heartening to see how far Irish society has come, though for audiences in the north, it will be dispiriting to be reminded how far we are lagging behind. The Queen of Ireland deserves to be seen by everyone, be they gay, straight, male, female, young or old. In fact, this important piece of work should be shown in schools – and maybe even in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

A breakthrough… Irish gay rights group to march in New York Paddy’s Day parade

Members of the New York City Police Department march in the St. Patrick's Day parade past protesters, Monday, March 17, 2014 in New York. The banner reads "Boycott Homophobia." The city's St. Patrick's Day parade stepped off Monday without Mayor Bill de Blasio marching along with the crowds of kilted Irish-Americans and bagpipers amid a dispute over whether participants can carry pro-gay signs. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Members of the New York City Police Department march in the St. Patrick’s Day parade past protesters, Monday, March 17, 2014 in New York. The banner reads “Boycott Homophobia.” The city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade stepped off Monday without Mayor Bill de Blasio marching along with the crowds of kilted Irish-Americans and bagpipers amid a dispute over whether participants can carry pro-gay signs. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan) - A break through


THE NEW YORK St Patrick’s Day committee has allowed an Irish LGBT group to march in the 2016 parade, carrying a banner, for the first time in the event’s history.

Speaking to from Queens this evening, Louth man Brendan Fay called it “a stunning announcement” and a “marvellous moment.”

During a board meeting of the committee, it was decided to accept the application of the Irish LGBT group the Lavender and Green Alliance, of which Fay is a co-founder.

This is it. This is a historic moment. It’s amazing.

The landmark decision appears to bring an end to a 25-year struggle by Irish and Irish-American LGBT activists to openly take part in the world’s largest St Patrick’s Day event.

In a statement, Fay added:

We have been on a long and winding road to equality, a road marked by painful exclusion and years of protests and arrests.

With this decision, we are transformed from cultural outsiders to insiders who can share in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, a vital expression of our heritage and culture - blasiopats

The move comes amid increasing pressure on organisers to allow for a fully inclusive parade.

In 2014, Bill deBlasio became the first New York mayor in a generation to boycott the event, due to the ban on openly gay groups.

In March, after Guinness withdrew support from the parade, a group of LGBT employees of TV sponsors NBC were allowed to take part, but some activists regarded this as an unsatisfactory compromise.

In July, John Dunleavy was ousted as chairman of the committee, and replaced by Quinnipiac University president Dr John Lahey, who had been lobbying internally for the inclusion of LGBT participants.

In a statement sent to, Lahy said:

Since 2016 marks the 100th Anniversary of the Easter Rising, the birth of Irish independence, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade March 17 is a special opportunity for renewed commitment to Irish values and traditions, and the Irish role in the 21st Century.

We are working with the Irish government in this anniversary year to teach our young people the lessons of sacrifice and heroism, of love and tolerance, embodied in the Irish spirit.

Irish politicians have traditionally taken part in the parade during annual St Patrick’s Day trips to the United States, with Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan marching in 2014 and 2015.

Last year, however, Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton publicly vowed not to participate, “unless progress was forthcoming” in adding LGBT groups to the fold.

Brendan Fay, who has been arrested several times while picketing the parade, and 15 years ago helped set up the alternative St Pat’s For All event, concluded:

It will be a great day for the Irish diaspora and for all New Yorkers as we will honor the centenary of 1916 Rising together.

The words from the 1916 proclamation, ”cherishing all the children of the nation equally” will be real and meaningful

The Warwick Rowers are back, raising money for gay rights, and they’re more naked than ever

Not suitable for work: We have got seven shots teasing their 2016 naked calendar

The Warwick Rowers are back, raising money for gay rights, and they’re more naked than ever

20 August 2015

The Warwick Rowers are back, and these British boys are baring all once again to raise money for gay rights.

The university rowing team have teased their brand new 2016 naked calendar.

Once again, the money raised will go to supporting young people who are challenged by bullying, homophobia or low-self esteem in sport through Sports Allies.

And we have got a few shots to make the wait worthwhile. Some are from their new calendar, some from their new coffee table book, and some are from behind the scenes.






Head over to the Warwick Rowers website to see all of their offers and their teaser video.

Why Gay Rights Trump Women’s Rights

Why aren’t we standing up against the assault on women’s rights?


Gay rights

Gay Rights

I’m ready to have gay rights organizations, the media and corporations, such as Walmart, Google, NASCAR and Angie’s List, be as moved to action by Purvi Patel’s 20-year incarceration as they—and I—are about the refusal of a baker to make a wedding cake for same-sex celebrations.

