Here are all the fantastically amazing entries posted during June, 2009
Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of the famous Stonewall riots, the movement widely recognised as sparking the worldwide gay rights movement.
Forty years ago, it seemed far fetched that gay people could live openly without fear of being arrested; now, as more and more people are less afraid to live their lives freely, worldwide attitudes and long-held misconceptions have changed.
Here in Canada, gay people are almost treated completely equally under the law, and other countries are moving in the same direction. Right now, India is reviewing laws that criminalize homosexuality. Ireland is considering adding equal partnership rights in the form of civil union. Gay rights marches are happening all over the world everywhere from Jerusalem, Israel to Ljubljana, Slovenia to Istanbul, Turkey to Sofia, Bulgaria.
There’s still work to do both at home and abroad, but as gay people become more and more visible, people challange their own prejudices. What a great time to be part of it!
A bill that would have set up an appeal process for refugees who think they have been unfairly rejected has been quietly abandoned. Bill C-291, which passed second reading this spring, has since been parked without additional debate after being forwarded to a Citizenship and Immigration committee. Now that summer is here, the bill has been effectively killed, left languishing on the table. Bill C-291 is of particular importance to gay refugees, as Canada has a terrible record of handling gay claimants. Those seeking to gain refuge from countries where homosexuality is illegal are often asked for exhaustive evidence of their gayness despite a pressing need to have hid all such evidence for their own safety. It’s not all bad, though; as consolation, rejected claimants are given a complimentary copy of Joseph Heller’s Catch 22.
When Edmonton’s Pride Parade organisers invited Conservative MLA Doug Elniski to join in the festivities last week and be among the first-ever Tory participants, they probably hadn’t guessed he’d be Twittering and posting to his conservative blog at the same time. While waving to the crowd alongside three of his colleagues, Elniski proceeded to mock the event and its participants in real-time on his public Twitter account. Class act, that Doug!
While the controversial tweets have since been scrubbed clean and his entire blog has been deleted altogether (it hasn’t escaped Google’s cached copy, mind you), here are just a few of his observations:
i am surrounded by bumping and grinding lesbians waiit 20 then send help
i am certian that one is real those however i doubt
Darkest humor was either “Dyke’s on Bikes” or “Queers for Beers” the latter was a particular irony as most of the people in the beer garden were drinking pink coolers
I am SOOOOOOOOOOOO glad it did not rain, had it rained there would have been so much mascara, glitter and cake makeup on the roads we’d have needed one of those sweepers that follow the horses in the Capital Ex parade.
It was ‘just’ a parade, relax
It’s kind of a nice gesture simply joining the parade in the first place, but it’s disappointing for an invited participant to not acknowledge the meaning behind Pride parades. Contrary to what Doug wrote, it’s not “just a parade,” but also a celebration and protest in commemoration of a minority’s struggle. While I can’t blame Doug for revelling in the spectacle of some of the more flashy groups, I don’t think he cares much for the underlying purpose. An even more recent blog post of his directed toward young women has gotten some bad press, and reveals that he’s, sadly, pretty much just a creep:
Men are attracted to smiles, so smile and don’t give me that “treated equal” stuff, if you want equal it comes in little packages at Starbucks.
Yeah, who needs equality when we’ve got aspartame?
(Thanks to Tamara for sending this story along!)
- ‘Men are attracted to smiles,’ Alberta MLA advised girls on blog [CBC News]
- Tweeting MLA angers local gays, lesbians [Edmonton SUN]
The number of bias-motivated, anti-gay murders in the United States rose 28% last year, reaching its highest level since 1999 according to a report released by a national advocacy coalition. The research, which was coordinated by a group called the New York City Anti-Violence Project, also found a general trend of increasingly severe violence toward GLBT people.
Sharon Stapel, a spokesperson for the project, suggested that the disturbing increase is partially due to an increase in rhetoric, as gay issues took a more prominent role in the presidential campaign.
I’m inclined to agree.
This sad trend is an emphatic validation of why hate crimes legislation is so important. The correlation between anti-gay rhetoric and violence shows that these attacks aren’t just coincidentally committed against gay individuals, but are intended to terrorize the entire gay community. The faster this shameful statistic can be reduced to zero, the better.
