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Saturday, 29 May 2010

Malawi couple freed by president

The Malawi couple jailed for 14 years – with hard labour – by a homophobic bastard in that country have now been pardoned by their president.

It was looking bad for Steven Monjeza, 26, and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, 20, who had not only got the sentence – just for being gay, really – but had been separated.

Well it’s good news and all in gaydom are celebrating. Quite rightly. Read all about it here.

Why so coy, Mr Laws?

“Chief Treasury Secretary David Laws has apologised after it emerged he had been claiming MPs’ expenses to rent rooms in homes owned by his partner,” says the BBC.

And, whatever he says in his defence – i.e. that he didn’t consider the other person a partner in the sense that most people would – we have to ask why he would wish to keep the relationship out of the public eye.

Well, in case you don’t already know, Laws’s partner is male. And why did Laws get into this little fix? “My motivation throughout has not been to maximise profit but to simply protect our privacy and my wish not to reveal my sexuality,” he says.

So one has to ask: Why? What’s the big deal in this day and age, especially when openly gay MPs are to be found all over the place, happily getting on with being MPs?

Is Laws’s wish to keep his sexuality a secret some sort of admission that he’s ashamed of it? If he is, then perhaps he should seek counselling. But any gay man should know that being open and honest is what has helped to push gay rights as far as they have gone – not as far as they might, perhaps, but a long way from what they were a few years ago.

It’s one thing simply wanting to keep your private life private. Heterosexuals do that, too. But wanting to keep your sexuality a secret is something else, and people in Laws’s position can do a lot for the gay “cause” by simply being open. Not shouting things from the rooftops, just being open.

How many people are now looking at his story and wondering just what the hell is wrong with being gay?

Monday, 24 May 2010

Dead man with beard threatens World Cup – shock, horror!

There’s more fury over the depiction of a chap from a few centuries ago who had a beard and is now dead.

And it’s even threatening the World Cup in South Africa, we learn from Christian Science Monitor, which doesn’t reproduce the cartoon by Zapiro, which appeared in the South African paper the Mail and Guardian.

“Coming just 20 days before South Africa hosts the World Cup soccer matches,” says the paper, “the Mohammad cartoon – which is much gentler than those published by Dutch and Danish newspapers or even by the American TV program South Park – has raised the spectre of a violent reaction in South Africa from extremist groups who see themselves as defenders of the Islamic faith. One alleged Al Qaeda leader, arrested in Iraq, claimed to have been planning attacks against Danish and Dutch fans because of cartoons of Mohammad printed in their countries.”

Muslims are of course jumping up and down, screaming, shouting, moaning, not realising that, if they just weren’t so damned precious about who draws their big man, people might not do it, except possibly for illustration purposes.

You’ll have heard, no doubt, about “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day”* on Facebook, sparked by threats by a radical Muslim group against the creators of the US TV series South Park for daring to depict this beardy guy in a bear suit. It was bound to get Muslims twitching, of course, but it was done to tell the world that the West won’t be bludgeoned into self-censorship.

Let’s be straight: your humble blogger respects people’s right to hold religious beliefs, even if he doesn’t respect the beliefs themselves. And he doesn’t believe we should just ridicule a religious figure for the hell of it. But it has to be done if you’re making a point about freedom of expression.

Anyway, Mohammed is a historical figure, and is as much everyone’s to do with as they will as, say, Richard the Lionheart or Abraham Lincoln is. The fact that some people revere him as some sort of religious figure is nothing to do with us. To make us respect his image (not that anyone could know what he looked like, anyway) is to make us part Muslim. Christians don’t expect Muslims to revere Jesus in the same way, or pagans ditto the moon goddess.
* Looks as if Facebook have removed this, so the link doesn't work – certainly when we last tried it, which was 10 August 2010.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Ratzo condemns same-sex marriage! Oh, what a surprise!

My fellow blogger George Broadhead has been having a go at Ratzo again – and with good reason.

Following the Pope’s latest attack in Portugal on gay marriage, this blog’s dear mother, the Pink Triangle Trust (PTT), has branded this, and previous attacks, as clear evidence of a paranoid obsession about what he perceives as the evil of homosexuality.

The old twat – Ratzo, not George – was addressing a multitude at the shrine of Fatima during a four-day visit to Portugal.