Well, finally someone’s finally pointed out what I (and I imagine many others) have been thinking about but have been hesitant to point out, while gay rights are doing great, women’s rights have gone down the tube. And, as bad, men don’t seem to care.

Bringing these nasty inverse trends to light was Gail Collins who in her April 3 New York Times columncontrasted the uproar over potential discrimination against same-sex couples with the silence that met the passage of new anti-abortion laws in Texas and Arizona.

While the Indiana law created an instant call for boycotts and mobilized a broad swath of opposition—including from the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, so great that Governor Pence and the legislature mounted a hasty retreat, as did those in Arkansas—not a word of ire was spoken about the egregious acts in Texas.

Back home in Indiana at the same time the wrath of entertainers, business leaders and politicians was focused on the potential harm to gays, Purvi Patel, a 33-year-old Indiana resident, became the first person in the history of the United States to be prosecuted, tried and convicted of feticide—for what she says was a miscarriage and the State argued was an illegal abortion.

Yet for this actual, not theoretical, harm to a woman, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison, there was no outcry, no threat of boycott and very little news coverage.

While I and most other feminists applaud the successful protests against Indiana’s retrograde actions and have been among the most staunch defenders of gay rights—and in fact I would argue that we are the birth mothers of the movement through our insistence on decoupling sex from procreation—I find the disparate trajectories of our movements and society’s disparate response to our injuries more than a little disturbing.

While same sex marriage laws have been approved in 37 states and the Supreme Court is poised to overturn the laws of the 13 states where such marriages were banned, nearly 100 years after its introduction, the Equal Rights Amendment for women still languishes.

While I laud the fact that gay men have fought for and won the $24.1 billion that the federal government allocates each year to fight HIV and the 56,000 new cases that arise each year, I cannot help but compare this amount to the less than $600 million the our government spends on breast cancer for which there are 231,840 new cases and 40,290 deaths each year.

While the rights of lesbians and gay men to sleep with whom they wish has been in great part both culturally and legally enshrined, the rights of women to control both their sexual activity and reproduction are increasingly under siege.

In the last five years alone 30 states have enacted more than 200 different restrictions on if, where and when women can obtain a safe and legal abortion. And in the first three months of 2015 alone, state legislatures have introduced more than 300 anti-choice statutes.

And while Indiana has now said you may not invoke personal religious beliefs in order to refuse to serve LGBT people (though you may refuse to enter into a contractual agreement with them), 46 states allow individual health care providers to refuse to provide abortion services.

Today, for the first time since Roe v. Wade, less than a third of women live in states where abortion is both legal and accessible, even in the first trimester.

And that’s just the states. On the very first day of the new Congressional session, two congressmen introduced a bill that would make most abortions performed after 20 weeks of pregnancy illegal—in total contradiction to the protections won in Roe v. Wade—and since then have introduced 28 more.

Nor is it only women’s right to abortion that is under attack. In the first months of this year alone, 16 states passed or introduced laws that under the guise of “religious freedom” may allow employers to eliminate contraception from the insurance they offer their employees. Yet,except for a Democratic-backed proposal made in jest, no legislator has ever questioned insurance payments for vasectomy—whether from public or privately issued insurance.

So, what is going on here?

Some have suggested that the reason the assault on women’s rights have elicited little or no protest is simply a matter of fatigue—that the battle for women’s equality has gone on so long that all have become tired of the issue and immune to the injuries. And there is merit to that argument,  after all women have been at it for thousands of years.

Others, including well-meaning supporters, have suggested that the women’s movement just isn’t as cleaver as the LGBT rights movement, and there is merit to that argument as well. As a friend reminded me “the LGBT movement in the last 4 or so years has been the product of a brilliant strategy, carefully conceived and well executed”—involving state by state campaigns for marriage equality laws, the amassing of millions of dollars in political donations, and the strategic use of lawsuits and referenda.

Yet call me a cynic, but I think more fundamental, issues are at play— the power of money and never ending misogyny.

While women still earn 81 cents on the male-dollar, gay men’s individual earnings outpace heterosexual men’s income by $800 a year, straight women’s earnings by $18,800 a year and the income of lesbian women by a full $22,500 each year.

As for households, gay-male-partnered households earn a full $13,400 a year more than those headed by heterosexual men, $27,000 more than those headed by lesbian women.

