Beenieman won’t play Dutch music festival

Organisers of the Dutch Parkpop music festival have withdrawn their invitation to the controversial Jamaican singer Beenie Man to play at the event.

The artist, who gay groups say is homophobic, was invited to the event after organisers rejected American rapper Snoop Dogg.

Parkpop said that although Beenie Man promised not to sing any homophobic songs, they had to cancel his slot to avoid risking the future of the free event.

The singer, real name Anthony Moses Davis, has a number of songs which advocate the murder of lesbians and gays.

Lyrics include “I’m dreaming of a new Jamaica, come to execute all the gays”, while another song suggests lesbians should be hanged.

Snoop Dogg said he was “astonished” to have been banned from the event.

He was informed by Parkpop that the police and prosecution service were barring him.

Snoop Dogg has had problems with entering countries in the past. In 2006, he was temporarily banned from entering the UK, although the ban was lifted to allow him to play Glastonbury this year.

Last November, Beenie Man had a string of Australian and New Zealand tour dates cancelled after gay groups protested at his lyrics.

Gay victim ‘was called a batty man’

The gay man who died after being attacked in Trafalgar Square last autumn was called a “batty man” before he was kicked and stamped on, the Old Bailey heard.

Ian Baynham, 62, died in hospital on October 13th 2009, several weeks after he suffered head injuries while on a night out.

Joel Alexander, 19, of Thornton Heath, south London, Rachel Burke, 18, of Three Oaks, East Sussex, and Ruby Thomas, 18, of Lichfield, Staffs, all deny manslaughter, while Burke denies a separate charge of committing actual bodily harm.

Today, the Old Bailey heard that Mr Baynham fell “like a corpse” when Alexander allegedly punched him.

The victim had been walking through Trafalgar Square holding hands with a male friend, Phillip Brown.

Thomas, who was sitting on a wall, then allegedly started shouting homophobic abuse at the pair, calling them “batty men” and “faggots”.

Mr Baynham is said to have challenged her and was then floored by a punch from Alexander.

Alexander allegedly walked off while Mr Baynham was left on the ground.

Eyewitnesses said that the two girls than began kicking and stamping on the victim in the head and chest as he lay unconscious and bleeding.

When Burke and Thomas ran off, Mr Brown gave chase and pulled Burke to the ground by her hair, the court heard.

But a passerby thought he was attacking her and separated them as she punched Mr Brown in the face.

The three are then said to have fled to the South Bank before returning to their respective homes.

Yesterday, prosecutor Brian Altman QC compared the alleged incident to scenes of violence from A Clockwork Orange, the 1970s film which caused outrage on its release.

He said: “The story of this case is an all too familiar depressing tale of drunken, loutish behaviour, but what these defendants did that night went far beyond mere antisocial behaviour.

“Two of them are teenage girls, fuelled by copious amounts of alcohol. They confronted Mr Baynham with abuse and then together with Joel Alexander they jointly participated in a violent attack on a defenceless man in public.”

Sweden allows gay couples to marry in church

swedenchurch

By Jessica Green(pink news)

The Lutheran Church of Sweden has decided to allow gay couples to marry in church.

Gay marriage became legal in the country on May 1st, allowing couples to wed in religious or civil ceremonies.

Until now, the church had not decided whether to allow them to marry in church.

In June, the church board submitted a petition to the Church of Sweden synod. The synod announced the decision this morning.

According to The Local, some small changes will be made to current church regulations, such as replacing “man and wife” with “lawfully wedded spouses” when gay couples marry.

In January 2007 the church, which was disestablished in 2000, began offering religious blessings to gay unions and actively welcomed LGBT clergy.

Six of the seven political parties in Swedish parliament backed the proposal to introduce a gender-neutral marriage law.

The proposal passed with a 261 to 22 vote and 16 abstentions.

The only party to oppose the ruling were the Christian Democrats, who said they wanted to maintain “a several hundred-year-old concept” of marriage.

Celebrate Bisexuality Day 10 years old


Sorry if I missed out on this, so many things happening here but yesterday September 23 was Bisexuality Day’s 10th Anniversary. Here is a piece from Pink News on it.

People around the world have marked the tenth anniversary of the Celebrate Bisexuality Day, an annual event intended to demarginalise the bisexual community.
Launched by American bisexual rights activists Wendy Curry, Michael Page and Gigi Raven Wilbour, the campaign sought to draw the community out alongside the rest of the LGBT concepts after fears of its greater marginalisation.

