Paris Protest Against Gay Marriage Turns Violent.

paris-anti-gay-250313

More then a million homophobes marched through the streets of Paris, France last Sunday 26th May in a specially organised demonstration against the recently passed French law that legalised same-sex marriage and adoption.

At least that’s the number the organisers, Manif Pour Tous, would have you believe that attended their march and demonstration of intolerance. The authorities paint a slightly different picture of the event that rapidly turned to violence at the end, with nearly 300 people being arrested, for they announced the estimated number of attendees amassed a little over 150,000.

Regardless of the actual number of people present, there is little doubt that not everyone in France is happy about the same-sex marriage and adoption bill that was signed into law earlier this month by President François Hollande.

Manif Pour Tous, have organised several demonstrations against the bill over the recent months, that have seen hundreds of thousands of people marching on the streets of the capital. However, much like many of the previous demonstrations, tensions rose until violent clashes erupted between the police and demonstrators during the evening. According to official reports, b by the end of the night the police had arrested 293 people had been arrested and thousands of dollars worth of damaged caused.

The demonstrators hurled glass bottles, smoke bombs and even sound grenades at police whilst chanting various things including “Hollande resign!” Some protesters carried signs that read “Made in Mama + Papa,” while others waved pink and blue flags.

Manif Pour Tous are already planning other events, regardless of the fact that there is little chance of the new legislation being repealed “[The] message is that we’re not letting go of anything, that we’re going to continue to resist. The idea is to show that although the law has been passed, we are still mobilised,” Marie-Camille Richard, deputy communications director of Manif Pour Tous said. “We are a movement that must now be considered a part of the French political landscape. Not political in the sense that we will engage in politics, but political in the sense that politicians today must recognise our presence.”

Whilst many of the anti-gay marriage campaigners and commentators have blamed the violent behaviour of some of the demonstrators on ultra far right groups, they have done little to distance themselves or their campaign against equality from such groups, even utilising their social network pages and profiles to help organise events and mobilise supporters.

While the same-sex marriage and adoption bill may already have been passed, there are still many questions yet to be addressed of assisted reproduction and surrogacy for gay and lesbian couples which will come up for debate shortly. Both issues are vigorously opposed by France’s social conservative and religious groups and Manif Pour Tous have promised they‘ll be there every step of the way.

Gay Marriage Bill Passes In UK Parliament

Campaigners demonstrate for a "yes" vote to allow gay marriage, as they protest outside Parliament in London
Marriage Equality in the United Kingdom came a step closer on Tuesday Night when Members of Parliament voted to approve the Marriage (same-sex couples bill) at it’s third reading by 366 votes to 161, a majority of 205.

After two days of debate, with many amendments offered and discussed, the Culture Secretary and Minister for Equalities, Maria Miller told Mps just before the crucial vote “I accept that for some colleagues their beliefs mean that the principle of this issue is an insurmountable barrier to supporting this change.

“But to other colleagues I say, now is the time. Let us not be side-tracked nor distracted. Let us not expand the remit of this bill beyond its original intention. Let us make equal marriage possible because it is the right thing to do and then let us move on. I am pleased to commend this bill to the House.”

It has been a most dramatic time at London’s House of Parliament, on Monday the bill was in danger of being completely stalled by an amendment from a backbench Tory MP, thankfully in a deal with the opposition leader Ed Miliband, they overcame the wrecking amendment, which was designed purly to slow up and even halt the bill in its

There were a few further complications on Tuesday afternoon because of an amendment calling for Humanist marriage ceremonies to be legalised at the same time. Even though it had widespread support from Liberal Democrat and Labour MPs – the amendment was withdrawn after the attorney general warned that it would fall foul of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Under the bill, the Church of England and the Church in Wales would be banned from offering same-sex marriages because of their strongly stated opposition, unless they changed canon law. Whilst other religious organisations would be able to “opt in” to holding same-sex ceremonies.