I need a break tonight, so there’s no new Slap for today. (Hey, it happens to the best of us, right?) Regular updates will resume Monday, though! Have a great weekend, kiddos!
The federal Conservatives have donated close to half-a-million dollars for Pride Toronto to promote the city’s 10-day gay Pride festival and make it more accessible for people with disabilities.
Toronto Pride brings in millions of tourism dollars each year, and the money will help keep the event competitive in a weak economy. The generous gesture has also secured an appearance by a major headliner, yet to be announced.
I guess it just goes to show you: The federal Conservatives will fight to stop you from having equal marriage rights; they’ll fight to prevent you from being protected by hate crime legislation; they’ll embrace dangerous and unscientific organ donation practises at your expense; they’ll fight to keep you from getting retroactive pension benefits; but if your cultural event’s incoming tourism dollars are in danger, you can bet instant help will be on the way!
Who’d have thought one could make an entire career out of being scared of change and gay people? In Part I of a new series of slaptacular mini-bios, we take a look at the very special, terrified folk who are lobbying against your rights.
Name: Brian Rushfeldt
Gayified Name: Bri
Works For: Canada Family Action Coalition
Favourite Colour: Whichever ones aren’t in the Pride Flag.
Actual quote: “It’s interesting that they would have chosen Alberta to film [Brokeback Mountain] in. I think that was a deliberate move on the part of some of the homosexual activists and some of the directors from corrupt, immoral Hollywood.”
What he does: Rushfeldt is a former Bible college dean and air traffic controller. He’s now the executive director of the Canada Family Action Coalition, which has lobbied against (among other things) same-sex marriage, tax credits for gay-themed films, and the adding of sexual orientation to the list of minorities protected by hate crimes. Brian was instrumental in legislation that forces teachers to require parental permission before acknowledging the existence of gay marriage in classrooms.
Craziest Moment: Brian led a boycott of the NHL for licensing the Toronto Maple Leafs logo for use in the film Breakfast with Scot, an adorable family comedy that features a gay hockey player and his partner who becomes the unexpected guardian of an 11-year old orphan. “The most disturbing aspect,” Brian said of the film “is that an 11-year old boy is being promoted as a poster child for gay sex.” The boycott of Canada’s national pastime wasn’t very popular.
Party invitation index: A neutral 5. While not an intentionally interesting guest addition, Brian’s air traffic controller skills would not only come in handy helping your other guests manoeuvre into tight parking spaces, but also likely make him an excellent charades partner.
Shanghai’s first ever Gay Pride festival is going on this week, and while not as spectacular as other Pride events elsewhere on the globe, the festival is the first of its kind in China.
Homosexuality is still somewhat of a taboo subject in China, having been decriminalized only as recently as 1997, and having only been removed off the country’s list of mental disorders in 2001. That China’s heavy-handed government would permit an event like this so quickly afterwards is nothing short of remarkable. Even a state-run newspaper reported that the festival was of “profound significance.”
It’s not entirely a resounding success, mind you. At the last minute, the government forbid a planned film screening and theatrical play from taking place, informing venues that any attempts to ignore the ban would result in “severe consequences.” The BBC speculates that this has more to do with the Chinese government’s nervousness about uncontrolled public gatherings than direct homophobia, and while it’s a setback whatever the reason, the peaceful and entertaining festival is a far cry from some other firsts around the glove.
Slap will now be fielding bets for the next unlikely location to host a state-approved gay pride week: Iran, or Alabama?
NDP MP Bill Siksay, fresh off of introducing the trans-friendly Bill C-389, has introduced a new bill that would ensure gender reassignment surgery is available and covered by our health care system.
Gender reassignment, though poorly understood by the general population, can radically improve the lives of transgendered individuals at a negligible cost to the health care system.
This bill would have been unnecessary, except that Alberta delisted sex reassignment surgery from public health coverage in April, claiming that it was necessary to help save the economy. Alberta officials supposedly wrote a report containing all the facts to back this claim up, but the dog ate it. Plus, there weren’t any working pens or pencils in their house. And they didn’t know it was due today, anyway.
