The city of Lethbridge, Alberta has been plastered with homophobic and racist graffiti, resulting in a citywide cleanup effort. Still, the fact that this story actually made national news is a pretty good indicator of the awesome progress being made in Canada, don’t you think?

Bad Blood, a documentary film about the ban on blood donations from gay men, looks like it’s well worth checking out. Although I have to wonder… If Canadian Blood Services were to screen the documentary like they screen their blood, do you think they’d give it zero stars even if it passed the advance screening surveys? You know, because the director is gay.

Pastor Says To Kidnap Kids of Gay Parents

August 13th, 2012

Brian Fischer gets abducted by aliens as part of the just Skyward Railroad.

Bryan Fischer, a U.S. pastor, has called for an organized plan to kidnap children from same-sex parents and deliver them to opposite-sex households as part of a modern-day “underground railroad.”

When it was pointed out that this plan would be illegal, Fischer replied: “So was the underground railroad.”

Hmm… I don’t suppose there’s an underground neural-road available to surgically liberate brains from those who clearly have no use of them and deliver them to starving zombies? Because I think an underused brain has just revealed itself.

Statistics, incidentally, have shown that children of same-sex parents actually tend to fair better than those of opposite-parents. This isn’t because same-sex parents are inherently better at parenting than opposite-sex couples, of course. It’s just that gay parents don’t have unplanned children, eliminating a segment that skews toward troubled upbringings.

Housing Discrimination Courtesy of Rental Diva

August 6th, 2012

A diva-wannabe boldly announces "Plenty of divas have survived without the gay community."

Rental Diva, an unlicensed rental agency in Brampton Ontario, is likely to face a human rights tribunal after turning away clients because they’re gay.

Thiago Derucio and Christ Prentice called Juliet Stewart—operator of Rental Diva—about a basement suite, but were promptly told they could not rent the property because the landlord had indicated that they did not wish to accommodate gays. (What, she has a database field for that sort of thing?)

This seems pretty open-and-shut to me. Not only is Rental Diva violating Ontario’s human rights code (with a rather lengthy chain of precedent against her favour), but she’s operating without a license. That’s pretty serious, and I can’t imagine this business will be around much longer.

Still, there are unanswered questions. For example, how is it possible that an agency called “Rental Diva” isn’t set up specifically to cater to gay apartment hunters? That would be like me setting up a business called “Christian Biblical Lodgings for Jesus” and then refusing to accommodate anyone wearing a crucifix.

I swear, these cases are getting weirder and weirder by the day.

Ukraine Proposes Jail For Positive Gay Depictions

July 30th, 2012

Hi. I'm gay and happy. If you're viewing this in the Ukraine you are in possession of illegal material and the police are on their way. Have a nice day.

Lawmakers in the Ukraine have introduced an anti-gay bill that would punish “propaganda of homosexuality” with fines and up to five years in prison.

Russia recently enacted a similar law this year, with expected disastrous results. Gay activists in the country have been arrested simply for marching for equal rights, and any positive portrayal of gay characters in TV and movies are now forbidden under penalty of severe fines and jail time.

According to one of the authors of the Ukrainian bill, the country’s definition of “propaganda” is just as broad: “The positive description and the publicity […] of this abnormal lifestyle.” While a voting date hasn’t yet been set, it could happen as early as September—about a month away.

Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych hasn’t indicated whether or not he supports this initiative. Hopefully Mr. Yanukovych will have some sense here, otherwise I’ll be forced to boycott… uh… borscht?

Australia’s Gay Panic Defence Get Challenged

July 16th, 2012

Straight Panic Defence: A man punches a woman in the throat, screaming "I'm Gay!"

Slap reader Tim writes in with this bit of news from Down Under:

The gay panic defence has been a very real—and very unjust—legal tool in the past, including in Canada. Up here, it’s been invoked to explain assaults as recently as 2010, but has been considered a legal non-starter since its last successful use in 1994. (The murder of David Gaspard by Gary Gilroy was punished with a reduced sentence of only five years in prison after his killer cited gay panic as the reason for stabbing his victim 65 times.)

While this sort of bizarre logic is considered an antiquated relic nowadays, it’s strange to hear that Queensland still permits it. Stranger still, The Premier of Queensland, Campbell Newman, has actually defended it, calling its revocation “unnecessary.” Newman is no friend of the GLBT community, though. His government rolled back civil unions and cancelled funding for the state’s GLBT health service, the Queensland Association for Healthy Communities.

As for the gay panic defence, though, there’s something you can do: A petition has been started calling for the end of this legal antiquity, which has had no just purpose even when it was introduced in the 17th century. So, if you’re concerned about what’s happening in Queensland and you’ve got a few moments to spare, why not go and show your support?

Court Rejects Anti-Gay Lawsuit

July 9th, 2012

Lady justice punches a man in the face: "Your arguments are dumb and you're dumb!"

