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The Imitation Game

The Imitation Game: Homophobia is still with us 60 years after the death of Alan Turing

To combat anti-gay bullying, education against all prejudice should be a mandatory subject in every school, says Peter Tatchell

Movies rarely make me cry, but I cried when I watched The Imitation Game. Released today, it stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightly, telling the heroic and tragic story of the British wartime code breaker, mathematical genius and computer pioneer, Alan Turing.

As well as decrypting Nazi military codes, shortening the war by two years and saving millions of lives, the entire modern digital age of computers, mobile phones, email, internet and space exploration is based on the principles he elaborated. Although Turing arguably possessed one of the greatest minds in history – on a par with Newton and Einstein – he was nevertheless prosecuted and hounded to his death in 1954 for being gay.

Upon conviction, Turing was given a stark choice: two years’ jail, or chemical castration via a hormone therapy that was uncannily similar to the Nazi “cures” for homosexuality that were used on gay men in Buchenwald concentration camp.

Unable to cope with the ghastly side effects of castration treatment, he committed suicide at the age of 41 – depriving humanity of future knowledge and inventions he might have pioneered had he lived.

I wept as I watched this film. I wept not only for Turing’s terrible personal suffering, but also for the estimated 50,000-100,000 other gay and bisexual men who were convicted in Britain under the same or similar anti-gay laws. Unlike Turing, most of them were given no choice. They were jailed and often brutally abused on the inside.

Do we need more sex education?

sex-ed-1 sex-ed-2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to PETER HITCHENS FOR THE MAIL ON SUNDAY in March 2010, sex education does not work and it is a ‘lefties’ plot against society and the family.; and Tory MP for Shipley, Yorkshire, Philip Davies, states it is a parent’s job to discuss sex education with their child not a schools!
So what does Sex and Relationship education aim to do:

SRE aims to equip children and young people with the information, skills and values they need to have safe, fulfilling and enjoyable relationships and to take responsibility for their sexual health and well-being.
SRE aims to contribute to behaviour change, including reducing unprotected and unwanted sex, and reducingsex-ed-3 harmful behaviour, including sexual offences such as assault and abuse

I t would seem therefore that in itself, SRE cannot do what the ‘government’ wants i.e. reduce unwanted pregnancies and also reduce sexually transmitted diseases. If society wishes this to happen then a radical change in all of our attitudes needs to take place. We must be open with our children and teenagers, and lead by example. How can we possibly ask children and teenagers to not explore their sexuality in a responsible way if we have government ministers and other MPs jumping in and out of other peoples beds, and having sex with people who they are not in a relationship with – and this includes paid for sex.

A healthy sexual appetite is part being human, but being responsible in how we mane it comes with education and openess.

sex-ed-4

Further reading:

Daily Mail's Richard Littlejohn calls people who try to stop bullying of gay youth 'diversity Nazis'

British columnist claims Woman and Equalities Minister Nicky Morgan is ‘inadequate’

Nicky Morgan, Education Secretary, has been accused of affiliating with 'diversity Nazis'.

The Daily Mail’s notorious columnist Richard Littlejohn has written an article claiming those who try to stop bullying of gay teens are ‘diversity Nazis’.

The 60-year-old has criticized Education Secretary Nicky Morgan for her decision to pledge £2 million to fight homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in British schools.

Describing it as ‘ludicrous’ and ‘drivel’, Littlejohn claimed this is proof that Morgan is too ‘inadequate’ to do her job.

He referred to an Ofsted report, the official UK body that monitors schools, that said a village school in Cumbria was ‘inadequate’ following a series of racist and homophobic comments made by pupils.

Governors and staff defended the school, claiming it was based on only one incident of a child describing another as gay. Ofsted stands by their report, repeating their decision was based on many incidents of bullying.

‘A pound to a penny this ludicrous “task force” concludes that such prejudice and bullying is widespread, even where it doesn’t exist,’ Littlejohn rants in his column today (31 October).

‘How many more innocent children will be smeared as ‘bigots’, how many more schools will be forced out of business in pursuit of dogmatic political purity?

‘Former Education Secretary, Michael Gove tried to kill off this kind of drivel.

‘Unfortunately, his successor Nicky Morgan is desperate to ingratiate herself with the “diversity” Nazis who think the purpose of schools is social engineering, not education.

‘Sadly, we can only conclude that as a minister, Morgan is — what’s the word? — oh, yes: inadequate.’

In Stonewall’s latest report on homophobic bullying, they found 99% of teens surveyed had heard ‘gay’ being used in a negative way and over half had said they had been targeted for bullying over their sexuality.

In December 2012, Littlejohn wrote a column condemning transgender teacher Lucy Meadows. He claimed she would have a ‘devastating effect’ on the children after her transition.

Three months later, after her suicide, the coroner said Littlejohn ‘sought to ridicule and humiliate’ her.

