Gay rights activists warn of reintroduction of Section 28 style discrimination in Scotland s schools
The Equality Network has voiced concerns that through the current consultation around it, the new law could be taken advantage of those opposed to gay rights, such as politicians and religious groups. The Scottish Government is currently consulting on its upcoming law to legalise equal marriage, and has sought opinions on its Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill, including on areas such as education. Scotland For Marriage, a group opposed to equal marriage, has already raised concerns about what will be taught in schools, arguing that parents should have the right to opt their children out of lessons mentioning equal marriage.
Tom French, policy co-ordinator at the Equality Network, said; We are deeply concerned that opponents of same-sex marriage are attempting to reintroduce Section 28 style discrimination back into Scotland s schools. He added that the group was concerned that opponents were attempting to reintroduce Section 28 by stealth. This would roll back equality and have a damaging effect on young people and the wider education system.
We firmly believe that school should be a welcoming environment for all young people, regardless of their sexual orientation or family situation. Schools have a duty of care to their pupils and it would be wrong to allow discrimination against LGBT people in the education system. Meanwhile, a briefing on the equal marriage consultation Christian organisation CARE for Scotland said: Concerns have been expressed that should so-called same-sex marriage be introduced it is likely that children will be taught in school that marriage can be between two people of the same sex.
To raise a generation of children with such a subjective view of marriage, is a huge social experiment which is likely to result in severely detrimental consequences. Arguably it may even increase the occurrence of homosexual relationships. The consultation on its draft legislation opposed by the Church of Scotland and the nation s Catholic Church will last until March.
The Scottish Government has pushed ahead with its equal marriage bill and said that all religious institutions including the Church of Scotland will be free to decide for themselves if they would like to provide marriages for gay couples.
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The charter reads: We are implacably opposed to all forms of discrimination, whether rooted in gender, race, colour, creed, political belief or other grounds. The other grounds clause in the charter is intended to refer to sexuality, however specific references to gay and lesbian people were omitted due to some Commonwealth countries with anti-gay laws, reports the Daily Mail. The Queen is expected to refer to rights which must include everyone , and insiders are noting the appearance as a nod to inclusivity.
A diplomatic source said: The impact of this statement on gay and women s rights should not be underestimated. Nothing this progressive has ever been approved by the United Nations. And it is most unusual for the Queen to request to sign documents in public, never mind call the cameras in.
A spokesperson for Buckingham Palace, said: In this charter, the Queen is endorsing a decision taken by the Commonwealth. But he added: The Queen does not take a personal view on these issues. The Queen s position is apolitical, as it is on all matters of this sort.
Prior to tomorrow s appearance, the Queen has been in talks with Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma, who has led the initiative. Last month, he said: We oppose discrimination or stigmatisation on any grounds. Royal aides have also been in discussion with Foreign Secretary William Hague, who has backed the drive for better gay rights, and gender equality.
Gay rights advocates have voiced strong opinions in the past, on the fact that the Queen is a patron of over 600 charities, however none of them are for gay rights. Queen Elizabeth II has never publicly voiced her support of equal rights for gay people. Ben Summerskill of Stonewall, said the Queen had taken an historic step forward on gay rights, and said The Palace has finally caught up with public opinion.
He also said it was significant that the Queen was publicly acknowledging the importance of the six per cent of her subjects who are gay. Some of the worst persecution of gay people in the world takes place in Commonwealth countries as a result of the British Empire. Welsh Conservative MP David Davies said: I fail to see why the Queen needs to make a special statement on this country s opposition to discrimination against gays and women.
It is a statement of the blindingly obvious. My worry is the politically correct brigade will use it to silence legitimate debate about issues like gay marriage. One can t help wondering what Prince Philip s view would be.
Davies, who recently suggested most parents would prefer their children not to be gay , dismissed accusations that he is a homophobe by reminding people of his participation in an amateur boxing match against a gay fighter. Homosexual acts are illegal in 41 of the 54 Commonwealth nations, and penalties include the death sentence in parts of Nigeria and Pakistan, 25 years in jail in Trinidad and Tobego, 20 years plus flogging in Malaysia and life imprisonment in Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda, Bangladesh and Guyana. Only five Commonwealth countries recognise same-sex relationships: the UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa.
The charter, to be signed at London s Marlborough House, Pall Mall, is not directly linked to the issue of accession, the Queen s acceptance of it could signal a change in Royal accession rights for males and females. Before making her address, the Queen will celebrate the charter in a service at Westminster Abbey, where she will be joined by singer Beverly Knight, rock band the Noisettes and Sir Richard Branson. Beverly Knight has in the past spoken out against the blatant homophobia in a great deal of music from black artists including Beenie Man.
