Totally Plucked: Turkey Bans Grindr

Author: Eugene Riordan, Jr.

There’s a chance that you’re first-handedly familiar with the most famous gay phone app Grindr, but if not, you’ve probably heard of the networking app that lets queer men find each other nearby. For that reason it has gained a reputation for being used primarily for hooking up, which is most likely the reason why it has been recently banned overseas.

 

A court decision in Turkey has made it so that accessing Grindr within the country is impossible. Starting a few weeks ago, when trying to access the app, users will get this message:

 

“The decision no 2013/406 dated 26/08/2013, which is given about this website (grindr.com) within the context of protection measure, of ’İstanbul Anadolu 14. Sulh CM’ (İstanbul Anatolia 14th Criminal Court of Peace) has been implemented by ’Telekomünikasyon İletişim Başkanlığı’ (Telecommunications Communication Presidency).”

 

While saying that it has been banned is one thing, explaining it is another. Hayriye Kara, the lawyer for KAOS GL, Turkey’s leading lgbt activist organization, agreed that the message and the decision are opaque and unknown to the public. “The court decision is not published online and so we have no access to the procuration and therefore do not yet know what was the reason for the censorship,” Kara reported to the Huffington Post. “It is most likely related to ’general morality,’ an ambiguous term used often against trans sex workers.”

 

It’s been confirmed that so far, other queer networking, dating, and hookup sites will still work, but many see the ban as a reflection of larger issues with the Turkish state. The ban is a challenge to the queer minority, reinforce a “traditional heterosexual family,” and show the power of the state in decisions nationwide, especially after the public demonstrations in Gezi Park this summer. The Media Coodrinator for KAOS GL, Ömer Akpınar, reiterated these sentiments. “In its justifications for suppressing freedom of information under the guise of ‘responsible reporting’ the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is trying to create a division between ‘good and bad citizens’, while LGBT people has never been considered as equal citizens all through the history of Turkish Republic.”

 

These sentiments are true worldwide: countries scapegoating queer people to hide problems with the economy or other areas where the government feels is losing control or would rather not improve.

 

Because of the government impinging on the free speech of its queer citizens, Grindr and KAOS GL are partnering to get signatures on a petition to pressure the Turkish government to lift the ban. Grindr reported that of its 6 million users worldwide, 125,000 of them were active in Turkey before the ban, and it would like to get them talking again. The petition is written from the viewpoint of the European Union’s rulings, the union of which Turkey has been trying to join for over a decade.

 

You8 should sign the petition here if you see the issue as preventing Turks from exercising their freedom of speech, or even if you just believe in the freedom of sex. Government censorship isn’t going to go away anytime soon throughout the world, but standing up for human rights is important for everyone worldwide.

 

I mean, just imagine if Grindr were banned in the U.S. How would anyone meet anymore?

LZ Granderson: The Myth of The Gay Agenda

“…I have taught myself to sew, cook, fix plumbing, build furniture – I can even pat myself on the back when necessary…. There’s nothing I need from anyone except for love and respect. And anyone who can’t give me those two things has no place in my life.”

- Arnold from “Torch Song Trilogy.”

Visit Bing or Yahoo. Google or Duck Duck Go.

(Don’t worry, we’ll wait.)

Now: search for the words “Gay Agenda.”

(We’ll be right here, so be sure to come back. Better yet, open up another window or tab. There you go.)

Here’s what you’ll find: you’ll discover and learn more about us here at GayAgenda.com (please do that!).

You’ll also see many, many other “interesting” finds. Most notably, you’ll encounter a lot of people who have coined the hateful term and idea of the “gay agenda,” words we happily reclaim.

Among the search results you’ll find will be CNN reporter-journalist LZ Granderson’s world renowned, fact-filled, heartwarming and humorous TED Talk, “The Myth of the Gay Agenda.”

Remember that “Gay Agenda” search engine quest from before? LZ really, really went there too—in fact, he went into some extended search action…!

