Human Rights Court ticks Russia off

Europe’s top human rights court ruled on Tuesday that Russia’s prohibition of “the promotion of homosexuality” discriminates and violates freedom of expression.

The prohibition became Russian law in 2013.

The case was brought to the court by three gay activists in Russia.

The European Court of Human Rights found that “the very purpose of the laws and the way they were formulated and applied” was “discriminatory and, over all, served no legitimate public interest” and ordered Russia to pay the men a total of 43,000 euros in damages.

The three activists who sued were Nikolai V. Bayev, 42; Aleksei A. Kiselev, 33; and Nikolai A. Alekseyev, 39. They had staged demonstrations from 2009 to 2012 in the cities of Ryazan, Arkhangelsk and St. Petersburg, carrying banners stating that homosexuality is natural, and not a perversion. They were arrested and fined.

Hague Court asked to look at Chechnya’s “genocide”

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Recent protest in Berlin | AFP | 17091

Three French gay rights groups have filed a complaint at the International Criminal Court accusing Chechnya of the genocide of gay people.

They blamed Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov and state officials for a “wave of persecution”, and cited the case of a teenage male thrown out of a ninth-storey window, allegedly because of his sexuality.

The three French groups want the International Criminal Court in The Hague to start work before Russia withdraws from its jurisdiction in November.

There’s the problem.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-39937107

Where we are on gay rights

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ILGA | 17090

Sweden has failed to make any progress in the newest edition of a review of European LGBTI human rights, continuing in 12th place as the worst performer in Scandinavia as other countries introduce more comprehensive policies, reports The Local.

Sweden was once considered to be the top country in Scandinavia and the fourth best in Europe for gay rights, but it fell to 12th position in 2016 and has failed to improve this year according to ILGA-Europe.

“Sweden has remained in the upper ‘green’ section of our Rainbow Europe Map for several years. Of course that’s a positive thing, but other countries have bypassed them on the ranking by introducing more comprehensive, inclusive laws and policies,” said ILGA’s Emma Cassidy.

The ILGA Rainbow Index gives a % for each country to indicate how equal gay citizens are with other citizens in those countries. Malta is ahead at 88% while the UK has reached 76%. For Russia, the figure is merely 6% and Turkey is little better at 9%.

https://www.thelocal.se/20170517/sweden-stagnates-in-european-gay-rights-rankings

Kirk criticised

The Church of Scotland has been asked to apologise for its “history of discrimination” against homosexual people and could be a step closer to allowing ministers to perform same-sex marriages.

A report by the Theological Forum of the Church of Scotland to be debated at the Kirk’s General Assembly in May proposes having a church committee research allowing nominated ministers and deacons to carry out the ceremonies while retaining the ability for “contentious refusal” from those opposed to same-sex marriage.

The report also calls for “the Church to take stock of its history of discrimination at different levels and in different ways against gay people and to apologise individually and corporately and seek to do better”.

http://www.scotsman.com/news/church-of-scotland-urged-to-apologise-for-gay-discrimination-1-4422320

More to do

Writing for Third Sector, Kevin Curley notes that

It is 50 years since the Sexual Offences Act 1967 decriminalised male homosexuality in England and Wales. The extent to which our society has changed since then is illustrated by the fact that the Westminster parliament, with 35 out gay MPs, is the most diverse of any in the world in terms of sexual orientation. But many challenges remain for those from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning and others community.

Giving young people support and safe places is a constant theme in my conversations with local activists. So too is the need to challenge prejudice. Proud2Be’s Price says it’s a misconception that “the battle for LGBTQ+ rights has been won”. He says there have been great advancements in terms of securing equality under the law, but “we are by no means there yet”.

Brooke shows me the videos produced with her young members and says: “We are a long way from achieving equality in practice.”

http://www.thirdsector.co.uk/kevin-curley-battle-gay-rights-long-go/local-action/article/1427131

Omelettes all round in Boston!

A South Boston veterans council, facing withering criticism, reversed course on Friday and extended an unconditional invitation to the group of gay veterans it had barred from marching in Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day parade.

OUTVETS, a group of LGBT veterans, will now march in the March 19 parade with its rainbow banner and logo, a point of contention that the Allied War Veterans Council had cited when it voted on Tuesday to reject the organization.

The war veterans council on Friday night agreed unanimously to invite OUTVETS to the parade with no restrictions on the display of the rainbow flag.