Over 240,000 signed a petition calling on The Daily Mail to sack Littlejohn, but it was unsuccessful.

– See more at: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/daily-mails-richard-littlejohn-calls-people-who-try-stop-bullying-gay-youth-diversity-nazis3#sthash.LDQYeHTn.dpuf

Kiev's oldest cinema burned down during gay film

Unknown man threw a smoke grenade into the audience

The Zhovten cinema in Kiev burned for five hours.

Photo via Facebook

The oldest cinema in the Ukranian capital went up in flames on Wednesday night during the screening of a LGBTI film after a smoke grenade was thrown into the audience.

The fire broke out at 21:41 and raged for five hours until it was put out by 22 fire department units, according to the State Emergency Service.

None of the 100 people at the screening were hurt, but the Zhovten cinema, built in 1931, was badly damaged.

‘The film had been playing for 20 minutes already when people in back rows shouted: “Smoke!”‘ festival coordinator Aleksey Chaschin said.

Filmgoer Yevhen Zelman wrote on Facebook that an unknown man tossed an ‘incendiary smoke grenade’ into the audience.

He said people started to run but the emergency exits were locked and the cashiers and security guards did not know how to use the fire extinguishers.

Alexei Blyuminov wrote on Facebook that the reason for the arson attack was obvious considering an LGBTI film was showing.

‘In a country, where street Nazis have become police officers, no one will investigate a crime, committed by the far-right. One hand washes the other,’ he said.

The French film Les Nuits d’été (Summer Nights) was showing as part of an LGBTI program at the Molodist youth film festival.

Other said the attack was caused by an ongoing legal dispute between the cinema and the building owners, who want to evict them.

Kiev Mayor Vitaly Klitschko promised the cinema would be rebuilt.

‘The arson of the premise, which became a subject of debate and legal battles in recent years, can’t be ruled out. We won’t allow Zhovten, which became a symbol of intellectual cinema among the moviegoers in the capital, to be taken away from us,’ he said.

Kiev Pride was cancelled in July for fear of attacks.

– See more at: http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/kievs-oldest-cinema-burned-down-during-gay-film311014#sthash.sp7eqNv8.dpuf

Uganda – President Museveni Signs Anti-Gay Bill into Law

“All it takes for evil to succeed is for a few good men to do nothing…”  Edmund Burke

Rocco DiGrazia, an Arizonia Pizzareia owner, said:

“… any expansion of discrimination is gonna hurt everybody and open the doors for more,”

As a society we have fought wars against oppression and bigotry, and also against bullies, we must stand up and let it be known that homophobia is not acceptable in todays societies – even more so when it is government sponsored.
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/arizona-pizzeria-amazing-response-state-anti-gay-bill-article-1.1698524#ixzz2uGtpvRSZ

 

UGANDA: PRESIDENT MUSEVENI SIGNS ANTI-GAY BILL 
Amnesty condemns the rise of homophobia across Africa
Spokespeople available for comment 
President Museveni has just signed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law. Amnesty International condemns this as a dangerous and draconian piece of legislation
Gemma Houldey, Amnesty International’s Uganda Researcher said:
“This deeply offensive piece of legislation is an affront to the human rights of all Ugandans.

“This legislation will institutionalise hatred and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people in Uganda. Its passage into law signals a very grave episode in the nation’s history.”

“The Anti-Homosexuality Bill will further criminalise consensual sexual activity between adults of the same sex, with some offences carrying life imprisonment. It also includes offences such as ‘promotion of homosexuality’, which will directly impact human rights defenders and healthcare providers. It makes a mockery of the rights enshrined in the Ugandan constitution.”
Uganda has made important progress on human rights in recent years, including criminalising torture, but this Bill is a colossal step backwards.
Notes to editors:
Over 25,000 people in the UK have written to the Ugandan President to veto the anti-gay bill via Amnesty: www.amnesty.org.uk. In 2013 Amnesty documented the rise of homophobia across sub-Saharan Africa in its report Making Love a Crime: Criminalisation of same-sex conduct in sub-Saharan Africa.
ENDS 
Amnesty International UK media information:
Meera Pattni: 020 7033 1548020 7033 1548meera.pattni@amnesty.org.uk
Out of hours: 07721 39898407721 398984www.amnesty.org.uk
Follow us on Twitter: @Newsfromamnesty
Follow our blog: http://blogs.amnesty.org/pressblog
________________________________________

How hard is it to come out as a gay sportsman / sportswomen / person?

With a small amount of research I have discovered that since 1900, one hundred and fourteen years in total, there have only been 24 (twenty-four) sports people in the British Isles who have been our or come out as gay.

Document:    Sports people who have come out in the British Isles

So why don’t sportsmen and sportswomen ‘come out’ if they are gay?  Of course there is no reason why someone has to announce they are gay, there is no law, no contract (indeed there may even be contracts preventing it); but, with so few sportsmen and sportswomen visible who are gay, then those growing up don’t have positive role models to aspire to.  It also enables the continuing stigmatisation of the LGBT community.

