This article was originally published in iPOLITICS in May 2017. I have kept it hovering around until I had time to read it properly, and then found that elements of it are equally applicable to LGBT journalism and activism. He was and is a composite journalist, indeed communicator, but he felt that the system of ‘carding’ as it is called in Canada, and what is called ‘Stop and Search’ in the UK, was intrusive and morally wrong. He felt that having been stopped 50+ times, and the only apparent reason seemed to be because he was ‘black’, something had to be done!
In the UK ‘Stop and Search’ has been used by police forces throughout the UK as a means of ‘curtailing and controlling’ undesirables. However, the statistics would indicate that profiling is going on, and that particular targetted groups are being harassed e.g. blacks, Muslims, LGBT individuals and groups (Black and minority ethnic groups increasingly more likely to be stopped and searched by police).
To go further, taken in conjunction with the continued encroachment of our civil liberties by government bodies who use the over-riding phrase ‘ we are protecting society by delving into your emails, phone calls, indeed anything we deem necessary, the phrase ‘ Big Brother’ is real and all encompassing; 1984 and the politics and control written about by George Orwell is effectively here.
One of the proudest moments in the history of journalism came in 1898 when the French writer Émile Zola wrote his famous letter to the president of France, headlined ‘J’Accuse’.
Interesting comments, however Mr Parris has a habit of putting his foot in his mouth, and I believe he has yet again! It is fairly obvious to anyone with half a brain that ‘community’ is always made up of bodies with similar interests, and therefore you could using Mr Parris’s analogy say there is not such thing as community in the wider sense if applied to the population in the United Kingdom. The LGBT community is formed from liked minded individuals, and groups, who feel that they are being victimised or oppressed. To achieve the rights that we currently have we have had to fight both in court, at the ballot box and sometimes even in the streets. Where was Mr Parris during this – hiding behind (sorry in) the closet. He consistently has fought against LGBT rights, as can be seen by his various statements on gay marriage and how the church should oppose this.
Examples of that LGBT community which Mr Parris says doesn’t exist, and why we still need to fight for our rights:
- These brave LGBT activists are marching for equal rights in Montenegro
- Gay couple subjected to vile homophobic attacks on consecutive nights say ‘it just doesn’t make sense
Obviously I could continue to put up more links, but I believe the news and public opinion are enough of a reminder of why we need to continue to fight for civil rights for minorities, and not to allow small minded people to take a so called moral high ground, when in reality they don’t have one.
It is a good thing that Theresa May’s Conservative government is introducing an Alan Turing Law to pardon gay men convicted of historical victimless sexual crimes – that is what I wrote for The Independent last month. No one should be criminalised for being gay. At the start of the century, I was still policing these sex crimes as a police officer until they were repealed by the Labour government.
It doesn’t surprise me that the government reneged on their promises – they have continuously done this across so many platforms, that the difficulty is in realising when they will actually tell the truth and stick by the agreed word and promises.
The article written above is clearly a white washing attempt to try and get them out of a hole that they have dug themselves into. The comment by Of Independent Mind immediately following this article is succinct and factual, and shows how two faced our Prime Minister and her government are in relation to the proposed law to pardon ‘gay’ people who have been done an injustice due to society’s inability to accept them!
I ask you to read the following article and understand why it shouldn’t just be a pardon; pardoning is only a piece of paper, it does not adjust the lives and balance the lives of those men and women who have suffered unjustly for crimes that ‘are not crimes’!
What is it like being gay in Spain? Well like any question of this ilk, it depends on what you are looking for; but for any Spaniard it means one thing – BEING PROUD TO BE A SPANIARD. They have pride in their country and their culture. Some of the major cities have a thriving LGBT culture, with clubs and bars, and other venues, but most often you will find that in Spain being gay means you have to travel if you want to socialise. That is not to say you won’t find gay friends in the small towns and villages, but it is difficult unless you are using the internet and apps on your phone – and remember internet access can be expensive in Spain, but a lot of bars/restaurants/cafes offer free internet so the possibility is there.
The following cities run Pride events during the season:
Indeed this year the Benidorm Tourist Foundation, travelled to Stockholm, along with Turespana and the Valencian Tourism Agency for the Stockholm Pride 2016 LGBT Festival. The objectives of Visit Benidorm where two fold, firstly to promote Benidorm Pride, one of the resort’s most important LGBT assets; and secondly to demonstrate to Sweden’s gay community that Benidorm can offer year-round advantages including LGBT accommodation, beaches, food, sports and leisure opportunities.
Six in ten Sunday People readers back the change in the law allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry.
The latest results from the People’s Panel, which is letting you have your say on key issues every week in the run-up to the May 7 polls , also reveal 33% of you strongly support the move.
It was most popular among women with 69% in favour compared with 50% of men.
UKIP voters were alone among the major parties in having more readers opposing the change than backing it – a vindication for David Cameron, who stuck his neck out to give same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual ones.
One reader said: “There are more important things for the Government to deal with than gay and lesbian marriages.”
Another added: “Everyone should have a chance of happiness.”