Marriage Equality and getting the bill passed the Commons has been an enormous challenge for the UK Prime Minister David Cameron and is seen by many as a key part of his modernisation of the Conservative party, giving it wider appeal to the younger generations. However, such a move has cost the leader support from many old guard in the party, MP Crispin Blunt conceded that it has cost Cameron support – “He’s made his point, everyone knows the fire he’s going through with some of his own colleagues in order to deliver this and I hope people are going to be appropriately grateful for the fantastic leadership that he’s shown on this.” he told gay media in the UK

In terms of the current opposition to the measure, Mr Blunt added: “Once this is done, it’s finished, it’s over and everyone will wonder what on earth all the fuss was about.”

The Bill will now head to the House of Lords where it is likely to face determined and uncompromising opposition. The House of Lord’s are the older unelected chamber in UK’s archaic political system and are well known for their opposition to such moves towards equality. If the bill passes in the House of Lords, it could mean that same-sex marriages could be legal in the UK as early as the autumn of 2014.

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.

French President Calls For Calm

President Francois Hollande of France has publicly condemned the displays of homophobic violence that have occurred in the country over the recent days and weeks at an alarming rate.

“Homophobic acts, violent acts have been committed. The right to protest is recognised by our constitution and accepted by the French. But no protest must degenerate,” said President Hollande on Thursday 18th April, speaking after France’s Interior Ministry had confirmed that four people had been detained on suspicion of carrying out a vicious attack at a gay bar in Lille. The bar owner blamed the incident on the mounting “tensions” in the country over the same-sex marriage bill currently going through the French National Assembly.

There is growing concern over the levels and ferocity of an increased number of homophobic attacks and abuse in France over the last two weeks. Several anti-gay protests have turned violent in many cities across the country. A protest on Wednesday turned ugly when several thousand anti-gay protesters damaged cars, vandalised public property and attacked police officers and journalists.

Many gay activists and pro marriage equality supporters have reported threats of violence directed at them and according to gay groups monitoring the situation, reports of anti-gay and homophobic violence has gone up by a staggering and shocking 30% this year alone.

Manuel Valls, the Interior Minister is believed to have held meetings with representatives of security forces in order to “reinforce security measures surrounding protests following the excesses of the past days”. He has also verbally pledged to prevent further homophobic assaults.

French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has also condemned the violence and has called for calm. “These protests have a right to take place, we are in a republic. But calls for violence, calls to hate, must be condemned,” he said earlier last week.

 

UK Prime Minister Supports Gay Marriages in Chruch!

The United Kingdom moved ever closer to full marriage equality last week when the Prime Minister, David Cameron pledge his support for gay marriage, both in civil offices and religious places of worship such as churches, synagogues and mosques. Speaking after an event in Redditch last Friday afternoon he said “I’m a massive supporter of marriage and I don’t want gay people to be excluded from a great institution.” However he had it clear that even though he is a passionate support of same sex marriage, he doesn’t want religious institutions to be forced into conducting gay ceremonies, “But let me be absolutely 100% clear, if there is any church or any synagogue or any mosque that doesn’t want to have a gay marriage it will not, absolutely must not, be forced to hold it. That is absolutely clear in the legislation. Also let me make clear, this is a free vote for Members of Parliament but personally I will be supporting it.”

David Cameron

The results of a government consultation on marriage equality will become known in the next few days however, information already leaked suggests that not only the government go to Europe to fix in a legal lock to protect churches and religious from being sued should they choose not to conduct same sex marriages. The UK Culture Secretary, Maria Miller will formally launch the same-sex marriage bill on 13th December, when she officially reveal the government’s response to the consultation. A government spokesman said: ‘We are committed to bringing equal civil marriage forward and the consultation results will be announced next week. We are very clear that religious organisations must be protected and that none will be forced to conduct same-sex marriage. EU law is very clear that this is the case and we will additionally bring in very strong legal locks to ensure that this is watertight.’