One of the original activists said: “Ever since the Stonewall rebellion, the gay and lesbian community has grown in strength and visibility. The bisexual community also has grown in strength but in many ways we are still invisible.
“I too have been conditioned by society to automatically label a couple walking hand in hand as either straight or gay, depending upon the perceived gender of each person.”
Events in aid of Celebrate Bisexuality Day have taken place in America, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom displaying the Bi Pride flag designed by Page.

We need to speak up against homophobia in music

By V King Macdona

Several concerts by reggae artist Buju Banton were recently cancelled in America, amid controversy over notoriously homophobic lyrics which incite the murder of gay people. The cancellation was brought about following a campaign organised via website change.org. Six hundred and fifty people complained to Live Nation, who own the House of Blues venues where Banton was scheduled to perform next week, and his planned shows were scrapped as a result.

But the fight against anti-gay lyrics in rap and reggae music has been going on for some time and this is simply the latest chapter in a tale involving the blurred boundaries around notions of freedom of expression, the right to express personal opinion through music, and what counts as homophobic hate crime with the potential to influence listeners towards a homophobic set of beliefs. While some lyricists argue that their words have been misconstrued and defend their music, there is no doubt that some artists are effectively committing criminal offences with the abusive content of their songs.

The recent pressure for the cancellation of Buju Banton’s shows was not the first time that action has been taken against performers who use music as a weapon. In 2003, reggae star Bounty Killer was forced to cancel concerts in Birmingham and London after OutRage! gay rights group spoke out in opposition. They wrote a no-holds-barred letter to the Metropolitan police, urging them to arrest Bounty Killer on charges of inciting violence with his lyrics, which advocate the burning, drowning and stoning of gay men. Police then warned the concert venues’ owners that they may be aiding and abetting a criminal offence if the reggae star performed his homophobic lyrics on their premises, and his gigs were duly abandoned. Peter Tatchell, who helped bring about the cancellations said at the time: “Our aim is to make Britain a no-go area for singers who incite violence against gay people and other minorities. We hope this victory will encourage people in other countries to campaign for the cancellation of these singer’s concerts. Hit them in the pocket where it hurts financially. Once they start losing money they’ll soon drop their homophobic lyrics.”

Another successful reggae artist, Beenie Man, who has duetted with Janet Jackson amongst others,has also been accused of verbally abusing gay people with his choice of lyrics. Via his music, he has not only expressed his wish to cut the throats of all gay men, but also suggested hanging lesbians with a piece of rope. A planned UK performance in 2004 was cancelled directly due to his lyrics, after he was prevented from entering the country by police. Beenie Man had also been expected to perform at the MTV Music Video Awards the same year, but was dropped from the line-up of possible acts after protests from anti-homophobia campaigners. Fearing that more cancellations might follow, he issued an apology, which was subsequently dismissed by gay groups as insincere. The Stop Murder Music campaign organised a petition entitled the Reggae Compassionate Act, which Beenie Man allegedly signed, and by doing so agreed to stop writing and performing songs with homophobic content. He was praised for this new stance, but later went back on his word by denying that he had ever made the agreement.

Perhaps the most mainstream rapper in the world, Eminem, has also been criticised in the past for his homophobic lyrics. In a song entitled Criminal on his second album, The Marshall Mathers LP, Eminem’s lyrics include: “My words are like a dagger with a jagged edge/ That’ll stab you in the head, whether you’re a fag or lez/ Or the homosex, hermaph or a trans-a-vest/ Pants or dress? Hate fags? The answer’s yes”. The fact that much of Eminem’s audience is under the age of 18 has called into question how much influence his words could be having on young people. However the rapper has since appeared on stage with Elton John, apparently to dispel rumours of his homophobia.

Censoring artists is always a controversial act, but campaigns like Stop Murder Music and change.org are crucial in helping to police the actions of lyricists whose words have the potiential to wield a great deal of influence amongst listeners. If a person who homophobically abuses or threatens a gay person in the street can be arrested for it, then it is only right to confront musicians whose homophobic abuse reaches hundreds of thousands of people every day.

The reasons and realities behind the ex-gay movement

By Ramsey Dehani
source: Pink News
The ex-gay movement, which professes to ‘cure’ homosexuality, is in the news yet again following the disappearance of American student Bryce Faulkner, who is thought to have been sent to one of the controversial centres by his parents after they discovered he was gay.

