I knew we Tucsonans are pretty proud of our fun little city, but there is a whole gay world out there full of amazing people and we should know a little about their lives. With that in mind, I present to you the Gay News section; a few of my favorite news sources talking about Gay News and Events around the world. Check back regularly for constantly updated news and information that truly matters.
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I’ve always struggled with my sexuality, but my family now sets an example to my son to be proud of who he is
My name is Patrick, I am 32 years old and a trainee paramedic who lives a lucky but otherwise unremarkable existence. When I first heard about the idea of gay marriage a few years back, I was against the idea. Not because of religious reasons or prejudice, but because I felt like gays had enough rights and shouldn’t be asking too much. Close enough is good enough, I thought. Before you wish upon me the headbutt of a bearded anarchist, consider two things: firstly, I am gay. Secondly, my views have drastically changed since then. I wanted to tell you why.
My former colleague Richard Smith, who has died of a haemorrhage aged 49, was one of the brightest stars of gay journalism. His passionate and often merciless pop music criticism was expressed in a sparkling style full of humour, humanity and literary allusion. It was also a vehicle for examining his personal journey from loneliness and isolation to fulfilment and comradeship. He laid his life on the page and it won him legions of fans.
Richard was born in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, to Marion (nee Scourfield), a probation officer, and Terence Barriston Smith, head of computer services at the BBC, and attended Dr Challoner’s grammar school in Amersham. He spent two years studying English literature at Sussex University and was active in the student LGB society, particularly during the campaign against section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988, which prohibited local authorities from “promoting” homosexuality. It was repealed in 2003.
Decision by Tower Hamlets council thought to be first time the sexual orientation of a venue’s target market has been condition of planning approval
The redevelopment of a popular gay bar in east London into a complex of luxury apartments must include an LGBT club for at least 25 years, councillors have ruled, in a landmark decision designed to stem the “shocking” closure of gay venues in the UK.
Tower Hamlets council voted unanimously that the demolition of the Joiners Arms – which counted Alexander McQueen, Rufus Wainwright and Sir Ian McKellen among its regulars – could only go ahead if the development that replaced it contained a late-night LGBT venue.
Salman Rushdie’s uninformed views on gender reassignment surgery are a distraction from the real dangers: ignorance, hate and a lack of vital support
Salman Rushdie’s new novel apparently touches on gender identity. That’s all very well. But it’s a shame that when asked for his views on the subject he takes aim at a scenario that is, to all intents and purposes, imaginary. “I have quite strong views about the over-insistence on these issues,” he says, “particularly when you get down to very young people. If there’s a boy who likes playing with dolls and wearing pink shirts it shouldn’t necessarily mean that he has to have gender reassignment surgery.”
Anyone who has conducted a modicum of research into the issues trans people face will know it is already tough to access gender reassignment surgery even as an adult. Money helps, of course. Figures on the number of very young people having gender reassignment surgery each year are also easy to uncover.
On Wednesday Anglicare Australia, which is made up of representatives from the charity’s state bodies, tweeted that it “hasn’t donated to the no campaign” and wasn’t “a party to the Sydney diocese’s decision to make a donation”.
Being openly trans in Colombia is dangerous. The country ranks fourth in the world for the murder of transgender people. Across Latin America, the life expectancy of trans women – due to violence, poverty and the risk of HIV – is estimated at between 35 and 41 years. Attitudes are slowly beginning to change, however, as trans men and women speak out against attacks and discrimination
Immigration minister says it is parliament’s responsibility to protect clerics, celebrants, wedding cake makers and flower sellers
Peter Dutton says he will work to boost protections for religious freedom if the yes vote prevails in the same-sex marriage postal survey, but has conceded it will be “difficult” getting the protections through parliament.
Revealing that he had spoken to former prime minister John Howard, who has been a loud voice calling for the Turnbull government to clarify its stance on religious freedom in any same sex-marriage legislation, Dutton said he believed the yes camp would prevail in coming weeks.
Last month, two MPs of Sikh faith fired off a letter – signed by their 140 colleagues – to the head of the Office for National Statistics, asking him to introduce a separate tick-box for Sikh ethnicity on the 2021 census form. This is despite the fact that the Sikhs are not an ethnic group. How can they be when their “ethnicity” is shared by Muslims and Hindus too? Like their Hindu and Muslim counterparts, they are, and will continue to remain, Punjabis. Any attempt to describe them as anything other than Punjabi would be tantamount to redefining the term “ethnicity”.
Alexis Tsipras rallies parliament to endorse policies permitting people to change gender on official documents without sterilisation
Greece’s leftwing government has passed legislation enabling citizens to determine their gender identity amid fierce condemnation from the Orthodox church and accusations the law would “destroy human beings”.
After two days of highly charged debate, the prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, rallied parliament to endorse policies that would permit people to legally change their gender on all official documents without undergoing sterilisation.
(Beirut) – Some Saudi state clerics and institutions incite hatred and discrimination against religious minorities, including the country’s Shia Muslim minority, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.