Many believe the legislation will pass when it is debated in Parliament as the leaders of all three major parties have already confirmed their support for gay marriage, Nick Clegg, Liberal Democrat leader and Deputy Prime Minister said ‘I’m a supporter and always have been of same sex marriage, because I think marriage is a wonderful thing, a wonderful institution. It’s a demonstration of a couple’s commitment to each other, of their loving relationship and they wish to celebrate that in the eyes of society and I think we should make that celebration, that ceremony if you like, available to everyone regardless of who they are. It’s very important to remember that in our plans we’re not going to force any church or any religious denomination to hold same sex marriage ceremonies if they don’t want to but I do think it’s time that we allow any couple, no matter who they are, to marry if that’s what they want to do.’

The Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church are among some other religious denominations that have voiced their anger and complete opposition to same-sex marriage, however there are some, perhaps more enlightened religious groups, including Quakers, Unitarians and Liberal Judaism, that are in favour of gay marriage and are believed to be likely to apply to be allowed to stage ceremonies. The recording clerk for the Quakers in Britain, Paul Parker, said: “For Quakers, this is an issue of religious freedom and we don’t seek to impose this on others.”

With the majority of society supporting the move in the UK there has never been a better time for marriage equality to come to fruition.

New UK Anti-Gay Marriage Archbishop Announced.

The Bishop of Durham Justin Welby has been named as the next Archbishop of Canterbury, the head of the Church of England. The Eaton and Cambridge University educated man is a former oil trader and has only been the Bishop of Durham for a year will take of from the current archbishop, Dr Rowan Williams towards the end of the year.

Only last month, Dr Williams, admitted the Church of England’s attitude to gay relationships had often been harmful to gay people he had also said that while his leadership was “wrong” not to have advocated gay equality, David Cameron was wrong to have embarrassed the church over the issue of equal marriage.

Bishop Welby comes from a more conservative evangelical position who is strict on belief in the bible and is opposed to same-sex marriage as well as gay people serving as bishops. However during a speech in London on Friday he offered a little glimmer of hope that gay’s are not going to face a religious battering when he takes over, saying the Church of England must have “no truck with any form of homophobia”.

During the speech at Lambeth Palace Welby indicated he might be willing to talk to the gay community.

“It is absolutely right for the state to define the rights and status of people cohabiting in different forms of relationships, including civil partnerships.

“We must have no truck with any form of homophobia in any part of the church”.

He also said that he supported the House of Bishops’ statement in the summer in response to the government’s consultation on same-sex marriage, they strongly opposed the measure. Welby added, “But I also know I need to listen very attentively to the LGBT communities and examine my own thinking carefully and prayerfully,”

I’m not holding my breath for a more liberal Church of England and whilst I really do believe that before the 2015 elections, we will see marriage equality in the UK, the fight from the church will be particularly vicious and ferocious.

Legal Safeguards Possible For UK Church’s In Gay Marriage Bill

The Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain is considering additional “locks” for its proposed equal marriage legislation in order to protect faith groups from the threat of legal action, if the legislation goes ahead, according to the Culture Secretary Maria Miller.

During an interview with serious British newspaper the Telegraph, Mrs Miller said: “I would not introduce a Bill that would in any way impinge on a church’s power to decide who it marries. Faith groups should have the ability to control that. There are already clear protections within European law. Marriage is all about creating some stability in society.” she told the paper.

The possible introduction of protections for religious bodies in the bill comes after months of warnings from back bench MP‘s that European law increases the risk of faith organisations facing potential legal action if they refuse to provide gay couples with same-sex marriages.

“It is all about helping people have long-term relationships together. I think more people should be married and I don’t think the state should stand in the way of people getting married unless there is a really good reason — and being gay isn’t one of them.”

There has never been a better time for marriage equality in the UK, with the leaders of all three of the major political parties supporting equality and earlier this year the government opened a marriage equality consultation. They are due to issue a formal response to that consultation before the end of this year.

 

Ed Miliband’s Out4Marriage video

Maria Miller’s Out4Marriage video here.

Stephen Fry’s Out4Marriage video here.

UK’s Most Influential GLBT Celebrities

A leading UK Sunday newspaper conducted a poll among its readers to find the gay great and good of the UK. Last weekend the Independent on Sunday published a comprehensive listing of in influential lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people who have in some way made Great Britain a safer, fairer, better and more entertaining society.

