Here are all the fantastically amazing entries posted during February, 2008
A Statistics Canada study released this week reports that gays and lesbians in Canada are nearly twice as likely to experience violent assault than heterosexuals.
Kathleen Lahey, a researcher at Queen’s University in Ontario, is unsurprised:
The research that was done on this issue previously in Canada has disclosed, surprisingly, very high results in all categories [of violence], ranging from extreme assault resulting in death, way to the other end of the continuum, which is threatening behaviour in public, including spitting, saying derogatory comments and so on.
While this isn’t really news, most previous studies attributed higher levels of violence to assumptions about “lifestyle,” comparable to how young people, singles, and those who go out at night are more likely to experience violence. Stats Canada’s study, on the other hand, shows that sexual orientation still resulted in higher victimization rates, even when those factors were taken into account.
Lahey attributed this directly to homophobia:
It is important to have these figures, because it helps erase the denial about how tolerant and equal Canadian society is.
There is an increased perception that all must be well with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and transsexual individuals in Canada. But, as people who live these lives know, that is not true.
It’s sad news, given Canada’s advancements in human rights—but as long as there are groups denouncing the existence of gay people, there will be those who listen to that message and react violently.
Despite the increased threat of violence, however, gay people are not living in fear. Over 90% of gay people said they were either “somewhat” or “very satisfied” with their safety level, a proportion nearly identical to heterosexuals.
- Experts fear violence against gays, lesbians under-reported [Canada.com]
- Sexual orientation a factor in violence: Statscan [Globe and Mail]
Michael Hayden, a gay police officer, is the latest refugee from Jamaica to seek asylum in Canada.
Michael received multiple death threats after he spoke out about Jamaica’s deadly homophobia problem in a local newspaper this year. He now fears for his life and has gone into hiding, desperately seeking to escape to Canada:
I want to stay here [in Jamaica] and fight, but it’s not safe for me. My life is in great, great jeopardy.
Despite Jamaica’s image as an easygoing paradise for tourists, it is among the worlds most deadly places for gay people. Earlier this month, Gareth Henry, one of Jamaica’s few gay activists, escaped to Canada after 13 of his friends were killed by lynch mobs.
The good news, however, is that with every new refugee, more attention is drawn to Jamaica’s deadly secret. If Canada and other governments become aware enough of the issue to put out traveler warnings, Jamaica’s tourism industry can be leveraged to stop this horrific violence.
In my web travels, I often collect stories that I intend to share, but then become distracted by newer, shinier stories—or feel too lazy to illustrate them. This is what becomes of those stories: a Pile o’ Slaps!
Dr. Brent Hawkes, a Toronto pastor and gay rights activist, has received the prestigious Order of Canada in recognition of his fight toward equal rights for gay people. I shall start the betting odds at 946341:¾ that an anti-gay lobbyist will burst a capillary over this within a week.
The rift between Canadian Anglicans is continuing to grow. A Vancouver congregation has voted to leave the country in favour of The Province of the Southern Cone in South America, which does not think of gay people as favourably. Authorities in The Province of the Southern Cone expressed overwhelming gratitude toward the Vancouver church for knowing that The Province of the Southern Cone exists.
The gay-targeting zombie lynch mobs in Jamaica are finally getting some media attention thanks in part to Gareth Henry’s fight to stay in Canada. A New York Times feature on Jamaica describes some of the horror. (Hat tip to Montreal Simon)
Speaking of Canadian Refugees, Capital Xtra has an excellent article outlining the frustrating process that refugee claimants must go through to prove they’re gay after years of effort to hide their sexuality in their home country. It’s a great lesson for future refugees: If you truly desire to protect yourself, put yourself in as much visible danger as possible.
A sports photographer has angered and confused Kentuckians after a newspaper published a photo of two male basketball players hugging in celebration of their victory. Columnist Pam Platt, in a display of common sense, offers no apology to the scores of offended readers, who will move on to picket the guy that accidentally brushed up against them on the public transit.
Long thought to be the result of tension between tectonic plates, earthquakes have a new explanation courtesy of Shlomo Benizri, a Member of Knesset in Israel:
Why do earthquakes happen? One of the reasons is the things to which the Knesset gives legitimacy: To sodomy.
A cost-effective way of averting earthquake damage would be to stop passing legislation on how to encourage homosexual activity in the state of Israel, which anyway brings about earthquakes.