Ex-gay ministries were founded in the mid-1970s in a reactionary move against the advance of the gay rights movement in America. Rather than focusing on any biblical exegenesis or psycho-biological studies, the movement focused on popularised stereotypes of gays and lesbians, concentrating their actions on such things as ‘gender-specific’ role playing and ways of thinking.

The ideals of what the movement preaches, a move from homosexuality through to heterosexuality, are said to be ineffective and “potentially harmful” by American psychologist groups such as the American Psychological Association, which claims that such direct intolerance and lack of acceptance can cause mental health problems.

PinkNews.co.uk spoke to Dr Adrian Coyle, a senior lecturer in the Department of Psychology at the University of Surrey and co-author of ‘The Social Psychology of Sexuality’, about how these negative connotations affect the person involved.

With regards to reparative therapy, Dr Coyle said that there is “no evidence it works” and that the “research evidence just isn’t there”.

“As a psychologist and a scientist, I want to know about the evidence they have,” he said.

“I don’t think its wise to engage with the desire to change, the reinforcement of pre-existing negative ideas of one’s sexuality presents a huge risk.

When asked further about ex-gay treatments he said that the only positive outcome would be that “conceivably, once, say, a religious Christian who is forced to go or chooses to go [to a centre], engages with it and tries their best only to find it doesn’t work . . . it could be a catalyst for some critical thinking and a realisation that maybe they are not ‘wrong'”.

He went on to stress: “The risk is so huge for feelings of complete isolation of social context and the implications for a person’s life and wellbeing.”

He added that this could potentially lead to suicide.

Ex-gay groups tend to say that members who come to them want to change, and lose their “unwanted same-sex attraction”, but when reading accounts from these people, many of whom come from small towns or cities throughout America where there is harsh intolerance towards gays, one can see reasons why they think that this is their only option.

The groups themselves often cite personal trauma as reasons for undertaking the therapy, with the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) claiming: “Early [during childhood or adolescence] sexual experiences with an older, same-sex person are commonly reported by our homosexual clients.”

Peterson Toscano is the co-founder of beyondexgay.com, an online community for people who have gone through the ex-gay process and found it unsuccessful.

He submitted himself to reparative therapy, and spent 17 years of his life attempting to address his same-sex attraction, before finally coming out as openly gay in 1999. He told PinkNews.co.uk about his experience at ex-gay residential programme ‘Love in Action’ (LIA), as well as the three exorcisms he went through.

Describing a reparative therapy session, he said: “In LIA a typical day meant group sessions where we talked about our issues and get teachings about why we are gay based on the template they provide. Often parents get blamed and participants need to match their personal histories with the template the programme leaders provide thus creating a new mythology about themselves.

“We had to spend a great deal of time writing about our former sexual experiences,” he continued, “and then filtering them through a lens that deemed such activity as sinful, dysfunctional and addictive.

“We also had to stand up in front of family and friends and share one of the most shameful sexual experiences we had, much like people do at AA when they talk about hitting rock bottom. This is a devastating and shaming event for both the participants and the parents”.

Toscano talked about how they were given training in “proper” gender roles and personal presentation, and “how to dress, walk, act like proper men and women”. Examples included men going to football “clinics” and women receiving baking lessons.

However, it seems that LIA itself does not even believe gays can be changed.

Toscano described how John Smid, the director of LIA, announced in a welcoming speech to them that the goal of heterosexuality was “unrealistic” and added that many would struggle with their desires for the rest of their lives.

Even Exodus International, the ex-gay group that is one of the largest of its kind and also the place where Bryce Faulkner is said to be being ‘treated’, now teaches this very message: “Change in orientation is not possible.”

Alan Chambers, the president of Exodus International, spoke at the Love Won Out conference in 2007 and said: “Heterosexuality shouldn’t be your number one goal . . . the opposite of homosexuality isn’t heterosexuality. It’s holiness.”

Mr Chambers continued: “I think we in the church often get that wrong. We think, ‘okay, the best thing for this person who’s involved with homosexuality or involved with lesbianism is that they come out of that lifestyle and go into heterosexuality'”.

He added that this was “setting people up for a terrible fall”.

So the president of the group itself is saying that the heterosexuality that he is attempting to push on gay and lesbian people is unattainable.

Bryce Faulkner has been criticised from a number of quarters for not choosing to leave therapy.