As the People’s Panel focused on equality this week, it also emerged that more than three in five readers believe 16 should remain the age of consent – although 14% said it should be raised to 18, as in Turkey.
More than six in ten want to keep the voting age at 18 and only 7% thought it should be lowered to 17, and 1% to 15. Some 18% favour 16, as proposed by Ed Miliband.
The Labour leader was persuaded to press for a change by the high turnout of 16-year-olds in last year’s Scottish referendum.
He felt that having been given the right to vote once, 16 and 17-year-olds should not be denied it in future. The voting age was lowered to 16 for local elections in the Isle of Man, and Channel Islands Jersey and Guernsey.
In the US, 19 states allow 17-year-olds to vote in primary elections as long as they will be 18 on polling day.
In Japan the voting age is 20 and in Italy it is 25 for Senate elections.
More than half of the People’s Panel did not feel governments have gone far enough in closing the gender pay gap. That rose to 65% among women voters.
A third of the 18-54 group, compared with 15% of the 55-plus, felt changes needed to bring about equality have been made.
One reader told us: “Women should be paid the same as men – but nurses should be paid more.”
Regarding childcare provision, only one in ten thought it should fall to mothers alone
Nearly one in three felt it should be shared equally with nine per cent more men holding that view than women. But more than half said divvying up childcare should depend on the circumstances of the parents..
This video documentary sets out to examine Gay life in Ireland, and gives most of its 26 minutes to Irish lesbians and gay men in New York. These include Anne Maguire of the ILGO (Irish Lesbian and Gay Organisation) taking being arrested and hassled by Noo Yoicks Finest (the polis) calmly in her stride, Billy Quinn a Dublin-born artist and Tariach MacNaillais.
Tariach came to Gay politics by way of the Hunger Strikes agitation and says he was told than an out Gay man was not going to be employed in his field of Youth and Community Work. The other person from Northern Ireland who spoke, Cherry Smyth, lives in London (England, UK). She is of middle-class, liberal Protestant origin. Her parents had she makes clear, no insuperable problems with her sexuality. She also said things about “being Irish” which I found difficult to grasp. You don’t have to be Catholic and Gaelic to be Irish. Who said you did? Why does “being Irish” matter?
Billy Quinn is a working class Dubliner who was sexually abused in his childhood and has worked in bars from a very yong age. Where he acquired his rather plummy accent is a mystery. He compared Molly Bloom unfavourably with Jane Austen’s heroines. The latter were prissy and repressed but James Joyce’s Molly was a great sexual Earth-Mother. This proves he hasn’t read either Joyce or Austen. Compared, for example, with Chaucer’s Wife of Bath, Molly is positively south. Jane Austen, a great comic writer, is central to English, even British culture. Joyce is not central to modern Irish culture. Billy Quinn’s paintings, founded, so far as one could see, in a culture of “wee holy pictures” and fold Catholicism seems far more relevant to what one could almost call a post-Catholic Republic than Joyce, the middle-European intellectual.
Quinn says that many of his friends found the news that Ireland had abandoned practically all of the laws criminalising Gay sexuality almost impossible to believe. Kieran Rose explained why it was not impossible in the rather short amount of time he was allowed. Mike Quinlan said that ten years ago a Pride demo “ran down Grafton Street”, implying that this was nervousness on the part of the marchers – rather than the fact that a decision was taken to hurry us up with fantastic disco tracks. In 1992, GLEN (the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network) decided on a Pride for Dublin: the fact that Galway was organising its third and Belfast its second Pride[s] was neither here nor there of course … not.
The video looks very good. You can’t really miss with the New York skyline and the Irish scenery, and the excitement of a big public ceremony, namely St Patrick’s Day parade. A flash of wit was a group of red-necks carrying an AOH banner marked ‘Orange County’. There was a flash of Belfat Pride with a bible-0thumper given more time to talk than the locals. There was a cut to Catholic objectors to Dublin Pride, which appeared to be saying that one was as bad as the other. But the Paisleyites put up a bigger (if not a better) show.
The Sin Fein banner was shown at the Dublin Pride demo (it was the one which came days after the change in the law). Why, one wonders? There were a dozen – at least – ‘straight’ political groups there, including Democratic Left and its leader De Rossa. There was also the Socialist Workers Movement, which has been assiduous in it support of Gay groups – to the point of being irritating. Why were they not shown?
There did seem to be a rather simple-minded (straight) political agenda behind these images or lack of the, including the non-appearance of people who actually live in Northern Ireland (not to mention the rest of the island).
This sort of thing is not inherently a bad thing artistically – it can give a certain flavour to a work. But the special flavour of the place (Ireland-in-general and Northern Ireland in particular) leached away, mainly because most of the people talking had lived outside of the island for the greater part of their short lives.
There were really two videos fighting to get out of this one. Maybe Paula Crickard, the director, should re-splice the material and produce one on New York and one (possibly even two) on Ireland – there are plenty of tales worth the telling.