Isreal was hit by several earthquakes last week, including one that measured 5.0 on the Richter scale.
Mr. Benizri’s unique explanation has sent shockwaves through—I mean, rocked—I mean shaken—the earth sciences community. While a few seismologists remain skeptical, this new development may mean that textbooks everywhere will have to be re-written. I’ll report more on this stunning research development as information becomes available.
(Mr. Benizri, incidentally, belongs to the same political party as Nissim Ze’ev—who recently proposed that gays in Isreal “should be dealt with like the Health Ministry deals with bird flu.”)
Now, someone fetch me a cookie, or—so help me—I’ll rock your house to the ground.
- Israeli MP blames gays for recent earthquakes [Sydney Morning Herald]
- Shas MK blames gays for recent earthquakes in the region [Haaretz]
- Israeli legislator blames gays for earthquakes [The Daily Star]
Gwen Landolt of REAL Women of Canada, an anti-gay lobby group, has sent out an action alert about a proposed Human Rights Museum in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
The Human Rights Museum, which is still in its planning stages, has been somewhat of a sore spot for many social conservatives who oppose the inclusion of gay and women’s rights among the exhibits. When the museum was proposed, LifeSite called it a “Temple of Propaganda,” saying that its supporters have “made a monster of the word tolerance, [have] raped the word gay, and [have] beheaded the term human rights.” Extreme social conservatives have been quietly steaming ever since.
An interesting thing happened last week, though. The Conservative government tabled a bill that would make the Human Rights Museum a Crown corporation. While the government had already invested one hundred million dollars in the project, this bill will put the museum alongside such institutes as the National Gallery of Canada and the Canadian Museum of Civilization.
Gwen Landolt is furious:
The Advisory Committee for the Museum, selected by the former Liberal government, consisted mainly of feminist, homosexual and regular Liberal stand-bys […]
[The] museum, with its left-wing Advisory Board, would be used as a powerful tool to champion the Liberal government’s interpretation of human rights, such as abortion rights, feminism, homosexuality, etc. with only some legitimate exhibits sprinkled here and there to give the museum the appearance of legitimacy.
With the museum’s transition to a Crown corporation, and with the Conservative government’s continued support of the project, Gwen demands that as many people as possible “with a conservative perspective” use the government’s public consultation form to oppose gay rights exhibits, and instead promote exhibits that showcase the “selfless dedication” of “those defending the family and traditional marriage.”
A bizarre request, considering that nine consecutive court rulings and two federal House votes sided with supporters of equal marriage for gay couples.
Gwen’s crankiness aside, she has actually highlighted a unique opportunity to give some input into our Human Rights Museum. Why not take this opportunity and let the museum planners know what’s important to you when it comes to human rights?
Hat tip to JJ at Unrepentant Old Hippie, who actually subjects herself to Gwen’s mailing list in order to get the inside scoop.
- Ottawa introduces bill on human-rights museum [Globe and Mail]
Terrance Lewis, a 60-year old therapist and former Bible college instructor from Winnipeg, has been found guilty of sexually manipulating a male patient who was seeking therapy to turn from gay to straight.
The 21-year old patient, who began therapy after his parents caught him looking at gay pornography on the Internet, was told that special “touch” sessions would turn him straight:
[The therapy was to] assist me to be straight and to live a straight life.
The scenario was that [Lewis] would be my wife on our honeymoon night. He would say, “When you are kissing me, you are not kissing me, you are kissing your girlfriend,” trying to make me comfortable kissing a girlfriend.
He said I was to tell no one about it because no one would understand.
These special therapy sessions took place in various locations throughout Winnipeg, including the Fun Mountain waterslides, the floodways surrounding the city, and Lewis’ car. This continued until the patient started seeing a different therapist, who immediately contacted the police.
Reparative therapy is often supported by anti-gay and religious groups who believe that sexual orientation is a choice that can be reversed. This attitude is rejected, however, by numerous professional and medical organisations. The American Psychological Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association, American Counseling Association, American Psychiatric Association, National Association of Social Workers, and probably many other professional organizations that start with “American” or “National,” have all gone on record to say that reparative therapy is unnecessary and ineffective at best, and actively harmful at worst.
Hat Tip to Wayne Besen at Truth Wins Out, an organisation that counters and discredits the ex-gay movement.
