Here are all the fantastically amazing entries posted during February, 2010

Ugandan MP Says He Would Kill His Gay Family Members

February 26th, 2010

There was a human rights forum in Kampala late last week, with speakers largely discussing the horrifyingly anti-gay bill currently before parliament in Uganda. Otto Odonga, an MP in said parliament, decided to take the opportunity to declare that he would kill his own son if he ever found out that he were gay.

“There is something deeply wrong with you,” replied Makau Mutua, the forum’s keynote speaker.

And I really have nothing to add to that!

Right On Schedule: Olympic Commentators Make Anti-Gay Figure Skating Jokes

February 24th, 2010

Claude Mailhot and Alain Goldberg, two commentators for RDS, Canada’s French-language sports network, have issued a public apology over homophobic comments made during the men’s figure skating competition at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. The comments were made in reference to a performance by three-time United States figure skating champion, Johnny Weir, and came just after two Australian commentators landed in hot water for similar, but tamer comments about the same athlete.

“This may not be politically correct,” Mailhot began in French, “but do you think he lost points due to his costume and his body language?” Goldberg agreed, saying that Weir’s performance reflected badly on male figure skating: “They’ll think all boys who skate will end up like him. It sets a bad example.”

“We should make him pass a gender test at this point,” continued Goldberg, with Mailhot joking that Weir “should compete with the women.”

Franchement!

It’s kind of like clockwork, mind you. Male figure skaters are often criticized for being perceived as too feminine, and it’s a form of misogyny that’s getting pretty tired. It’d probably take a decorated figure skater to cure such a lack of creativity.

Weir is as much an artist as an althlete. If you ask me, the only “bad example” here is the suggestion that some forms of art should be dismissed instantly due to the gender of the performer.

Honte à vous deux, Claude et Alain.

Homophobic Pastor Shows Gay Porn In Church

February 22nd, 2010

Martin Ssempa, a pastor in Uganda’s capital city of Kampala, is showing gay porn as part of his church sermons.

Ssempa began showing the sexually explicit videos, which he downloaded from the Internet, in an effort to sway his parishioners in support of a terrifying anti-gay bill currently before the Ugandan legislature. When interviewed about it, he said he’s showing the films—and will continue to do so—in order to “educate churchgoers on gay sex.”

Well, that’s all kinds of crazy. I mean, can you imagine if homophobes like Ssempa treated straight people the same way they treat gays?

Still, as unbelievable as it sounds, it has come to this: Gay porn in church. And, naturally, it’s the anti-gay people that have done it. The method is entertaining (I joked on Twitter that Ssempa’s sermon would have kept me in the pews), but the thinking behind it is really tired. In retrospect, I shouldn’t even be surprised.

People involved in anti-gay campaigning are obsessed with gay sex in ways that no one else is, and quite strategically so; human sexuality falls under special moral scrutiny, making it an effective platform for criticism. When speaking of heterosexual relationships, these people have no problem glossing over the intimate sexual details of the partnership in order to convey a larger meaning: Love, commitment, support, unity—all the qualities that make unions special.  But when it comes to the subject of gay relationships, they turn to hysterics, engrossed in their own imaginations over what could be going on in the bedrooms.

Sexual attraction is what biologically orients us toward partners, and it works for straight people in exactly the same capacity as gay ones. This means that, when speaking of relationships, kooks like Ssempa must either gloss over the sexual details for everyone in exactly same way, or act all aghast in about them in exactly the same way.

Well… Unless, of course, they expect that all straight couples have had sex precisely as many times as they have children. But then they’re crazy for an entirely different reason.

Thanks to Slap reader Tom for alerting me to this incredible story.

Olympic Organizers Ignore Homophobic Abuse

February 19th, 2010

A man who was harassed with homophobic slurs and physical assaults by a woman at the Vancouver Olympics opening ceremonies is wondering why the venue’s ushers, security, and organizers have ignored the whole incident.

The unidentified woman mistakenly thought Tyler Sheppard and his friends were in her seat, prompting her to launch into bizarre tantrum, calling them gay slurs and kicking.