In May 2012, the founder of the Virgin Group, Sir Richard Branson, became the most high profile figure at that point to film a video for the Out4Marriage campaign, which calls for global equal marriage for gay couples.
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Indeed, the inflammatory remarks of these organisations represent no more than mischievous innuendo. I loved the broadcast. I ll tell you why.
At the outset, Benjamin Cohen made it clear that he was not a Christian, but a Jew, and therefore could not endorse the Trinity, of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Furthermore, he explained that as a Jew, he could not endorse Jesus as the Son of God. So, the listener knows at the outset they are not getting an unadulterated party political broadcast for the Christian party.
Rather, they are getting the view of an unbiased outsider, looking into the window of their world and faith. Benjamin also speaks movingly about his education at a Christian prep school, and how their nativities, with the wise men bringing gold, frankincense and myrrh were the most Jewish nativities you could ever imagine depicted. What brought me great joy during this part of the broadcast was that there was no hint of division or separation in Benjamin s voice.
On the contrary, there seemed to me equality and integration in Benjamin s school, of Christians and Jews alike. So while it may not be a story of depicting the Son of God for all, it definitively has resonance and familiarity for people of faith, as well as those of none at all. I see nothing blasphemous so far, nor anything that signifies a new low.
Benjamin also speaks movingly of his struggle in being Jewish in a predominantly Christian environment, more in a ritualistic way than a fierce, negative, ideological opposition. He struggled mainly with parts of the Christian Church like saying the Lord s Prayer, which are not part of the doctrine of his faith. This also partly alludes to struggles with being a gay Jew he alludes to.
As I suggested in my first article, coming out is not easy, especially when coming out directly opposes the most Holy doctrine of your faith, in Benjamin s case, the Torah. Benjamin suggests in his talk that Leviticus challenged him and his Jewish faith when it exhorted that Man shall not lie with another man as this would be considered an abomination. For Benjamin, this contrasted with earlier jubilation he felt after the 25 hour fast of Yom Kippur.
It was a testing time for him, he felt and he was extremely worried at the prospect of possible family abandonment. I think all of us in the LGBT community have a fear of difference, and the possibility of damage to familial or other relationships that we hold dear in our hearts. There is a cost to actions we take, and abandonment is one of them.
The classic reaction, of course is to try and fit in with the norms and values of your given culture, as nobody wants to be seen as the outsider, or to effectively have the door slammed shut in your face. Psychologically, we all need to belong to society in some ways. Benjamin was especially worried, as although there are some Jewish scholars and Rabbis who believe that Leviticus refers to male rape, or scholars who believe that it is out of date and out of touch with modernity, there are a great many that also believe the Torah is the literal word of God and should be read as such.
I can empathise with Benjamin here, since prior to transition, my former stepfather told me I was a disappointment to him as a man. Now, he was emotionally abusive across the board anyway, but knowing I had failed a test in his eyes was like an emotional knife wound. I wanted to please him, please my mother and thus maintain the status quo.
Since though, I am happy to report I have prospered. Benjamin admits he was lucky, and his family supported him. This for me is a double edged sword, and not for the reason you might expect, that of jealousy.
I think it is sad, and a sad indictment on our 2013 modern society when one has to feel lucky to express their sexuality, but also, this could be argued to be a very Western viewpoint when you stop to consider that in many countries across the globe, homosexuality is still illegal, and punishable by torrid means. I think everyone should be free to express their sexuality as they choose, and far from being a new low, it is conversely a complete high as one would hope that the end result would be a person feeling happy, content and whole. The imagery of Jesus and the Crucifixion clearly figures highly on Benjamin s mind, since the famous Biblical messianic text is quoted My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?
It is a Messianic text as foretold in the Psalms. All LGBT people, and to some extent all minority groups fear abandonment in relation to mere circumstance over which they have no control. Therefore, our sense of utter catharsis when that abandonment does not occur is palpable, truly.
Lastly, Benjamin ends with the image of the crucifix with Jesus looking down upon him when he convenes meetings of his local gay Jewish group in his garden, as he lives next door to a Catholic church. I think love is something all faiths can agree on as something vital and crucial to their creeds. I think all people can do similar.
But those who alleged blasphemy or suggested that depths of a new low had been plundered to me were left wanting in the extreme. Like Jesus, and like his family, Benjamin s message was one of love, and hope, especially for the young LGBT population. I applaud Radio 4 and the BBC for having the courage of its convictions, and broadcasting it in the face of protest.
I also applaud Benjamin for speaking out since I feel sure that he will have received condemnation from within his own Orthodox Jewish Community for speaking out so powerfully, and on a national platform. In closing, I have a message for the naysayers. You said the broadcast was blasphemous, and a new low.
I say, your blasphemy is simple fear. Fear of change and the unknown, not to mention bigotry. I believe that a Conservative translation of the Bible is bigoted, and robs it, or indeed any other religious text of its beauty.