- Man found guilty in gay “therapy” case [Winnipeg SUN]
- Former Bible college counsellor guilty of sex assaults [Canada.com]
Jamaica is marketed as a vacation paradise, but for gay people, the danger can be shocking.
Gareth Henry, a Jamaican gay activist, has had 13 of his friends murdered by lynch mobs in the past four years, and has now fled to Canada to seek refugee status.
Sadly, Canada has an atrocious track record of protecting endangered gay refugees. Alvaro Orozco was ordered to be deported to Nicaragua in October because his adjudicator didn’t believe he was gay. Leonardo Zuniga, a Mexican claimant, also had his refugee plea rejected last summer despite the threat of anti-gay violence in his home country. With Jamaica’s popular image as an easy-going tourist spot, Gareth Henry might not have better luck.
Jamaica’s perception needs to be challenged; the country’s most popular musicians habitually call for the murder of gay people, and the public acts accordingly. Montreal Simon regularly reports on Jamaica’s horror stories (I’m borrowing his recurring zombie island motif), but very little attention is paid by the mainstream media—and Jamaican police are often mob members themselves.
I wish Gareth the best of luck with his claim and hope his stories will gain the attention they deserve. If governments become aware enough of the issue to put out traveler warnings, Jamaica may finally be forced to stop the madness.
Craig Chandler, the Alberta Tory nominee rejected by Premier Ed Stelmach over anti-gay human rights violations, is desperately low on funds for his campaign to run as an independent. Despite extensive fundraising, Chandler says he is $23,000 short:
What we need it for is more signs […] and for more literature that we want to send to every home in the community
Not that he really needs the money, mind you. According to Chandler’s own closed, in-house polling, he’s already put himself in the lead against his Calgary-Edgemont rivals.
As a former Calgarian, I don’t doubt that running on an anti-gay platform would win votes in the city. But with Calgary’s recent growth, new voters likely won’t feel comfortable voting for someone as radically conservative as Chandler, who has been the subject of multiple human rights violations.
- Chandler short of cash [Calgary SUN]
Concerned Christians Canada, an Alberta-based Christian lobby group, has announced that they will launch a human rights complaint against the Alberta Tories.
The complaint stems from the rejection of a Tory candidate’s nomination back in November. Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach failed to endorse Craig Chandler’s candidacy due to a history of anti-gay human rights violations. Concerned Christians Canada is furious with Chandler’s rejection, accusing the Stelmach government of anti-Christian discrimination.
So, refusing to endorse a bigot amounts to… bigotry?
Lobby chairman Jim Blake called it just that, adding that Stelmach’s actions were “reflective of wartime Germany,” and that it’s all part of a growing initiative to repress Christians:
It’s definitely anti-Christian bigotry. We’re concerned about a growing trend of anti-Christian behaviour in politics and society at large.
If this was done over someone being Muslim or homosexual, there’d be a huge outcry, a riot.
Well, I have to agree with one point: If someone’s nomination were rejected simply because they were Muslim or gay, there would be an outcry.
However, Chandler was not rejected simply for being Christian; if that were true, most of the MLAs in Stelmach’s government wouldn’t be there today either. Chandler was rejected because he repeatedly infringed upon the human rights of gay people. Having been raised Catholic, I’d argue that such views are decidedly non-Christian.
Blake’s faulty justifications aside, this human rights case doesn’t have a hope of succeeding. Human rights statutes prohibit discrimination in services that are commonly available to the public. Having your candidacy rejected because you don’t represent the views of the political party to which you applied does not fall in that category.
Concerned Christians Canada knows that this case is destined to fail, though. Their HRC complaint is a publicity attempt that will gain additional attention once their case fails. At that point, they’ll accuse the commission of having a bias toward gay and Muslim groups and present their failure as a flawed case study in their campaign to have the HRC abolished.
‘Cause opposing human rights is exactly what Jesus would do, apparently.
- Christian group accuses Tories of bigotry [Calgary SUN]
- Religious Group Plans Human Rights Case Against Stelmach, Tories [AM 770 CHQR]
Between seven and twenty Senegalese men have been arrested after photos from a gay marriage ceremony were published in a local magazine. Police haven’t released any information about the arrests, other than that the men are charged with suspicions of homosexuality.
It’s illegal to be gay in Senegal, with the usual punishment ranging from fines to up to five years of jail time (forcibly locked up with other men, no less).
