Showing posts with label lgtbq. Show all posts
Showing posts with label lgtbq. Show all posts

Friday, 20 February 2015

Pope Francis Compares Gender Theory to Nuclear Weapons

I think we can all agree that nuclear war is bad. Really, it's one of the worst things ever and having myself grown up in the tail end of the Cold War, it still terrifies the hell out of me. I'd be willing to bet that more people on this planet hate nuclear explosions more than, say, Jews, black people, women... insert your persecuted minority here.

This is what makes Pope Francis' (aka. The 'Good' Pope) latest comments about how gender theory is sort of kind of like nuclear weapons a little stomach turning.
Pope Francis has appeared to compare trans and genderqueer people to nuclear weapons, saying both do not 'recognize the order of creation'.
Are we a tiny bit threatened by queer folk?

The National Catholic Review gives us this short definition of gender theory:
Gender theory is a broad term for an academic school of thought that considers how people learn to identify themselves sexually and how they may become typed into certain roles based on societal expectations.
Certain societal expectations, like perhaps the Catholic Church?
'Let's think of the nuclear arms, of the possibility to annihilate in a few instants a very high number of human beings,' he says.

'Let's think also of genetic manipulation, of the manipulation of life, or of the gender theory, that does not recognize the order of creation.'

'With this attitude, man commits a new sin, that against God the Creator,' the pope adds.

'The true custody of creation does not have anything to do with the ideologies that consider man like an accident, like a problem to eliminate.'

'God has placed man and woman and the summit of creation and has entrusted them with the earth,' Francis says. 'The design of the Creator is written in nature.'

'If we fail in this responsibility, if we do not take care of our brothers and of all creation, destruction advances,' he added.
Perhaps a little hyperbolic? Maybe a tad fear-mongering? Could it be said that comparisons like this might also be a tiny bit incendiary and dangerous to trans people?

Naturally, the Pope doesn't seem to realize or care that trans people are not the result of an ideology.  This is who they are! Why would they risk life and limb in a world which, for the most part, loathes their very existence, to be themselves other than a yearning to be authentic?

The Pope apparently also addressed the threat of gender theory in an January interview where he called it ideological colonization!
Recounting the story of a public education minister he knew who was offered money to construct new schools for the poor, Francis said to receive the money, the minister had to agree to use a course book with students that taught gender theory.

"This is the ideological colonization," the pope said. "It colonizes the people with an idea that changes, or wants to change, a mentality or a structure."

"It is not new, this," he continued. "The same was done by the dictators of the last century. They came with their own doctrine -- think of the Balilla [youth groups of Fascist Italy], think of the Hitler Youth."
Ideological colonization? You mean like what the Catholic Church has been doing par excellence
across the entire planet for centuries. The forced conversions, well, everywhere, including the Native population right here in Canada where children were wrenched from their families and thrown into residential schools? Ideological colonization like that, maybe?

Friday, 2 January 2015

Alberta Catholics Support School GSAs Despite What Their Church Says

Gay Straight Alliances (GSAs) is a tricky topic in Alberta's publicly funded Catholic schools and their conservative and uber-conservative political parties have been bungling this up pretty well lately.

So there's results are in from a newish poll asking Albertans what they think of allowing Gay Straight Alliances (GSAs) in schools.
A Leger Marketing survey conducted Dec. 8 to Dec. 11 asked about 1,000 Albertans over the age of 18 whether they support or oppose gay-straight alliances (GSAs), student-led anti-bullying groups for LGBTQ youth, in Alberta schools.

While 31.6 per cent of Albertans surveyed did not have an opinion, 47.8 per cent said they supported GSAs while 20.7 per cent said they oppose GSAs.
So that's a whopping 79.3% who either don't care one way or the other, fully support GSAs or are too ashamed to reveal themselves as bigots.

The Sun News article points out that support is mostly concentrated in the larger cities, which is of course no surprise whatsoever. My cynical side suspects a sort of leaning onto previously established stereotypes of the big bad secular cities -- dens of sin -- versus the wholesome family farms in the country, where decent Christian morals prevail. I'm sure I'm just imagining things.

I also found it was a little suspicious that the author also found it necessary to point out that respondents were not asked their sexual orientation. Is it even conceivable for this to somehow affect the numbers?

Respondents Reporting as Catholic (information previously released)
Strongly oppose - 11.6%

Somewhat oppose - 6.2%

Neither support nor oppose - 19.7%
Somewhat support - 14.4%

Strongly support - 37.9%

Don't know - 10.1%

We're talking about 17.8% opposition to GSAs. That's lower than the total sample percentage and they appear to be much more certain about this as well. So, we have a situation where Catholics are better than their own church and the wider population. I love it when that happens.

It would be nice if this were a wakeup call, but I won't hold my breath.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Catholic School Blocks Students' LGBT Rights Research Project, Then Forced to Retract. Now, Students to Form GSA.

Quinn Maloney-Tavares and Polly Hamilton with Jeremy Dias, founder of Jer's Vision restaurant and LGBT rights activist (source).
Methinks that Ottawa's St. George Catholic School principal Ann Beauchamp should have just let students Quinn Maloney-Tavares and Polly Hamilton just do their project about LGBT rights when they first asked, instead of forbidding them. Because, Quinn's mom went to the media and the school board it quickly backed down to try to save face.

I'm not sure if the principal, the Catholic School Board or the writers over at LifeSiteNews -- who seem to be getting hysterical about this -- all quite understand just how educational and instructive all of this really is. The girls got to experience censorship firsthand and now it looks like they'll get to experience what it's like to open a Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) in their Catholic school.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Lesson Learned: Catholic School Principal Shuts Down Students' Social Justice Project About LGBT Rights

St. George Catholic School in Ottawa. (Google Maps)
Two Ottawa grade 6 students, Polly Hamilton and Quinn Maloney-Tavares, were assigned a project on social justice. Quite naturally, they chose one of the most prominent social justice issues of the twenty first century: LGBT rights. The school principal decided this was verboten and forbade them from focusing their project on this topic! A little ironic, maybe? -- even if it's Alanis Morissette ironic.
“A lot of people, they don’t know they’re being rude, but they make being gay a bad thing,” said 11-year-old Quinn Maloney-Tavares, who picked the topic with her friend, Polly Hamilton. “They need to know that it’s not a bad thing.”
See how the school principal, Ann Beauchamp, could learn a thing or two from these kids? No, wait, she could learn from Quinn's mother, Ann Maloney. Actually, the principal along with the Catholic Church could learn something about morality from an entire class of six graders!
As a silent protest, the two wore rainbow colours to school and painted small rainbow flags on their hands.