The abuse didn’t stop even after an usher confirmed that the seats were correctly assigned. Mr. Sheppard is now looking for answers as to why the usher and police at the venue didn’t do anything about it. Days later, the organizers have yet to return calls about the incident.

In an interview with Xtra West, Sheppard called the whole ordeal “demoralizing.” “My friends heard it; a lot of people heard it,” he said. “She kicked me in the back with her foot which left a red mark.”

Yikes! I guess the ceremonies didn’t charm everyone. I mean, I know the torch lighting incident didn’t go as smoothly as planned, but this is a bit of an overreaction, don’t you think?

Portugal Passes Gay Marriage Bill; Who’s next?

February 17th, 2010

Good news! The Portuguese parliament passed a same-sex marriage bill last week, which will make the country the eighth in the world to have equal marriage rights nationwide.

President Cavaco Silva can still veto the bill, but there hasn’t been any indication that he will do this, which gives it a pretty good chance of being ratified. Encouragingly, the bill sparked very little opposition in the public, even among social conservatives.

I’m not sure what country will be next, but I’ll be taking bets all morning on which country is more likely to give equal rights and freedoms to all of its citizens before the other: The United States… or Slovenia. (And just a head’s up for my stateside friends, Slovenia has recognized gay registered partnerships since 2005 and is likely to send a same-sex marriage bill to parliament this year; think you can beat them to it?)

Vatican Warns Gay-Friendly Ministry

February 15th, 2010

The Catholic Church has ordered New Ways Ministry, a religious group that welcomes gay and lesbian Catholics, to not speak about any gay-related subjects. Cardinal Francis George warned the group last week that they have “no approval or recognition from the Catholic Church.”

The group has been at odds with the Vatican for 11 years, when they were first told that their “public statements on homosexuality contained ambiguities and errors.”

Ambiguities and errors. Hey, that describes a bible that I grew up with pretty well. I wonder how that thing is doing these days? Staying relevant, I hope.

Gays Blessings Causing “Chaos,” Says Anglican Head

February 12th, 2010

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has warned that gay blessings and the ordination of women in the Anglican church had caused “chaos.”

“Fellowship,” Williams said, “is strained or shattered and trust destroyed.”

The Archbishop began to explain further, but then the world ended before he could finish.

Iowa Legislators Hope To Scrap Anti-Bullying Measure

February 10th, 2010

Matt Windschitl and Jason Schultz, two Iowa lawmakers, have proposed a bill to explicitly remove gay and lesbian students from anti-bullying policies in state schools.

Gay and lesbian teens are currently protected by the state’s Safe Schools Act, which aims to help students who are being bullied and harassed by ensuring a safe and non-judgmental environment to report incidents. Unacceptable, according to Schultz, who said that he has nothing against gay students, but added that he needs to remove their protections because it will lead to same-sex marriage.

Yes, you read that right. Windschitl and Schultz want to remove anti-bullying measures for gay students—one of the most vulnerable and harassed minorities—from public schools because he opposes an unrelated issue, same-sex marriage. It’s a destructive message for already bullied students, for whom these lawmakers not only have no empathy, but outright disdain.

And the excuse… It spells things out pretty clearly, doesn’t it?

I’ve pointed out many times that the lawmakers and lobbyists behind the movement to ban same-sex marriage don’t typically oppose gay weddings—they dislike gay people period. Maybe they think we’re just indulging in some personal fetish; maybe they think we’re sick in the head; whatever their misconception, one thing is clear: They aim to discriminate against all gay people at the level of the law. Once they ensure that gay people do not have the same legal rights to marriage as straights, they will move to restrict other rights and freedoms. The right to safe schools is just the start.

You can help stop it, not only by contacting Jason Schultz and Matt Windschitl, but by standing up for equal rights everywhere. Apathy is not an appropriate reaction when this is the level that opponents sink to.

Canada’s New Anti-Gay Senator

February 8th, 2010

The Liberal Party of Canada has posted some interesting bits of history about one of Canada’s latest senator appointments, Bob Runciman, on their website.