The 62-page report, “‘They Are Not Our Brothers’: Hate Speech by Saudi Officials,” documents that Saudi Arabia has permitted government-appointed religious scholars and clerics to refer to religious minorities in derogatory terms or demonize them in official documents and religious rulings that influence government decision-making. In recent years, government clerics and others have used the internet and social media to demonize and incite hatred against Shia Muslims and others who do not conform to their views.
“Saudi Arabia has relentlessly promoted a reform narrative in recent years, yet it allows government-affiliated clerics and textbooks to openly demonize religious minorities such as Shia,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “This hate speech prolongs the systematic discrimination against the Shia minority and – at its worst – is employed by violent groups who attack them.”
Human Rights Watch found that the incitement, along with anti-Shia bias in the criminal justice system and the Education Ministry’s religion curriculum, is instrumental in enforcing discrimination against Saudi Shia citizens. Human Rights Watch recently documented derogatory references to other religious affiliations, including Judaism, Christianity, and Sufi Islam in the country’s religious education curriculum.
Government clerics, all of whom are Sunni, often refer to Shia as rafidha or rawafidh (rejectionists) and stigmatize their beliefs and practices. They have also condemned mixing and intermarriage. One member of Saudi Arabia’s Council of Senior Religious Scholars, the country’s highest religious body, responded in a public meeting to a question about Shia Muslims by stating that “they are not our brothers ... rather they are brothers of Satan…”.
Such hate speech may have fatal consequences when armed groups such as the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, or Al-Qaeda use it to justify targeting Shia civilians. Since mid-2015, ISIS has attacked six Shia mosques and religious buildings in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province and Najran, killing more than 40 people. ISIS news releases claiming these attacks stated that the attackers were targeting “edifices of shirk,”(polytheism), and rafidha, terms used in Saudi religious education textbooks to target Shia.
Saudi Arabia’s former grand mufti, Abdulaziz Bin Baz, who died in 1999, condemned Shia in numerous religious rulings. Bin Baz’s body of fatwas and writings remain publicly available on the website of Saudi Arabia’s Permanent Committee for Islamic Research and Issuing Fatwas.
Some clerics use language that suggests Shia are part of a conspiracy against the state, a domestic fifth column for Iran, and disloyal by nature. The government also allows other clerics with enormous social media followings – some in the millions – and media outlets to stigmatize Shia with impunity.
Anti-Shia bias extends to the Saudi judicial system, which is controlled by the religious establishment and often subjects Shia to discriminatory treatment or arbitrarily criminalizes Shia religious practices. In 2015, for example, a Saudi court sentenced a Shia citizen to two months in jail and 60 lashes for hosting private Shia group prayers in his father’s home. In 2014, a Saudi Arabia court convicted a Sunni man of “sitting with Shia.”
The Saudi Ministry of Education religion curriculum al-tawhid, or (monotheism) which is taught at the primary, middle, and secondary education levels, uses veiled language to stigmatize Shia religious practices as shirk or ghulah (exaggeration). Saudi religious education textbooks direct these critiques to the Shia and Sufi practice of visiting graves and religious shrines and tawassul (intercession), to call on the prophet or his family members as intermediaries to God. The textbooks state that these practices, which both Sunni and Shia citizens understand as Shia, are grounds for removal from Islam, punished by being sent to hell for eternity.
International human rights law requires governments to prohibit “[a]ny advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.” Implementation of this prohibition has been uneven and sometimes used as a pretext to restrict lawful speech or target minority groups. Any steps to counter hate speech should be carried out within overall guarantees of freedom of expression.
To address this problem, experts in recent years have proposed a test to establish whether any particular speech can be lawfully limited. Under this formula, the speech Human Rights Watch documented by Saudi religious scholars sometimes rises to the level of hate speech or incitement to hatred or discrimination. Other statements don’t cross that threshold, but authorities should publicly repudiate and counteract it. Given the influence and reach of these scholars, their statements advance a system of discrimination against Shia citizens.
Saudi authorities should order an immediate halt to hate speech by state-affiliated clerics and government agencies.
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has repeatedly classified Saudi Arabia as a “country of particular concern” – its harshest designation for countries that violate religious freedom. The 1998 International Religious Freedom Act allows the president to issue a waiver if it would “further the purposes” of the act or if “the important national interest of the United States requires the exercise of such waiver authority.” US presidents have issued such waivers for Saudi Arabia since 2006.
The US government should rescind the waiver and work with Saudi authorities to end incitement to hatred or discrimination against Shia and Sufi citizens, as well as other religions. The US should also press for removal of all criticism and stigmatization of Shia and Sufi religious practices, as well as practices of other religions, from the Saudi religion education curriculum.
“Despite Saudi Arabia’s poor record on religious freedom, the US has shielded Saudi Arabia from possible sanctions under US law,” Whitson said. “The US government should apply its own laws to hold its Saudi ally accountable.”