Here are all the fantastically amazing entries posted during September, 2009

Canadian Blood Services Sues Gay Man For Donating Blood

September 30th, 2009

Basically, careful what you wish for.

Canadian Blood Services is suing Kyle Freeman, a perfectly healthy gay man, for donating blood against CBS policy. Freeman had admitted to lying on the donation forms, which asks all men to reveal their sexual orientation, because he had been recently tested as clean for blood-borne diseases. While the admission was made in an anonymous email, CBS launched an investigation, eventually linking the email to its sender.

Canada permanently bans all gay men from donating blood, even if they practice safe sex or are in monogamous relationships. Interestingly, this does not apply to women who have had unprotected sex with bisexual men, despite them being at the same risk.

The ban, of course, has its share of critics, including none other than the American Red Cross, which called gay blood bans “medically and scientifically unwarranted” in 2007—and statistics support them. Nevertheless, Canadian Blood Services has repeatedly refused to lift the policy and replace it with one involving temporary deferrals based on unsafe sexual behaviours instead of permanent bans over sexual orientation.

CBS says it bans donors which they deem to be high-risk, because their extensive blood screening process cannot yet detect malaria and the human version of mad cow disease. (Both of which, I guess, are rampant throughout the gay community… Moo.)

Kyle Freeman is counter-suing for pain, humiliation, and degradation suffered over being banned for being gay.

Your Canadian Gay Marriage Is Final

September 28th, 2009

That should lower the divorce rate.

Canada’s pretty cool. No matter who you are or where you’re from, you can make your marriage commitments official up here—including gay couples from countries where same-sex marriages are not recognized. Just, maybe, don’t expect to get divorced if things don’t work out.

Divorces in Canada are, in fact, a legal impossibility unless at least one half of the couple has lived here for over a year. This is presumably because, unlike marriages, divorces are costly legal ordeals involving joint property transfer that need to be dealt with in local jurisdictions. That’s a problem for same-sex couples who can’t get divorced in their local jurisdiction because their marriage isn’t recognized there in the first place.

It’s quite a pickle, really. Luckily there’s an elegant solution: Legalize equal marriage rights everywhere!

High School Still Dangerous For Gay Teens

September 25th, 2009

Friendlier than the hall monitors, mind you.

A professor researching harassment of gay teens is calling high school “the land that time forgot,” a place where aggressive anti-gay sentiment pervades student life.

Catherine Taylor, a professor of education and communications at the University of Winnipeg, regrets to have discovered that virtually all gay teens are verbally harassed, with a startling number even being physically abused. Worse, homophobia so ingrained in school culture that very few students step up to condemn the abuse.

This is the same study, incidentally, that was forbidden from being conducted inside several Catholic school boards in Canada. The study is currently in its second phase, and is seeking funding for its third and final phase to take place early next year.

MIT Students Invent Facebook Gaydar

September 23rd, 2009

No, I will not let you live this down, Microsoft!

Students at MIT have written a program that identifies gay men through a simple analysis of their Facebook profiles. The program, which has been lovingly dubbed the Gaydar Project, accurately verifies the sexual orientation of people who use the social networking service by looking at the “interested in” field of their friends, and weighing the numbers accordingly. The program’s interpretation was correct for all students independently known to be gay, even when their profiles didn’t mention it explicitly.

The program was written as part of a computer ethics course, and will be automatically be sent to any girls who just have to know if that cute guy in the back of their Psychology class is worth pursuing.

Megachurch Bans Pepsi Over Homosexuality

September 21st, 2009

Praise-uh JUH-HE-SUHS-UH!

A megachurch in Brandon, Florida has removed all of their Pepsi vending machines (ten in total) and replaced them with Coca-Cola machines because they say Pepsi has been “advocating for the normalization of homosexual behaviour in our culture.”

A spokesperson for the church, Terry Kemple, explained that companies like Pepsi are just going hog-wild with all sorts of crazy shenanigans:

These companies were doing anti-family things like distributing pornography and advocating special rights based on a person’s choice of sexual partners. We fight this battle one skirmish at a time. Our forefathers came here for religious liberty, not sexual liberty.

Jenny Schlavone, the Director of Communications for Pepsi,  said that the church was actually just referring to small grants made “in direct support of safety and respect in the workplace,” basically anti-discrimination programs to ensure that gay people aren’t fired and mistreated just for being gay. (Although I imagine she went right back to distributing corporate-branded pornography to preschoolers after the interview. Those crazy companies!)

Coca-Cola, incidentally, also supports equality for gay employees. But then again, churches can’t stop selling both major manufacturers of soda beverages! I mean, what would Jesus think?

Tory Leader Appointed CEO Of Human Rights Museum

September 18th, 2009

from SPACE!

Can I get a “whaaaa?!

Stu Murray, the former leader of Manitoba’s Conservative Party, has been appointed as CEO of the upcoming Canadian Human Rights Museum.

Murray, incidentally, voted against the provincial Charter Compliance Act in 2002, which amended 55 acts to give gay common-law spouses equal rights to their straight counterparts in full compliance with Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Hmm… I kind of figured that would put him in the museum, just not really in this way.

The Human Rights Museum is a popular target for anti-gay groups, who launch organized lobby efforts to control its direction and content in order to exclude GLBT exhibits.

(A friendly hat tip in the direction of Mercedes Allen from AlbertaTrans for emailing me about this story.)

Girls’ Hockey Team Wins Award Over Equality Button

September 16th, 2009

Slap(tm) Shot.

The world of sports is notoriously homophobic, but one girls’ high school hockey team in New Brunswick has come up with a novel way to counter it. After experiencing negativity and discrimination first-hand over having two lesbian teammates, the Woodstock High School Lady Thunder hockey team distributed tons of rainbow buttons for supporters to wear at their games. Eventually, teammates, coaches, parents—and even rival teams—began wearing the buttons.