When they explained why, their classmates said, “Oh my goodness, guys, that’s such a good idea,” Quinn said. Several other students painted rainbow flags on their hands in solidarity.
Quinn's mother met with the principal. She pointed out that social justice issues in the real world are messy and uncomfortable, but to no avail. Apparently the topic of gay rights -- treating people with different sexual orientations to you as equals! -- is not age appropriate for grade 4 to 6!

Let that sink in for a moment.
The students’ projects go on display at a social justice fair in January, attended by students from Grades 4 to 6. Beauchamp didn’t feel gay rights “was a topic that was appropriate for that age group,” Maloney said.

The principal was also concerned that she’d face criticism from “right-wing” Catholic parents if she allowed the project to proceed, Maloney said.
As a child of right-wing Catholic parents, I can certainly sympathize with Beauchamp's concerns there. However, her concerns about age appropriate makes me seriously question what's going on inside her head. What does she think gay rights mean? What sorts of images flood into her mind when someone mentions gay rights?

I think it implies that she's unable, at some level, to divorce sex acts she happens to find morally wrong or just repulsive from everyday good people who are raising children and contributing to society. Perhaps she's unable to see that, just like heterosexual relationships, homosexual relationships are more than purely physical attraction and sex. These are people who love and look after same-sex partners, husbands and wives -- they are humans in love. It seems to be a real problem with certain religious folk out there.

This obsession with gay sex is not the only thing I can possibly think of which would lead someone to find LGBT equality not age appropriate (even though it has absolutely nothing to do with gay rights itself.) Perhaps, the school wants to block out and filter any discussion about LGBT relationships and rights through the sieve of Catholic doctrine until the child's mind is fully convinced that only heterosexual relationships are acceptable and closed to any other forms of love. That's another theory I have.

Speaking statistically, there's very probably some gay students at this school. I wonder what kind of message is being sent to them by this principal. I wonder how screwed up they might be by the time they've left the school.

The Catholic School Board was informed and they declared that “the principal’s decision was made in this context and with the understanding that the project was going to be presented to younger students.” Again, I see no specific reason why discussion of LGBT rights would be any less age appropriate than a discussion about heterosexual relationships and rights -- unless, of course, you're a bigot.
Maloney is still fuming over Beauchamp’s decision. “Why are we still here, as Catholics, where we can’t talk about gay rights?” she said. “It’s ridiculous, as far as I’m concerned.”
Now there's a question I've been asking ever since I left the church. I seems like Catholics are better than Catholicism. Maybe they should leave the schools and leave the Church which fuels these schools with backward ideas like this.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

British Columbia Denies Accreditation to Trinity Western Law School

So, back in September, the Law Society of New Brunswick voted against accrediting the proposed Trinity Western Law School. This adds on to Ontario and Nova Scotia. There have also been hints of Prince Edward Island also moving in this direction.

Meanwhile, Manitoba and Saskatchewan have put their decisions on hold which practically means a 'no'. Well, now after some waffling, British Columbia has also decided against accrediting the school.
The British Columbia Law Society will not recognize graduates of a controversial Christian law school.

The society’s governing council voted Friday to reverse an earlier decision and uphold the results of a member referendum, rejecting accreditation for law graduates from Trinity Western University.

“The referendum enabled all of B.C.’s lawyers to have a say in whether the benchers should recognize the Trinity Western University law school,” president Jan Lindsay said in a statement.
In case anyone has forgotten, the school has this covenant employees and students must sign stating they cannot have sex outside of marriage -- real, proper marriage 'betwixt the woman and the man'. Or in other words, if you want a job at this school you better not be a gay married person, or a gay person who has sex.

I honestly think these moves are simple protest votes. The school is currently suing the Ontario and Nova Scotia law societies and I rather expect the decision to come out in favour of the school.

Although I can understand progressive lawyers at the societies do not wish to stamp any sort of approval onto any degree from this school for their despicable discrimination against LGBT students, I believe they likely know how the Supreme Court would rule here. They are simply displaying their disapproval. Hey, maybe I'm far off.

One thing, though. Since when does your chasteness, sexual preference or marital status become fair game for not getting a job or being dismissed from a job if you have the qualifications? Academic qualifications should be easy enough to determine for students without determining who they have sex with! The same is probably true for professors. How is this not discrimination based on sexual orientation and marital status? How is this not a straight-up human rights violation?

Saturday, 18 October 2014

What Ugandan Religious Leaders Really Think About LGBT

In case you missed it, CNN has an interesting story about where several of Uganda's religious leaders stand on homosexuality.

On homosexuality: Uganda's religious leaders

Some of the comments are just as bad as you would think they would be after watching the news or films like God Loves Uganda.
"Homosexuality is abnormal, and we have to do anything we can to stop it. These people need to repent, need to feel guilty, need to feel that they have sinned." 
"Spiritually, it is against God's will. God created a man and a woman for reproduction. That is how we sustain humanity. If homosexuality continues, the human race will be wiped out." 
Pretty much what you'd expect.  While others were comparatively progressive.
"Today you say you hate gay people, tomorrow God will give you a gay son. And what will you do then? Hate him? You have to work with people who have different beliefs."
The project was undertaken by award-winning photojournalist Daniella Zalcman.
Zalcman interviewed imams, rabbis, pastors -- leaders in every denomination represented in the country -- to ask them what their views on subject really were.

"I went to American-style mega churches in central Kampala and a Pentecostal church in a tin shack in the middle of a slum," she recalls.

