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

Gay Bar’s Human Rights Violation Settled, Kinda

April 30th, 2008

Insecure bar owner

A straight woman has settled her human rights complaint against Bar Le Stud, a Montréal gay bar.

Audrey Vachon sat down in the bar last spring to have a beer with her father, but was promptly informed that women were not welcome and was escorted from the establishment. (You know, because us gays would never complain if someone kicked us out of a straight bar just for being who we are, apparently.)

While it’s great that the two parties have settled, it sounds like the bar may not have learned its lesson. When the Globe and Mail contacted Le Stud following the settlement announcement, staff refused to clarify whether or not they’ll serve women now.

As a gay Montrealer, I can’t imagine what the bar management is thinking. The notion that a woman enjoying a beer with her father in the afternoon would somehow make other patrons uncomfortable is not only downright nutty, but continuing to eject patrons based on their sex is a hypocritical violation of our Charter rights. As part of Montréal’s vibrant gay community, surely Le Stud’s management has once felt the sting of exclusion themselves.

I said it before, but it can use repeating: Gay-friendly doesn’t mean gays only.

Evangelical Group Fined For Human Rights Violation

April 28th, 2008

The Golden Rule

Connie Heintz, a Christian worker at a shelter for developmentally delayed adults, has won a human rights case against her former employer.

After Connie’s co-workers at Christian Horizons discovered she was a lesbian, she was forced to quit, describing the work atmosphere as the “worst time of my life.” She was harassed, threatened with dismissal, and falsely accused of abusing the residents she was caring for. Connie, who is deeply religious, was awarded 18 months of her old salary as compensation.

Anti-gay groups are already up in arms; A LifeSite article was quick to accuse the human rights tribunal of stifling religious freedom—once again, under the assumption that gay people and religion are somehow mutually exclusive. I contest that. Connie was a devout Christian who cared deeply about the underlying mission of the organisation. For her employers to claim that having a gay employee in their ranks is somehow against their faith is a stretch. (Unless, of course, Jesus decreed something I’m not yet familiar with: “Thou shalt fireth the gay ones like a grain is shed from its stalk, for they be not fit to care for thy developmentally delayede adultes.”)

Christian Horizons receives public funds from the government and is contractually required to follow Canada’s human rights laws.

And a gentlemanly hat tip to Matt Guerin at Queer Liberal for the story.

Gays Not Fit To Play Soccer, Says Manager

April 25th, 2008

Soccer Gayness

Luciano Moggi, the former managing director of Juventus, Italy’s largest soccer club, went on a bizarre tirade against gays this week during a televised interview. The controversial official, who is currently being tried for corruption scandals, said that…

Well, actually, I think I’ll just let you read it verbatim:

There are no gays in football. I don’t know if players are against having them in their team but I definitely am. In the teams where I worked there were never any. I never wanted to have a homosexual player and I still wouldn’t sign one.

I’m old school, but I know the ambience of football and a gay wouldn’t be able to survive within it. A homosexual cannot do the job of a footballer. The football world is not designed for them; it’s a special atmosphere—one in which you stand naked under the showers.

So, there you have it: Gays don’t like soccer, and even if they did, any latent athletic ability would be invariably foiled by their beacon of gayness. Which is alright, I guess, since us gays couldn’t handle after-game showering without, presumably, violating all our teammates anyway.

Incidentally, while former professional soccer players have come out as gay in the past, no current players are openly out of the closet. I can’t help but wonder why that is…

Thanks to Slap reader Kathrine for this gem, with an extra hat tip to The Offside.

What’s Up With The Anglicans?

April 23rd, 2008

Anglican Drama Queen

If you’re a regular of this site, you’ve no doubt noticed the bizarre rift that has emerged in the Canadian Anglican community over gay parishioners. Churches have split, priests have been fired, bishops have fled, discussions have amounted to meaningless decrees, and everything is generally all going to hell in a hand basket—and all because the church just can’t decide whether or not God would bless gay couples.

What’s a hierarchy to do?

To an observer, the church looks completely fatigued of this issue and, perhaps amusingly, is now resorting to the sort of tactics typical of high school dramas. Just recently, a British Columbian congregation had its locks changed and dissenting worshipers were locked out. This week, a bishop who fled in disgust over gay blessings is ignoring warnings to stay out of Canada. It’s all very, very strange.