There were quite a few surprises in the informed list with a number of sports men and women entering the poll, which is perhaps unsurprisingly considering the capital hosting the Olympic games this summer.

Topping the list and a new entry for the poll was Nicola Adams who really did punched her way into the listing as well as into the history books when she become the first woman ever to win an Olympic medal in boxing. Since this constantly smiling 30-year-old athlete won gold at the Olympics, she has become an inspiring role model for young people throughout the UK and and around the world. Adams who is bisexual said “It’s amazing to be on top of a list of such inspiring and influential people,” Adding “Thanks to everyone for their continued support.”

Coming in a close second is television presenter, Clare Balding, whose unflappable enthusiastic style earned her an army of fans during the Olympics and it could be said this champion of women’s sport helped make horse racing sexy. A couple of years ago Clare took to task Murdoch’s Sunday Times newspaper over labelling her just a ‘Dyke on a bike’. Despite all expectations her complaint was upheld, the newspaper apologised and it was seen as a major achievement against the newspapers repeated attacks on lesbian and gay people.

The veteran gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell was awarded third place on the poll whilst the forth slot was awarded to multi medal winning Paralympics equestrian Lee Pearson. Fellow Olympic equestrian Carl Hester, one of the most established dressage riders in the UK took on firth place in the poll of influential gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans people.

It wasn’t just sports personality that entered the poll, some politicians also ranked high according to the Independent on Sunday readers, Conservative MP and climate change minister Greg Barker was placed sixth, whilst placed ninth came the disgraced cabinet Minster David Laws, who was reinstated to Government in September this year after being forced to resign over his expenses in 2010, which he defrauded the tax payer out of tens of thousands of pounds.

Here’s the rest of the top 60 list

7 Heather Peace – Actress
8 Nick Grimshaw – Radio One DJ
9 David Laws – Politician (mentioned above)
10 Luke Anderson – Winner, Big Brother 13
11 Phyll Opoku-Gyimah – UK Black Pride Director
12 Evan Davis – TV and radio presenter
13 Sue Perkins – Comedian and TV presenter (won this years Stonewall entertainer of the year)
14 Stephen Twigg – Labour MP
15 Charlie Condou – Actor
16 Iain Dale – Publisher and blogger
17 Sir Paul Jenkins – Treasury Solicitor ( UK’s most senior openly gay civil servant)
18 Jessie J – Pop Star
19 Gareth Thomas – Retired International rugby player
20 James Wharton – Soldier (Served in Iraq, escorted the Queen during Will and Kate’s wedding, first openly gay man to appear on the cover of Soldier magazine.)
21 Chris Bryant – Labour MP
22 John Partridge – Actor
23 Henry Holland – Fashion designer
24 Nick Boles – Conservative MP
25 Carol Ann Duffy – Poet Laureate
26 Derren Brown – Illusionist/Hypnotist
27 Mary Portas – TV presenter
28 Pratibha Parmar – Film maker
29 Alan Carr – Comedian and chat show host
30 Sir Terence Etherton – Court of Appeal Judge
31 Simon Hughes – Lib Dem MP
32 Gok Wan – TV presenter
33 Antony Cotton – Actor
34 Sarah Brown – Councillor in Cambridge
35 Will Young – Musician, actor, memoirist
36 Steve Reed – Labour politician
37 John Barrowman – Actor, musician and writer
38 Val McDermid – Crime writer
39 Sir Nicholas Hytner – Theatre director
40 Jane Hill – Newsreader (One of the main BBC News anchors)
41 Stella Duffy – Novelist
42 Christine Burns – Transgender activist
43 Jonny Oates – Chief of staff to Nick Clegg
44 Dr Ashley Steel – Vice chairman, KPMG
45 ohn Amaechi – Retired UK basketball player
46 Sir Adrian Fulford – Judge
47 Jonathan Harvey – Writer
48 April Ashley MBE – Model and campaigner
49 Jennifer Fear – CEO, Step Forward charity
50 Casey Stoney – Footballler (She led Team GB during Olympics)
51 Dr Christian Jessen – Doctor and TV personality
52 Eddie Mair – Broadcaster
53 Mark Gatiss – Actor and writer
54 Guy Black – Media chief
55 Sue Sanders and Tony Fenwick – Co chair of SchoolsOUT/LGBT History Month
56 Russell T Davies – TV producer and writer
57 Alan Davey – CEO, Arts Council
58 David Allen Green -Lawyer
59 Michael Salter – Media Head for David Cameron
60 Anthony Watson – Chief information officer, Barclays

