Here are all the fantastically amazing entries posted during March, 2008
Christian and Muslim groups in Russia are demanding the shutdown of 2X2, a cartoon television network, because it airs programs that “promote homosexuality.”
The groups have formed a lobby coalition called the Consultive Council of the Heads of the Protestant Churches in Russia. They’ve singled out South Park as a particularly offensive program and called for the government to strip the television station of its license:
Through the use of cartoons this channel is pumping, day and night, an ideology into the consiousness of minors of perversion and other vices.
Yekaterina Doglosheveva, a spokesperson for 2X2, said their station’s target audience is 16-30 year old men—not children—and that Russia is a secular state. He asked where the line would be drawn:
The atheists could have just as well written a letter to demand that all religious channels and programs be closed. We work respecting the constitution, we do not violate the law.
A good stance—although, the council may have a point. I’ve watched The Simpsons for years and turned out completely gay!
Troubling news from Malaysia, as Canada’s latest gay deportee is now being sought by police in his home country.
Amirthalingam Kulenthiran, who applied for Canadian refugee status in 2003, was deported three weeks ago because he failed to prove he was gay. His refugee claim was based on the fact that homosexuality is illegal in Malaysia, saying that police there had beaten him while in custody.
Now that Amirthalingam is back in Malaysia, police stations across the country have been ordered to stay on the lookout. Ismail Omar, the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, said that the search measures are merely to investigate his claims of police brutality:
What was his offense? That’s just it, if he did not commit any, how could the police arrest him? We are sad that he had accused us just like that.
Homosexuality in Malaysia carries a prison sentence of 20 years, or caning. Just before he was deported from Canada, Amirthalingam filed an emergency pre-removal risk assessment, but was rejected.
I wish Amirthalingam the very best of luck. While it’s sad that gay Malaysians must stay closeted, hopefully this situation will help draw attention to the problem there.
- Malaysian police probe gay deportee [Asian Pacific Post]
The Catholic Civil Rights League has launched a protest against a draft teacher’s guide in British Columbia. The guide, entitled Making Space, Giving Voice, was introduced by the Education Ministry to encourage discussion about diversity and is part of a larger review to ensure discrimination isn’t promoted by schools.
So what’s the Catholic League’s beef with the guide? Well, according to a press release entitled Resist, Counter and Protest, the guide is all about the B.C. Education Ministry’s “drive to introduce non-heterosexual realities in all classrooms.”
“Non-heterosexual realities?” Hey, I think that’s a new entry for my still-growing Dictionary of Obtuse Lobbying Terms! (Though, it is a little unusual for a lobby group to flat-out admit they’re protesting reality.)
At any rate, Glen Hansman, the president of the Vancouver Elementary School Teachers’ Association, was confused by the protest, saying that these guides are nothing new, and are only an optional resource:
The new guide will assist teachers in addressing social justice issues, just as a similar guide some years ago helped them incorporate aboriginal content across the curriculum.
The ministry is putting out this document as a suggestion; it’s not mandatory, but I think it’s pretty solid.
Lobby groups often oppose the discussion of diversity in schools. In November, the anti-gay lobby group Defend Traditional Marriage and Family successfully banned a teacher’s resource on diversity from the Waterloo Catholic School Board, saying that the booklet could have “[encouraged] students and teachers to view the gay lifestyle as being morally neutral.”
- Parents urged to protest teacher guide on diversity [Vancouver Sun]
It’s not well-known that the United States refuses to allow HIV-positive travelers to enter the country, even for a vacation. It’s been true since 1987 though, and the policy was codified by congress in 1993, requiring another act of congress to overturn it. Now, after twenty years, two U.S. senators have introduced a bill that, if passed, would end the ban.
The new bill has support from around the world, including Canada. Supporters gathered in Vancouver on Sunday to raise awareness of the bill, including Martin Rooney, who recalled his experience being turned away at the border:
I was fingerprinted, photographed, run through the FBI most wanted list and—two and a half hours later—sent home. I have never felt more violated in my life.
The ban hasn’t only affected HIV-positive travelers. HIV-negative employees of AIDS agencies have also had difficulties traveling to the United States due to the ban.
A Catholic bishop in Scotland announced last week that gay people have mounted a “huge and well-orchestrated conspiracy” crafted exclusively to destroy Christian values. Speaking at a packed lecture in Glasgow, Reverend Joseph Devine simply couldn’t contain his shocking discoveries:
The homosexual lobby has been extremely effective in aligning itself with minority groups. It is ever-present at the service each year for the Holocaust memorial, as if to create for themselves the image of a group of people under persecution.
Can you imagine the nerve of us gays, honoring holocaust victims as if any of them were persecuted for being gay themselves? But, as a gay, incapable of human emotion, I shouldn’t be surprised that he saw right through that cunning stratagem.
That’s not all that the Reverend Devine discovered about the grassy knoll, mind you:
In this New Year’s honours list, I saw actor Ian McKellen being honoured for his work on behalf of homosexuals, when a century ago Oscar Wilde was locked up and put in jail. It’s a very small group of people, but very active and organised—and extremely indulgent.
Ah, yes; don’t we all wax nostalgic, now and then, for those halcyon days of old when gay people like me were simply locked away instead of insisting on all these crazy indulgences like equal rights? Surely those were simpler times…
Luckily, our great conspiracy is seeing an end to all that. And as long as this Reverend doesn’t uncover the giant homosexual space laser orbiting Earth until the day of prophecy, we shall always be a few steps ahead!