I don’t have any solutions; If history has taught me anything, it’s that people will argue forever over what they think their God thinks. But I do find it strange that it’s the blessing of gay parishioners that’s causing all this ruckus. The Anglican church will bless, upon request, heterosexual couples, births, homes, boats, and even pets.

It’s weird, really. Surely treating gay people as sinners who require punishment in the form of blessing withholdings so that they’ll turn straight hasn’t really worked out, and now it not only contradicts scientific understanding of homosexuality, but also the church’s own declaration that blessing gay parishioners is compatible with core church doctrine. The childishness can’t really be necessary, right?

Then again, I’m not Anglican.

OutTV Files CRTC Complaint Against Shaw

April 21st, 2008

Out TV

Canada’s only gay and lesbian television channel has filed a complaint with the CRTC over treatment by a local cable provider.

OutTV says that not only does Shaw Communications exclude the channel from their “All In” package and make it a by-request-only subscription (the only specialty station to receive this treatment), but they have also moved the station’s channel number multiple times, first from 100 to 200, then to 370. Worse, the last move put the station immediately beside adult offerings: Channel 371 is Hustler, 372 is Playboy, and 373 is Red Light District.

Brad Danks, OutTV’s chief operating officer, said that shaw has been entirely uncooperative:

They are supposed to notify you before they move you. We’ve said, “We don’t have adult content. Why have you got us with adult channels?” There’s no reason given. They say nothing.

 
I once subscribed to OutTV (before I realised that I almost never watch TV and cancelled my digital service entirely), so I can vouch for its harmlessness. Putting it alongside porn channels is a misclassification, and forcing subscribers to request it by name when no other specialty channel requires that action means that interested parties will, essentially, have to out themselves in order to get it.

(Say, don’t a few of the shows on OutTV’s neighbouring channels start off with someone outing themself to their cable serviceman? “Did somebody call a cable guy?” Bow-chicka-wow-chicka…)

Anyway, OutTV does not carry adult content and is a “category one” licensee in Canada, which means that all cable providers must carry it and abide by CRTC packaging regulations. If anyone has had issues ordering OutTV, Brad asks that you visit his website to share your experiences and strengthen their case.

Lobbyist: No Tax Credits For Adorable Gay Comedy

April 18th, 2008

Determining Film Taxes

Breakfast With Scot, an unbelievably sweet comedy about a closeted gay couple who unexpectedly finds themselves raising a bubbly 11-year old boy, is under attack once again by anti-gay lobbyists.

Previously, the Canadian Family Action Coalition led a boycott of the NHL over the film, which licensed the Toronto Maple Leafs logo. The boycott wasn’t very successful. (Go Habs!)

This time, though, Charles McVety, a spokesperson for the group, is seeking government intervention. He singled out the family comedy as being one that would have all its tax credits revoked by the government if Bill C-10, which is currently in front of the senate, were to pass into law. The bill seeks to deny tax credits to films after they’ve been produced if the content is found to be “objectionable.”

McVety—who previously claimed responsibility for Bill C-10, but has since backpeddled—summarized Breakfast With Scot as a film about “an 11-year-old boy who is being raised by a homosexual Toronto Maple Leaf to be a homosexual.”

Ignoring, for a moment, that the notion that someone can be raised to be homosexual is rejected completely by the psychological, medical, and academic community, I’m amazed by this misclassification. Either McVety has never seen the film, or he is lying about what he saw.

I had the privilege to see Breakfast with Scot last autumn in attendance with the director, producers, and its young star. It was a sweet, family comedy about a closeted hockey star and his lawyer husband who like to keep their lives discreet. They suddenly find themselves caring for a tragically orphaned 11-year-old, who enjoys cooking, dressing up in feather boas, singing Christmas carols in summer, and drawing exactly the sort of attention that his new guardians like to avoid. I won’t ruin the story, but to describe the film as anything but a gentle holiday comedy with strong, moral themes is dishonest.

Still, McVety has targeted and seeks to punish this film because the guardian characters are gay—a point central to the film’s comedic premise. “We are objecting to films that proselytize young people into homosexuality,” he told reporters. Laurie Lynd, the filmmaker, was stunned, adding that if the movie’s tax credits were revoked, it “could have killed the film completely.”

McVety has said multiple times that Bill C-10 is about ending the funding of pornography with tax dollars. That’s not what he’s demonstrating, especially since policies are already in place to prevent that. Instead, this bill is about revoking tax credits (not even funding) from any films that disagree with McVety’s ideology—and after they’ve been made, to boot. With this broad definition of what constitutes an objectionable film, and with an after-the-fact process, Bill C-10 will force filmmakers to reconsider producing anything with content as edgy as, well, a gay couple.