"Whenever there's a news item on this issue, we quote a few evangelical leaders who say truly horrific things, wishing death and injury and a fiery hell on gay people. But they're not representative."

Zalcman encountered an array of voices, some stringently anti-gay, others tolerant, and many expressing uncertainty due to a lack of information and limited contact with homosexuals.
It seems that the more thoughtful among them realize that they hadn't enough true knowledge or contact with LGBT people. The less enlightened appear to use their religion to justify their fear and dislike of the unknown.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Kenyan Transgender Woman Wins High Court Battle For Her Own Identity

Audrey Mbugua (source)
There is this awesomely courageous woman in Kenya, Audrey Mbugua. A year ago, I wrote a post about how she was born 'male' -- a gender she was never comfortable with. She was diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorders/Transsexualism by a psychiatrist in 2008 and dropped her birth name of 'Andrew' for a new name which matched her true gender identification: 'Audrey.' However, certain government agencies refused to change the name on critical documents.

One such agency was the Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC) which refused to change the name and sex on her high school certificate, jeopardizing her job prospects.
Kenya is a conservative country where transgender people find it virtually impossible to get work because of the discrepancy between the gender on their certificates and the one they present as.
Well, the good news is that the High Court has ruled in Audrey's favour! It could not find any valid reason for the KNEC to deny her request -- although I can guess it's likely wrapped up in some sort of irrational beliefs or prejudices: religious qualms.

Court orders KNEC to replace transgender Audrey Mbugua’s certificate recognising new name
In a landmark ruling, Audrey Mbugua, a transgender who stunned the country with her intentions of being recognised as a woman can now celebrate after the High Court ordered the Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC) to comply with her wishes.

Knec now has 45 days to replace Audrey's Kenya Certificate of secondary School Certificate (KCSE) from Andrew Mbugua Ithibu to Audrey Mbugua Ithibu.

High Court Judge Justice Weldon Korir ordered that the certificate be printed without a gender mark adding that Audrey meets any extra costs required.
I'm not sure why they decided to not simply force the agency to check female on the certificate, since this is the social construct which probably most resembles Audrey's gender identification, but this is definitely still a huge win for Audrey.
“We won,” Mbugua told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “It’s a huge watershed moment.
Her work has not gone unnoticed internationally either.
Mbugua has been nominated for the Dutch government’s Human Rights Tulip Award for her innovative and courageous work.

“One cannot fail to be impressed while watching Audrey Mbugua, arguably Kenya’s most famous transsexual, hop from one interview to the next,” one commentator wrote last year in Africa Review.
Audrey is also an out atheist in a country that is very conservative religious. So she's one strong and brave human being.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

New Brunswick Law Society Rejects Anti-LGBT Law School

So fundamentalist Christian Trinity Western University Law School has run into yet another snag in its mission to be accredited with the provincial Law Societies -- so their graduates can actually practice law. The school has a strict Christian-based covenant barring their students from having any same-sex relationships. On this campus, only man-woman love is allowed -- as God intended it, of course.

Well, the Law Societies of Ontario, Nova Scotia have already rejected the school, which has prompted a legal challenge in the courts. Saskatchewan initially accepted the school but has since put this on hold along with Manitoba. Unsurprisingly to some, Alberta came right out and accepted it.

Well now the Law Society of New Brunswick has rejected Trinity Western Law School -- so add yet another province to the big court battles, I guess.

New Brunswick Law Society votes against accrediting Trinity Western

The society originally voted to honour the graduates but a special vote was held today after New Brunswick lawyers opposed the school and submitted a petition with 229 signatures.
The meeting was organized under the society's rules after it received a petition with more than 200 names opposing a decision in June by its governing council to recognize future graduates of Trinity Western University.
Here's the official release statement from a NB Law Society page devoted to this subject.
On Saturday, September 13, 2014, at a Special General Meeting, members of the Law Society of New Brunswick passed a resolution by a vote of 137 to 30 directing Council not to approve Trinity Western University’s Law school as a faculty of law.
That's a strong resolution. It seems that this review might have also triggered opposition to the new law school in the province of Prince Edward Island as well.
Charlottetown lawyer Daphne Dumont is concerned that Trinity Western University requires all its students to sign a pledge to only engage in sex within a heterosexual marriage.

"The Canadian Bar Association is saying that's not a good model to train lawyers," Dumont told CBC News, "one of the curriculum elements being the operation of the Charter of Rights in Canada, where we have said that gay marriage is to be accepted."
Her basic argument is that this is a law school that's effectively violating the Canadian Charter of Rights by discriminating against LGTB people (or anyone who has sex outside of marriage). Now the school has used religious freedom to effectively circumvent the Charter.
The university faced a similar challenge a few years ago when it started a teachers education program. Trinity Western argued it should be allowed because of religious freedom under the charter.
This will all likely be decided once and for all by the Supreme Court. I'm fairly certain that Trinity Western will win using a religious freedom argument. I'm also fairly certain that most lawyers in these Law Societies are well aware of this. I honestly think this is a protest against the retrograde attitudes the school has vis a vis LGTB equality. These lawyers have progressed into the 21st century and left this school behind.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Uganda's High Court Strikes Down Anti-Gay Law

The AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, a group against AIDS, protests in New York City against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda, 2009. (source)
Somewhat surprising yet highly positive news from Uganda. Their Supreme Court has nullified the recent anti-gay law that would have seen people thrown in jail for being gay or supporting LGBT rights.

Uganda Antigay Law Struck Down by Court

The way I understand it, the court didn't rule on the whether or not the law violated anyone's human rights. It didn't consider anything other than how the law was passed. So this was ruled on a procedural technicality, which allows the court to remain neutral on the matter.
In front of an overflowing courtroom in Uganda’s capital, Kampala, a panel of five judges announced that the Anti-Homosexuality Act, which punishes some homosexual behavior with life in prison, was invalid because it had been passed by Parliament without a proper quorum.
I've blogged about this before. The Ugandan Prime Minister had problems with the way this was passed due to breach of parliamentary protocol. Quorum means that there are enough members in the parliament to properly pass a law and this wasn't the case by design it would seem when this law was stealthily pushed through.