The results he found included a wealth of hate-monger speech and ignorance-laden articles and updates about the “dangerous gay lifestyle,” and the “dangerous gay agenda.”

On thumbing through result after result of anti-gay propaganda, Granderson reflects: “If I’m gay and I’m doing something that’s going to destroy civilization, I need to figure out what this stuff is. And, I need to stop doing it right now!” [The audience laughs.]

“I took a look at my life—a hard look at my life,” he goes on, “And I saw some things very disturbing. And I want to begin sharing these ‘evil’ things that I’ve been doing with you, starting with my mornings.

[The audience continues laughing along with LZ.] He continues the in-joke: “I drink coffee. Not only do I drink coffee. I know other people who drink coffee.”

Granderson directs us to the first slide of a PowerPoint presentation with the laughable title, “The Super Duper Evil Gay Lifestyle,” emblazoned with the rainbow flag.

He walks us through his happily partnered life and the daily goings on of being a busy parent. He then goes on to masterfully, ironically illustrate his points. “Run for your heterosexual lives, people!” Granderson humorously “threatens” during the conference, dismantling the hateful rhetoric that anti-gay bigots just so happen to throw around.

At the end of the day, LZ Granderson’s presentation fights for, in his own words, “Love and respect….trying to find your place in the world.” It seems so simple—the real “agenda” has to do with those who seek to complicate it. To destroy rights that have already been granted, and to prevent acquisition of others.

Finding and enjoying “love and respect:” in essence, this is everyone’s “agenda.” Granderson brilliantly brings these and other heartening ideas to the fore.

When he talks about love, his family, adoption and marriage equality, your eyes will get misty, your lips will quiver, you’ll be reminded of your own humanity. His talk is quite lovely and forever relevant.

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LZ Granderson, who writes a weekly column for CNN.com, was named journalist of the year by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. He is a senior writer and columnist for ESPN the Magazine and ESPN.com. He spoke at TEDx Grand Rapids in May 2012. TED is a nonprofit organization dedicated to “Ideas worth spreading” which it makes available through talks posted on its website. (http://www.tedxhappyvalley.com/lz-granderson-the-myth-of-the-gay-agenda/)

You can tweet your reactions and support to LZ  @Locs_n_Laughs.

Click here to watch the video—with choreographed light saber moves and all the belly laughs you can stand included. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CstD6O95L-o)

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So what did you think of LZ Granderson’s TED Talk ?

Lesbian Murdered In South Africa

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South Africa may be the only African nation that allows same-sex marriage and recognizes gay rights, but that doesn’t mean it is free from homophobia and hate. News that a young lesbian had been found murdered and sexually mutilated last week was greeted with horror and sadness by gay rights campaigners and commentators.

The twenty-six year old was killed in what appeared to be a homophobic attack and was found with a toilet brush inserted into her vagina, in the Thokoza area, just east of Johannesburg.

“The woman was last seen at a local shebeen and we are awaiting the results of a post-mortem to determine whether she had been raped,” Captain Godfrey Maditsi of the Thokoza police station told newspaper reporters. He also confirmed that as yet no arrests have been made and asked members of the public to come forward with any information that could assist the police with their inquires.

At least seven people, five of them lesbians, have been murdered in South Africa between June and November 2012 during what appears to have been targeted violence against them because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Only a couple of weeks ago the global human rights charity, Amnesty International, warned that homophobic attacks had increased dramatically in the South Africa in recent years.

Many local campaigners fear this is the tip of the iceberg, as many lesbian and gay people are deeply frightened about reporting instances of homophobic attacks or abuse. Party because of the fear of reprisals from those responsible in the first place, but a lack of trust that the Police will either believe them or do anything over such attacks.

US Radio Pastors Blame Gay Kiss For Colorado’s Wild Fires

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How can the so called religious right be oh so wrong? I could hardly believe the headline that two pastors in the US state of Colorado have blamed a single kiss between two men for the devastating Colorado wildfires.