As to the misogyny—thanks to their lack of self-consciousness (or perhaps consciousness) we’re regularly treated to the unadulterated sexist views of Republican legislators and pundits—who blithely talk of women as incapable of responsible sexual behavior or rational choice and speak of those who choose to terminate a pregnancy as murderers.

Yet it’s not simply the fringe that’s the problem. I have a sneaking suspicion that while as a society we may use women’s sexuality to sell everything from cars to buffalo wings and beer, we really don’t like women actually engaging in sex on their own terms and having the ability to make certain to solely determine the results of those encounters.

For me, having spent 40 or more years fighting along my brothers and sisters for full equality for the LGBT community, I’m ready for a bit more two-way solidarity.

I’m ready to have the NCAA, with their supposed commitment to Title IX, refuse to play in Indiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, North Dakota and Arizona because these states are openly hostile to women and our constitutional rights.

I’m ready to have gay rights organizations, the media and corporations, such as Walmart, Google, NASCAR and Angie’s List, be as moved to action by Purvi Patel’s 20-year incarceration as they—and I—are about the refusal of a baker to make a wedding cake for same-sex celebrations.

And most of all I’m waiting for the kind of Act Up outrage that the abuse of women surely deserves.

Gay rights dominates the social media conversation in Northern Ireland

Reprinted from BBC News (Trending)



Attitudes towards gay people have become a big election issue in Northern Ireland.

It began with a viral video that’s now all over the news. Northern Ireland Health Minister Jim Wells – who is standing in the UK general election for the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) – was filmed at a hustings last Thursday. “You don’t bring a child up in a homosexual relationship. That a child is far more likely to be abused and neglected,” he said.

When the video hit social media it sparked fierce debate. Wells apologised several times for making the comment, saying that he had been under a lot of pressure over recent weeks because his wife is currently unwell and receiving treatment in hospital. On Monday he released a statement saying that he was standing downas health minister to help his wife Grace in her “fight for life.”

The video was uploaded to Twitter by 17-year-old Clare Calvert, who told BBC Trending that she doesn’t support any particular political party “I was attending the hustings because I was there to ask a question to the panel on what they could bring to South Down (the local area) to allow me to live there when I finished university.”

She says that she actually thought Wells did a good job as health minister, but that “his views have alienated so many members of society” that there was no way he could continue in the position.

The video she posted and the intense debate around it are significant developments, given that the DUP is currently the largest Northern Irish party at Westminster. Wells’ name and the debate about attitudes towards gay people have been trending ever since in Northern Ireland – with more than 14,000 tweets so far.

Opponents of the DUP sought to make political capital out of it all. The republican author Danny Morrison has been particularly active, tweeting: “So, Jim Wells suffers from narcolepsy. Looked wide-awake to me.” He also retweeted a widely shared picture of dinosaurs mocking the DUP candidate’s attitudes.

Members of the Labour Party of Northern Ireland also joined in. Writer Adrianne Peltz tweeted: “the next time politicians ask why so many young people are leaving NI, just direct them to @Jim_Wells_MLA & his state sponsored hate speech.”

The SDLP announced on Twitter that they had planned to submit a motion of no confidence in Wells had he not resigned. “He is no longer fit to hold office,” they tweeted. The Sinn Fein assembly member and spokesperson Maeve McLaughlin shared a post by a gay rights charity which read: “We are not a lobby we are a community. Disgusting lies which are harmful and full of hate.”

The chair of the Alliance party’s LGBT group, Mickey Murray, created a petitionwhich called for Wells’ resignation. “Over 8,500 signatures asking for his resignation, over 3,000 more signatures than votes Jim Wells received to get into the assembly,” he tweeted. The Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt said Wells “had done the right thing in resigning.”

But some DUP members tried to turn the controversy against rival parties. Doug Beattie wrote: “Jim Wells quits over gay child abuse comments … meanwhile Gerry Adams remains although he knew about child abuse & said nothing.” It was a reference to Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams, whose brother Liam was convicted of sexually abusing his daughter (In 2013, Gerry Adams gave an interview in which he admitted that his brother had told him about the abuse).

Wells’ comments came as the Northern Irish assembly held a private members’ debate on marriage equality. And next month in the Republic of Ireland, voters will take part in a referendum on same-sex marriage. A similar law proposed by Sinn Fein was defeated in Northern Ireland by the leading unionist parties in 2013.

Despite stepping down from his ministerial post, Wells is still standing as the DUP candidate in the South Down constituency. The other candidates in South Down are Felicity Buchan of the Conservatives, Chris Hazzard of Sinn Féin, the UUP’s Harold McKee, Henry Reilly of UKIP, the SDLP’s Margaret Ritchie and Martyn Todd of the Alliance Party.