 

 

Full list available on Independent On Sunday

Ukraine’s Anti-Gay Law

Earlier this week the Ukrainian Government moved a step closer to an outright ban on homosexuality by agreeing a bill that will effectively silence the whole Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered community in the country.

On Tuesday they approved the first reading of a horrifically homophobic legislation that would make it a crime to speak publicly about homosexuality in a positive way, punishable by a hefty fine or a 5 year jail term, reports Jason Shaw.

The shock draft bill received approval from 289 of the 350 lawmakers and will have to pass a secondary parliamentary hearing, currently scheduled for 16th October. If the bill passes and Vikto Yaukovych – the Ukrainian President signs the bill into law, any pro-gay talk will be outlawed under the term of spreading ’homosexual propaganda’. This basically means that no positive mention of gays can be made in any media outlet, gay magazines would also face prosecution along with publications and leaflets that promote safe sexual health between gay people.

The authors of the bill claim that “The spread of homosexuality constitutes a threat to national security as it leads to an epidemic of HIV/AIDS and also destroys the institute of family and can trigger a demographic crisis”

Whilst homosexuality has been legal in the Ukraine since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, however recent surveys have suggested that as much as 78 per cent of the population think negatively of homosexuality and as such this bill could easily be seen as a popular vote winner for forthcoming elections.

A similarly homophobic bill that would have banned all public demonstrations of homosexuality, such as ’pride’ marches and events was scrapped earlier this year. However many fear the current proposed bill will lead to an eventual outlawing of homosexuality completely.

Gay and Human rights groups around the world have codenamed this latest attempt to curtail the freedoms of the Ukrainian gay community. If the bill is passed, it will further damage the already fragile relations between Ukraine and the European Union and some are predicting a boycott of Ukrainian goods and services.

Prey The Gay Away – St Petersburg

The Russian politician who introduced the horrifically homophobic St. Petersburg bill banning ‘gay propaganda’ has stepped up his campaign and crusade against gays by claiming in a recent interview that homosexuality is a ‘bad habit’ that can be treated by fasting and prayer,  reports Jason Shaw.

The deputy of the St Petersburg city legislature Vitaliy Milonov said that homosexuality was an illness, which can be cured and this hatemonger likened same-sex attraction to “a bad habit. His homophobic and

Speaking on the popular Russian radio talk radio show Ekho Moskvy, Milonov told how if his son told him he was gay, he would take him to a priest who should tell the young man that he was partaking in a bad habit that one can easily quit. “God can send many temptations upon us,” he said. “But the thing is, this illness is easily treated by fasting and praying. I do not know of a single case within the Russian Orthodox Church that a man would not be cured by his sincere repentance in this sin. People get rid of it, just like they get rid of kleptomania or, for instance, fornicators.”

Virtually every medical and psychiatric association in the world have long since proved that homosexuality is not an illness or something that could be cured. Equally there is uniform opinion that trying to prey the gay away is futile and in many cases harmful.

Milonov who also wants to outlaw abortion, is no stranger to controversy, he gained particular notoriety this year for his campaign against homosexuality and received a parody award in June for his initiative to ban homosexuality in Russia until 2015. One of his key aims was achieved in St. Petersburg this February when the city legislature approved a bill banning the promotion of homosexuality and paedophilia to minors, this includes holding any form or gay pride event or protest for equality.

Milonov has also vowed to prosecute a German rock group called Rammstein as they, in his view, violated the bill during a concert in St. Petersburg. Although it should be noted that the comment and concert took place in February and so far no legal action has been taken. However many Russian citizens have been arrested since this homophobic and wholly inappropriate bill became law.