gay news: london’s mayoral candidates unite over gay rights

It seems the one thing that could unite London’s mayoral candidates in the mad scramble up to the election on May 3rd, is gay rights.

Good ole Boris Johnson stepped in to stop a series of ads, set to appear on London’s buses, by a Christian group preaching they can cure gays with “reparative therapy”. The Core Issue Trust (CIT) was set to run the adverts on five routes through the centre of the capital.

The ads read: “Not gay! Post-gay, ex-gay and proud. Get over it!” which is an obvious dig at gay rights organisation Stonewall and their well known slogan, “Some people are gay – Get over it”. The mayor thwarted the campaign in response furious protest on twitter.

In spite of the incumbent Mayor’s block on the campaign, the Christian group have still managed o draw a fair bit of attention to themselves promoting the use of therapy to change the sexual orientation of gay people . The leader of the Core Issues Trust, Mike Davies, describes homosexual behaviour is “sinful” and his orgaisation offers to sponsor the cost of the treatment.

This episode prompted Boris to promise he will set manifesto on gay rights, before next month’s mayoral election, at a recent hosting. His four political rivals for the London Mayor’s job were quick to jump on the bandwagon at the gathering in London’s South Bank, brandishing Stonewall t-shirts and setting out their gay-friendly agendas to grab the pink vote and court the potential 350,000 gay voters in the city.

Former mayor and Labour candidate, Ken Livingstone told the audience Muslims have now become the target for the bigotry of right-wing groups that had been previously reserved for blacks, Irish and gays. He has promised to appoint a LGBT advisor if he is elected. Liberal Democrat candidate reveled he was bullied at school for being gay and pledged to stamp out homophobia and racism in the police force.

The CIT adverts may have become part of a media frenzy and vehicle for politicians’ hook, but the silver lining is the forum becomes open for discussion. Stonewall’s CEO, Ben Summerskill, made it clear he was happy to see that the main candidates for mayor are vying for the attention of LGBT Londoners.

Leading medical and psychiatric organisations reject the idea of a ‘cure’ for homosexuality, and believe this kind of practice only serves to breed a culture of prejudice. But if therapy could be effective to change the way we are, shouldn’t we start research into a cure for small-minded and bigoted behaviour?

Gay Chat News: Are you proud to be gay?

It’s a very wide and open question, but something that we here at Gay Chat Towers would be interested to hear about.

For me personally, I love being gay. I am an out and proud man, I love my boyfriend and openly show him affection when we’re out in public with no fear or trepidation. But, I realise I am living in London which is known to be more tolerant than most cities. I also have a good network of friends who accept me for who I am without question. I live in a protected, gay bubble where the heterosexual community poses no threat to my lifestyle or whom I love.

Londonis very different from Yorkshire where I grew up, holding hands with a person of the same sex in public could cause quite a lot of animosity and even violence from fellow residents. I find that lack of education; knowledge and exposure are key factors to homophobia. Think about how most parents react when we first come out as being gay. For mine, there were tears, tantrums, arguments and hurtful things said and done. But as time goes on, they saw that this is who I am. I am still their son and what does it matter who and of what sex I fall in love with?

But then I read stories of people in countries where being gay is punishable by death or lifetime imprisonment; people who fear to walk out of their own home in case they are attacked and tortured. Countries where government officials and religious bodies tell the populous that being gay is a choice and it is wrong. How can being gay truly be a choice? Would anyone choose a life of persecution, the loss of friends and family and fear of the world outside because of who they are? No one would put themselves through that if they could help it. Being gay was hard enough for me growing up in Yorkshire, so I can’t imagine just how bad it is in places like Uganda and some major Muslim countries. If being gay really was a choice, there would be no gay people living in those places at all.