Blog by Hannah Henderson

BBC Archive on Gay Rights

It is amazing how when you start surfing the net you end up so far from where you started off, it makes you wonder if you have been spending your time wisely?

I was sent a link to Irish Centre for the Histories of Labour & Class, purely because it is known that I like reading history, and that I like researching.  So I get to the link, and start browsing, and then decide to find out if there was any ‘gay’ material on the site.  The search gave me a link to the BBC Archive on Gay Rights, which has 30 podcasts on a range of historically significant points in history for Gay Rights; the BBC says:

In 1967, homosexuality was partially decriminalised in England and Wales. Since then, terms like ‘clause 28’, ‘the age of consent’ and ‘civil partnerships’ have become part of the political language in the fight for gay rights.

In this collection, we chart the story so far for gay and lesbian equality in the UK. Many of the programmes reflect the language common at the time when they were first broadcast and illustrate the changing attitudes towards homosexuality in the last 50 years.

Campaigners unroll a rainbow banner.

Gay rights should be centre of UK’s relations with Commonwealth

Former Foreign Secretary says Britain must use its influence with Commonwealth to end ‘shocking’ anti-gay laws


By John Bingham, Social Affairs Editor
Foreign Secretary William Hague said the city's 'unique constitutional framework has worked well'Britain must make defending the rights of gay and lesbian people a key plank of its relations with other Commonwealth countries, the former Foreign Secretary William Hague has insisted.
He said it was “shocking” that homosexuality is still illegal many countries with historic ties to the UK and argued that Britain must use what influence it has to press for change.
His comments came as he addressed a reception in Parliament at which the annual PinkNews awards were presented.
Mr Hague, who is leaving the Commons at the next election, said he was proud of Britain’s record on the issue during his four years as Foreign Secretary including putting pressure on countries such as Uganda over draconian new anti-homosexuality laws.
But he said more must be done and accused countries which ban homosexual acts of breaking international law.
“While we are making progress in Britain and elsewhere, the situation in many countries in the world is not only difficult, it is actually worsening,” he said.
“It is completely incompatible with international human rights laws to make illegal consenting same-sex relations and to deny rights to people on the basis of their sexuality.”
Homosexual acts are classed as a criminal offence in around 80 countries and territories around the world including many former British colonies.
“One of my last acts as Foreign Secretary was to write to the Commonwealth Secretary General urging him to use his position to urge member states to live up to their responsibilities to promote the rights of their LGBT citizens,” he said.
“It is shocking that homosexuality is still illegal in so many member states and it must be an important part of our relations with those countries to persuade them to do better.”
Mr Hague presented a “peer of the year” award to Lord Fowler, who served as Health Secretary under Margaret Thatcher for his work combating HIV and Aids.
Speaking at a dinner following the awards, a serving Church of England bishop said he was “ashamed” of the church’s record on gay rights.
The Rt Rev Alan Wilson, the Bishop of Buckingham said the world would be a better place if Christians spent less time obsessing about the “minutiae of the Book of Leviticus”, which contains passages condemning homosexuality.
Speaking as he prepared to say grace before the meal, he told guests: “I want to say how honoured and privileged I felt to be here tonight knowing that the institution that I represent has not got a glorious record in terms of its dealings with its own LGBT people and the community at large.
“I am ashamed and I need to say that.”
Quoting a passage from the book of Micah, he added: “Doing justice, loving mercy walking humbly with God – if it was about that rather than some of the minutiae of the Book of Leviticus, perhaps the world would be a better place.
“And I look forward to a day when frankly the institution I represent, the Church of England, would stop being part of the problem and start being part of the solution.”
He added: “Take it from me, the day will come when I promise that faith communities in this country will be very much more part of the solution than the problem.”
Benjamin Cohen, publisher of PinkNews said: “We were delighted when William Hague offered to use the PinkNews Awards to make his first major speech on gay rights.
“The Foreign Office under his leadership radically altered its approach to LGBT issues placing gay rights at the heart of its human rights agenda.
“Hague is a perfect example of a politician on a journey when it comes to gay rights – from the party leader who opposed the repeal of Section 28, to one of the proud sponsors of the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act.”
“The bishop spoke with honesty and from the heart, revealing the shame that he feels for the way that the Church of England has dealt with the issue of homosexuality.
“We look forward to the day when the bishop’s views are not a rarity in the world’s great religions and instead before part of the mainstream reality.”