Mansour Dieng, the magazine editor, said he published the wedding photographs to dismiss accusations that homosexuality doesn’t exist in Senegal. He has since received death threats, and has been interrogated by police.
I bet he’ll think twice before confirming reality again.
Nova Scotia’s Pictou County Council is afraid. They’ve got a flag pole outside their administrative building and it’s causing grave concern for councilors. County Warden Allister MacDonald explains:
If the gay community came and said “fly my flag,” we, under human rights, would have to fly everybody’s flag. It could be the Nazi party or the bikers; it could be anyone. And, from what our understanding is, you either fly everybody’s flag […] or you put a policy in that says “these are the flags we’re going to fly.”
Now, no gay rights group has actually asked the folks at Pictou County to fly the rainbow stripes. Nevertheless, the council has found itself amidst a lengthy and controversial flag banning discussion. Apparently, if a gay rights group ever were to request raising a flag on their pole, the Nazi party wouldn’t be far behind—or, at least, that’s what their understanding is.
Frankly, I don’t think their understanding is very understandable.
In the event that a totalitarian political party from wartime Germany requested to fly their flag in Pictou County, Nova Scotia, there would be no problems refusing their request—what with the unforgivable crimes against humanity and all. But I don’t think the councilors in Pictou were afraid of Nazi flag requests in the first place. They’re afraid of contention.
You see, if a gay rights group were to request that a rainbow flag fly on the administration building’s pole, there would be dissenters in the council—just like there were in Truro. To justify a “no” vote, these dissenters must explain their discomfort with gay people. Unlike explaining one’s rationale against requests from totalitarian regimes of the Third Reich, however, explaining discomfort with gay people would be met with criticism. Rather than face such criticism—or, better yet, the roots of their discomfort—the councilors would rather ban flag-flying requests altogether.
It’s not a particularly honorable stance—and particularly when no flag requests have been made in the first place. As Councilor David Parker put it:
Other municipalities fly these flags routinely of various groups to support their cause and their beliefs and I don’t have a problem with that. We’ve had no policy for 128 years. We’ve had no problem until it became a problem in one person’s mind.
Well said, David.
- Questions raised as Pictou County mulls flag rules [CBC News]
- Homophobia behind flag policy—councillor [Chronicle Herald]
After a three year battle, an appeals court in New York has ruled that Canadian same-sex marriages are valid in the state and must be respected by company spousal health plans.
The ruling means that Patricia Martinez—a supervisor at Monroe Community College in Rochester—may now extend spousal benefits to her wife, Lisa Ann Golden, just like any heterosexual employee. Patricia sued the college for these benefits in 2005, but a lower court sided with the college, arguing that the couple’s Canadian same-sex marriage was not a real marriage.
After the appeals ruling, several hundred thousand traditional families throughout the state spontaneously detonated.
An Ontario judge is facing a misconduct investigation after he forced a sexual assault victim to wear a mask, fearing that he’d contract AIDS without it.
The witness, who is HIV-positive and has Hepatitis C, was not permitted to testify until Justice Jon-Jo Douglas was satisfied that the courtroom’s “saftey and integrity” was protected. This included ordering all court staff to wear rubber gloves and placing all documents handled by the witness into plastic bags.
Quotes from the courtroom transcript reveal Judge Douglas’ astonishing ignorance:
I am frankly shocked that in this day and age we were not advised [about the witness’ HIV status]. The HIV virus will live in a dried state for year after year after year and only needs moisture to reactivate itself.
I mean, [the witness] speaks within two feet of me with two serious infectious diseases. Either you mask your witness and/or move us to another courtroom or we do not proceed.
Bluma Brenner, an assistant professor at McGill’s AIDS clinic, called the judge’s claims about dried HIV re-activation “outlandish.” The witness’ lawyer also took offense, adding that a mask was not required in the community and could interfere with the court reporter.
Ontario’s Criminal Lawyers Association, the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, and the HIV and AIDS Legal Clinic in Ontario have all lodged formal complaints against the judge. The Crown has also appealed to have the judge removed from the case over apparent bias.
As for Judge Douglas’ wishes to ensure the safety and integrity of the courtroom, I can offer a little advice: Sanding down sharp corners and ensuring non-excessive microphone volume levels will make any courtroom a safer place to work. Restoring integrity, on the other hand…
- Judge’s ignorance of AIDS draws fire [Toronto Star]