But what about you? Where do you live and how has being gay affected your day-to-day life? I imagine the residents of San Francisco are only too happy to welcome another gay person into their protective care; but what about people who live inmiddle Americaand the deep south? From what I have read, these places still have low tolerance from what they consider “the norm”. Were you forced into a heterosexual union or even been sent to one of the clinics that say they can “cure” homosexuality? Maybe you have been fighting who you really are and have only just come out or are you still in the closet?

We all must face challenges in life and sometimes they can feel too hard to bear. We find a brick wall in front of us with no way of scaling it to get over to the other side. But there is more than one way to get over such obstacles. Most of the people on Maleforce will have gone through similar situations and had to face the wall. Just speak to them and ask. I’m sure most will have a story to tell. A lot of people will have pushed and shoved, knocked through the bricks one by one and fought their way to the other side. For me, I had my friends to help me through it and their faith in me gave me the strength I needed. And then there are the few people who don’t have the support of their peers, don’t have the tools to get through the wall and feel trapped in a place they don’t belong in. It is to those people who I say there is always hope and help out there. For the fortunate ones who don’t live in repressive countries where the internet is monitored and blocked, find a local support centre and speak to someone there. These are always confidential and can help with getting your life back on track and give you the tools to break down that wall.

Always try and remember that if you are gay, this can’t be changed – and why should it? You are a loving human being with the same rights as everyone else on this planet. And as terrible and futile as life can feel at times, remember that there is nothing wrong with you, the only wrong in this instance are certain people’s misguided views on homosexuality. This is changing rapidly and I honestly believe that in time, prejudice will be a thing of the past. Try and keep that in mind. They are the ones we should pity, as they are a dying breed whose beliefs are so wrong they are now being exposed for the evil bigots they truly are. Let that thought to spur you on, find people who can help you grow and get past a stage in your life that is being repressed by the smaller man.

I am a gay man and wouldn’t change it for the world.

Terry Gee

Gay Chat News: The BBC to deliver primetime gay show… finally!

In 1999 writer Russell T Davis (now known for Doctor Who and Torchwood) engaged, shocked and transformed the nation with Queer as Folk. Later to be remade for the American audience, it was first shown in theUKon Channel 4. Queer as Folk was met by high praise and stark controversy in the British press – but with millions tuning in to see the show; Queer as Folk became a triumph of broadcasting and a great step forward for more queer characters.

In the US the previous year, NBC had started the first series of soon-to-be hit comedy Will and Grace; a high camp and hilarious show about a gay guy living with his (usually) single best girl friend.

The wheels had been set in motion by the late 90s for networks and TV stations to say yay to gay and provide the viewing populous an insight into a world that before had only ever been about death and despair. As the years went on, more pro-gay programming and countless gay characters in films, soap operas and documentaries were brought into people’s home all across the US and Europe. Even the once stuffy BBC have had many gay characters on prime time television but have never broadcast a show that was solely about homo life… until now!

To fill the void of the soon to finish Friday night show, My Family – the BBC are bringing together My Family’s Robert Lindsay and Harry Potter’s Uncle Vernon – AKA Richard Griffiths – as a quirky gay couple in a brand new sitcom announced this week. “It’s slightly less than conventional in terms of the family set up but it’s the 21 century and things move one” said one BBC insider.

The new show will start filming in autumn with the working title: George and Bernard Shaw. So far the BBC are only committing themselves to a pilot, but if this works there’s no reason the show couldn’t run for eleven years just like it’s predecessor My Family.

I’m trying to reserve judgement until I’ve seen the show, but I am unsure whether moving the main character from one primetime programme (where he plays a straight father and devoted husband) to being shacked up with another man in the same timeslot on the same channel is the right thing to do. You would think that the core viewing audience is going to be the same and how differently can Robert’s character really be at that time? Perhaps his character is leaving the onscreen marriage to Zoe Wannamaker, coming out as being a gay man to live with a guy… but I can’t see that happening. Who know though – many more extraordinary things have happened on TV shows; Dallas – it was all a dream, Cheers – the doctor is going to get his own more popular show and let’s not even get started on Twin Peaks?

