Here are all the fantastically amazing entries posted during January, 2008

MK: Deal With Gays Like The Bird Flu

January 30th, 2008

Gay Bird Flu

Nissim Ze’ev, a Member of Knesset in Jerusalem, announced last week that gays and lesbians are “an epidemic [that] should be dealt with like the Health Ministry deals with bird flu.”

The bizarre proclamation came during a law and constitution committee as MKs were discussing a controversial bill that would ban gays from holding protest marches in the region. MK Zehava Gal-On called Ze’ev’s comments a revelation of ignorance.

And with that, the nutty theatrics displayed in Canada’s House of Commons don’t seem that—cluck—bad by comparison.

Gobble.

Catholic School Boards Refuse Gay Bullying Study

January 28th, 2008

Iran—no, wait… Catholic Schools…

A nation-wide study on homophobia and bullying in high schools was launched on Friday as a collaborative effort between the University of Winnipeg and Egale Canada. The ambitious study hopes to gauge the social climate in Canadian high schools by surveying 10,000 students before the end of June.

Not all students will have the opportunity to participate, however. Three Catholic school boards in Ontario and Alberta have refused to co-operate with researchers and barred the survey. Helen Kennedy, Egale’s executive director, expressed surprise at the Catholic boards’ decisions:

The study is not about sexual behaviour; it is about social behaviour. It’s about bullying, harassment and taunting in our schools.

A worthwhile effort, and it’s unfortunate that not everyone is sensitive to the cause. Even more strange, though, is the rationale for the research ban. Reverend Dennis Noon of the Wellington Catholic District School Board, who refused his students’ participation in the study, told the media that homophobia was simply “not a big issue” in Catholic schools.

Gee, where have I heard that before?

Having gone through the Catholic school system, I don’t buy it. I’m not alone, either; Ontario’s Minister of Education, Kathleen Wynee, expressed disappointment at the school boards’ dismissal of the research, saying she hopes for more open conversations with the boards.

As for Reverend Noon and the other board representatives, if they don’t think that homophobia is a problem, then why not allow the researchers to conduct their survey? Given the harm caused by bullying, I think the Catholic school boards ought to face the issue for a change and acknowledge when gay students are being harmed in their schools.

Study: Gay Couples As Happy As Straight Ones

January 25th, 2008

The Birds and the Bees

Three independent studies were released this month comparing gay couples to straight ones, and all have reached the same conclusion: They’re every bit as successful.

The results of two studies were released in this month’s issue of Developmental Psychology, while the third was released by The Rockway Institude, an affiliate of the California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University.

In all three studies, the findings suggest the exact opposite of what anti-gay groups regularly announce: That gay couples lead less fulfilling lives. Glenn I. Roisman, the lead author of one of the studies, dismissed such claims completely:

The belief that committed same-sex relationships are atypical, psychologically immature, or malevolent contexts of development was not supported by our findings. Compared with married [heterosexuals], committed gay males and lesbians were not less satisfied with their relationships.

One of the studies also revealed that married gay couples fare better than their non-married counterparts, suggesting that the protections offered by same-sex marriage strengthens bonds noticeably.

Hey, wait… Wasn’t same-sex marriage supposed to destroy families or something?

Hat tip to John Kelley, who alerted me to the Rockway Institute study.

CRTC Declares “Little Mosque” Not Anti-Gay

January 23rd, 2008

Fiction

The CRTC has ruled in favour of the CBC after a complaint was filed over an episode of Little Mosque on the Prairie that had anti-gay characters.

The episode, entitled “Traditional Mother,” is about a stereotypical gay couple who wishes to be married in a church/mosque shared by the Anglican and Muslim community. While several characters in the episode are supportive of the campy couple, others aren’t. Feeling unwelcome, the couple leaves for Toronto.

Cute plot, no?

Well, after the episode aired last February, an anonymous complainant filed a grievance with the CRTC, saying that the CBC was “vilifying and portraying homosexuals as being unimportant plus stupid,” and that they “showed the world how to harass homosexuals […] under the guise of comedy.”

Now, I understand that it’s not in good taste to play up campy gay stereotypes for comedy when gay people still experience real harm, but I have to side with the CRTC and CBC. Everyone portrayed in Mosque is an exaggerated caricature, and gay people aren’t going to be the exception. Plus, if having fictional anti-gay characters were an actionable offense, I’d be in pretty big trouble myself.

So, I’ll come out and say it: I’m generally tolerant of comedic fictional intolerance. Not that I’m necessarily endorsing Mosque, mind you. Carlo Rota, one of Mosque’s actors, ridiculed my team during a commercial break on the set of Test The Nation. Although… He was also a recurring character in Queer as Folk, so maybe he gets a second chance.

