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/#

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Senior Tory: Hotels can discriminate against Gays

Gay couples cautious about jumping into bed with the Conservatives at the forthcoming general election could only raise a wry knowing smile at the latest Tory gay gaffe.

Shadow home secretary Chris Graying has said he understands and supports Christian hotel owners who refuse to accommodate gay and lesbian couples.

The senior conservative was secretly recorded last week disagreeing with an equality law that protects gays from such discrimination – a law he had voted for.

In regards to the case of Christian couple Mike and Susanne Wilkinson, who recently turned a male gay couple away from their Berkshire B&B, Graying said he felt they should have the right to do so.

“I think we need to allow people to have their own consciences. I personally always took the view that, if you look at the case of should a Christian hotel owner have the right to exclude a gay couple from a hotel, I took the view that if it’s a question of somebody who’s doing a B&B in their own home, that individual should have the right to decide who does and who doesn’t come into their own home.”, he said at a Centre for Policy Studies think-tank.

“If they are running a hotel on the High Street, I really don’t think that it is right in this day and age that a gay couple should walk into a hotel and be turned away because they are a gay couple, and I think that is where the dividing line comes.”

His comments have caused anger among gay rights groups and embarrassed Tory leader David Cameron – currently wooing the gay vote.

Gay equality campaigners believe Graying’s opinion defies the equality Act 2006, which outlaws discrimination on goods and services on the grounds of sexual orientation.

Former Prime Minister and Conservative member of parliament William Hague defended Graying during an interview on BBC Radio 4 saying: “He supported the law then and he supports the law now and he will support it in future. He’s made clear that he’s not looking for a change to the law.” Adding: “I know him as a very valued colleague.”

By Gary Cosby

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

UK introduces new law to protect against Anti-Gay hatred

A new law which criminalises incitement to homophobic hatred could land perpetrators with a fine or prison sentence of up to seven years.

The new offence of using threatening language with intent to provoke hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation came into effect this week and has been welcomed by gay rights groups.

Ben Summerskill, chief executive of Stonewall, the UK’s leading lesbian, gay and bisexual charity said: “The newly-extended criminal offence of incitement to hatred will go some way towards addressing the hatred and violence directed towards lesbians, gay men and bisexuals in Britain at a time when homophobic attacks are on the increase.

“It sends a strong signal that such behaviour is unacceptable in a civilised society. Just like race, a person’s sexual orientation is an intrinsic characteristic for which no citizen should ever feel under threat of verbal or physical violence”

The new legislation is aimed at offenders who incite genuine hatred and does not extend to all criticism or the telling of jokes with a homosexual theme by comedians.

A ‘free speech’ amendment was recently included to the measure after religious leaders and comedians expressed concern that they could face prosecution under it.

Stonewall branded the concerns alarmist: “The important new offence will help prevent and tackle acts of serious hatred against individuals defined by reference to their sexual orientation, with a high threshold for prosecutions which must be approved by the Attorney General and heard before a jury” they explained.

Throughout their campaign for the legal change Stonewall says it uncovered a range of extreme websites and material stirring up hatred against gays and lesbians.

“This new legislation will send a strong positive signal, encouraging more lesbian, gay and bisexual people to report hate incidents. Gay people are entitled to live without fear like everyone else”

By Gary Cosby

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

London to protest over gay Malawi couples’ imprisonment

Malawi may have come to the world’s attention recently via a certain pop star’s adoption escapades; however a far more disturbing event is currently bringing it world-wide condemnation.

Two of the countries gay citizens, Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga have been held in police custody since last December – their crime? – holding a traditional wedding ceremony.

Being gay is a criminal offence in Malawi. The couple is now facing up to 14 years in jail if convicted.

Information Minister Leckford Mwanza Thoto defended the decision saying: “Our laws criminalise homosexuality and what the two did was clearly breaking the laws of Malawi.”

Malawi is a member of The Commonwealth.

Despite being dependant on foreign aid (mostly from the UK) the country’s government has rejected international concern saying that Malawi is a sovereign country with its own laws and that it will not be influenced by the West in the running of its affairs of state.

Amnesty International is calling for immediate release of the couple. The group’s UK Director Kate Allen said: “The arrest of the two men solely for their real or perceived sexual orientation amounts to discrimination and it is in violation of their rights to freedom of conscience, expression, and privacy.”

Having twice been denied bail Monjeza and Chimbalanga are pleading not guilty to charges of gross indecency.

A protest, organized by several gay groups, is being held in central London on Monday – the day a verdict on the case is expected.

“We want Steven and Tiowonge released, all charges against them dropped and the repeal of Malawi’s anti-homosexuality laws

“These laws violate the equality and non-discrimination provisions of Article 20 of the Malawian Constitution and Articles 2, 3 and 4 and the African Charter of Human and People’s Rights, which Malawi has signed and pledged to uphold,” said gay activist and co-organiser of Monday’s protest, Peter Tatchell.

“The Commonwealth Secretary-General, Kamalesh Sharma, has failed to speak out loudly against the arrest and jailing of Steven and Tiwonge, even though equality and human rights are supposed to be key Commonwealth principles,” he added.