The Ford Motor Company has expressed surprise upon learning that an anti-gay lobby group has claimed responsibility for their decision to cut back advertising in gay publications.
The American Family Association boycotted Ford for the past two years because they were advertising to gay people. In a press release last week, the AFA said it would lift its boycott because “the conditions of the original agreement presented [to Ford] in fall 2005 have been met.”
Interestingly, Ford spokesperson Jim Cain said that there was no such negotiation with the AFA:
I can tell you there was not a negotiated settlement to this boycott.
We’ve been in real financial difficulties. There’s been reduced spending in lots of areas.
Ford has received a top rating by the HRC’s annual Corporate Equality Index for four consecutive years due to their support and equal treatment of gay employees, customers, and investors.
Canadian Blood Services has indicated that it will be reviewing its policies regarding gay blood donors. Currently, all gay men who have had sex—even once—since 1977 are permanently barred from donating blood, even if they practise safe sex or are in monogamous relationships.
Opponents of the ban suggest changing the rules to screen for risky behaviour instead of simple sexual orientation. Italy, for example, asks all donors if they’ve had unprotected sex or a new partner within the past year as part of their donor eligibility questionnaire. The American Red Cross agrees with this approach, and have called blanket bans on gay donors “medically and scientifically unwarranted.”
The studies commissioned by CBS are expected to yield preliminary results in 2009.
CTV has pulled an ad for a Christian, ex-gay ministry after it was found to violate the station’s ethical standards.
The ad, which featured an unknown person claiming to have changed his sexual orientation from gay to straight, hinted that recent advancements in equality for gay people has somehow been preventing the public from learning about him:
You hear about gay rights, gay marriage, and the gay lifestyle being taught in our public schools to children. But what many people don’t realize and seldom hear about is that many homosexuals don’t want to be homosexual. What many who are struggling with homosexuality don’t realize and seldom hear is that they can change. I should know. For 13 years I used to be one.
Ex-gay reparative therapy is often promoted by religious organizations and lobby groups, but professional and medical organisations unanimously reject the notion that sexual orientation is something that can and should be changed. The American Psychological Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association, American Counseling Association, and American Psychiatric Association have all gone on record to say that ex-gay ministries are ineffective at best, and psychologically harmful at worst.
CTV has apologised for the ad, noting that they “do not condone, promote or engage in discrimination against anyone based on [...] sexual orientation”.
Another gay refugee has exhausted all options of remaining in Canada, and has been ordered to be deported.
Kulenthiran Amirthalingam first applied for refugee status in 2003, saying that he had been physically and sexually abused by police in his home country of Malaysia after being accused of being gay. There, homosexuality carries a sentence of 20 years of prison or caning. Canada’s own travel guide advises gay citizens to avoid the country, since arrests of gay people are common.
Unsurprisingly, given Canada’s history on the matter, Kulenthiran was deported because his adjudicator didn’t believe he was gay. Gay refugees are often expected to provide proof that they are gay after years of hiding it in their home country. Despite this, Immigration Minister Diane Finley has refused to overturn the ruling.
I wish Kulenthiran the very best of luck, and hope that Canada wakes up and reforms its refugee system to deal with these cases more sensitively soon.
Monroe County in New York State is appealing last month’s court ruling that declared Canadian same-sex marriages must be recognized in the state.
Maggie Brooks, a Republican official, called the five-judge, unanimous court ruling a “misinterpretation of the law,” adding “we’re letting people in Ontario, Canada define marriage for people who live in New York State.”
Patricia Martinez and her wife, Lisa Golden, brought the original case to court after Partricia’s employer refused to extend spousal health benefits to Lisa. While they aren’t surprised that the Republicans are trying to take such basic legal equalities away, they say they’ll always have each other:
We still view our marriage as legitimate. No court decision will devalue or negate what our marriage means to us.
Good on you! I wish them the best of luck.
- Canadian same-sex marriage faces U.S. challenge [Times Colonist]
Charles McVety, president of Canada’s largest anti-gay lobby group, has claimed responsibility for a bill in the Senate that would deny income tax credits to filmmakers who make “inappropriate” films. Once this bill becomes law, the Justice and Heritage departments will vet films for offensive content and withdraw tax credits, even a film has already been completed.
So, what’s the definition of “inappropriate” in this context? The Globe and Mail revealed McVety’s vision in an interview:
Mr. McVety said films promoting homosexuality, graphic sex or violence should not receive tax dollars, and backbench Conservative MPs and cabinet ministers support his campaign.
If McVety’s vision is realised, filmmakers will be pressured to remove any gay content in a film, or face the revocation of their tax credits.
Filmmakers are furious. David Cronenberg, an Oscar-nominated, Canadian director said that this bill amounts to censorship, comparing it to “something they do in Beijing.” The Canadian Family Action Coalition’s press release, however, scoffed at such claims:
Accusations that this [bill] is about censorship are ludicrous. There is no law that says [opponents] cannot produce whatever perverted movie they want to.
Of course, “perverted” films are already restricted by section 163 of the Canadian Criminal Code, and television and film regulations already exist that prevent pornographic and obscene films from receiving tax money. This bill is, instead, about punishing filmmakers based on ideological content.
Surprisingly, this amendment seems to have made it to the Senate without many MPs knowledge. Bill Siksay, an NDP MP, said it was a “significant shock and surprise” to learn that he had voted for the amendment, which was buried deep within a 600-page bill.
(Hat tip to Canadian Cynic)