I’ve Vanished, Apparently

January 21st, 2008

Road Slap

Hey kids! Well, I’m still on the road—after the filming of a trivia show, Test The Nation, on CBC. If you’re reading this, it means I wasn’t able to find Internet access in time for today’s post, or I’ve met an untimely demise.

In the meantime, here are some of my personal favourite Slaps from the past half-year for you to re-read. You can think of it as one of those lame television clip shows that everyone hates.

Cameroon Imprisons Gay Men

January 18th, 2008

Cameroon Judge

Three men in Cameroon have been sentenced to six months hard labour for being gay. (This is in addition to six months already served in jail before the trial.)

Being gay is a crime in Cameroon, carrying a maximum sentence of three years in prison. While the three men in this case aren’t serving the full sentence, they weren’t caught doing anything gay in particular either. I guess the judge just has some kind of super, acute gaydar.

Hey, how about that? Gaydar pings are now admissible trial evidence.

Churches And XBoxes And Tories, Oh My!

January 16th, 2008

Pile O’ Slaps: Volume I

In my web travels, I often come across stories that I intend to share, but then become distracted by newer, shinier stories—or feel too lazy to illustrate them in any meaningful or interesting way. Well, no more! Today, I present to you the first-ever Pile o’ Slaps! (i.e., really old stories that I’d otherwise just delete out of my queue.)

Canadian Anglicans have appealed to the Archbishop of Canterbury to sternly lecture the runaway parishes that evacuated the country over same-sex blessings. It seems that some of these parishes are continuing to minister in Canada remotely from somewhat more exotic locations without all those pesky equal marriage rights.

Students across the country continue to protest Canadian Blood Services’ ban on gay blood donors. Wait… Haven’t I written something about this before?

U.S. Soldiers, presumably fatigued by the war in Iraq, are asking and telling a lot more these days, as army deserters are at their highest level since 1980. Unlike Canada and—well, pretty much every other well-off nation with a military—gays in the U.S. are forbidden to serve in the army openly. What’s that slogan, again? Repress All That You Can Be?

The federal Tories have refused to investigate homophobic abuse within the RCMP, despite calls from the opposition to do so. That’s pretty much in line with their stance of a tougher police force, mind you.

Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore has hinted that his next film may be about gay rights in the states. The film will purportedly outline all of the civil rights that gays have won in the U.S. since the Stonewall days, giving it a runtime of about one-and-a-half minutes.

Singapore has banned Mass Effect, an XBox 360 game, over lesbian intimacy between two aliens. Due to the ban, 14-year-old Singaporean boys will now have to use a different Microsoft product to access their intimacy depictions.

OK, enough of that. Until Friday, kiddos!

Gay Pride Sign Shot, Dragged, Beaten With Stick

January 14th, 2008

The Pride Sign That Wouldn’t Die

It looks like some rural Albertan vandals have met the Rasputin of gay signage.

Dan Francis’ hand-painted “Rainbow Acres” sign was shot multiple times from a distance, shot some more from point-blank range, dragged across the road, and beaten with a hockey stick over two non-consecutive nights.

The unfortunately fated sign was a driveway marker for Dan and his fiancé’s home just outside of Milo, Alberta.

While Mr. Francis expressed disappointment over the unusual and continuing vandalism of his property, he also defended the area as being tolerant—most of the time:

I’ve lived in the area for pretty much my entire life. […] I realized that not everybody approves of me, but I haven’t felt unwelcome in any respect.

[The vandals are] expressing their anger in a very poor way. Personally, I’ve been praying for the person who did this. I’m hoping this person or persons hear from friends and family that this sort of behaviour isn’t acceptable.

Politely put, given the circumstances.

Let’s hope the vandals appreciate Dan’s class and show some remorse over the vandalism. Otherwise, if films have taught me anything, they might be dealing with some vengeful, zombie signage in the near future.

Bishop Calls To Restrict Human Rights Commission

January 11th, 2008

Bishop Fred Henry: Religious Freedom

Fred Henry, the Calgarian bishop who refused holy communion to politicians that supported gay rights and announced that same-sex marriage “is the worst betrayal of children I’ve ever seen—even moreso than the Church sex scandals,” is now calling to completely overhaul the Human Rights Commission.

The HRC, he says, is “being used as a sword” in an “ongoing pattern […] to penalize the expression of unpopular opinions.”

Well, if by “unpopular opinions” he means directly comparing gays to adulterers and prostitutes, then I suppose he’s half-right. Fred Henry, you see, had two complaints served against him in 2005 for doing precisely that; though, despite his uncaring words and an indignant attitude, the complaints were dropped.

So what demonstrable harm has the HRC caused that must be reversed? Henry offers no examples other than some pending complaints that have yet to be heard by the tribunal. Not terribly compelling evidence considering that anyone can file a complaint regardless of how likely it is to be upheld.