John Amaechi, the British basketballer said ‘…people have a misconception that time will automatically bring progress and that homophobia is in the decline … if you’re associated with a word that has so many pejorative connotations – ‘gay’ regularly used to mean bad, weak, wrong, sinful – it’s going to affect you’

History has shown that gay women in sports are more routinely accepted than men; but even they have been the target of bullying on and off the field, in society and in the media.

Gay men in sports are stigmatised more because being a sportsman means you are rough, tough and a ladiesman.  If you are gay you can’t be a great sportsman.

Secondly, all spo0rtsmen and sportswomen depend on sponsorship, and the sponsors have not necessarily bee supportive of equality and freedom for LGBT athletes.

 

As I referred to at the start of this article, there are 24 noted sportsmen and sportswomen:

  • 4 in the 1990s
  • 5 in the 2000s

And

  • 6 so far in the 2010s

Hopefully the tide is turning and society is more accepting, also the establishment which controls the laws and the purse strings of so much sponsorship.

What will be even more interesting is to watch and review the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia during and after the event in relationship to both the athletes who are LGBT and who go there and perform, and also for the local LGBT groups and individuals who are suffering persecution through the new laws and trumped charges and arrests.

Premier Putin’s homophobia has been shown up repeatedly, and the Mayor of Sochi (Anatoly Pakhomov) would seem to be equally homophobic ( or is he just securing his political position?) – his latest speech stating that there are no gays living in Sochi only further highlight’s Russia’s perilous states for LGBT people.

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.

'The Laramie Project'

The Matthew Shepard Story

The Matthew Shepard Story

The story of Matthew Shepard
Location and Time:  Thursday 1st August 2012, the Metropolitan Arts Centre theatre; an intimate theatre of approximately 112 seats.

The play was ‘The Laramie Project’ which was written by Moses Kaufmann and members of the Tyectonic Theater Project, but our production was performed and orchestrated by the Dundonald Association of Music and Drama (DAMD) sponsored by the Police Service of N Ireland (PSNI) and The Rainbow Project.
The Laramie Project is a verbatim play about the reaction to the torture and murder of Matthew Shepard in 1998; The Angels during the rallyhe was a young gay man who was robbed, viciously beaten and left tied to a fence to die. Although he was soon found by the police and hospitalized, he soon expired.  Matthew was a student in Laramie, Wyoming and this play is based on a series of interviews conducted with Laramie residents in the aftermath of his murder.  Matthew’s murder focused attention on the lack of hate crime legislation in various states including Wyoming.
DAMD were formed in July 2009 by Melissa Smith.  DAMD’s artistic mission is to engage their community in theatre that makes you think or blink with tears).  ‘If we can inspire, nurture, challenge, amaze, educate or empower artists and audiences b y providing a quality performing arts experience then we retire happily with our bedtime cocoa.’

The stage setting consisted of eight chairs with a ‘goodies’ box beside each containing various individual props, and a stand for the presenter who guided us through the performance.
The performance was riveting, and it indeed did bring this audience member to tears as he remembered the harrowing news items from the time, and how utterly soul destroying the story was as it unfolded, including the trial.  The subsequent theatre production and also the movie release with of the Laramie Project and also the Matthew Shepard Story with Sam Waterston as the father of Matthew kept the story alive and in people minds, and continued to pile pressure on the USA legislature and government and local states.
DAMD’s performance was startling real, the accents were faultless ( at least to my ears), and the minimlist stage setting helped to focus attention on the dialogue, the speakers and the story.
The Laramie Project is often used as a method to teach about prejudice and tolerance in personal, social, and health education and citizenship in schools, and it has also been used in the UK as a General Certificate of Secondary Education text for English literature.  Having just been to an event during Belfast Pride about how our N Ireland Library Service for Schools is currently unable to provide the service needed for LGBT youth, and that a survey of LGBT books in school libraries only returned one item throughout Northern Ireland, it would seem that we need to put on more productions of this play, and especially try to get it seen within our school and college systems.

 

Further links:

  • [button_icon icon=”information” url=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Laramie_Project” blank=”true”]The Laramie Project[/button_icon]
  • [button_icon icon=”information” url=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Laramie_Project_%28film%29″ blank=”true”]The Laramie Project (film)[/button_icon]
  • [button_icon icon=”information” url=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Matthew_Shepard_Story” blank=”true”]The Matthew Shepard Story[/button_icon]
  • [button_icon icon=”camera” url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UiKBv29xvS8″ blank=”true”]Youtube: The Matthew Shepard Story [/button_icon]
  • [button_icon icon=”camera” url=”Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1qiTmF0p4A” blank=”true”]The Laramie Project[/button_icon]
  • [button_icon icon=”information” url=”http://www.laramieproject.org/” blank=”true” colour=”green”]The Laramie Project Website & Charity[/button_icon]