An anti-gay group calling themselves New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms filed a lawsuit late last year to reverse the state’s equal marriage law. Like most attempts to get same-sex marriage overturned, they gave themselves a delightfully ironic name;  unlike other groups, however, they didn’t seem to rely on the usual arguments about how families would be instantly vaporized or how children would now be used for cattle feed, etc. Instead they suggested that same-sex marriage is invalid in New York because two meetings of the Republican Senate’s majority should have been held in public instead of privately leading up to the vote.

The case was rejected almost immediately in November, but New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms appealed to the state supreme court. On Friday, that court unanimously found that private meetings are perfectly allowable, adding that even if they weren’t, it has nothing to do with why same-sex marriage should be banned in any fathomable capacity.

Well, that should have gone without saying.

Seriously, anti-gay lobbyists? Your arguments have always been deeply flawed, but this one isn’t even fun. How am I supposed to get new material for this site when you’re not mischaracterizing gay people in amusing ways anymore? Your next lawsuit had better involve accusations of conspiracy to release genetically engineered vampire pigeons, repurposed to inject schoolchildren with experimental gaydar genes or something. That just sounds a lot more fun to draw than someone following bureaucratic procedure improperly, you see.

Airport Screeners Unfairly Target Gay Passenger

June 25th, 2012

A man stops an elderly lady at the airport security: "Your luggage leads us to believe you may be a ninja assassin."

An inspection of staff behaviour at London’s Gatwick airport has uncovered an incident where a gay passenger was searched under suspicion of pedophilia “because he had a camera and a boyfriend.”

The incident was just one of the 71 percent of searches deemed to have been conducted inappropriately.

The chief inspector of Borders and Immigration, John Vine, said he was “very concerned to learn of discriminatory practice in the conduct of detection activity.”

I’m glad this kind of blatant discrimination isn’t going unnoticed at Gatwick. Still, from now on I’ll be having my privacy violated at Heathrow airport instead, thank-you-very-much!

Father’s Day may have already passed, but you should still read this amazing article from a father published in last Sunday’s New York Times. (On a related note, Slap-branded tissues will soon be available for purchase. Don’t read another touching letter without one!)

Alberta’s Progressive Conservatives Finally Acknowledge Their Progressive Side

June 18th, 2012

A fully-grown New Year's "Baby" walks in and announces: "Hey guys! Sorry I'm late."

Alberta Premier Alison Redford took part in Edmonton’s annual Pride parade earlier this month, making her the province’s first premier to ever participate in a Pride event.

While this might seem awfully late compared to other provinces, it’s actually a pretty big deal for Alberta. When I left Alberta in the mid-2000s, premier Ralph Klein was still pushing for a national referendum on same-sex marriage after conceding that banning it was outside of provincial juridiction. Edmonton’s mayor, Bill Smith, flatly refused to recognize Pride week as a city event because… actually, I’m still not sure why. I was personally made to feel unwelcome in multiple facets of day-to-day life, helping spawn the site you’re reading now. So to see a premier march—and then speak to a crowd of thousands—in support of equal rights for the GLBT community is an important milestone.

Of course, there’s still some progress to be made. That same week, Alberta’s opposition leader Danielle Smith blasted the government’s plan to re-instate the small amount of health funding for sex reassignment surgery, calling it an elective cosmetic procedure. Members of Danielle’s party have been spouting some pretty bizarre anti-gay comments (prompting the production of a new T-Shirt), and a prominent plan in her party’s platform involved allowing regular citizens to legally refuse public services to gay customers.

Still, it’s clear where the overall trend is headed in Alberta. And that trend is toward the late 1990s. So, welcome! And congratulations.

Have you ever wanted to insert a generic and practically microscopic representation of a gay couple into your text messages only to discover that all available visual iconography was exclusively heterosexual? Well, I say straight people have had this unshared privilege for too long! It’s time for a violent revolt! Take up your medieval weaponry and… Oh. It looks like Apple added same-sex icons in an iOS update.

👬 Mission accomplished! 👭

A century-old academic paper labelled “Not for publication” has been discovered at the Natural History Museum in Tring, England. The paper, written by a polar explorer in 1915, observes—with horror—the deviant and immoral sex lives of Adélie penguins. The naughty, naughty penguins were described as having “autoerotic tendencies” as well as partaking in “non-procreative sex and homosexual behaviors.” Of course we may rest assured that these penguins are probably long dead and are now suffering eternity in penguin hell (which is a little like Hawaii, but is assuredly considered quite insufferable to polar waterfowl).

The federal Conservatives quietly removed protections against hate speech from Canada’s Human Rights Act last week, stripping Human Rights Commissions of their power to investigate hatred or violence incited against identifiable minorities. The first sign that this might not have been a good idea: White supremacists immediately celebrated.

Ontario passed Bill 13 this week, which forbids school administrators from banning Gay-Straight Alliances. Hooray! The congratulalien has been vindicated! Good job, Ontario.

Publicly-Funded University Forbids Gay Staff Members

June 4th, 2012

A man rejects a gay job applicant: "I'm sorry, but hiring you would be in clear violation of our human rights violations."