It is great though that the BBC is bringing a gay sitcom to their primetime audience and I am looking forward to seeing George and Bernard Shaw when it airs next year. Both actors are well known, talented and naturally funny so I have no doubt that they will make a storming piece of entertaining television. Now it’s down to the writing and the audience figures to see if this is sustainable.

Terry Gee

U.K. Sporting Bodies Sign Gay Charter

Gay rights campaigners have welcomed a new charter that aims to stamp out homophobia and transphobia within U.K. sports. The Charter for Action was signed this week by major sporting bodies including The Football Association, the England and Wales Cricket Board, the Rugby Football League and the Rugby Football Union.

They join the Lawn Tennis Association and the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) in being the first major sports to sign up to the initiative. Equalities minister Lynne Featherstone has urged more associations, groups and individuals to add their signatures.

“Sport should be about what you can do, not who you are. But too many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people feel that the sports field is not somewhere they can be themselves, and that prejudice and discrimination will mean their sexuality is always talked about more than their ability with a ball, bat or racket…” she said.

“Homophobia and transphobia has no place in sport and I’m delighted that so many sporting bodies are backing our campaign to stamp it out at all levels, from local parks to Olympic stadiums.”

Published this week, the charter is one part of a new action plan that sets out the government’s initiatives for supporting LGBT equality in the coming year.

Alex Horne, General Secretary of the Football Association, said “The FA and its stakeholders have worked hard over the years in providing football for all and ensuring that football stadia are open to everyone and are both family and LGTB friendly.

“We’ve seen real progress over the last 20 years when it comes to tackling racism and that’s something football should be proud of. We remain committed to our long-term goal of removing all forms of discrimination, such as homophobia, out of the game.”

We are all massive sports fans here in the gay chat team and have an appreciation for football, rugby, tennis etc that goes far beyond sitting on the sidelines! We’ve shown our support for the charter by visiting and liking the Charter for Action Facebook page. Why not sign up too and join us in supporting our out sports men and women? Game on!

Gary Cosby

Gaga Targets Gay Discrimination

Lady Gaga has scored yet another hit for gay rights by persuading retail giant Target to reconsider its funding of anti-gay causes. In return for the rights to sell an exclusive edition of the singer’s new album Born This Way, Target has also agreed to start donating to gay charities.

In a meeting that Gaga describes as being “intense” the Poker Face singer took Target to task over its funding of causes that advocate discrimination against gay people.

Target has previously come under fire for a $150,000 donation it made to U.S. political action group MN Forward who supported high profile Republican nominee Tom Emmer in his bid for governor, Minnesota in 2010.

Emmer is on record as supporting a state constitutional amendment banning civil recognition of same-sex marriages or its legal equivalent. It has been reported that Emmer’s bid campaign included funding to fiercely anti-gay Christian youth ministry You Can Run But You Can’t Hide International.

Despite publicly apologising for the donation Target has continued to support causes branded questionable by gay rights activists. The company does however pay benefits to partners of gay employees and staff members have praised the firm as a gay-friendly employer.

Gaga’s deal with Target includes a special edition of her forthcoming CD release Born This Way, which includes extra tracks and remixes exclusively available from the discount retailer. In return Target has agreed to discontinue funding causes with anti-gay links and instead fund more gay charities.

In an interview with Billboard, the 24-year-old superstar said: “That discussion was one of the most intense conversations I’ve ever had in a business meeting. Part of my deal with target is that they have to start affiliating themselves with LGBT charity groups and begin to reform and make amends for the mistakes they’ve made in the past… Our relationship is hinged upon their reform in the company to support the gay community and to redeem the mistakes they’ve made supporting those [antigay] groups.”

Here at the Haus of Gay Chat we already think Gaga is God, and the Target deal yet another example of her continued commitment to gay rights. We highly recommend rushing out and buying her new album when it’s released worldwide in May. Go gays! Go Gaga!