As I've alluded to above, LGBT groups and their supporters are happy with the ruling but not so happy that the court didn't address anything about the oppressive nature of the law itself.
We’re very happy,” said Sylvia Tamale, a Ugandan law professor who has supported gay rights despite persistent threats and harassment. “But it’s unfortunate that the court did not deal with the substantive issues that violate our rights.”
Furthermore, by striking this down on a procedural technicality, the door is open for this very same law to just come back later on if it's passed with quorum.

However, a court -- or country -- could be between a rock and a hard place if their public, whipped up into a anti-homosexual religion-induced frenzy, wants laws like this but the national community, source of a great deal of monetary aid begin to impose sanctions. A ruling like this gives both the government and the court a convenient way out.
As the international criticism grew, and Western countries prepared to cut millions of dollars in aid, the Ugandan government modified the bill to make “aggravated homosexuality” punishable by life in prison, though that hardly placated Western donors. Parliament passed the bill in December, with advocates calling it an “early Christmas gift.” Mr. Museveni publicly signed it into law in February. At the time, he said “homosexuals are nurtured but not natured,” and said that he could not understand how gay men could not be attracted “to all these beautiful women.”

The Netherlands, Norway, Denmark and the World Bank swiftly reacted, cutting or postponing some of their aid to Uganda. In June, the United States announced that it was suspending some aid, imposing visa restrictions and canceling a regional military exercise as a message to “reinforce our support for human rights of all Ugandans, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.”
We'll see where this goes. I fear we could be in the very same place within a year or two, but for now this is very good news, indeed.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Did You Miss "God Loves Uganda" on PBS Too?

What a freakin' let down. Although I am up here in Canada, my cable package still has a PBS option. Unfortunately, the option in question is one of the affiliates that does not seem to carry Independent Lens, which is the documentary program that's airing God Loves Uganda in its entirety right now.

But, if you're like me, you may be able to catch it when it's released in full episode form on another PBS affiliate. I've got my eyes on WNET 13 in NY. We'll see how that goes.

If all that doesn't pan out, I've got it at May 21st at 7:30pm Eastern over at World Channel.

And finally, I could be an honest man and pony up the money to buy the DVD from the actual movie makers!

All in all, I probably ought to watch this film and I think you should too!

Friday, 2 May 2014

Pasadena's Health Director Anti-Evolution, Anti-Gay, Anti-Disney etc. & Satan's Everywhere...

Pasadena Public Health Director and fundamentalist, conspiracy theorist, anti same sex marriage, 
homophobic, islamophobic, anti-Disney, witchcraft-fearing, anti-evolutionist  and who knows what else, Eric Walsh

Here's a story about Pasadena Public Health Director, Eric Walsh, who's also a minister at a Seventh Day Adventist church. It's a very interesting story because Walsh is a very interesting person. Apologies, I meant to say «interesting» person.

Pasadena's anti-evolution, anti-gay health director has some explaining to do

He's got some fascinating opinions about evolution - and a bunch of other kooky stuff. Honestly, I don't think most people could offend more people if they tried. And he seems to do it so naturally.
In videos that came to light this week and that record him delivering a series of sermons, he denounces homosexuality as a sin, describes evolution as a “religion created by Satan” and says the prophet Muhammad was a Satanist. He contends that God does not recognize any second marriage following a divorce unless the first was destroyed by adultery. He’s also no big fan of plastic surgery or Disney.
More specifically, he believes Disney is a "dark empire" of superstition and witchcraft. Just thought I'd clear that up.

I bet I could correctly guess his opinion about climate change!

Well, he was going to do the commencement speech over at the Pasadena City College - but now the school and likely most students no longer want him. College kids today and their progressive ideas, I'm telling you! Incidentally, the original speaker they had in mind was uninvited because a sex tape made with his boyfriend was leaked. To be honest, in this day and age, what's the problem with this? Doesn't everyone who's anyone have a leaked sex tape? I think they should ask him back - at least he's not Eric Walsh.
It does seem the burden is on Walsh, however. He might start by explaining how a person holding a position that requires some scientific knowledge can dismiss the fact of human evolution. Someone ought to look up what grade he got in biology.
One only hopes he had some belief in germ theory at least, right? It would put him back a century or so, but at least he would clear the Middle Ages.

I think the city would be better off without him.

You'll find the good doctor at least purportedly pushing a 30-Day Health Recovery Program over at The Original Plan which describes itself as a Bible-based Health Ministry Medical Missionary Network. You'll find suggestions bordering precariously on woo. However, I'm not certain about the legitimacy of this site. Honestly, after reading about the sermons - it's hard for me to tell what's likely or unlikely here.

Edit 2014-05-02: Just after hitting 'Publish' I find this more detailed account over at the Pasadena Star-News: Pasadena Public Health Director Dr. Eric Walsh placed on administrative leave after homophobic sermon furor

Saturday, 22 March 2014

"Jesus Would Stone 'Homos'" Church Sign Defaced With "God is Gay" Message

Graffiti on church sign (source: Jennifer Louise Lopez's Facebook)
Earlier today I reported about Jennifer Louise Lopez's brave act of presenting her at a Harlem church, which had a habit of putting very anti-gay messages on its front sign, to be stoned Bible-style.

Well, just in the past couple of hours, she's updated her Facebook with some bad news along with some pictures. Someone appears to have defaced the sign by removing the message and marking graffiti that appears to say: Godd is Gay (sic).

Jennifer has responded to this with a plea for peace.
Good afternoon everyone. While the stoning incident was fun and games, I am about peaceful protesting. I recently within the last hour walked past the church. The signs have been taken down and replaced with graffiti. I do not support vandalism and violating a persons or organizations right to freedom of speech. I figured eventually through peaceful actions, the church would willingly take down the signs and possibly replace them with positive messages.
It's never cool to deface private property - even if it is a church with a hateful message.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Trinity Western Law School: Setting The Tone For Discrimination

At the time of writing this post, in the United States, seventeen states have already legalized same-sex marriage. Things are changing faster than anyone could imagine with the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell (DOMA). Internationally, it seems like another country legalizes same-sex marriage every other week.