Crandall University, a school located in Moncton, New Brunswick, is under fire this month over its discriminatory hiring policies. The school, which is publicly funded, does not allow any gay staff members—and proudly announces so.

The “no gays” policy is almost certainly in violation of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, so Crandall University seems to be begging for a lawsuit or tribunal case. There’s even Canadian legal precedent for exactly this situation from back in 1998, so I imagine the only reason the administrators aren’t reversing the policy themselves is for the attention.

Incidentally, I refer to the school as Crandall University only because that’s what they call themselves. Neither the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, nor the Canadian Association of University Teachers recognize the institution as a university. I’m not even sure the school does itself, since they certainly don’t seem to be interested in attracting the research talent for which real universities and colleges compete quite vigorously.

Well, either that, or they’ve discovered that gay people are lousy researchers…

Mark From Slap, M.Sc

Perhaps discouraged by polls showing that opposition to equal rights for the GBLT community is falling rapidly, members of the Apostolic Truth Tabernacle Church in Greensburg, Indiana, have resorted to this: Coaching four year olds to sing “Ain’t no homos gonna make it to heaven” to an applauding congregation. (And for those of you who need to clear your brain of the mind-bogglingly hateful idiocy demonstrated in that video, I offer this calming link as therapeutic support.)

Looks like Toronto’s got another annual event coinciding with Pride Week: A city councillor has proposed—once again—that funding for the city’s annual Pride festival be withheld until it can be confirmed that a group called Queers Against Israeli Apartheid does not participate in the parade portion of the weeklong event. Perhaps we can also withhold Toronto councillors’ salary until it can be independently confirmed that they are not, in fact, giant douches.

Ontario Catholic Schools To Get GSAs

May 28th, 2012

Dracula congratulations you with a "Condraculations!"
I admit it. I jumped the gun with my Congratulalien last year. When the Ontario government announced that all schools—including Catholic schools—must allow the formation of student-run GLBT support groups, I took that to mean students would finally be getting Gay-Straight Alliances, a proven strategy to improve student safety and reduce instances of teen suicide due to bullying. Having endured twelve years of Catholic schooling myself, I perhaps should have been able to predict what happened instead. While students weren’t explicitly denied support groups, the Catholic school board forbade these groups from being called GSAs and continued to meddle with their direction. When students requested a GSA, they were forced to accept a strange replacement—generic support groups where any discussion of gay issues would be ostensibly halted as being not inclusive enough.

Last week, after substantial pressure (and a tad more controversy than I’d expect in this decade), the Ontario government introduced a bill that unambiguously mandates GSAs in any school where students request one. That includes the name and direction that it implies. With all indications pointing toward a speedy passage, I hope that I’m not premature in issuing a most sincere Condraculations!

Today’s the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, a magical day where anything can happen—including a public endorsement by… Toronto Mayor Rob Ford?  There can only be one explanation: A Dickensian epiphany, ghosts and all. A Merry International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia to everyone!

A recently retired politician in Denmark seems to have discovered a new argument against equal marriage: Killer snails are hermaphroditic, therefore same-sex marriage should be illegal. Gee… I never thought of it that way before.

California Moves To Ban Gay “Conversion” Therapy For Teens

May 14th, 2012

Teenage Mutant Ninja Camel: Nonsensical Conversion Complete.

Encouraging news coming out of California this week! The state senate is quickly passing some new legislation that would ban the practice of applying the unscientific and discredited practice of gay “conversion therapy” on anyone under the age of 18. The bill would also make anyone over the age of 18 sign a waver acknowledging that the practice is ineffective and harmful before seeking such therapies.

Conservative groups are already up in arms, saying that the ban tramples the rights of parents to “seek appropriate psychological care for their children.” According to the American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, however, there is no circumstances under which such therapy is ever considered appropriate. Both organisations have warned, in no uncertain terms, that sexual orientation is unchangeable, and any attempts to treat being gay as a disorder are likely to result in serious psychological harm.

Canada, incidentally, does not ban conversion therapy. In fact, it’s a registered charitable activity here. Here’s hoping that California’s proposed legislation is signed into law, and that Canada follows suit!

Check out this video of Jane Svoboda arguing against a non-discrimination ordinance in Lincoln, Nebraska. It’s about as coherent and reasoned as any other anti-gay argument, but the reactions of the guy in the back is priceless!

Barack Obama announced his personal support of marriage equality yesterday, making him the first U.S. president to do so. Political analysts are already speculating on how this will affect November’s elections, although I don’t really expect that rabidly anti-gay voters would have supported Obama anyway. Still, in the off chance that you Americans don’t re-elect Obama, what do you think of a friendly trade? You can send Obama up here, and in exchange you guys can have Stephen Harper. He’s always wanted to be a U.S. president, you know.

North Carolina conducted a statewide study yesterday to resolve the question once and for all: Are most North Carolinians narrow-minded bigots? The answer, of course, was yes.