As PTT secretary George pointed out that Ratzo made his first official attack on gay marriage in 2005 following years of condemning same sex couples whilst working for the last Pope. He told a meeting of the Diocese of Rome that same sex unions are only “pseudo matrimony” born of “an anarchic freedom that wrongly passes for true freedom of man”. Before he became Pope, Benedict repeatedly attacked same sex marriage. As Cardinal Ratzinger he issued an edict calling on all Catholic priests to resist government reforms that might lead to gay weddings.

And, in his 2008 Christmas message, he declared that saving humanity from homosexual behaviour was as important as saving the rainforest from destruction. Now, in his address to the faithful in Portugal, he has described gay marriage as an insidious and dangerous threat to the common good.

“These repeated attacks on gay rights, and in particular the right to marriage, amount to a paranoid obsession about what the Pope clearly perceives as an intrinsic moral evil,” George Broadhead has said in a hard-hitting news release.

“Given that the stance of all three main UK political parties is supportive of gay rights, are their leaders going to have the guts to condemn this overt hostility and will the new coalition government think twice about welcoming this ghastly bigot to the UK next September?”

Nope. Sorry. They won’t think twice. The old bastard will put his unwanted pretty little red jackboot onto our soil, and to hell with what huge numbers of people think, or the expense to the UK taxpayer. Mustn’t upset religion.

Yours truly did an article in Gay & Lesbian Humanist recently on this monster.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Freethought in the most unexpected places

It may therefore come as a surprise to many people that there is a long and vibrant intellectual tradition of dissidence and freethinking going back to the Middle Ages.

You’re about to say, “So what?” when you read that this refers to Islam.

Read all about it here.

It’s not surprising that media are afraid to cross Islam, while they’re happy to knock Christianity, when Islam – far from its medieval stance on dissidence and freethinking – is so antithetical to freedom of speech, it being a hideous religion in which, in many Islamic countries, women are tenth-class citizens, homosexuals are executed, girls are not allowed to go to school, unbelief is punishable by death.

Try drawing a cartoon of their prophet fella, and see where that gets you!

Saturday, 8 May 2010

AIDS and HIV: the hot debate continues

The big debate over whether HIV really does cause AIDS seems to have stirred up a hornets’ nest.

The article appears in the latest issue of Gay & Lesbian Humanist (see link in sidebar for latest issue at any given time), and in it John Lauritsen, the American AIDS dissident, takes on Seth Kalichman, a clinical psychologist who has written several books on AIDS.

Lauritsen couldn’t get a rebuttal article into New Humanist after an article by Kalichman appeared there that seemed to be knocking AIDS dissidents.

Several people have entered the fray since then, and a scathing comment in Digital Journal below its report on the issue has links that lead you to more.

It’s a hot topic. Don’t ask me where I stand. I’m not a scientist.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Gay & Lesbian Humanist: the election, the pope, Derren Brown and much more

It’s election day here in the UK – but that’s not the only subject on offer in the latest issue of Gay & Lesbian Humanist. The online magazine also looks at AIDS dissidents, alleged papal cover-ups of priestly sexual abuse and nonreligious ceremonies, among other things. And we pay tribute to one of the founding fathers of gay-rights campaigning in the UK, Antony Grey, who has died aged 82.

But today’s election is an opportunity, so the pundits are always telling us, for the British public to engage in the crucial debate about the choice of who will govern and what policies will be enacted in the next four or five years.

The latest issue of G&LH takes the theme "Dogma or debate?" and looks at election topics, with editor Mike Foxwell asking, “Am I just a tad pedantic – cynical even – in believing that for there to be any meaningful debate about anything there has to be a divergence of position, a fundamental difference of opinion?”

And, he asks, is the system we have human enough?

“Somehow, our humanity seems to diminish in proportion to the size of the group until you end up with a totally dehumanised chimera called the State. True, big groups of people can do bad things, but it takes the State to commit the real atrocities such as the illegal and unjustified war on Iraq. It wasn’t in the Labour Party’s manifesto, the British people didn’t vote for it and in fact protested against it in enormous numbers, but it still happened.

“If you are looking for corrupt, self-serving and untrustworthy, look no further than the Government. Maybe in the end it doesn’t matter whom you vote for, who gets in, it’s still the government that wins – and that’s the root of the problem.”