Sporting the unique buttons has now netted the team a human rights award from the provincial commission. Score!

Community Rallies For Gay Bashing Victim

September 14th, 2009

I think a "shindig" is a type of injury, too.

The Thunder Bay community gathered to take a stand against homophobic violence on Friday after a gay man endured a vicious attack just one week before. Jake Raynard says he and some friends were assaulted outside a local bar because they were gay, with Jake bearing the brunt of the attack—ultimately requiring reconstruction surgery to repair multiple fractures to his head and face.

These attacks are unacceptably frequent, and the victims often don’t come forward. I believe that hiding from homophobia solves absolutely nothing, so I applaud Jake’s brave stance in making himself visible after such an attack. Homophobia affects everyone, even straight people, so it’s important to take a stand, be visible, and vocal.

British Government Apologises To A Hero

September 11th, 2009

Better late than never?

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has officially apologised to Alan Turing, one of my biggest personal inspirations, for the appalling treatment he received from the government before his death in 1954.

OK, it’s not exactly a household name, but I guarantee you’ve used the fruition of his theoretical and practical work.

Turing was a mathematical genius who not only helped break the German Enigma codes (a monumental turning point for the Allies in the Second World War), but who also founded an entirely new field of science—the one in which I hold my M.Sc.

Described by friends and colleagues as an accomplished marathon runner with a shy personality and annoying laugh—Turing was also unapologetically gay in a time where such an existence wrought severe and unjust consequences.

Truly, the list of accomplishments achieved during Turing’s life is matched only by the tragedy surrounding his death. Robbed by an ex-lover, Turing was forced to reveal his personal relationship with the burglar to the police, drawing an immediate conviction under criminal laws barring homosexuality. The agreed punishment was chemical castration via a year’s worth of regular hormonal injections. The hormones permanently changed his physical appearance, including the development of breasts (of which us gay men aren’t particularly fond), but it was the loss of his security clearance with the government that devastated him the most. He died two years later of apparent suicide, a poisoned apple sitting on his bedside.

For me, the sadness of Turing’s life is balanced by its immense personal influence. As I sit here, typing and illustrating on what is still known in academic and mathematical circles as a Universal Turing Machine, I can’t imagine what my life would be like had he never existed. I wonder how he would react to all the joys being unlocked within the branches of science he founded. And what an injustice that I get to study these joys so intimately, while the mind that sparked them had no such opportunity.

It doesn’t make up for history, but the British government’s recognition and apology was the right thing to do. You deserved better, Alan, and recognition of that is spreading.

(And a gentlemanly tip o’ the hat goes to Slap reader Mark from the UK for alerting me to this important development, and for participating in the petition that helped bring it about!)

Urban Art Project Turns Into Homophobic Mess

September 9th, 2009

I'll call him Angry Wally.

An attempt to designate a section of a Calgary skate park as a legal spraypainting zone backfired last month, in what one alderman has called “a barrage of visual diarrhea.”

I love street art, but from the sounds of this CBC article, the work of these budding young artists wasn’t exactly gallery-worthy:

[Alderman John Mar] said it appears “mayhem ensued,” and people descended on the park with spray paint, covering every surface with tags, profanity and homophobic and anti-police statements, including urinals in the men’s washroom.

“We can’t have anti-homosexual slogans. We can’t have profanity. What we have done now is taken the park back for the citizens of Calgary and the youth that want to use it in a clean and friendly matter.”

Yikes! Not exactly a raging success, was it? At least the city has the good sense to correct it. After a quick order, city workers are reportedly busy scrubbing all the homophobic slogans off the Landmark building, keeping that sort of sentiment squarely in the mouths of politicians, media commentators, and church officials—you know, where it has always been.

Happy Labour Day

September 7th, 2009

Well, I’m taking the day off to do some mandated, hard labour. (I think that’s what this day is all about, right?) We shall return you to your regularly scheduled programming on Wednesday. Enjoy the long weekend, kids!

Danger! Gay Teachers!

September 4th, 2009

Hiiiiisssssss!!!!!

A new poll conducted in Peru has revealed that a substantial majority of Peruvians believe gay teachers to be “dangerous,” posing an immediate threat to children.

The exact wording of the survey was “Do you think it is dangerous for children to have a homosexual professor at school?,” with 61 percent responding “yes,” 31 percent responding “no,” and 8 percent indicating that they weren’t sure.

While homosexuality isn’t illegal in Peru and there’s a good chance there’ll be an openly gay candidate on their next presidential ballot, these results show there’s still quite a bit of progress to be made before gay people become acce—wait, no! Stay back! Aaaarrggaahhh!

Correction: I had previously, incorrectly claimed that the poll was conducted by Angus Reid. It was actually conducted by Ipsos, Apoyo, Opinión y Mercado, a Peruvian polling company. Thanks to Mario from Angus Reid for the correction!

Alberta Delays Gay Lesson Opt-Out

September 2nd, 2009

At least until next year, when we can pull you out altogether.

Alberta’s strange new law requiring teachers to notify parents before tackling any lessons dealing with sexual orientation has been delayed until next year so that the school boards can prepare formal procedures.

The Alberta Teacher Association as well as several large municipal school boards was against this bill from the start, but the provincial Conservative government has so far been adamant that the law is necessary for parents to be able to pull their children out of classes, preventing them from learning anything about gay issues.

The law was part of a revision to the Human Rights Act, which means that any teachers who violate the new law will see themselves before the Alberta Human Rights Commission.

The whole thing is a bad idea, so sparing an extra year’s worth of children from all this is welcome news. Too bad it’s not delayed indefinitely.