Sigh. Maybe I’ll just produce Slap Upside The Head: The Animated Film stateside.

Canada Deporting Another Gay Refugee

April 16th, 2008

Incoming Deportee

Ah, another month, another deported gay refugee. This time it’s 39-year-old Joaquin Ramirez, who fled El Salvador in 2006 by coming to Canada as a delegate during the International AIDS conference. Once here, he was among the 160 conference attendees who applied for asylum, but one of an unspecified minority that was denied it.

Francisco Rico-Martinez, the director of Toronto’s FCJ Refugee Centre, was amazed:

What we found shocking in Joaquin’s case is that the risk of being a gay person in El Salvador was not properly assessed in these decisions [to deport him].

Joaquin, who is an HIV-positive outreach worker with the Young Men’s Christian Association, says that he was beaten and raped by police in El Salvador, and was issued death threats five months later when one of the officers who attacked him became infected. Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board rejected Joaquin’s story, asking why he didn’t apply for police protection back at home before coming here.

Alberta Puts Off Updating Human Rights Code

April 14th, 2008

Free Warning Sticker

Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach has announced that he will not bring Alberta’s Human Rights code up to date with the rest Canada this legislative session.

Alberta is currently the only Canadian province that doesn’t include protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation in its human rights code. While Stelmach told the Calgary SUN that adding these protections is “one of several issues under review” for future sessions, he offered no timeline or hints of priority, saying the changes would not be simple.

Unsurprisingly, The SUN appears somewhat indifferent, declaring that protections in Alberta’s human rights code is merely “symbolic” anyway, since “federal law has protected people on the basis of sexual orientation for a decade.”

Having lived in Alberta for 26 years before I moved somewhere more compatible, I wouldn’t say that’s accurate. It has been illegal to, say, fire an employee because of sexual orientation for about a decade, but Alberta had taken special measures to ensure that gay people were not treated equally under the law much later than that.

Until 2005, Alberta had over-ridden Canada’s Charter of Rights using the obscure notwithstanding clause to introduce an otherwise unconstitutional law banning same-sex marriage. In 2006, Tory backbencher Ted Morton introduced an unconstitutional bill that would have required that school teachers not discuss any gay topics without first issuing parental permission slips, and would have allowed civil marriage commissioners to refuse their public services to gay couples. (That bill was only defeated through procedural tactics by the opposition, and otherwise had majority support.) Also, until just last year, Alberta same-sex couples were not equally eligible for adoption through government agencies as opposite-sex couples and single people in the province.

So, while Alberta may have issued the very basics of legal protections for gay people, this does not make a proper human rights code moot. Alberta is dead last, as usual, in recognising the rights of its citizens equally, and they’re shuffling their feet on correcting it.

Update: Nick, an aspiring lawyer in Ottawa, wrote in to say that the Supreme Court has previously “read in” protections based on sexual orientation into Alberta’s constitution, making it true that an explicit protection would be mostly symbolic—at least as far as the courts are concerned. That said, Alberta’s lawmakers are clearly oblivious to this, and until proper recognition is afforded in the document itself, they’ll continue their push for unconstitutional laws. (Ted Morton has vowed to re-introduce his failed “parental warning” bill, for example. What a guy!)

Singapore Fines TV Station For Showing Lesbian Kiss

April 11th, 2008

Gay TV Outrage

The Media Development Authority in Singapore has fined StarHub Cable Vision, the country’s cable operator, for airing a music video that showed two women kissing. In a statement, the media authority called the kiss “a breach of the TV advertising guidelines, which disallows advertisements that condone homosexuality.”

The cable operator has agreed to pay the fine and no longer show the music video.

Homosexuality is illegal in Singapore and media featuring gay people is often banned in the country. Earlier this year, for example, an X-Box game was banned for featuring an alien lesbian couple.

iTunes Canada Pulls Homophobic Music

April 9th, 2008

iPod Murder Music

iTunes Canada has removed several songs by Jamaican artists Elephant Man, TOK, and Buju Banton because they call on listeners to murder gay men. Stop Murder Music Canada and Egale called on Apple to remove the songs, which contained lyrics translating to “Join our dance and let’s burn the queer man” and “Boom Boom, queers must be killed.”