Sexuality and politics

In his “Vote seXuality” feature Andy Armitage takes a look at whether being gay influences the way people vote. He asked the eight main political parties fielding candidates in the UK General Election a simple question: “What can your party offer to the LGBT community that other parties cannot or will not?”. Only three of the parties bothered to reply at all. The Tories were not one of them, and it’s the Tories who, in spite of more recent attempts to court the pink vote, have traditionally been the nastiest towards gay people.

Peter Tatchell, too, is far from impressed by the platitudes coming from the Tories as he reports in his “Big Gay Flashmob” article. The election theme is continued in our “Out of Print” feature, which is taken from the Summer 1997 issue of G&LH, in which Terry Sanderson, now president of the National Secular Society, assessed the gay-law-reform prospects following the election of Tony Blair’s Labour government earlier that year.

On the lighter side, Steven Dean seems to have an opinion on almost everything, and this time he gives us an insight to how he chooses whom to vote for. As you would expect, there’ll be an “X” in it somewhere!


HIV-AIDS is another subject that still arouses heated debate.

A recent attack on what have become known as AIDS dissenters was made in the November/December 2009 issue of the British publication New Humanist by an AIDS establishmentarian Seth Kalichman, who mounts a scurrilous ad hominem attack on a number of well-known HIV-AIDS critics, and then urges his readers never to enter into a debate with dissenters about the facts surrounding the HIV-AIDS hypothesis.

One reader of Kalichman’s article was HIV-AIDS dissident John Lauritsen, who was outraged and asked the New Humanist editor, Caspar Melville, for the right of reply. He did not get one, but G&LH has given Lauritsen the space to make the rebuttal that he was denied.

Reform in the Church of England

Though hardly radical by freethought standards, debate within the Church of England has been rumbling on within that stalwart of dogma for the past decade or so. The anti-reform backlash has been marshalled by a group called, in true Orwellian fashion, “Reform”. In his feature, “Church’s end”, Neil Richardson laments the influence of these hardliners

Arrest the Pope

There have been moves by noted atheists Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens to have the Pope arrested when he comes to Britain in September. Is this realistic? In his feature, “Arresting the Pope”, Andy Armitage assesses the likelihood of success for this audacious plan.

Continuing the theme of priestly abuse, Andrew John discusses the impact of a letter from the 1980s alleging that Joseph Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI, counselled against the defrocking of a California priest, putting the unity of the universal church first and asks, “Where does it all go from here?”

Rife with homophobia?

Sometimes it seems that the world at large is rife with homophobia wherever you look. Many of us harbour the dark thought that, with the resurgence of radical religion across the world, things are getting worse. Author Narvel Annable counsels against being too negative in his article, “House of homophobia”.

Social-awareness campaigns

Continuing in a more optimistic vein, gay-rights campaigner Mirka Makuchowska tells us of the extremely active Polish gay rights organisation, Kampania Przeciw Homofobii, of which she is currently secretary.

One of its current campaigns is for a Polish civil-partnership bill.

New-look news

This issue see the first of our new-look news feature, “The full story”, which replaces the long-running “News Watch” and “World Watch” features. The intention is to provide a more integrated view of chosen news stories worldwide in an attempt to join up the news dots, as it were. Dean Braithwaite and George Broadhead have the full story.

Derren Brown

“Blogwatch” this time focuses on the blog of the illusionist, mentalist, painter and sceptic Derren Brown, who will have been seen on UK television by many readers.

Another well-known illusionist is James Randi, who at the age of 81 has recently come out as gay. In his feature, “An amazing escape”, John Brand takes a closer look at Randi and how he decided to come out. Warren Allen Smith also has something to say about Randi in his “Gossip from across the Pond” article, in which he tells us of his correspondence with Randi following his coming-out.

To the woods

Becoming ever more popular are nonreligious ceremonies, not just funerals but birth and wedding ones, too. George Broadhead takes a look at what’s on offer in his feature, “Exit strategy”.

The magazine is online: just click the logo below or on our sidebar.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Veteran campaigner Antony Grey has died

Many readers will know the name of Antony Grey (pictured), one of Britain’s first ever gay-rights campaigners. I’m sad to say he’s died. He was 82, and hadn’t been in good health for some time. He had leukaemia and died at King Edward VII Hospital in London last Friday.

Anthony Edgar Gartside Wright (his birth name) was instrumental in getting the government of the day to push through the 1967 Sexual Offences Act, which led to the first major breakthrough in gay equality. Gays were not, of course, equal, but the Act did decriminalize sexual activity between two consenting adults (over 21) in private. It was a step along the way.