Could it really be true that the pastors, supposedly being messengers of god really be saying the cause of the fires was god’s wrath over seeing a newspaper picture of two guys kissing. It had to be a joke didn’t it? But nope, apparently it’s true, speaking on Generations Radio, pastors Kevin Swanson and Dave Buehner, blamed God’s wrath over the Colorado Springs wildfires, on recently approved civil unions legislation and abortion law for the fires.

Swanson also went on to blame the cover of The Denver Post newspaper, which featured State House Majority Leader Mark Ferrandino, kissing his partner, for the wildfires. Buehner said: “Like the very first day [of the Legislative session], was to pass that civil union bill, which is an uncivil bill.”

Swanson responded: “When you have a state where the House leadership is performing a homosexual act on the front page of the Denver Post two months ago? Does God read the Denver Post? Do you think He picks up a copy of the Denver Post? He gets it. God gets the Denver Post.”

Buehner went on to say that the state should be grateful that God “hasn’t destroyed the whole state yet”, “as an act of grace”. I couldn’t believe it, it would make my blood boil and incandescent rage envelope my whole body were it not so utterly ridiculous and nonsensical. The more I read the report of what these two men of god spouted the more incredible it seemed and I wondered for their sanity, no I’m not being cruel, I really mean that, are they sane, really? The pair went on to blame “metrosexual” men for not growing out their facial hair, and wearing “fairy shoes”, and feminist acts like wearing hats, for going against God’s word.

These man obviously have little respect for their ‘god’ if they think he would kill thousands of animals, a dozen humans and ravage thousands of miles of land, just for a kiss, between two guys on the cover of a newspaper or the idea that same sex couples should be allowed to get married, what an evil, vindictive god he must be and certainly not the god I recognise from the scriptures.

On one hand it makes me laugh that these guys are so deluded and mentally deranged, yet it also makes me sad that there will be people out there, listening to that radio show believing every word of it simple because its said by a couple of pastors. It is equally sad because, such stories reach far beyond America’s borders and what sort of message is it sending out? Not one that reflects well on the US that’s for sure!

Anti-Gay Laws Pass in Nigeria

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Nigeria’s House of Representatives recently voted in favour of a ban on gay marriage, outlaw any groups actively supporting gay rights and endorsing a measure that also calls for 10-year prison sentences for any “public show” of affection by a same-sex couple.

The House of Representatives appeared to unanimously approve the proposal in a voice vote, sending it immediately to the President, Goodluck Jonathan for him to sign it into law in Africa’s most populous nation.

Nigeria’s Senate previously passed the bill back in November 2011, although it seemed to disappear in procedure for some time before re-emerging in the most recent session of the House. This new law would not only ban any same-sex marriage from taking place either in a mosque or a church, it would also see same-sex couples face up to 14 years in jail for marrying in other locations. In a horrendous abuse of freedom the law would also have implications for friends and relations of gay people, as anyone who witnesses or conducts same-sex marriages would face a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.

The law would also effectively silence Nigeria’s gay population, as under the proposed legislation anyone taking part in a group advocating for gay rights or anyone caught in a “public show” of affection also would face 10 years in prison. Many fear this is just the start of an anti-gay campaign by the political leaders in the country that would lead to custodial sentences for simply being gay or lesbian. There is already a ban on gay sex in the country and a culture of hatred toward gay people has existed for many years, including when the country was rules by the British Empire.

The bill is currently with President Goodluck Jonathan awaiting for his approval or an incredibly unlikely veto. So far all requests for comment on this issue have gone unanswered either by his office or the President himself. The UK, which gives millions free money and aid to Nigeria has previously threatened to stop aid to nations that discriminate against gays, but no money has yet been stopped to any nation on this basis. Plus there seems little appetite among the government elite to make a stand on the issue because of the backbench revolt Prime Minister David Cameron faced over his stand on gay marriage recently.

During 2011 President Barack Obama issued a similar directive asking officials to “ensure that US diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of” gays, lesbians and the transgender people included having diplomats “combat the criminalisation” of being gay by foreign governments, yet the US remains the biggest customer for the Nigerian oil industry.