Gary Cosby

Story Update March 9, 2011 The partnership between Lady Gaga and Target has dissolved. No official statement has been made, however it has been reported that the deal was ended by mutual agreement. GC

UK Government Considers Gay Marriage Equality

The UK government has proposed lifting the ban on gay civil ceremonies being conducted in religious buildings. Amendments to the Equality Act that will allow religious elements in civil ceremonies will come into effect by the end of 2011.

In addition to the announcement the equalities minister, Lynne Featherstone, has divulged that a consultation will take place on the “next steps” towards marriage equality within England and Wales.

“Over the past few months I’ve spoken to a lot of LGB and T people and campaign groups, and it quickly became clear that there is a real desire to address the differences between civil marriage and civil partnerships,” the equalities minister said.

“I’m delighted to announce that we are going to be the first British government to formally look at what steps can be taken to address this.”

Gay rights campaigners welcomed the announcement but have criticised the amount of time it has taken the government to address the imbalances between civil partnerships and civil marriage.

Veteran gay rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell said there is no excuse for the delay in permitting religious civil partnership ceremonies.

“Allowing religious partnerships is long overdue. It was agreed by parliament nearly a year ago. There is no excuse for the government’s long delay in putting it into effect, “he said in response.

“Permitting faith organisations on making their own decision on whether to conduct same-sex civil partnerships is the democratic and decent thing to do. The current law prevents them from doing so, even if they want to.”

A recent poll taken by gay news website PinkNews.co.uk found that an overwhelming majority of its readers want the right to marry. Ninety-eight percent of the 800 readers polled said they wanted gay marriage equality with 77 per cent agreeing that the choice of marriage or civil partnerships should be open to all couples regardless of sexuality.

The Home Secretary, Theresa May said: “No religious group will be forced to host a civil partnership registration, but for those who wish to do so this is an important step forward.”

While none of us here in the gay chat team are planning on getting hitched anytime soon (we’re having too much fun being single!) we’re ecstatic about the announcement. It’s another important step towards gay equality. Bravo!

Gary Cosby

Malawi Gay couple sentenced to 14 years for ‘wedding’

A Malawi magistrate has made an ‘example’ of a gay couple sentencing them to a 14-year jail term with hard labour.

The case of Steven Monjeza, 26, and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, 20, has made headlines around the world since their incarceration last December.

Monejeza and Chimbalanga were held in a prison without bail for four and a half months after holding a ‘marriage’ ceremony in Blantyre. Gay sex and gay marriage is outlawed in Malawi.

Human rights organizations around the world called for pair to be released, with Human Rights Watch urging the Malawian president to intervene.

However, after pleading not guilty the couple were yesterday convicted of ‘unnatural acts and gross indecency’ and given a maximum prison sentence.

Associated Press has reported that the magistrate Nyakwawa Usiwa said: “I sentence you to 14 years imprisonment with hard labour each. That’s the maximum under the penal code.

“I will give you a scaring sentence so that the public be protected from people like you, so that we are not tempted to emulate this horrendous example”

All calls for the case to be overturned have been rejected by the Malawian government.

Following the ruling Malawian minister of information, Leckford Mwanza Thotho said: “What we are saying is that the ruling or the court proceeding as of today, reflects our tradition in Malawi. It just shows that the gay issue is against our culture in Malawi,”

Amnesty International’s deputy Africa director, Michelle Kagari responded: “Their human rights, the rights to freedom from discrimination, of conscience, expression and privacy have been flagrantly violated.”

Uganda is also ignoring international pressure to withdraw a bill that calls for the introduction of the death penalty for some homosexual acts – a move that has been condemned by the U.S. and various European countries.

The controversial bill is likely to be amended, Deputy Foreign Minister Henry Okello Oryem told the BBC earlier this year following President Barack Obama denouncing it as “odious”.

By Gary Cosby

For weekly gay news, chat and dating hook up at www.maleforce.com

 

New Minister for Equality’s anti-Gay voting record

Theresa May, the former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, has been appointed to the position of Home Secretary and Minster for Women and Equality.