One has to accept that when they choose dogma over enlightenment, they become isolated. I find the idea of a new low baffling. But you see, for organisations like Christian Concern and The Christian Institute every step towards inclusivity is a low.
For it represents a diminution of their brand of Christianity, and makes them hypervigilant. Their view of Christianity is monolithic. Mine is pluralistic.
There is room for more than one view of Christian doctrine, or indeed any other faith s doctrine. The fact that through the medium of radio, this idea is being offered up for consideration via Benjamin Cohen and BBC Radio 4 should be celebrated. As for new lows and blasphemy, they are not the fault of LGBT people.
but the fault of perception, and the free choice all were given.
Think about it.
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The Associated Press reports several of the school s parents and students wore pink t-shirts to a meeting of the school board last night in a show of support for Mr Klansnic. His attorney, Judy Snyder, said she and her client are preparing to file a lawsuit against the Gresham Barlow School District for discrimination and retaliation. She alleges that school officials began to treat the principal differently after he revealed his sexuality; he subsequently divorced his wife.
The Gresham Barlow School District said it could not comment on the matter.
Oregon state law protects anyone from discrimination because of sexual orientation and gender identity.
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Mr Bonin won on Tuesday night by a landslide, earning 61.9% of the votes. Candidates require more than 50% of the vote to avoid a runoff in May. He said on his website: I am grateful, relieved and thrilled to report that I won an outright victory yesterday, winning 61% of the vote.
I am truly humbled to have earned 17,566 votes more votes than any other city council candidate in the City of LA! Mr Bonin was quick to jump into the race, receiving an endorsement from Mr Rosendahl and managed to secure other major endorsements from politicians, neighbourhood groups and labour unions. During the election, he raised $357,000 ( 237,000) which was far more than his rivals Odysseus Bostick, Fred Sutton and Tina Hess, none of whom raised close to even $100,000 ( 66,380).
Mr Bonin will now represent the Westside of the city. He said: Working together, I know that we will move Los Angeles forward, do good, and get things done. There are several gay candidates who are still looking to win elections in Los Angeles including LA City Controller candidate Ron Galperin, LA Council District 13 candidate Mitch O Farrell and mayoral candidate Kevin James.
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He said: There have been a number of polls on the issue. The trend in general is moving toward acceptance of marriage equality. There will certainly be more conversation on this.
Our members are talking to their constituents, which is more important than any poll. Last November, a referendum to cement a same-sex marriage ban into the state s constitution was defeated in Minnesota. Legislators are now considering bills that would make same-sex marriage legal.
However, the poll of 800 Minnesotans showed that resistance is strong in outstate Minnesota where 73% oppose same-sex couples having the right to legally wed with only 27% in favour or undecided. The main support for same-sex marriage can be found in the Hennepin and Ramsin counties with 57% of people saying that same-sex marriage should be legalised. Autumn Leva, a spokeswoman for Minnesota for Marriage, a group that wants to block same-sex marriage said that the poll revealed Minnesotans decision to reject the constitutional amendment in November of last year does not mean they want to seek legalisation of same-sex marriage.
She claimed: The poll certainly helps highlight that the issue of the constitutional amendment is very separate from redefining marriage. However, Richard Carlbom, campaign manager for Minnesotans United for All Families, which campaigns to legalise same-sex marriage, said that their research shows that most Minnesotans want same-sex marriage. He said: Minnesotans are having a conversation about marriage.
I think at the end of this conversation, the Legislature and the people of Minnesota will be at a place where they don t think it should be illegal to marry the person you love.
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while on the cross, which Mr Cohen will say echoes the fear of abandonment experienced by gay people. Evangelical pressure group The Christian Institute has criticised Mr Cohen and the BBC for writing and broadcasting the talk, arguing that it is a slap in the face to Christians and a sign that the BBC is pushing a gay rights agenda . A spokesperson for the Christian Institute said: This is typical of the BBC s socially liberal bias which tries to distort the Christian message at every turn.
Using the crucifixion to push a gay rights agenda is a new low, even for the BBC. It s yet another slap in the face to every Christian who pays the licence fee. There have already been accusations of blasphemy over the talk.
Earlier this week Andrea Williams, director of Christian Concern, told the Telegraph that to draw upon the story of Christ and to link it with the experiences of gay people is blasphemous . To say that lack of acceptance of homosexual practice which we are told to flee in the Bible equates with the experience and suffering of Christ is to have totally misunderstood his message. Jesus loves everyone but his message to homosexual community is to turn away from their previous path.
