Sunday, 4 March 2012

What's Happening, Hot Stuff?? 4/3/12

Welcome to this week’s WHHS! On a personal note, this week has seen the start of our mission to find as many of the 200 eggs hidden around London on ‘The Big Egg Hunt’! Catch up with our mission with our blog updates - first one tomorrow!!

Around the world, it has been another week where ‘gay’ has hit the headlines. In Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe used a speech at his 88th birthday party to attack the West and its promotion of equal rights for gays. According to New Zimbabwe, he told the reported 20,000 attendees: “We reject [gay marriage] outright and say to hell with you. “You, David Cameron, are you suggesting that you don’t know that or is it some kind of insanity or part of the culture of Europeans. “In their newspapers, that’s one of my sins. That I called [gays] worse than pigs and dogs because pigs know there are males and females.“ I won’t even call him a dog because my own dog will complain and say, but what have I done? It’s even in the Bible that you create through the system of marrying. That’s how we were born, so we reject that outright and say, to hell with you. “You are free as a man to marry a woman and that is what we follow. That’s what produced you and me. This kind of insanity is now part of the culture.” Insanity coming from a guy who rigs elections - why are we not surprised?

The organisers of Mr Gay World, being held on the 6th of April in Jo’burg, believe they had unveiled the first ever gay-themed billboard in Africa. The placard went up near Melrose Arch on M1 South in Johannesburg yesterday and is the competition’s second ‘first’ this year. Mr Gay World are also celebrating having its first ever black contestants in the 2012 event. Representatives had been confirmed from Namibia, South Africa, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe. Coenie Kukkuk, Africa Director for Mr. Gay World told “It’s a major development. It’s the first time that black Africans will participate, which sends out a powerful message of hope to LGBTI people in Africa.

As a South African man won Mr Gay World in 2010 and 2011, the country will host the competition again this year. The competition says it aims “to advance national and international gay rights through education and public performance”. Good luck to the contestants this year!!

Farhat Othaman, a former top Tunisian diplomat has sent an unprecedented open letter to Rashid Ghannouchi, founder and spiritual leader of the Islamist Ennahda party that now rules Tunisia, about the direction the country is going. Othaman was a senior diplomat who was unfairly dismissed by the administration of the former regime. In his letter he asks Ghannouchi to clarify the direction of Tunisia with respect to freedom of belief, speech, human and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights. Othaman praises Ghannouchi’s book, From the Experience of the Islamic Movement in Tunisia, largely seen as the ideological inspiration of the now-dominant Ennahda party, calling it visionary, democratic and transparent. ‘We have continuously defended the right of women and men to choose their own lifestyle, and we are against the imposition of the headscarf in the name of Islam,’ Rashid Ghannouchi famously said in an interview to Al Jazeera. However Othaman insists that certain ‘embarrassing yet inevitable questions’ must be addressed and clarified. He also asks if Ghannouchi accepts sexual freedom as a basic personal liberty without the state or religion interfering with it? Lastly he asks in his letter if Ennahda will remove legislation condemning homosexuality that was maintained by the previous regime? The questions come shortly after the first gay magazine (GayDayMag) in Tunisia was officially condemned on a popular TV programme by Tunisia’s human rights minister and official government spokesperson, Samir Dilou. The minister stated that ‘freedom of speech has limits’ and that homosexuality is an illness not a human right. It was also criticized by Amnesty International. Dilou’s statement directly contradicted previous assurances given by Ennahda officials that they would respect LGBT rights, although these were met with scepticism by some of Tunisia’s gay community. Insiders say life for Tunisian LGBT people has not changed since the revolution. The anti-gay French colonial law (Article 230), adopted and maintained by the previous regime, is still in effect and penalizes same-sex acts with up to three years imprisonment. So far it has not yet been repealed by the new government.