In a move that will undoubtedly ruffle gay rights campaigners, Prime Minister David Cameron announced her appointment along with the rest of the new cabinet on Tuesday.

May’s voting record on gay rights could be construed as somewhat negative. In 1998 she voted against equalizing the age of consent and in 2008 she cast a no vote against the repeal of Section 28 – legislation that banned the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality in schools.

In 2001 and again the following year May voted against gay couples being allowed to adopt.

May did however vote in favour of Civil Partnerships, granting same-sex couples identical rights and responsibilities to that of civil marriage in 2004.

In 2008 as Shadow Leader of the House of Commons she voted in favour of a bill which proposed that IVF rights should require a male role model – discriminating against lesbian fertility rights.

May replaces Chris Grayling in the post of Home Secretary. Grayling, who hasn’t been allocated a new position, caused a media storm recently when he said that bed and breakfast owners should have the right to ban gay couples.

In an interview with PinkNews David Henry of gay rights group Outrage said May was “the wrong person for the job

“She’s always been against gay rights since I can remember. I’m pretty sure she’s opposed almost every gay rights measure.”

Gay lobbying group Stonewall have so far declined to officially comment on the Home Secretary’s appointment however a spokesperson told Pink News: “Both coalition parties made a number of promises to lesbian and gay voters during the campaign. We look forward to working with Teresa May to see them fulfilled.”

By Gary Cosby

For weekly gay news, chat and soundbites visit www.maleforce.com

Related link: http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2010/05/12/analysis-how-pro-gay-is-the-new-home-secretary-and-minister-for-equality-theresa-may/#

Election: Torys tackle latest Gay gaffe

David Cameron’s quest for the pink vote looks to be in serious jeopardy this week as yet another key Conservative party member expressed their anti-gay feelings.

It is the third time during the current campaign that a party member has publicly gaffed and embarrassed Cameron who has worked hard to convince gay voters that anti-gay attitudes within the Tory party have changed.
 
Philip Lardner, Conservative candidate for North Ayrshire and Arran, wrote on his campaign website that he could not accept gays as being normal – adding that “most” people would agree.

Mr Lardner told voters: “With experience as a teacher and a believer in parental rights and responsibilities, as your MP I will support the rights of parents and teachers to refuse to have their children taught that homosexuality is ‘normal’ behaviour or an equal lifestyle choice to traditional marriage.

“I will always support the rights of homosexuals to be treated within concepts of [common sense] equality and respect, and defend their rights to choose to live the way they want in private, but I will not accept that their behaviour is ‘normal’ or encourage children to indulge in it.”

The posting, headed “what I believe in” also included the view that the majority of the public believe homosexuality to be “somewhere between ‘unfortunate’ and ‘simply wrong'”.

David Cameron has said he took the decision to suspend and withdraw Landers candidacy “within minutes”.

As a consolation he added “I think people in the gay community know it is easier for people who are Conservative and gay to vote Conservative than at any time before.

“The Conservative Party has been on a journey. Has it been far enough and fast enough? Perhaps not, but it’s gone further than many other parties around the world.”

Within the last month two other key Conservative party members have made anti-gay statements embarrassing the Tory leader.

The shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling was forced to apologise after saying he supported the view that bed and breakfast owners should have the right to refuse gay guests.

Julian Lewis, the shadow Defence Minister commented that the gay age of consent should not have been lowered to 16 because it puts teenage males at “a seriously increased risk of HIV infection”.

Despite Cameron’s efforts gay support for The Conservatives seems to have nose-dived. A poll carried out last week by gay media site PinkNews.co.uk revealed that 58% of the 1,000 respondents intend to vote for the Liberal democrats in the forthcoming election. The Labour party achieved 21% and the Conservatives 9%.

The general election takes place on May 6th.

For weekly gay news, chat and soundbites visit maleforce.com

by Gary Cosby