Runciman is a former Conservative MPP from eastern Ontario, and has quite a track record opposing the most basic of human rights for gay people, including opposition to workplace and housing discrimination.

While an MPP, Runciman routinely compared being gay to child molestation and bestiality. He called gay people “a class of people linked together through behaviour, not unchangeable status,” saying that the gay community “exacts huge costs from society.” “The law,” Runciman announced in legislature, “has every right to discourage people from entering into paths that are demonstratively destructive, physically and psychologically, first to the homosexuals and to society itself.” After sexual orientation was brought into the provincial human rights code, Runciman worked three times to repeal it.

Basically, all the traits that our prime minister looks for when appointing our representatives for the senate.

Churches Want Involvement In Marriage Commissioner Case

February 5th, 2010

The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal will consider and rule on whether or not civil marriage commissioners can deny their otherwise public services to gay couples. The case is in response to a request from the provincial government, which is seeking information on the constitutionality of a proposed legislation to allow just that sort of thing.

In addition to the usual suspects—unions, rights groups, and some individuals—several church organizations have sought intervener status so that they can speak on the case. Most will argue that presiding over a gay marriage violates the religious freedoms of the individuals doing the presiding.

Churches are already exempt from Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms and therefore do not need to serve everyone equally regardless of their gender, race, or sexual orientation. That does not, however, apply to individuals. At least not yet—and that includes civil marriage commissioners, who are, after all, just people who perform the legal duties at non-religious wedding ceremonies for people who do not wish to get married by a priest in a church. They’re not, nor are they supposed to be, representatives of their personal religion.

Nevertheless, the Canadian Fellowship of Churches and Ministers, the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, the Chancellor of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, and the Christian Legal Fellowship are all seeking to influence this public ruling. (I shall assume that they all pay taxes, then…)

Here’s my thoughts. Much in the same way that a vegetarian mustn’t deny a carnivore a boating license (lest the carnivore go fishing in violation of the vegetarian’s personal beliefs), a marriage commissioner  cannot deny a marriage license to a gay couple; and that’s the way it should stay.

I mean, where did this idea come from that you can just avoid the duties that you’re expected to do? (cough, cough)

Pope Condemns British Equality Legislation

February 3rd, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI issued a strong condemnation against Britain on Monday for enacting legislation protecting gays from workplace and housing discrimination.

After a confirmation that he would be visiting Britain later this year (the first such visit in 28 years), Benedict XVI seemed to imply that he wasn’t terrifically happy about it, announcing that the country’s equality laws had imposed “unjust limitations on the freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs.”

Religions, incidentally, are exempt from Britain’s anti-discrimination legislation, granting Churches the ability to fire gay employees, or pass them over for promotion with impunity.

But this is an argument I hear time and time again—the idea that gay people are actually the intolerant ones, and equality legislation is all basically an attempt to limit religious freedom.

I’m not sure why it can’t go without saying, but that argument is dumb. Really, super dumb. The premise is essentially that tolerance means tolerating intolerance. We gay people, they imply, should submit ourselves to being treated as inferior, turn an accepting cheek to lobbying efforts to have us fired from our jobs, evicted from our homes, denied the equal right to civil marriage, and worse. Otherwise, it follows, we gays are restricting religious freedoms.

If there were gay lobby groups seeking constitutional amendments to ban religious marriage, attempting to gain the right to fire and evict religious people from their jobs, or seeking to deny religious people civil services, well, then these kooks can speak of intolerant gays trying to limit religious freedoms, but until then—they can apply their own standards of freedom and see who’s intolerant of whom.

Gay Youth At Greater Risk Of Bullying

February 1st, 2010

Gay teens are nearly twice as likely to be bullied as straight ones, according to a new study conducted out of the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

The study, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, is based on a survey of 7,559 teens and young adults. While the number of out teens in the sample was relatively small, the results still re-confirm that GLBT youth are at a higher risk of being bullied, likely because bullies tend to target anyone perceived as being different.

Bullying is a huge problem—a problem with lasting, negative effects, and one that will not disappear on its own. Schools must train their staff to recognize and put a stop to it, or the problem will only continue.