The protest is scheduled to take place outside the Commonwealth Secretariat’s head office in central London.

By Gary Cosby

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

Ben & Jerry’s Gay wedding

In September last year Ben & Jerry’s sweetened up the gay marriage debate by rebranding their ‘Chubby Hubby’ ice cream as ‘Hubby Hubby’ in support of same-sex unions.

Back then, In a statement issued by the company, Walt Freese, Chief Executive Officer of Ben & Jerry’s said “At the core of Ben & Jerry’s values, we believe that social justice can and should be something that every human being is entitled to. From the very beginning of our 30 year history, we have supported equal rights for all people. The legalization of marriage for gay and lesbian couples in Vermont (Ben & Jerry’s home state) is certainly a step in the right direction and something worth celebrating with peace, love and plenty of ice cream.”

In honour of the legalization of gay marriage in Wahington D.C last week resident Ben & Jerry’s super-fans Keith Spangler-Vellios and Andreas Vellios decided to return the favour by tieing the knot at their local parlour.

The new law, approved in December, came into effect just last week. Ben & Jerry’s cofounder David Catania attended the ceremony.

“Equal rights and treatment for all people was a founding principle of Ben & Jerry’s when we started the company over 30 years ago,” Jerry Greenfield, cofounder of Ben & Jerry’s, said in a statement.

“We are proud that the District of Columbia is recognizing the rights of gay and lesbian couples to marry and are happy to celebrate the milestone with an ice cream wedding cake and best wishes for the happy couple.”

The district now joins Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont as the only places in America where gay marriages can be conducted.

By Gary Cosby

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

Gay church weddings get House of Lords blessing

Gay men and women can now marry in churches after the House of Lords voted in favour of lifting the ban on religious premises hosting same-sex unions.

An amendment to the Equality Bill, tabled by out Muslim peer Waheed Alli, received overwhelming support in the Lords which includes senior clergy in the Church of England.

Still pending House of Commons approval, the amendment gives religious venues the option to host civil partnership ceremonies.

Currently legislation forbids religious premises to conduct gay unions; however various liberal denominations have been blessing gay partnerships once a civil ceremony has already taken place.

In an interview with The Independent Lord Alli rebuked suggestion that the amendment means churches will be eventually forced to accept gay marriage.

“Religious freedom cannot begin and end with what one religion wants,” he said. “This amendment does not place an obligation on any religious organisation to host civil partnerships in their buildings. But there are many gay and lesbian couples who want to share their civil partnership with the congregations that they worship with. And there are a number of religious organisations that want to allow gay and lesbian couples to do exactly that.”

Although the amendment was backed by senior bishops in the Lords it has been strongly opposed by conservative Christians.

Andrea Williams, of the Christian Legal Centre told The Times: “What is being advanced as an issue of religious freedom today will be used to remove religious freedom in the future.

“Homosexual activists have made clear that this is not the end. It is a step towards forcing churches to conduct same-sex unions that would go against their beliefs. Changing the law will further blur the distinction between marriage and what the Government put forward as a purely secular ceremony.”

The Quakers, Liberal Judaism and The Unitarians have welcomed the amendment.

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

By Gary Cosby

Related Link: 

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article7037062.ece

Pope’s stance on gay equality laws sparks protests

A comment by the Pope believed to be aimed at a proposed bill amendment, whereby the church would be forced to employ gay people, has caused a media sensation and protests over his forthcoming state-funded visit.

The Equality bill, which protects against discrimination in employment on grounds of sexuality, was criticized by the pontiff as imposing unjust limitations on the freedom of the church to act in accordance with its beliefs.

New provisions in the bill would have narrowed the special exemption enjoyed by churches allowing them to exclude people whose lifestyles do not fit in with the religious ethos of an organisation when hiring staff.

In a communiqué to Catholic bishops in England and Wales the pontiff said: “Your country is well known for its firm commitment to equality of opportunity for all members of society.

“Yet as you have rightly pointed out, the effect of some of the legislation designed to achieve this goal has been to impose unjust limitations on the freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs. In some respects it actually violates the natural law upon which the equality of all human beings is grounded and by which it is guaranteed.”

He goes on to urge bishops to defend the church’s “moral teachings” and says “Fidelity to the gospel in no way restricts the freedom of others – on the contrary, it serves their freedom by offering them the truth.”

The statement has caused a media storm in the past week with a petition protesting against a state-funded papal visit, scheduled for September, attracting over 7,000 signatures.

The National Secular Society predicts the visit could cost the tax payer up to £20 million. President Terry Sanderson told PinkNews.co.uk he expected to see 10,000 signatures on the petition by the end of this week.

He said: : “I don’t think the government and the church have realised the level of anger from the public – not just over the Equality Bill but also the child abuse scandal. There has been no apology to victims, no compensation.

“And the Catholics in the pews just don’t abide by what the Pope says. They are appalled at the aggressiveness of the church towards homosexuality and also over the church’s pronouncements on condom use against AIDS in Africa.

“This is a PR disaster for the Pope, and he specialises in them. His reactionary nature drives people away.”

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

by Gary Cosby