Here in Canada, we enjoy legal same-sex marriage in all of our provinces and territories. We were actually the fourth country to legalize it, which makes me very proud to be a Canadian.

University of Ottawa law student Stéphane Erickson wrote an excellent opinion piece in the Globe & Mail about how the upcoming Trinity Western law school is in the wrong for discriminating against students who are in relationships with partners of the same sex.

Trinity Western law school has no right to judge its gay students

But all legal jargon aside; let’s call a spade a spade. This is wrong. It’s plain wrong. Denying access to education – above all legal education – based on one’s sexual orientation or lifestyle choices is wrong. Whether it’s a private institution or a public institution, it remains wrong. It’s wrong because it is hateful. It conveys the message that religion can indeed be used as shield, as a cloak, to discriminate, to judge and to perpetuate vile and harmful ideas – be it against women, ethnicities, sexual minorities, or other contributors to society that have been historically and systematically forced to silence, to shame, to the periphery.
Erickson has a good if not tragic point; he is himself a gay Roman Catholic. The Vatican has a huge problem with homosexuality and same-sex marriage.

His questions are good ones. How can a single law school respect both secular laws and their bronze age mythology at the same time? How can they serve two masters?

At the end of his piece, he asks this poignant question.
I therefore ask this of Canada’s soon-to-be law school: If a person is gay and loves another person of the same sex, and seeks to further his or her understanding of the law, notably in the areas of religious freedoms, and has good will, on which authority do you stand to judge him or her?
My answer is a simple one. They base it on their book, naturally. How could they do otherwise?

This new institution is for young students who ultimately wish to learn about the LAW. This is more than the petty laws of humans; those which have helped bring about some measure of equality for men who love men and women who love women. These young minds will learn how to fold and bend human temporal laws to serve their ultimate religious law, to serve their mission.

I think this will be a school which enslaves the law of the land to the verses of a book which would ultimately have gays and lesbians regulated back to their historical position of persecution.

Erickson deftly expresses concerns that underlie my objections to the school and no doubt the objections of many others.
The obvious questions follow: How is a law school, which does not recognize the legitimacy of civil unions, same-sex marriage, and non-traditional family structures, going to ensure an accurate and sincere legal education? How is the Charter going to be taught with respect to women’s rights, LGBT rights, and other issues pertaining to sections 15 and 7? Moreover, and maybe most importantly, how is the school going to ensure that students feel safe in an environment morally bound by religious doctrine and skewed interpretations of sacred texts? All these questions have been asked, with no – or very few – answers from the University.
I think the answer is apparent. They have no real intention of doing this. This is why they require their own separate school. This is why they have cloistered themselves away. Society is growing increasingly suspicious and intolerant of their attitudes towards LGBT rights.

Canadian society and its laws have become a hostile place full of scorn and ridicule for those who do not approve of the increasing public acceptance of LGBT people.  They cannot tolerate LGBT people being in relationships with those they love, marrying, having or adopting children -- living their lives and treated like human beings.

The condemnation of the homosexual lifestyle as a kind of sickness by the religious seems more and more ridiculous and vile with each passing day. As multiple sexual orientations and gender identities become ever more normalized in a more broadly inclusive society, it is these people who are left in the dust. Frankly, they start looking like the religious who were on the wrong side of the civil rights movement.

I believe the creators of this new law school don't like the direction things are going. Maybe they will try to raise an army of lawyers to swing the pendulum backwards. One can only hope they fail.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Ugandan President to Sign Anti-Gay Bill

President Yuweri Museveni (source)

For awhile, I've been covering the Kill the Gays Bill turned Jail the Gays Bill in Uganda. The bill in its current form will throw people in jail for being gay and will criminalize not turning in anyone known to be gay. Well, after the bill had been smuggled through parliament by the speaker of the House -- under local religious leaders' approving gaze -- and after it met initial resistance from the president for what looks like purely procedural grounds, the president announced last week he's ready to sign it.

Ugandan President Says He Will Sign Tough Antigay Measure
The measure would criminalize “the promotion or recognition” of homosexual relations. After a first conviction, offenders face a 14-year prison sentence. Subsequent convictions of “aggravated homosexuality” could bring a penalty of life in prison.
I think that aggravated homosexuality means being gay. Like Russian law, I'm assuming it also means you'll get thrown the book if you even recognize gay relationships as a good thing or promote homosexuality as just another sexual orientation.

Homosexual acts have been illegal in the country since the colonial era -- laws are an import from their colonial overlords (along with Christianity). It seems as if Ugandan are still fond of these imports.

As I covered last time, when the bill was sneaked through the parliament unbeknownst to anyone but religious leaders, who were cheering from the galleries, the president's objections to this had nothing at all to do with any actual understanding about homosexuality (or female sexuality).
“The normal person was created to be attracted to the opposite sex in order to procreate and perpetuate the human race,” Mr. Museveni wrote in his December letter about the bill, in which he also said that many women became lesbians out of “sexual starvation” because they had failed to get married.
Take a look at this for a few minutes. "Created" here really means just that -- by God. And sex is only to procreate and is not for pleasure. Women? They better find some men to get married to lest they become lesbians.

Oh, and who cares if they are not normal. Why not throw the disabled into prison as well? Both groups are equally not harmful to anyone. Oh, it goes against your holy book, that must be why.

It's all about fundamentalist Christian religion and it's evangelical influence on Uganda. Here's a piece in Al Jazeera about this. There's been much written about this and God Loves Uganda is also about this. The infiltration of widespread biblically-inspired hatred of homosexuality deep now in this country.
Uganda has a powerful evangelical Christian lobby that has supported antigay legislation. “Ugandan traditionalists, religious leaders & politicians have been urging Museveni to sign the Bill,” Mr. Opondo, the government spokesman, said in another Twitter post. 
Gay rights advocates say that American evangelicals have played a crucial role in pushing an antigay agenda in Uganda. In 2012, a Ugandan gay rights group filed a lawsuit against an American evangelist, Scott Lively, in Massachusetts, saying he had incited the persecution of gay men and lesbians in Uganda.
Does Uganda not have more important things to deal with as a nation? Instead of solving real problems, the government has decided to make a scapegoat out of a minority and foist the weight of the nation's very real challenges upon them. We've seen this time after time.