Although removing the songs has caused some controversy about freedom of expression and censorship, one thing is clear: they’re not legal. Speech calling for the murder and hatred of an identifiable group violates Canadian hate laws, and Stop Murder Music Canada has called on other music retailers—such as HMV, Amazon.ca, and Archambault Musique—to follow Apple’s suit.

Jamaican dancehall music is notorious for its homophobic lyrics. Homophobia is rampant in Jamaica, with 43 lynch mob attacks on gay men reported in 2007 alone, resulting in the murder of at least 10 gay men.

Sask MP Apologizes For Anti-Gay Slur

April 7th, 2008

Gay Slur Apology

Tom Lukiwski, a Conservative MP from Saskatchewan, has apologized for homophobic slurs that he made on an unoffical 1991 campaign tape:

The only explanation I can give is that I was stupid, thoughtless and insensitive.

The comments I made should not be tolerated in any society. They should not be tolerated today, they should not have been tolerated in 1991, they should not have been tolerated the years previous to that.

The videotape, which was made during a Saskatchewan election campaign, showed a younger Lukiswki boasting about how he stands out as a nominee:

Let me put it to you this way: There’s As and there’s Bs. The As are guys like me; the Bs are homosexual faggots with dirt on their fingernails that transmit disease.

Wow.

While reaction to the initial comments has been near-universal condemnation, the apology’s reaction has been varied. Liberal MP, Scott Brison, is calling for Lukiswki to be fired, and NDP MP, Bill Siksay, says he thought the apology was sincere. (Both MPs are gay themselves.)

Personally, I think the comments were pretty awful, and their age is irrelevant. Lukiwski was a 40 year old man at the time, and an aspiring politician to boot. It was the right thing to do to apologize, and I think calling for his resignation is a little reactionary, but we really ought to be on the lookout for these attitudes in our policy makers.

It comes as no surprise that Lukiwski voted against civil marriage for same-sex couples each time it has come before parliament. It would be irresponsible, rather than just ignorant, to have voted that way based on the sort of homophobia that Lukiwski displayed. Actions speak louder than words; I think he really ought to do more than just apologise and show that he no longer believes what he said.

Happy Birthday, Slap!

April 4th, 2008

Happy Birthday, Slap!

Can you believe it? Tomorrow is Slap Upside The Head‘s second anniversary!

Yes, it’s been a full two years since I doled out my first virtual slap in a somewhat irrelevant story on Brigitte Bardot.

To commemorate Slap’s blogiversary, my boyfriend (fiancé now, actually) gave me a night away from the computer by creating this birthday flowchart in Microsoft Word. I think it’s every bit as adorable, funny, and clever as its artist.

Here’s to many more years!

Canada’s Newest Nutty Publication

April 2nd, 2008

Conspiracy Weekly

Normally I slap media outlets because of wild homophobia and right-wing misinformation. This week, though, I ran across a Canadian newspaper which bills itself as “Canada’s new socially progressive and cross-cultural national newspaper.” While it’s a nice change to read stories raising awareness about homophobia and transgender violence, I have to bring up this publication up as proof that nonsensical accusations and fanaticism can come from any part of the political spectrum.

The Canadian National is prominently featuring an article that calls AIDS the result of a CIA eugenics conspiracy. The author, Alan Cantwell, says that the government designed HIV and purposefully introduced it into the gay community under the guise of hepatitis B vaccinations in the late 1970s:

There is no doubt that AIDS erupted in the U.S. shortly after government-sponsored hepatitis B vaccine experiments (1978-1981) using gay men as guinea pigs. […]

Are we to believe that […] AIDS in America resulted simply from two viruses jumping species in the African jungle? Or is the origin of HIV and AIDS—and the KS virus—related to secret medical research and covert human testing […]?

I wasn’t sure how to go about showing this is utter nonsense, mind you, but thankfully Jim Burroway at Box Turtle Bulletin has done that for me:

The first known case of AIDS was found in a 1959 blood sample drawn from an unknown man in Leopoldville, Belgian Congo (today’s Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, formerly Zaire). This was long before the hepatitis B vaccine experiments […]

Jim debunks some of the article’s other claims as well, but it doesn’t take much skepticism to understand that the knowledge and technology to design a human virus as complex as HIV simply didn’t exist in the 1970s.

So, as unjust as the U.S. government’s reaction to the AIDS epidemic in the gay community was throughout the 1980s, I don’t believe it was a CIA conspiracy. The lack of a decent and reasonably priced mojito in the greater Montréal area, on the other hand…