Fadi, the 23-year-old editor of GayDayMag whose magazine is celebrating its one year anniversary today, said via ‘The letter and its timing is most welcomed as it asks the unresponsive government to take a stand regarding human rights and freedom of expression.’ Fadi is worried that ‘Ennahda seems so far more concerned with polishing its image for the west saying it supports the rights of sexual minorities, while in reality party officials oppose it’. He said: ‘This was most clear when the human rights minister and spokesperson for the government, Samir Dilou recently declared he opposes the freedom of expression of the magazine and that homosexuality is not a human right but an illness that need medical treatment. ‘Now Othaman has urged Tunisia’s ruling party to clarify its position once and for all – does Ennahda support the universality of human rights and freedom of expression or oppose it?

In the UK, there have also been headlines made after a letter this month to Education Secretary Michael Gove about the ‘Pure Manhood’ booklet being used in school; Brendan Barber of the Trade Union Congress, wrote that the Equality Act 2010 meant: “Schools now have a legal duty to challenge all forms of prejudice. Such literature undermines this completely.” Gove was urged to clarify the government’s position on whether material like the booklet, “Pure Manhood: How to become the man God wants you to be” was ever allowed in a classroom. In reports, the Education Secretary was quoted as saying the principles enshrined in the Equality Act 2010 did not extend to the content of a school curriculum. In the full letter which only emerged later, Gove had gone on to add in the following sentence that “the way the curriculum is taught is covered by the provisions of the Act”. “If a school conveyed its beliefs in a way that involved haranguing, harassing or berating a gay or lesbian pupil or group of pupils then this would be unacceptable in any circumstances and is likely to constitute unlawful discrimination.” Interestingly that means it's down to schools and essentially the head teacher.

Let’s just hope there aren’t too many head teachers like the high school principal in the US state of Tennessee - there are allegations she told gays students they were ‘going to hell’. The Jackson Sun reported that Dorothy Bond of the Haywood County High School had resigned yesterday. The Board said: “The Haywood County Board of Education acknowledges its student body’s right to free speech. “Further, the Haywood County Board of Education strives to provide an atmosphere of tolerance and diversity while maintaining high academic standards.” Bond was alleged to have made homophobic comments in a meeting with students but has not responded personally to the reports. Reports also emerged of the assembly in February at which Bond was said to have told gay students were “not on God’s path” and that they were “ruining their lives.” The American Civil Liberties Union said today it had received reports that Bond told gay students they could be suspended or expelled for physical contact. Wow she must hate watching Glee! Further to that, one parent said: “A couple of years ago when she was principal over at Sunny Hill one of my children had his hair in braids. At an assembly she told the young men if they’re sitting between the legs of a girl getting their hair braided for a few hours, that they must be gay.” – this woman speaks sense – NOT!!!!

Also stateside, Kirk Cameron, a child actor from Growing Pains in the 90's, was interviewed by Piers Morgan and when questioned, stated that he thought American society was suffering like a rotten apple and that homosexuality and gay marriage is wrong. Regarding homosexuality, the child actor said "I think that it's — it's — it's unnatural. I think that it's — it's detrimental, and ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization." It's a good thing we really don't care about the opinion of a has-been radical child actor. Regarding marriage, "marriage was defined by God a long time ago. Marriage is almost as old as dirt, and it was defined in the garden between Adam and Eve — one man, one woman for life till death do you part. So I would never attempt to try to redefine marriage. And I don't think anyone else should either. So do I support the idea of gay marriage? No, I don't." And finally, the worst one for us, if one of his six kids turns out to be gay, Cameron "wouldn't say 'That's great, son, as long as you're happy.' There are all sorts of issues that we need to wrestle through in our life. And just because you feel one way doesn't mean we should act on everything we feel." As one of our tweeters put it: 'I know Growing Pains was only a TV show, but I have to think both Alan Thicke & Joanna Kerns must feel they failed as parents tonight.' Hahahaha, Amen, Twitter.