Sadly, signing this bill will not only put the lives of thousands of homosexual Ugandans and their friends and families at risk.  It could also affect the lives of hungry children which the religious proponents of the bill claim it will protect. It's only going to fuel the fires of anti-LGBT hatred and foreign governments, organizations and individual donors may think twice before supporting charities on the ground.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Worldwide Anglican Communion's Pleas to Protect Uganda LGTBQ People Dismissed by Uganda Anglican Church

Stanley Ntagali  (source)

Man, you'd think this was a Ugandan blog or something. Okay, I promise you all I'll get off my Uganda kick and focus on some other news -- just this one last one today, okay?

It's just that in Africa, it seems that Uganda is at an interesting crossroads. It really does seem like there is a sort of culture war going on there and it's interesting to see where it might lead.

Anyway, this article over at Aljazeera originally had me hopeful. I think it's a little misleading.

Uganda church rejects anti-gay criticism

You see, at first I thought it meant the Ugandan Anglican church was rejecting anti-gay sentiment in their country and actually standing up in the name of their fellow countrymen who happen to be gay or lesbian. You know, doing something courageous and humane - like what this Jesus guy might have done.

But then less than a second after clicking the link...
The head of the Anglican Church in Uganda has criticised the position of UK archbishops on homosexuality, saying "homosexual practice is incompatible with scripture".
Oh well, so much for dreaming.

Two archbishops, Justin Welby and John Sentamu, leaders of the worldwide Anglican Communion, wrote a letter to the anti-gay presidents of Uganda and Nigeria along with primates in the Anglican Communion. They pointed out that the anti-gay legislation in both countries victimizes and diminishes human beings and is anathema to the Church of England. Holy crap, that was actually pretty awesome of them.

Sentamu is himself a Ugandan by birth, so he likely understands the situation on the ground in Uganda well.

Meanwhile, the head of the Uganda Anglican Church, Stanley Ntagali, is actually rather impressed with the Uganda anti-gay legislation which has been watered down to merely let LGTB people rot away in jail forever rather than murdering them. Really charitable of him.

He also gave this rather vague threat-like-thing.  If the US and Canadian Anglican churches don't shape up and go back to more rigid opposition to homosexuality then, well, maybe the Uganda Anglican church is just going to take their toys away and run home.
"We sincerely hope the archbishops and governing bodies of the Church of England will step back from the path they have set themselves on so the Church of Uganda will be able to maintain communion with our own Mother Church."

Friday, 31 January 2014

Putin, America's Better Off Without God.


When I was a kid in the 80s, I vividly remember being sure of one thing about the U.S.S.R: They hated God and they despised Catholics like us. They wanted to destroy us with bombs because they were evil and hated us because we had God on our side.

I was also sure that the only thing stopping them from dropping out of the sky and enslaving us all into satanic Communism were the missile silos just to the south of us in North Dakota. The whole family would all thank God that we had the land of prosperity, freedom, milk and honey to the south of us and that the godless, socialist, communist abortionist Left Wing Loonies in the United States were being properly subdued by god-chosen, aegis holding defender of Western Civilization and all that is good, Ronald Reagan.  Because Canada had Pierre Eliot Trudeau, Margaret Atwood, David Suzuki and Henry Morgentaler. Now there was a lost cause that God had abandoned in the satanic sixties.

I was the only 10 year old boy I knew who had heard of William F. Buckley Jr., Barry Goldwater and Nikita Khrushchev. I suppose that made me special. My parents made sure I understood all these things back then. It was important, apparently. I was scared of the world, but I think I was as brave as a brainwashed kid could be.

Well, America and Canada have moved a long way since even the 80s. I can be a cisgender male perhaps-not-quite-heterosexual atheist liberal -- e.g. myself -- and actually get on with little damage in many communities across the continent. I feel progress has been made and religion has been forced to wipe some of the froth from its lips and check into reality every so often.

But then there's Russia. Back in the 80s you certainly couldn't identify as yourself under the Communist regime. Either religious or gay, things were hard for you. I certainly do not think the Russian Communist experiment was anything even close to a success.

Well, now America is losing its religion and Russia is getting her churches back after decades of enforced single-minded religious allegiance to the Communist Party and its ideals.

Now, it seems like although the seeds of Human Rights had been planted into the post-Communist soil in those enthusiastic days of Gorbachev Glasnost, they are now being violently choked out by an ever firming grip of fundamentalist religion. Why can't these people get a break?

Who’s ‘godless’ now? Russia says it’s U.S.
“Many Euro-Atlantic countries have moved away from their roots, including Christian values,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a recent keynote speech. “Policies are being pursued that place on the same level a multi-child family and a same-sex partnership, a faith in God and a belief in Satan. This is the path to degradation.”  
As part of this defense of “Christian values,” Russia has adopted a law banning “homosexual propaganda” and another that makes it a criminal offense to “insult” the religious sensibilities of believers.
Well, so much for same-sex couples trying to explain to their adopted children that their families are just as loving and good as hetero ones (now illegal!) or Russian atheist bloggers!

And this law against offending religious people was apparently a reaction to the Russian punk band Pussy Riot exercising their freedom of expression. Imagine that! A punk band pushed the government to do this? Give me a break.
The law on religious sensibilities was adopted in the wake of a protest in Moscow’s largest cathedral by a female punk rock group against the Orthodox Church’s support of Mr. Putin. Kremlin-run television said the group’s “demonic” protest was funded by “some Americans.”
Across the world, people are protesting against the draconian and evil anti-homosexual laws in Russia. Meanwhile, in the Motherland, religion is reaching its critical mass and pressure is releasing. It is now making its hellfire fast bloom skyward and raining a toxic fine dust cloud of foul pain and persecution down upon men who love men, women who love women and innocent children who with small hands fearfully cling to the parents they love.