Reviewer; Sean McGouran Reprinted from upstart print edition
Should the YouTube copy of this documentary stop working, then it can also be viewed at the Northern Visions Archive
Pacemaker Press 6/11/2014 Daniel and Amy McArthur with their Baby Girl Elia, Daniel from Ashers Baking Company refused to bake a cake with a pro-gay marriage slogan. The Equality Commission are now going to take civil action against a Christian-owned bakery firm. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
BY JOANNE SWEENEY – 24 MARCH 2015
The commission has brought a civil case against Ashers Baking Company after it refused to bake a cake with a pro-gay marriage slogan. The two-day hearing is due in the High Court later this week.
The DUP leader said: “When you consider that they have set aside the potential of spending £33,000 on this court case where they are seeking damages of £500 against Ashers, there is a better use that could be put to that money, particularly in the tight fiscal situation the Executive faces.” Ashers is facing the action after it refused to supply a pro-gay marriage cake on grounds of the owners’ religious views.
A new poll released yesterday found that more than 70% of people believe it is wrong for a Christian bakery to be taken to court over its refusal to make a cake supporting gay marriage. As the case approaches, the debate has intensifed between Christian-based groups, including church leaders, and pro-gay groups.
Professor Steven Greer has suggested that busin esses can print a disclaimer on invoices, websites, and other business documents, to say that compliance with statutory requirements does not constitute approval of the activities in question. In a commentary piece, the Bristol University professor argues that the courts need to strike a balance between competing rights and interests.
Mr Greer believes that a ‘conscience clause’ bill proposed to the Assembly by the DUP’s Paul Givan has little chance of ever being introduced as it would be repealed by Westminster and legally challenged in Strasbourg.
He suggests: “Those providing goods and services in Northern Ireland who do not approve of gay relationships, could and should simply issue a disclaimer on their invoices, websites, and other business documents to the effect that compliance with relevant statutory requirements does not necessarily constitute approval of the activities in question.”
Churches across Northern Ireland have been encouraged by the Christian Institute to highlight a support meeting to their members tonight at Belfast’s Waterfront Hall while pro-gay rights rallies have been held in various towns.
There could be a way round the difficulties thrown up by the Ashers case, writes Prof Steven Greer:
This Thursday, the District Judges Court in Belfast will begin hearing a case, brought by the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland on behalf of gay activist Mr Gareth Lee, against Ashers Baking Company for alleged breach of statutory duty not to discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation in the provision of goods or services.
There seems little doubt that Ashers will lose the litigation, and that Mr Lee will be modestly compensated, because the legislation in question, the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006, does not provide an exemption on any ground, including religious faith.
Possibly anticipating this outcome, DUP Assembly member, Paul Givan, is seeking to provide one by way of a Private Members Bill supported by his party and the Catholic Church amongst others. Mr Givan’s amendment would not legalise all refusals to supply goods and services to gays in Northern Ireland.
It would, instead, provide a ‘conscience clause’ permitting those with strongly held religious views to avoid ‘endorsing, promoting or facilitating behaviour or beliefs’ which conflict with these convictions. Some have claimed that the current position in Northern Ireland is ‘Christianophobic’ — intolerant of and discriminatory towards Christians. And, according to First Minister Peter Robinson, the Equality Commission’s case amounts simply to ‘bullying’.
For these and others, the proposed amendment would, merely provide an appropriate, measured solution to a genuine conflict between the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, on the one hand, and the right not to be discriminated against due to sexual preference on the other. By contrast, others regard it as an attempt to legalise homophobia.
The right not to be discriminated against on the basis of sexual preference is clear in international human rights law with, for example, the decriminalization of private, consensual, adult, gay sex mandatory throughout the 47-member Council of Europe, no matter how strong national or regional opposition. And for good reason.
Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people have long suffered, not just discrimination, but often savage mistreatment merely for claiming identities or engaging in private, consensual, adult sexual activities, of which others disapprove. The scope of the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion is, however, less clear.
Since it unquestionably includes the right not to be compelled to believe against conscience, religious conservatives are well within their rights to regard gay sex as inherently wrong because God forbids it.
But the permissibility of the expression of religious belief, in commercial and other spheres, hinges fundamentally upon its consequences, including and especially how others are affected.
Were Mr Givan’s amendment to be passed, same-sex couples in Northern Ireland could, for example, be lawfully denied a table at a restaurant, a room in a hotel, or a mortgage, on the grounds that this would otherwise endorse or facilitate same-sex unions.
But, apart from a sense of discomfort, distaste or outrage, it is not at all clear what loss or damage is suffered by those who feel that being required to provide gays with customised goods and services compels them to act contrary to their core religious beliefs.
Such a ‘loss’, if a loss it is at all, pales into insignificance compared with the tangible and potentially substantial damage which could be sustained by gay couples in such circumstances.
There is, in any case, a simpler solution to these difficulties. Instead of an exemption from the 2006 regulations, those providing goods and services in Northern Ireland who do not approve of gay relationships, could and should simply issue a disclaimer on their invoices, websites, and other business documents to the effect that compliance with relevant statutory requirements does not necessarily constitute approval of the activities in question.
Steven Greer was born and raised in Belfast and is currently Professor of Human Rights at the University of Bristol Law School