On the positive side, George Clooney has said he will never furiously deny rumours that he might be gay because it would be ‘unfair and unkind’ to the gay community to give someone the opportunity to make it ‘seem like being gay is a bad thing’. Talking to the Advocate, the actor, now 50, says he believes equality “will soon be the law of the land”. On marriage, Clooney is clear that he believes it is a civil rights issue to give gays the same rights as straight couples. He said: “When you say someone chose to be gay [...] you can say that it not a civil rights issue. But I believe that portion of the argument is so rapidly changing, especially with young people. Once that’s absorbed, when people realize that you don’t just wake up and decide to be gay, I believe that the next step will follow very naturally. “We’ve had a very successful past few years. People get frustrated with the Obama administration, but “don’t ask, don’t tell” is gone, and a lot of states are changing their policies on marriage equality. I’m very optimistic that equality will soon be the law of the land.” Clooney has long been a vocal supporter of equal marriage and said Republican presidential campaign hopeful Mitt Romney was “on the wrong side of history” for his stance on the issue. Seriously, could he get any more dreamy?
Well, hello there, Mr. Clooney
On the Clooney note, he appeared in a production of Dustin Lance Black’s play about California’s Proposition 8 public ballot on gay marriage this weekend. Featuring Brad Pitt as Judge Vaughn Walker, '8' tells how the California ballot measure which revoked gay citizens’ right to marry was ruled unconstitutional for the first time in 2010. Actor, director and AFER co-founder Rob Reiner said: "I hope you’ll join me, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Martin Sheen, Kevin Bacon, John C Reilly, Jamie Lee Curtis, Christine Lahti, Jane Lynch, Matthew Morrison, Chris Colfer and Jessie Tyler Ferguson. “You see we had a problem, we couldn’t find any famous people to be in the play.” The play, '8', focuses on the trial’s historic closing arguments in the summer of 2010. Matt Bomer, the White Collar actor who recently confirmed he was gay, also appeared.

You can watch the Youtube video here but be warned it's almost 122 minutes long!

WikiQueer, a gay, bi and trans online encyclopedia has launched publicly this week. The wiki site began collating content after its soft-launch last year and has now gone live. Unlike Wikipedia, WikiQueer says it will allow dynamic content from existing online LGBT and wiki projects, content geared towards activism around issues, and in-depth information on the LGBT communities which may not presently meet Wikipedia’s notability standards. WikiQueer founder and lead administrator, Gregory Varnum said: “I felt drawn to the concept of presenting LGBT information via wikis for years. Helping with dozens of pages and projects on Wikipedia and assisting with the development of specialized LGBT wiki projects fulfilled some of that. However, I consistently came back to the need for a truly comprehensive wiki by and for the LGBT communities, free of any community politics.” 

Rick Santorum has said that if he is elected, he will try to 'unmarry' the over 100,000 legally married gay couples in the United States. The Advocate reports: During an interview with NBC News December 30, Santorum said that when the U.S. Constitution is amended to prohibit same-gender marriages, "their marriage would be invalid. We can't have 50 different marriage laws in this country," he said. "You have to have one marriage law." We agree there should be one marriage law, but that law should be inclusive of all American citizens!!! It is one thing to not agree with gay marriage - but to turn around to all the couples legally married and tell them their marriages aren't valid anymore?? That is unthinkable, and proves just what a horrible, radical and ignorant person Rick Santorum is. Read our earlier post about him here!

Finally, here's something to make you smile, no matter what side of the god/no-god debate you're on! A solid argument for the existence of God, and the atheist's worst nightmare: a banana. Thanks, Kirk Cameron!

So there we have it, this week's round-up, and a fairly global one at that! Hope you've enjoyed our soapbox issues :)

Sarah and Laura


  1. It still seems madness that in 2012 people have such a problem with gay marriage :( it's good to see more and more us states making it legal though :)
    S xx

  2. Great post! Love that all of the A-list celebs are advocating for equality... makes Kirk Cameron's homophobic interview obsolete. Did you hear about his old co-star, Tracy Gold? She, thank goodness, has common sense. She is a big supporter!

  3. Great update! I never find the time to do the proper Gay Rights Roundup that I wish, I think I will link to your posts for more news? :)

    M x


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