Yes, we're more godless now. And not a moment too soon.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Today's Depressing: Uganda President Believes Gays & Lesbians Are Really Sex-Mercenaries

Some very brave people marching in Unganda's first Gay
 Pride parade.
So awhile back I reported that the Ugandan Parliament covertly passed a wretched bill with the hopes of putting gay people in prison for the rest of their lives - just in time for Christmas.

Back then, I pointed out that the Prime Minister objected to the unannounced vote on procedural grounds because there wasn't proper quorum for a proper vote. And so, there was some doubt as to whether the President would sign the bill.

Well, it turns out the President refuses to sign the bill because if you're going to pass a bill in Uganda, you've got to have enough people voting. Not because throwing people in jail is actually wrong or anything. Proper parliamentary procedure must be followed!
 “How can you pass law without the quorum of Parliament after it has been pointed out? What sort of Parliament is this? How can Parliament be the one to break the Constitution and the Law repeatedly?”
Museveni blocks Anti-Homosexuality Bill
The President said a homosexual is somebody who is abnormal because the normal person was created to be attracted to the opposite sex in order to procreate and perpetuate the human race. He said, nature goes wrong in a minority of cases.
Of course, you only need take a look at the Uganda coat of arms to know what nature is code for. Obviously, he's referring to God - otherwise, how would one know nature is going wrong?
“The question at the core of the debate of homosexuality is; what do we do with an abnormal person? Do we kill him/her? Do we imprison him/her? Or we do contain him/her?”
Sew pink triangle badges to their shoulders? Put them into work camps? Gas them? The possibilities for genocide -- or just brutal life-long imprisonment while the international community is still watching -- are pretty much endless.

When asked why an increasing number of (rational) people and governments in the West see homosexuality as a normal alternative sexual orientation, the President had this curious response.
It could be that the Western societies, on account of random breeding, have generated many abnormal people, ...
Random breeding? What the hell does this mean? Does he mean to defend arranged marriages or eugenics?

He also says some people get tempted into the gay for financial reasons. They are "mercenaries." Apparently, these can be rescued through financial aid.

This is, of course, not representative of what an average gay person is. This is a description of a courtesan or, crudely speaking, a prostitute. It's, frankly, rather insulting to LGTB people.

He also exhibits rather curious theories about lesbians.
As for lesbians, the President said apart from those born abnormal and those ones that may become lesbian for mercenary reasons, there may be those that go into the practice because of “sexual starvation” when they fail to get married.
That's right. Women -- who never have sex out of wedlock -- become so incredibly horny they must become sex mercenaries! So full of lust, they seek out other women and have wild sex and... oh, wait, perhaps I just fell into the President's own dream.
“Even with legislation, they will simply go underground and continue practicing homosexuality or lesbianism for mercenary reasons,” he said.
Right. It's just for money. They don't actually love each other or anything - that would be nature getting it wrong.

With the President of their country spouting this nonsense, no wonder Ugandan LGTB people feel under threat.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Nigerian "Jail The Gays" Bill Escalates to Nation-Wide Witch Hunt

So apparently Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan is so completely on top of this whole running a country thing that he now believes it's of paramount importance to pretty much round up anyone who's suspected of being gay and throw them in jail for 10 years.

You know, because there's nothing more important to do right now than destroying people's lives when they're suspected of loving someone who happens to have the wrong sort of gonads. Poverty, illiteracy -- not as serious as two loving people who happen to be the same sex. No, not at all...

And gays in Nigeria were not screaming for their rights, waiving in parades, demanding to get same-sex marriage or anything. They were just trying to survive, to not get killed. Being gay is against the law in the North of the country and can result in death by stoning or a lethal injection.

Perhaps Jonathan decided to skip making them wear pink triangle badges and is throwing them directly into prison as a cost cutting measure?

Group: Nigeria arrests gay 'suspects' under new law banning homosexuality
Nigerian authorities arrested 10 people believed to be gay men under a bill signed this week that bans same-sex marriages, a human rights group said. 
Police detained men in various states and have dozens of pending arrests based on perceived sexual orientation, according to Amnesty International.
The police are denying that anyone is getting arrested. I suppose it's just their word against Amnesty International. Of course, they've been known to regularly accept bribes and torture people. 

Meanwhile, an AP story has the number of arrests at much more.
The police have now arrested 38 men and are looking for 168 others, according to Aken'Ova, whose organization is helping provide legal services to the men. The AIDS counselor said he has helped secure bail for some of the 38 detainees. They both said dozens of homosexuals have fled Bauchi in recent days.
The bill responsible for all this was unanimously passed December 17th in the parliament with no announcement whatsoever. Then the president signed it with no real announcement.
It was unclear why the law's passage has been shrouded in secrecy. The copy obtained from the House of Representatives in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, showed it was signed by lawmakers and senators unanimously on Dec. 17, though no announcement was made.
This pretty much mirrors what happened recently in Uganda and one wonders if more African states are waiting on the sidelines at world reaction to these countries before attempting to pass their own laws.

For gays living in the north of the country, being rounded up or watched under suspicion of not being straight could also get you killed by adherents of the "religion of peace"
The motivation for the Nigerian law is unclear, given that the country already has one making homosexual sex illegal. And gay people were not demanding to be married in a country where being gay can get a person lynched by a mob.  In parts of northern Nigeria where Islamic Shariah law is enforced, gays and lesbians can be legally stoned to death. 
Or 20 lashes if you're lucky.

And still no word from the mostly religious conservative groups, according to Right Wing Watch.

This is nothing more than a witch hunt to distract people from real problems and curry favour with powerful churches in the region for political ends.
Some critics have suggested the anti-gay law was designed to distract attention from Nigeria’s many troubles, and to win Jonathan favor with powerful churches that influence voters. His party has fractured ahead of 2015 elections over his expected plan to run for re-election.
Oh, and the government is pushing legislation to take children away from their gay parents in Russia. So this isn't just an Africa problem.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Religiously-Influenced Anti-Gay Bill Passes In Ugandan Parliament

Popular Uganda newspaper from 2010.
I'm not sure how in the news this is, but something rather enormously important and horribly wrong just happened in Uganda.