- NDP MP Bill Siksay calls for coverage of sex reassignment surgery [The Georgia Straight]
Z and Vielpunkt, two male Humboldt penguins in Germany’s Bremerhaven zoo, do not like to mate with the female penguins. They, instead, have paired off together. So when a heterosexual penguin couple rejected one of their own eggs, the zookeepers decided to leave it in the care of the gay penguins.
The two fathers took turns incubating the egg until it hatched into a chick. They continue to care for the baby penguin, taking turns to feed it and nurture it.
Penguin church officials immediately condemned both the couple and the zookeepers for their affront to the natural penguin order. Additionally, Pengod-fearing members of the penguin community are seeking a pengstitutional amendment to overturn the development.
A study on gay employees in Canada has shown that there are still barriers when it comes to advancing one’s career.
The Catalyst study, sponsored by the Bank of Nova Scotia, found that less than half of gay workers felt their coworkers were very comfortable with gay employees, and fewer than ten percent felt coworkers were informed about the issues gay employees face. The study also revealed a gender discrepancy when it comes to being closeted at work. While only about five percent of men are completely closeted at work, the figure is more than doubled for gay women at twelve percent.
Combined, these attitudes have resulted in gay people being passed over for promotions, and exclusion from business networks.
Of course, gay workers will always be welcome here at InterSlap Enterprises, Inc..
- On the job and in the closet [Globe and Mail]
The Alberta legislature has passed a bill that requires teachers to receive parental permission before discussing or acknowledging topics of sexual orientation in the curriculum, or else face being brought before the Human Rights Commission for violating parental rights.
This means, very soon, teachers will be at risk of being brought before a tribunal if they acknowledge gay issues without first taking care to selectively evacuate students from the classroom. Not only does this send a terrible message to gay students—that topics about their lives pose such a profound hazard that their classmates’ attendance must be filtered based on privilege—but it enables and reinforces schoolyard bullying through that same knowledge.
So how did such a controversial bill pass so effortlessly? The wordsmithing employed by its supporters offers some clues. In the comments section of a National Post article I linked to on Friday, a supporter of the bill wrote: “The core issue here is who has the right to shape the minds of children, individuals or the State.” This simplification is a real eye-opener. Are those the only two options that supporters see? What about, say, the students being able to shape their own minds?
By the time students are old enough to be introduced to sexual education in the curriculum, they are citizens of their own right. For a guardian to forcibly bar a student from hearing information and viewpoints other than their own is not only narrow-minded, but irresponsible. Astonishingly, though, it seems bill proponents don’t view students as inquisitive minds that are capable of forming their own views; rather, they are seen as a form of human property for whom it is the exclusive right of the guardian to indoctrinate as they see fit. It is no wonder, then, that these parents see open classroom discussions and the analysis of opposing viewpoints as an affront to their plan—a way to undo the views they wish to force into their child, unchallenged via the careful censorship of information.
In this light, it actually begins to make sense that, since some parents wish to coercively inbue uncontested beliefs into their child, they project that same behaviour onto the state. Anti-bullying programs and lessons that include acknowledgement of gay persons, they think, must be part of some agenda to brainwash and take control of the younger generation. Why, I bet they even think my subliminal messages and short-wave thought injection gun are being used for more than just corporate advertising.
Still, what a sad day for education and enlightenment in Alberta.
The United States Department of Defense is asking for more time before an end to the ban on gays and lesbians serving in the military is considered. U.S. president Barack Obama had campaigned to repeal the ridiculous “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which forbids gays from serving, but has since been silent on the issue.
Over 12,500 gay men and women have been discharged from the United States military under the gay-banning policy, including 219 since President Obama took office. So, while top advisors and the military are all pleading for a delay, my brain is pleading for a sane reason for why this issue could possibly be complicated enough to require all this extensive preparation.
- Military wants more time before gay ban ends [USA Today]
- 12,500 booted in ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ [Dayton Daily News]
- Gay community bitterly disappointed by Obama’s lack of action [Canadian Press]