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Gay Couple Faced Death Threats During Anti-Gay Attack In London

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A gay male couple were walking through a South London park during the early hours of Sunday 19th May when they were viciously assaulted by a gang of men, one of the attackers saying “stay down faggot.”

Christopher Bryant, 42, along with his partner Damon Truluck, 38, were walking home across Betts Park in Penge, in the London Borough of Bromley, when six men approached them. “We saw them too late to get away. We ran, and I was getting away, but they caught Damon, my partner, and so I doubled back. I tried to get them off him, and that’s when they thumped me to the ground.“ Mr Bryant told local media.

“When I looked up to see if he was ok one of them kicked me in the face, and said ‘stay down faggot’. Every time I looked up to see what was happening to Damon they either thumped or kicked me, and said ‘don’t try anything’. They went through my pockets and took my wallet and phone. But they kept hitting. Before they ran off they pushed us together and told us to stay still for 5 minutes or they’d kill us.”

The vicious assault took place not long after midnight, just hours after Mr Bryant had celebrated his 42nd birthday. The attack has left both men bruised and battered with Truluck also having injuries to his back and hip, finding it difficult to walk.

In a cruel ironic twist, before this anti-gay attack both men were raising awareness of Friday’s International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia through online magazine http://www.polarimagazine.com.

London’s Metropolitan police are investigating the incident but so far no arrests have been made.

No Marriage Equality for Northern Ireland

Marriage Equality in Northern Ireland took a step back earlier this week when the unionist politicians defeated a Sinn Féin bid to create marriage equality for gay couples. The votes of the Democratic Unionist party and Ulster Unionist party in the Stormont Assembly combined to heap defeat a Sinn Féin motion backed by the SDLP, Alliance and the Green party.

The defeat of the proposed bill could set the scene for a legal challenge in both the British and European courts against the continued ban on gay marriage in that part of the UK. Amnesty International repeated warnings that the prospect of a a gay couple taking a legal case to the European Court of Human Rights is now a distinct possibility.

Sinn Féin Assembly member for South Down Caitriona Ruane said: “Attitudes in Ireland are changing because people do not want to see people discriminated against. The gay community has said enough is enough. They are standing up for themselves and their communities.”

She claimed young people were turning to suicide by because of the taunts. “If they don’t have an alternative voice to the vitriolic gay-bashing they will internalise it,” she said.

Unionists were backed to oppose the bill not only by the main Protestant churches but also the Catholic Church. However, the gay Christian lobby group Changing Attitudes Ireland condemned the unionist veto on marriage equality. Church of Ireland minister Canon Charles Kenny, the secretary of Changing Attitudes Ireland, said: “The year is drawing nearer when the love and justice expressed in the gospels will win out and sweep away the faith-based prejudice against gay and lesbian couples.”

Sammy Wilson of the Democratic Unionist party defended the stance his party made, saying he was proud of his party’s veto and said colleagues would use it again to defeat “reckless” legislation.

Many feel the lack of advancement in Northern Ireland, on many issues, including women’s rights, equality, marriage equality and abortion is reflecting badly on the rest of the United Kingdom more liberal views.

Three Gay Teens Killed At Death Camp To Make Them Real Men!

 

Raymond Buys looked a picture of health and vitality before being sent by his mother to The Echo Wild Game Rangers training course, to “Make him a better man, to give him a better future” on 12th January 2011. Less than ten weeks later the 15 year old was in hospital, severely malnourished, dehydrated, his arm was broken in two places and there were cigarette burns and wounds all over his body.

He was put on life support in intensive care just two months into the three-month course at the bush camp an hour away from Johannesburg, South Africa. He was so badly injured his mother was told by the doctors the chances of his survival were ‘Virtually Zero’. Raymond Buys lay for four weeks in intensive care before he died.

‘I sent my son on this course to make him a better man, to give him a better future,’ Raymond’s mother, Wilma told The Daily Telegraph. ‘I trusted Alex de Koker with his life.’ Mrs Buys explained how her son had been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and was struggling at school and that the course run by Alex de Koker, had been recommended to her by a friend. Mr de Koker, promised her he could help, that he could find her son a job in the wildlife trade.