Health Canada Bans Gay Organ Donors

January 9th, 2008

Gay Organ Donor

Got a relative in desperate need of a kidney or a lung? Are you a gay man? Well, tell your sick grandma to take a hike! According to new Health Canada regulations, your organs aren’t fit for her.

As of December, Health Canada has barred all sexually active gay men from donating organs—even if they’re in monogamous relationships or have been tested. A spokesperson for the government organisation cited a risk of HIV and hepatitis as the rationale for the ban.

You heard right. Apparently, the risk of having a gay man (as opposed to anyone else) lie about his health to donate an organ, somehow fool the disease-testing process, the family interview process, and infect a transplant patient is a far greater risk that leaving that patient on a long waiting list, desperate for short-supplied body parts.

Dr. Gary Levy, the head of Canada’s largest organ transplant center, is defying the new regulations:

We have not been informed, first of all, that Health Canada is considering this. Organ donation and the opportunity to save a life at a specific time—we have no substitute therapies.

Obviously if Health Canada wishes to discuss [banning donors], we would hope they would engage all stakeholders.

Approximately 4000 Canadians are currently waiting for an organ transplant. Levy predicts that out of the mere 100 donors each year at his hospital, seven donors will be rejected with these new regulations.

With the gay blood ban, and now this… Lives are at stake and healthy donors are being rejected. What is Health Canada thinking?

Thanks to Nick and Tiana for alerting me to this one!

Why Can’t Gay Men Donate Blood?

January 7th, 2008

Mister Swamp Blood

Canadian Blood Services is still amidst controversy for its heavy-handed blood donor’s questionnaire. Any man who has had sex with another man, even once, since 1977 is permanently banned from donating blood for life—even if he’s in a monogamous relationship and practices safe sex.

University groups across the country have been protesting this policy—and rightfully so. Statistically, the fastest growing HIV demographic in Canada is young, heterosexual women, which makes up over a quarter of all HIV infections. Yet, according to Blood Services, all gay men are publicly labelled as posing a special danger unshared by the rest of the HIV demographic.

So why does Canadian Blood Services—or, more specifically, Health Canada—continue to uphold the ban? It can’t be statistics; just last May, the American Red Cross called bans on gay blood “medically and scientifically unwarranted,” and other countries—including Italy and Australia—do not permanently ban their gay population from donating.

Whatever the rationale, until Canada’s infamous “question 18” is re-worded to screen for risky behaviours instead of simple sexual orientation, healthy gay men will be forbidden to donate and save lives. Including George Smitherman. He’s Ontario’s Health Minister.

How’s that for irony?

Canada Ranks Your Morality: A Poll

January 4th, 2008

Tricky Issue #3

Our dear, dear friends at Angus Reid have released a new poll ranking contentious issues by how morally acceptable they are to Canadians. Gay relations is on there for some reason—and here’s how it stacks up:

Contraception, divorce, sex before marriage, bastard children, stem cell research, assisted suicide, abortion, and gambling are all more acceptable than gay love. Wearing fur, the death penalty, animal testing, porn, prostitution, animal cloning, suicide, drugs, affairs, human cloning, polygamy and pedophilia are all worse.

So, paying your doctor to kill you and abort your baby after legally dissolving your marriage and gambling away your savings is OK—as long as you’re not gay or clone a fur-wearing porn actor.

Or some other derivation.

What? Stupid polls deserve stupid conclusions.

LifeSite Hearts Scare Quotes

January 2nd, 2008

Sneer Quotes

Bill Siksay, the New Democratic Party MP for Burnaby-Douglas, has introduced a bill that would explicitly add transgendered people to the list of identifiable minorities protected from violent hate crimes.

This is fantastic news, if a tad later than desirable. And, for the most part, the press has reported this story with professional neutrality.

Say, let’s see how those amusingly partisan scribes at LifeSite are reporting this:

Now its the “transgendered” who are being presented as an “identifiable group” against whom it would be a criminal offence to “discriminate.” […]

The “transgender” phenomenon, it is said, occurs when a person’s personal “gender identity” does not match that “assigned” by biology, their parents, or society’s expectations. […]

While those who consider themselves “transgendered” usually claim they were “wrongly” “born into the body” of the opposite sex and that this can be “corrected” with a combination of surgery and hormone treatments, the biological sex of an individual is genetically determined from the first instant of the fusion of ovum and sperm.

Ten pairs of quotation marks used inside three sentences? Why, I believe we have a new scare quote record! I can actually taste the sneers—the contempt! Why, they even incorporated one in the article’s title: Canadian MP Introduces “Transgender” to the Hate Crimes Act.

Kudos, LifeSite. “Kudos.”

By the way, Happy New Year, kids! I’m back from my little break and I hope you all had a fantastically amazing holiday. Here’s to another great year!