The Ugandan Parliament just passed a horrendously backward anti-homosexuality bill.

Ugandan MPs pass life in jail anti-homosexual law
Uganda's parliament has passed a bill to toughen the punishment for homosexual acts to include life imprisonment in some cases. 
The anti-homosexuality bill also makes it a crime punishable by a prison sentence not to report gay people.
The original draft of the bill had the death penalty for gays. This has been replaced with life in prison - which is probably worse.

And the reaction from certain pundits is ghoulish. Just look at this inspirational tweet from Bryan Fischer.

I suppose it can be done... in a country I would never wish to live in.

And the primary driving force behind this? Religion. Or more specifically, toxic and obnoxious American evangelicals, who no doubt yearn to see similar measures take root in their own country.

U.S. evangelicals helped write draconian Uganda anti-gay bill
U.S. evangelical Christian sects active in Uganda helped compose a draconian bill that punishes homosexual acts with life imprisonment and lengthy prison terms for those who associate with gays....NPR reports the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was written with the help of U.S. evangelical Christians with "close ties" to the Ugandan lawmakers who are pushing for its passage. Chief among these Americans is Scott Lively, a Massachusetts-based evangelical facing a U.S. lawsuit filed by Ugandan gays under the Alien Tort Statute, which allows foreigners to sue in U.S. courts for human rights violations committed abroad. 
"There are those factions of the evangelical community in the U.S. that believe they've more or less lost the fight against the homosexual agenda," Malika Zouhali Worrall, co-director of a documentary film called "Call Me Kuchu" (queer), told NPR. "Therefore, they're trying to pre-empt it in other countries."
Ugandan religious leaders watch on from gallery in support of the bill. (source)

And here's the thing. After sitting on the table for five years, the highly homophobic speaker of the house, Rebecca Kadaga -- who called the bill a Christmas gift for Ugandans -- essentially rammed it through when nobody was looking like some kind of legislative coup.

Take a look at the video report below. You can see that there is really hardly anyone in Parliament that day (so close to the holidays).

I suppose more people would have shown up if the bill was even up for discussion or on the list of bills to be considered that day! Funny, all those religious leaders showed up though.

Because of this, the Prime Minister issued an objection and opposed the vote. He argued, correctly, that there wasn't proper quorum (sufficient number of members in the house) when a bill of such important magnitude would be discussed. He is calling for some kind of debate on this bill!
“I was not aware that this Bill was coming up for debate. There are some issues on which we are still consulting,” he said adding, “This is an important Bill that we need to pass with a quorum in Parliament.”
For this, the Prime Minister was booed out of the chamber and even left in disgust for awhile!

The international response to this will be very negative. I believe Uganda could have just shot itself in the foot because of their own religious zeal.
The BBC's Catherine Byaruhanga in Kampala says the government knows there will be an international outcry, which could see some countries suspend aid to the country.
Watch this preview of God Loves Uganda for some more information on the toxic situation there and how American Christian evangelical groups are a big part of the problem.

It would be great to see the Canadian Government condemning this.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Kenyan Atheist Transgender Audrey Mbugua Fighting For Her Identity In A Christian Country

Audrey Mbugua is one of my heroes.
There is one brave woman in the news over in Kenya, lately.

Audrey Mbugua was born a boy but she never felt comfortable identifying as a male.
A landmark case before the High Court could have far reaching implications on how persons of transgender are treated. 
It involves a woman, born 29 years ago as Andrew Mbugua Ithibu, but who chose to change her gender.  Unable to win Government recognition of her new status as a woman, Audrey Mbugua Ithibu has now taken the battle to court.
Audrey adopted her new name as part of her re-identification as a woman after being diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorders/Transsexualism by a psychiatrist in 2008. However, her old name, 'Andrew', remains on important government identification, such as her passport and academic certificates which affect her ability to obtain a job or travel abroad.
“The process of changing my name and gender in my identity, travel and academic documents was fraught with challenges such as lack of understanding among public officers in charge of these processes,” Audrey says.
Her attempts to have her name formally changed in the eyes of the government and educational bodies in Kenya have forced her to the courts.

And guess who's working against her?

Transgender Movement Planting Roots in Kenya
The Kenya Christian Lawyers Fellowship is challenging Audrey Mbugua’s petition, warning it would set a precedent contrary to the Christian view of creation and encourage gay unions.
Yep, the Kenyan Christian Lawyers Fellowship, which is, I guess, the sort of thing we'll be seeing more of here in Canada once Trinity Western University gets their accreditation to open Canada's first Christian Law School. But, I digress.

Audrey is not only transgender. She's also atheist in a predominantly Christian country with a stigma against atheists.
Mbugua, who said she is an atheist, grew up as Andrew while struggling with her gender.
That's one brave, brave woman. And her case is apparently poised to potentially change the legal status of LGTB people in Kenya. You know, like potentially giving them equal rights under the law.
Now the Kenya Christian lawyer’s fellowship has joined her case and want it thrown out. The lawyers want Audrey Mbugua to provide medical evidence to back her demand for a sex change. And as Wilkister Nyabwa reports, the organisation claims the case may pave the way for homosexuality and lesbianism.
Pave the way for homosexuality and lesbianism! Horrors! I guess nobody told them that LGTBQ people have existed, since... forever. It's just that they've been treated like dirt since... (likely) forever. If you'd like to get a small picture of this, just watch this news coverage where they have the banner THIS MAN IS AUDREY! on the bottom the whole time. Looks like there is a ways to go in Kenya.

And as for the Christian Lawyers Fellowship, one Montreal Gazette blogger pretty much sums things up for me with this glorious paragraph.
If ever there was a case of Christians trying to force their primitive, superstitious belief systems on other people — and the trans person in question here says she is an atheist — it is this one. To  complicate matters even more, the holier-than-thou Christians are confusing gender identity with sexual orientation, perhaps purposefully, or perhaps through sheer ignorance.
Now, now, It's not ignorant, their "Bible told them so!"

Audrey, you go, girl! You're my hero.

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