During the first two months of her son’s placement at the camp, she says she spoke to Raymond just three times – and was told by Mr de Koker that he was self-harming. “Raymond was only allowed to speak to me on speaker-phone,” she said. “When I asked him why he was hurting himself, he told me ‘Mum, I’m not doing it to myself’.”

Mr de Koker called Mrs Buys on 23rd March and informed her that Raymond had been admitted to hospital for tests. When she arrived at the hospital, she found that he was dying.

Alex de Koker, 49, The Echo Wild Game Rangers ‘General’ and employee Michael Erasmus, 20, are on trial for charges of murder, child abuse and neglect, along with two cases of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm in relation to Raymond Buys’ death.

Last week, the Vereeniging District Court heard the harrowing testimony of a boy who had shared a tent with Raymond Buys. Gerhard Oostuizen, 19, claims Buys was chained to his bed every night, was refused permission to visit the toilet and on one occasion was forced to eat his own faeces. On another occasion Oosthuizen said, that after Mr Buys tipped over a container of washing powder, he was forced to eat what he had spilled and vomited foam.

The 19 year old told how he observed that Mr Buys would be beaten with planks, hosepipes and sticks when he failed to carry out manual labour tasks. Oostuizen further alleges he saw Alex de Koker tie Buys to a chair naked with his head covered in a pillowcase, and would electrocute him with a stun gun.

Raymond is not the first young man to have allegedly died at the hands of Alex de Koker, there have been at least two others deaths at the camp. Eric Calitz, 18, and Nicolaas Van Der Walt, 19, have both died after being enrolled at the Echo Wild Game Rangers camp held on a farm near Vereeniging in 2007. The Calitz’s family were initially informed of his Eric’s death by text message. They were told that their son had died of a heart attack. Subsequently, the cause of death was changed to a seizure, and later, to dehydration. It was eventually revealed that Calitz had died from bleeding on the brain. Van der Walt’s death was first believed to have been a heart attack, but according to local media and forensic reports, the youth appeared to have been choked with a seatbelt.

The trouble started for Eric Calitz when he requested to leave expensive camp, de Koker reportedly told him he ‘wasn’t a moffie [gay] and he would make a man out of him’.

The Echo Wild Game Rangers training camp was supposedly set up by de Koker to teach boys how to become game rangers. However, police reports of the kind of activities that teens would undertake while on the camp do not suggest that a lot of “game ranging” took place. A preliminary police investigation in 2007 found that “the para-military style training presented on this course was not normal ranger training”. In that year, the court heard that De Koker and his “co-instructors” addressed each other using military ranks, and taught skills like leopard crawling and endurance running and walking.

In 2009, De Koker was handed a suspended sentence over Calitz but escaped charges for the death of Van Der Walt, and the camp was allowed to continue.

Gender activist Melanie Nathan has said the three young men were all perceived as ‘gay and clearly effeminate’. ‘With a little bit of digging [into the story], the gay reparative undertones start to emerge.’ Nathan wrote.

Both de Koker and Erasmus have pleaded not guilty to the charges, the court resumes in May.

The Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill Drops Death Penalty Clause.

The committee of Ugandan MPs that endorsed the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill have dropped the death penalty provision, claims MP Medard Segona. He told media outlets there had been “substantial amendments” to the horrific bill that increases penalties for being gay in the African nation, however he said he was not allowed to reveal further details.  Segona, is a member of the Legal and Parliamentary committee of Uganda’s parliament said “I can confirm it has been dropped.” Adding “Some of us who are human rights activists would discourage the death penalty.”

The Ugandan parliament will shortly debate the bill and Segona believes this will happen before Christmas, although refused to be more precise. In recent statement the speaker of the Ugandan parliament, Rebecca Kadaga promised the bill would be passed as a “Christmas gift” to all its advocates and supporters.