However, Toscano warned of the difficulties of trying to leave ex-gay ministries.

“Cut off from the world – friends, TV, news, etc -the teachings of the programme fills the head. You get trapped in a world within a world,” he continued, “an alternate universe that warns of all sorts of dangers outside, that to leave, one is also leaving God’s will for your life.”

“Looking at it from the outside this may seem silly,” he went on, “but inside that world that is filled with shame and fear, it becomes harder and harder to think clearly for one’s self.”

“Also, to know that once you leave you may be destitute . . . without the support from your parents . . . it makes it all the harder to get out,” he said.

“Some kids do resist their parents and make it, but there are also far too many homeless LGBT people out there.”

With the case of Bryce Faulkner still ongoing, and people such as his boyfriend Travis Swanson saying that he was “allegedly brow beaten, manipulated and economically bullied into ‘agreeing’ to an intervention to ‘cure’ his homosexuality”, one can see that the movement continues.

Despite the assertion from its leaders that it doesn’t work, ex-gay therapy continues and more and more people like Bryce Faulkner are sent there every day.

The movement in the US, and indeed, the UK, is going stronger, something which undeniably calls for more research into such false ‘cures’, which even the centres’ leaders say does not work.

NARTH and Exodus did not return calls for comment.

Hillary Clinton promises to fight for gay rights abroad

US secretary of state Hillary Clinton said yesterday she will fight for gay rights abroad.
Speaking prior to this month’s 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, Clinton said: “The example set by those fighting for equal rights in the United States gives hope to men and women around the world who yearn for a better future for themselves and their loved ones.

“The persecution of gays and lesbians is a violation of human rights and an affront to human decency, and it must end.
“As secretary of state, I will advance a comprehensive human rights agenda that includes the elimination of violence and discrimination against people based on sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Seven countries punish homosexuality with execution. They are Iran, Mauritania, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
Last week, it was announced that gay partners of US diplomats stationed overseas are to receive equal benefits in plans unveiled by Clinton.

Howard Berman, head of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, had asked the State Committee to ensure benefits such as medical care, transport between postings and security training were offered to same-sex partners.

In a hearing on funding for the Foreign Service, he said: “It is my expectation, based on very recent conversations, that the secretary of state will move forward with implementing all of the benefits provided in that provision in the very near future.”

Gay couples ‘are better at communicating’

By V King Macdona

Recent studies indicate that same-sex couples have greater levels of satisfaction in their relationships than their heterosexual counterparts due to better communication.

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign studied couples of the same sex and opposite sexes and discovered that, contrary to the beliefs of some, the relationships are very similar.

These findings will help bridge the gap between society’s generalised views regarding the longevity and strength of gay partnerships, researchers believe.

Glenn Roisman, researcher and author of the study by the University of Illinois, told The Desert Sun: “If one is basing one’s world view that same-sex couples are fundamentally different than opposite-sex pairs as being of an inferior quality, one is mistaken.”

In a three-year study of civil unions taking place in Vermont, Esther Rothblum, a professor of Women’s Studies at San Diego State University, discovered that same-sex couples resolved conflict better than opposite-sex couples in committed relationships.

“Compared with heterosexual married participants, both types of same-sex couples reported greater relationship quality, compatibility and intimacy and lower levels of conflict,” the study reported. Those in same-sex relationships were found to balance out the responsibilities of both partners in their work and home life.

It was also found that conflict resolution skills are of utmost importance in a long-lasting relationship, and without the gender difference of an opposite-sex couple, a gay couple’s ability to resolve their disagreements may be greater. The tendency to dismiss conflicts due to fundamental differences between the sexes is not an issue, so gay couples may be able to tackle their fallings-out in a more practical way.

Nick Warner, an experienced counsellor and clinical psychologist based in Palm Springs, said: “In a gay relationship, they tend to look at each other’s differences as something interesting that they want to understand more.

“Guys tend to dismiss what they disagree with. In a same-sex relationship, there wouldn’t be as much of that of course because you can’t dismiss someone because of their gender difference.”

Same-sex partners could be construed as having an advantage over straight couples, in that their shared gender gives them a greater understanding of each other. But whether a relationship is same or opposite-sex, according to researchers, the idea of embracing each other’s differences which is the key to success.

Rothblum summed up the findings, saying: “I think the take-home message for heterosexual couples is to try and understand the gender culture of your spouse.”