She added: The BBC panders to a liberal, politically correct agenda and fails to take the opportunity to explore and educate its listeners about the true meaning of Lent and Easter. Speaking to PinkNews tonight, Benjamin Cohen said: I am surprised that the Christian Institute has decided to condemn my programme before it has even been broadcast. Like the rest of the talks in the series, mine focuses on the theme of abandonment in the story of Jesus and relates it to something familiar to me.
What the Christian Institute will discover if its members tune in is that as well as talking about homosexuality, I also talk about the impact of being taught at school that I as a Jew was responsible for the abandonment and crucifixion of Christ in the Gospel. It also equates the abandonment described in the text to the fear of abandonment that some LGBT experience before coming out. Mr Cohen, who studied Theology at King s College, University of London added: The only thing I directly criticise about Christianity and indeed any religion in my talk is that religion is often used as the basis for parents rejecting their LGBT children, something that I say is wrong and that it is terrible that this has in some cases led to young people committing suicide.
I m not sure what is blasphemous or offensive in this message at all. In his talk, Mr Cohen speaks about the experience of growing up in an Orthodox Jewish family but educated in a Church of England school and having mixed emotions about the figure of Jesus. In the programme he explains he was taught that, as a Jew, he was responsible for the death of the saviour.
When discussing his own coming out, Mr Cohen said his own fears of being abandoned like Christ were not justified. I was lucky, my family didn t abandon me and I haven t been rejected from my community, despite it being well known that I m gay, he says. Unfortunately, that s not the case for everyone, and I ve been written to by many young people whose families have abandoned them for being honest about who they love.
Some parents give them an ultimatum to ignore their feelings or even undergo controversial reparative therapies to turn themselves straight. Shockingly, every year, hundreds of people, mainly teenagers kill themselves because of their family or society s rejection of them, due to their sexuality. In many cases, the reason for this rejection is religion something that really angers and upsets me.
Religion should be about bringing families together, united in devotion and celebration, not tearing them apart. A BBC spokesman said: The theme of this year s Lent Talks is abandonment and features six well-known figures from public life, arts and religion. In this programme Benjamin Cohen talks about his personal fear of being abandoned by his own Jewish community for being gay.
In a comment piece for Pink News today reader Hannah Buchanan defended against the claims of blasphemy.
You can hear Benjamin Cohen s Lent Talks programme on BBC Radio 4 tonight, Wednesday 6 March, at 8:45 pm.
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We re still trying to understand the mechanisms. The new study included more than 82,000 US veterans, almost all men. About one-third of them were HIV positive.
During an average of almost six years, nearly 900 of the study participants had a heart attack, of which 176 were fatal. The researchers found that veterans with HIV were consistently more likely to suffer a heart attack than their HIV negative counterparts. After researchers took into account participants other heart risks including high blood pressure, diabetes and drug and alcohol use those with HIV were still 48% more likely to have a heart attack during the study period.
Last December, the US Centers for Disease Control reported that gay and bisexual men accounted for 63% of all new HIV infections in 2010 while representing 2% of the US population.
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Residents of the building heard how he screamed: Let me go! Let me go! at about 02:40 on Saturday morning, said Police Captain Frederick van Wyk.
A laptop and mobile phone were stolen from the flat, which was not locked. Police have not linked the case to recent reports of a gang targeting gay men by strangling them to death and ransacking their homes in the South African province of Gauteng but say they are similarities in the cases. News24 reports a man is due to appear in court in connection with Mr Flax s death.
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Beverly Kearney, an advocate for the LGBT community in Sacramento is now organising a kiss-in at the mall on 9 March to protest against the incident, reports the Sacramento Bee. She said: We re calling it a kiss-in because that s why they were ejected from the mall. On Tuesday, the shopping centre released a written statement about the incident: All of our customers are welcome, and all are welcome equally including those displaying affection.
We do have rules and occasionally our security officers approach customers, inform them of the rules, and ask them to comply. We re sorry for any misperceptions with regard to the incident reported upon yesterday. At Westfield, we celebrate the diversity of our employees, shoppers and community, and will continue to provide a safe and enjoyable environment for all.
However, the statement did not satisfy members of the gay and lesbian community and customers expressed their displeasure on the Galleria s Facebook page. The shopping centre released a revised statement late Tuesday night explaining that simple displays of affection including kissing and holding hands were okay but Mr Chesmore and Mr Guzman broke rules that ban sexually explicit conduct, and that the security officer asked them to stop this conduct but did not ask them to leave. The statement does not specify what the type of conduct was but says that similar conduct by heterosexual couples has resulted in the same requests to follow the rules.
Mr Chesmore and Mr Guzman could not be reached for comment, however Ms Kearney said that the statement did not apologise for what happened. She said: It feels to me like it s placating. As someone said, You re not sorry for what happened.
You re sorry you got caught.
The Galleria s statement also said they will embrace the kiss-in, and that all of our customers are welcome including those displaying affection.
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