The bill has been tabled by MP David Bahati, well known for his deeply homophobic views, proposes longer jail terms for homosexual acts, including a life sentence in certain circumstances. Before the change , the original bill included the death penalty for those convicted of “aggravated homosexuality” which was defined as when one of the participants is a minor, HIV-positive, disabled or a “serial offender”.

The original drafting of the bill also prohibited the “promotion” of gay rights and called for the punishment of anyone who “funds or sponsors homosexuality” or “abets homosexuality” and sentences will be long.

There appears to be broad support for the bill in the Ugandan parliament, even President Yoweri Museveni who would have to sign the bill before it becomes law, is known to be supportive however international pressure is likely to increase dramatically.

US President Barack Obama who described the bill as “odious” and many International donors have threatened to cut off aid to Uganda if the country does not do more to protect the rights of gay people, including the UK, Canada and the US.

“If the Americans think they can tell us what to do, they can go to hell” said
John Nagenda, Ugandan presidential adviser recently.

Uganda is one of 38 African nations where homosexuality is currently illegal where penalties range from 1 year to life imprisonment. Three nations, Sudan, Mauritania and Nigeria still have the death penalty for being gay.

One In Four Young Gay People Assaulted

Shocking new researched finds that one in four young gay people in England have been assaulted simply because of their sexuality, whilst over half have self-harmed in some way.  Forty-seven per cent say they have received threats or intimidation as a result of being gay. These statistics are alarming and the research from Youth Chances, are a stark reminder of the difficulties faced by young lesbian, gay, bi and transgender people in the UK.

Youth Chances are undertaking the biggest social research project into young GLBT people across the UK. Eventually this three-year project will conducted research with some 15,000 young people, whilst the shocking figures released last week are based on initial findings from the first 3,500 responses.

Many experts and observers are very concerned by the statistics on self-harm, which, based on this initial research, are much higher than the national average of around one in 12 young people. Some researchers and commentators suggest this may be indicative of the mental turmoil many GLBT teenagers go though during their educational lives whilst coming to terms with and coming out about their sexuality.

According to this research young gay women were significantly more likely to self-harm, two-thirds said they had hurt themselves on purpose, compared to thirty-seven per cent of young men. However, the most vulnerable seemed to be the young Transgender people, nearly four out of five admitting they had deliberately self-harmed.

Youth Chances project manager, Dan Baker, said: “In 2012, despite improvements which entitle LGBT people to equality, it’s still a really challenging environment to grow up in. Self-harm jumped out as a really alarming statistic. Self-harm is a way of people expressing an internal issue that they might not be able to express. Maybe Britain is not as tolerant as we thought.”

The UK is sometimes considered to be well ahead of many other countries around the world in terms of GLBT equality and the fight against discrimination on the grounds of sexuality, yet this research shows there are still large swathes of prejudice where homophobic bullying presents a pressing and worrying problem. Youth Chances say that the research demonstrates that public attitudes have yet to catch up with the advancing legal situation. “There’s a lot of great equality now, such as allowing gay couples to adopt and have civil partnerships. But, despite the progress, there seem to be lots of cases of harassment and even assault. If people are being taunted or attacked because of who they are, it shows public opinion and behaviour hasn’t caught up with legislation.” Said Dan Baker.

Many believe part of the problem is that bullying about sexuality is not being adequately controlled or handled sufficiently in schools. According to recent research from gay rights and equality charity Stonewall, ninety per cent of secondary school teachers and around forty per cent of primary teachers had regularly witnessed homophobic bullying in schools.

I personally am appalled by the initial findings of this research, I really thought we had come a great distance from the kind of abuse I faced coming out in the early 80’s, yet it seems the same sort of prejudice and discrimination is still out there, in fact according to this report, it seems more vicious than it was in my youth. We as a society should really see this as a frightening wake up call, young people should not be having to cope with such prejudice and hatred. Every school has a duty to protect kids from all forms of bullying, including homophobic bullying and they should work so much harder to achieve an environment, not only of learning, but also of tolerance and acceptance free from hatred and abuse.