Ryan’s out

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Ryan Atkin | Sky News | 17150

Gay Activist congratulates Ryan Atkin, England’s first openly gay professional official. The Football Association welcomed his revelation of his sexuality as a landmark sign of progress.

“Ryan’s declaration marks an important moment in the game and reinforces the fact that refereeing really is open to everyone,” said Neale Barry of the FA. “He believes people who are happy in their own skin perform better and I couldn’t agree more. Our role is to support all referees, aid their development, maximise their potential and, above all, help ensure their experiences are positive.”

“I myself have never been a victim of homophobic abuse but I am aware others have been. The biggest challenge I might face in the future as an openly gay referee would potentially be dealing with homophobia that could come from players, spectators and possibly even refereeing colleagues, though so far I have found officials within football to be very open-minded. It’s something the game can be proud of,” said Ryan.

https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/aug/10/ryan-atkin-first-openly-gay-professional-official-english-football-referee

Pride in Nepal

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Today | Uncredited photographer | Agence France Press | 17148

Nepal’s gay community marched through Kathmandu today, in an annual pride parade timed to coincide with the Hindu festival of Gai Jatra, which honours people who have died.

The gay community uses the festival to call attention to its demands for equal rights. About 1,500 people took part in the parade, paying tribute to members of LGBTI community who had died in 2017.

“Every year we celebrate a pride festival to show that we want to be recognised in this society with our different identity, that we are a part of this society,” said Pinky Gurung, president of the Blue Diamond Society, which is a gay rights organisation in Nepal.

Nepal has some of South Asia’s most progressive laws on homosexuality and transgender rights, but members of the community continue to face discrimination and live on the margins of society.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-4771494/Nepal-hosts-gay-pride-parade-demanding-equal-rights.html

Prison for Two Brewers arsonist

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Jason Fossett | Press Association | 17147

Jason Fossett has been jailed for life after setting fire to a busy south London gay bar, the Two Brewers in Clapham, for the second time.

Fossett piled rubbish against the fire exit of  before setting it alight and fleeing on March 20. He pleaded guilty to arson with intent to endanger life at Inner London Crown Court. He could not remember starting the fire after “having a couple of drinks”.

He was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum sentence of three years and 244 days.

He was traced through his bank card after CCTV footage showed him buying two drinks at the bar on the night of the arson.

Officers searched his home and found receipts from the Two Brewers for that night, and a red leather satchel which matched that seen on the CCTV.

In 2004, Fossett was jailed for eight years for targeting the same venue in an arson attack. Police said there was no suggestion the attacks were hate crimes, although Fossett’s motivation is not known.

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/man-jailed-for-life-for-setting-fire-to-busy-clapham-gay-bar-a-second-time-a3605851.html

Leo likes Belfast!

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Mr Varadkar (centre, in jeans) | Peter Morrison/Press Association  | 17146

Attending Belfast Pride yesterday, Republic of Ireland Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said it is “only a matter of time” until same sex marriage is legalised in Northern Ireland. Earlier, he attended a Gay Pride breakfast meeting at the Northern Whig bar in Belfast where he met gay members of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, pictured, and others.

The DUP did not oppose Mr Varadkar’s attendence at the event, but a small group of Free Presbyterians staged a protest across the road.

Asked if he believed gay marriage would be introduced in the North, Mr Varadkar – who is openly gay – replied: “I do, I think it’s only a matter of time. Of course, the decision is for the Northern Ireland Assembly. But I am confident that like other western European countries they will make that decision in due course.”

http://www.irishmirror.ie/news/irish-news/gay-marriage-varadkar-northern-ireland-10936013

It’s got to be gay, London tells developers

Gay bars in London are closing down at such an “alarming” rate that the redevelopment of the Joiners Arms, the east London gay pub, will only get the go-ahead if it includes an LGBT club venue. The mayor’s office will send an inspector to make sure it is gay enough!

Tower Hamlets council has told the developers of the Joiners site that their plans for offices and nine luxury flats will get planning permission only if it includes a pub that will “remain a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender-focused venue for a minimum of 12 years”.