UK MPs and celebs back petition on gay asylum seekers

by Tony Grew of Pink News

More than 4,000 people have signed a petition on the Downing St website calling for an end to gay deportations.

It asks the Prime Minister to stop deporting gays and lesbians to countries where they may be imprisoned, tortured or executed because of their sexuality.

Among the signatories are actors Simon Callow and Cathy Tyson, playwright Jonathan Harvey, Labour MP Celia Barlow, Lib Dems Lorely Burt and Tom Brake and former Labour minister Stephen Twigg.

The deadline for signatures March 7th.

Green MEPs Jean Lambert and Caroline Lucas, Conservative MEP John Bowis, Labour MEPs Eluned Morgan, Claude Moraes and Glenys Kinnock and LibDem MPs Lynne Featherstone and Jo Swinson have also signed up.

The petition was initiated by the Reverend Walter Attwood.

“Given that the numbers of cases are so small and the situations which people are fleeing from so well documented, their stance is completely untenable,” said gay asylum activist Paul Canning.

“It is also well-documented that homophobia exists in the Home Office so we simply do not believe their position that these cases are given ‘due and fair consideration.’

“The Canadian Immigration Minister has just announced that he will consider using the services of lesbian and gay immigration groups to help bring genuine asylum seekers from Iran to his country.

“We believe that the Home Office should consider doing the same here.

“These groups are best positioned to weed out the genuine cases – those people who should be welcomed here as their cases are formally assessed.

“For the government to do otherwise would, we believe, highlight its hypocrisy when it comes to the situation of lesbians and gays overseas.

“We believe that the British people do not support the policies and actions of the Home Office.

“We believe that they recognise lesbians and gays fleeing regimes such as Iran as genuine asylum seekers of the sort this country has historically made welcome here.

“Please urge everyone you know to sign the petition so as many people as possible can send this message to Gordon Brown.”

Lin Homer, chief executive of the Borders and Immigration Agency (BIA), has caused a furore amongst human rights groups last year when she said that judges should consider the “practical consequences” of sending gay asylum seekers back to their country of origin, and not that country’s social or legal views on homosexuality.

Ms Homer said that bans or conservative views on homosexuality in asylum seekers’ home countries are not reason enough to allow them to stay in Britain.

“What the court takes into account is the practical consequences for the individuals concerned,” she said.

“The simple presence of either a law or a culture that frowns upon homosexuality is not of itself a reason [to grant asylum].

“I think these decisions are made carefully and thoughtfully.”

Ms Homer insisted that the information used by the BIA when deciding whether to deport gay asylum seekers is thorough and accurate.

Last month the European Commission affirmed that persecution on grounds of sexual orientation is a legitimate justification for an asylum claim.

The question was prompted by an initial rejection in Cyprus of a claim by a gay Iranian asylum seeker, a rejection which was later overturned and the claim granted.

The Commission has confirmed that there is “an obligation on Member States to grant refugee status to persons who…. are found to have a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of membership of a particular social group, including a group based on a common characteristic of sexual orientation.”

US Congress returns to equal immigration rights for same-sex couples

A 2007 bill that would offer binational same-sex relationships the same recognition and treatment afforded to binational married couples will come back before the US House of Representatives on Thursday.

New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler is to reintroduce his Uniting American Families Act (UAFA).

It was co-sponsored by 118 of the 435 members of the House in its first introduction in May 2007.

The proposed law would allow gay, lesbian and bisexual US citizens or permanent residents to sponsor their permanent partner for immigration to the country, just as they can now sponsor such family members as siblings, children or husbands and wives.

At present US citizens with foreign lesbian or gay partners find that their relationship is considered non-existent under federal law.

The Defence of Marriage Act, passed in 1996, declared that for all purposes of the federal government, marriage would mean “only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.”

Since lesbian and gay couples are excluded from the definition of “spouse,” US citizens receive no legal recognition of their same-sex partners for purposes of immigration.

The 2000 US Census estimated that in the United States there were almost 40,000 lesbian and gay couples in which one partner is a US citizen (or permanent resident), and the other a foreign national.

This figure does not include the thousands of binational couples who hide the fact they are partners, are forced to live apart, or who have been forced to leave the United States.

Advocacy group Immigration Equality told Metro Weekly:

“The Obama administration has been supportive.

“He did not co-sponsor the bill in the Senate, but he was very clear in the campaign that he supports the goals of this legislation.”