And they have enough egg on their faces to provide plenty of free omelettes.

https://www.bostonglobe.com/2017/03/10/parade-organizers-expected-reconsider-ban-group-gay-veterans/WXMJYWaH9ydN5aDCl8w8eK/story.html

Here we (don’t) go again…

Some of Massachusetts’s top politicians said today that they would not attend the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in South Boston after organizers told a group of gay and transgender military veterans that they would not be allowed to march on March 17. For two years they have been included in the event.

The parade organizers, the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council, voted 9 to 4 to exclude OutVets. Dan Magoon, the executive director of Massachusetts Fallen Heroes, resigned as the parade’s chief marshal over that decision.

The Allied War Veterans Council says the parade does not ban gay groups, but it “will not allow the advertisement or display of one’s sexual orientation as a topic that should in any way be depicted as a theme of our parade.”

Sponsors of the parade began to drop out today. The supermarket Stop & Shop said it would no longer sponsor the parade, and Anheuser-Busch said it was “evaluating” its continued participation in the event.

The committee may rethink the matter tomorrow.

Tanzania: the new terrorists

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Undated | Uncredited | Picture Alliance/DPA

On Saturday, Tanzania announced it will publish a list of gay people allegedly selling sex online. Just days ago the government shut down dozens of AIDS clinics which it accused of promoting homosexuality.

Deputy Health Minister Hamisi Kigwangalla wrote on Twitter that his government was investigating “the homosexuality syndicate” and would arrest and prosecute those involved in the gay sex business. “I will publish a list of gay people selling their bodies online,” Kigwangalla wrote. “Those who think this campaign is a joke, are wrong. The government has long arms and it will quietly arrest all those involved. Once arrested, they will help us find others.”

Tazanian men suspected of being gay have been detained and taken to hospitals for an anal examination to find out if they are homosexual.

Tanzania is still in the Commonwealth.

Last year there was pressure on the UK Government to review its foreign aid to Tanzania, which was around £200,000,000 a year.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/04/02/britain-under-pressure-to-review-200-million-aid-for-tanzania-af/

http://www.dw.com/en/tanzania-threatens-to-publish-gay-list/a-37616326

Football gets red card for homophobia from MPs

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Nigel Owens | Sky | 17029

Football and other sport fans who hurl homophobic abuse should be handed immediate and “lengthy” stadium bans in a “zero tolerance” approach. The Culture, Media and Sports Committee said attitudes towards gay people within sport – particularly football – are “out of step” with wider society.

They were “particularly disturbed” by the inclusion of boxer Tyson Fury on the shortlist of the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year in 2015, despite his history of homophobic comments.

Football had a “problematic” history with homophobia, with anti-gay chants “relatively commonplace” at games, and homophobic leaflets were reported to have been handed out outside West Ham United’s ground in 2016.

Citing surveys which suggest that 72% of football fans have heard homophobic abuse at matches, MPs said they were “concerned” it was not taken seriously enough.

10 years ago, international rugby referee Nigel Owens came out as gay. His courage helped other players come forward and break down barriers within rugby. He agreed there should be “zero tolerance” towards homophobia.

There are no openly gay footballers in the Premier League, and MPs said attitudes inside clubs could be part of the problem; and some sports are being “robbed of talent” because of a high drop-out rate among young gay members.

http://news.sky.com/story/homophobic-abuse-should-merit-a-lengthy-stadium-ban-mps-warn-10763846

Tory MP slams his party for section 28

Conservative MP Iain Stewart, the MP for Milton Keynes South, told Parliament how he questioned whether he would be able to pursue his dream of entering politics because he feared a backlash over his sexuality. He worried about being “cast aside”. Homophobic bullying was rife while he was a boy at school in Glasgow, and it took him many years to get over the feeling of being different and isolated.

Then he criticised the Tories’ defeated and discredited section 28 legislation introduced by Margaret Thatcher’s government banning schools and councils from promoting homosexuality.

“Just looking at a career you want to pursue, and thinking you can’t, is very damaging. I, for a long time in my teenage years and early 20s when I decided that politics was my passion and this was a career I wanted to pursue, I did think for a time, “actually I can’t do it”. I would live in fear of being revealed for who I was, something that was so innate in me – I can’t change being gay, that’s the way I was born. It’s as natural as being left-handed, right-handed, or the colour of your hair, or whatever. But I felt I can’t pursue a career in politics because I’m so afraid that I’d be cast aside and prevented from doing it, exposed, whatever, because of who I was. And that was in the late 1980s, early 1990s.”

That’s why we fought it.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/gay-tory-mp-iain-stewart-conservative-party-never-underestimate-damage-done-by-article-28-a7537556.html