Your Activist thinks that this is the first time such a condition has been included in planning approvals.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/aug/04/you-must-open-a-gay-venue-in-office-complex-planners-tell-developers

Normal for Norfolk?

National Trust members have reportedly quit over the charity’s decision to require volunteers at one property to wear LGBT lanyards.

Volunteers at Norfolk’s Felbrigg Hall were asked to wear the rainbow flag neckwear to celebrate the last lord of the manor, Robert Wyndham Ketton-Cremer, who was gay. The decision provoked a furious backlash from volunteers who accused the trust of “outing” the late owner and infringing on their political freedoms.

More than 240 members have since contacted the National Trust to revoke their membership over the issue.

Mr Wyndham Ketton-Cremer died in 1969, aged 63, just two years after homosexuality was decriminalised, and was featured in a short film last month narrated by Stephen Fry called The Unfinished Portrait, made for the National Trust as part of it’s Prejudice and Pride season, to mark 50 years since homosexuality was partially decriminalised.

Perhaps the National Trust should have run some gay awareness courses for its volunteers.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/hundreds-of-national-trust-members-quit-in-protest-over-gay-pride-campaign-a7878131.html

Gay cure pastor doesn’t get one

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Colin Robert Houston | Belfast Telegraph | 17143

Colin Robert Houston, a pastor and baggage handler, who offered to “cure” a homosexual colleague and complained about a pink tin of deodorant left on his work locker, lost his claim for unfair dismissal and religious belief discrimination.

The behaviour of the former UUP council candidate and preacher was revealed at an industrial tribunal he took against his employer at Belfast International Airport.

A bumper sticker bearing the slogan “I’m so gay I can’t even drive straight”, was stuck to his car. He told an openly gay colleague that there was a cure for gayness.

All of his claims were dismissed. The tribunal ruled that in view of all the complaints against him the temptation to end his contract “must have been overwhelming”.

http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/gay-cure-pastor-loses-unfair-dismissal-claim-over-belfast-airport-job-35998657.html

Gay blood ban relaxed in Wales

Wales is to follow England and Scotland in relaxing blood donation rules for gay and bisexual men and sex workers. As in England and Scotland, sex workers were previously not allowed to donate blood at all.

From early next year men who have sex with men will be able to give blood in Wales three months after their last sexual activity.

Currently gay and bisexual men have to abstain from sex for 12 months before they can give blood.

The Welsh Government is looking at more personalised risk assessments.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-40794104

Nigerian gays arrested at an HIV awareness event

More than 40 men were arrested at an HIV awareness event in Lagos, Nigeria over the weekend “for performing homosexual acts”, according to local police.
The arrested people are due to appear in court.

Homosexual acts are punishable by up to 14 years in jail in Nigeria, while gay marriage and displays of same-sex affection are also banned.

Some parts of Nigeria are under Sharia law where gay people face the death penalty.

Nigeria is a Commonwealth country with a population of around 170 million people.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-40774930

More to do, Forces

We all know how easy it is to gain “accreditation” for some kind of award by going through a questionnaire and ticking all the right boxes, and gaining an award for being a gay friendly employer because you have all the right words in your personnel policies.

What is really important is what things are actually like for gay and lesbian people where they work, and that often paints a completely different picture of so called award winning organisations.

The gap between the policy and reality is the measure of how much more there is still to do and achieve.

An SAS soldier claims underlying prejudice against gay personnel is hampering their promotion – despite a senior general saying he wants to spearhead sexual equality.

The decorated soldier says he was pushed aside for promotion to sergeant – despite his outstanding military pedigree on operations – because many senior officers refuse to accept gay soldiers in the elite regiment.

The experienced special forces Corporal was listed for a promotion board to sergeant after returning from operations last year, but while many of his colleagues were successful he failed and was told he needed to gain more time on operations.

But just three weeks after the promotion board sat the soldier, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, was told by a close friend that senior officers had discovered that he was gay and that had affected his chances.

Come on, Forces.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/07/30/sas-soldier-says-faced-anti-gay-discrimination/