Grey began campaigning for sexual equality in 1968, as you can read in this Pink News article.

It was then that he joined the Homosexual Law Reform Society, later joining and becoming secretary of the Albany Trust, a charity set up to help gay men who had developed psychological problems after being persecuted.

Grey also wrote several books, including Quest for Justice: Towards Homosexual Emancipation, Speaking of Sex and Speaking Out: Sex, Law, Politics and Society.

Grey had lived with his partner, Eric Thompson, for 50 years, even during the years when it was considered dangerous for a male couple to share a house.

Grey’s death was the “end of an era”, says Thompson, who recalls in the Pink News article how things had changed from the early 1960s. “One night, when we were living in Hampstead, there was an almighty crash, as though the chimney had fallen down. A coach had crashed into several houses.

“But the first thing we did was not to call the police – it was to make up a spare bed, because you knew that when the police came round they would have been far more interested in our sleeping arrangements than the crash.”

“I don’t think the younger generation realises how things were in those days.”

My fellow blogger George Broadhead has told us that he, too, mourns death of Antony Grey, whom he got to know well when the former was secretary of the Gay Humanist Group (GHG) now called the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association.

“Antony joined GHG in October 1979 shortly after it was founded and remained a staunch supporter until the controversy over an article published in the Autumn 2005 issue of Gay & Lesbian Humanist, magazine to which he was a contributor. This article was perceived by some as racist, but Antony disagreed and sadly resigned his GALHA membership. He was always a staunch defender of freedom of expression and against what he considered political correctness.”

Indeed, Grey wrote a fascinating article on the subject of freedom of expression for Gay & Lesbian Humanist when it became an online publication in late 2008. Here is the standfirst, to give you a taste, and you can click on the link above to get to the article itself:

We live in sombre times. On the pretext of protecting us from terrorism, an obviously frightened and increasingly authoritarian UK government is steadily stripping away traditional safeguards of individual liberty and freedom of expression, which at least the older among us had hitherto taken for granted as part of the weft and warp of Britishness. Antony Grey has been looking at our freedoms – and lack of them.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

“The Pope Song”

As we all know, Pope Benedict XVI has been invited, by Penitent Sinner Gordon Brown, to the UK on a state visit later this year.

If, like me, you’re offended by that, then take a look at this YouTube music video by Tim Minchin and Fraser Davidson. (This post continues below the video – but watch the vid first.)

On YouTube, fraserdavidson says: “My friend Tim recently recorded his own tribute to Pope Benedict XVI in time for his state visit to the UK. I animated it.”

And you thought the leaked memo from the Papal Visit Team was a hoot.

And, thanks to skepchik and two of her readers, Philology and Aoisha, for writing down the lyric, we can all learn it in time for the Big Papal Occasion.

Fuck the motherfucker
Fuck the motherfucker
Fuck the motherfucker
He’s a fucking motherfucker

Fuck the motherfucker
Fuck the fucking fucker
Fuck the motherfucker
He’s a total fucking fucker

Fuck the motherfucker
Fuck the motherfucker
Fuck the motherfucker
Fucking fuck the motherfucker

Fuck the motherfucker
Fuck the motherfucking Pope

Fuck the motherfucker
And fuck you motherfucker
If you think that motherfucker is sacred

If you cover for another motherfucker who’s a kiddie fucker
Fuck you, you’re no better than the motherfucking rapist

And if you don’t like the swearing that this motherfucker forced from me
And reckon that it shows moral or intellectual paucity
Then fuck you motherfucker, this is language one employs
When one is fucking cross about fuckers fucking boys

I don’t give a fuck if calling the Pope a motherfucker
Means you unthinkingly brand me an unthinking apostate
This has naught to do with other fucking godly motherfuckers
I’m not interested right now in fucking scriptural debate

There are other fucking songs and there are other fucking ways
I’ll be a religious apologist on other fucking days
But the fact remains, if you protect a single kiddie fucker
Then Pope or prince or plumber, you’re a fucking motherfucker

You see I don’t give a fuck what any other motherfucker
Believes about Jesus and his motherfucking mother
And I’ve no problem with the spiritual beliefs of all these fuckers
While those beliefs don’t impact on the happiness of others

But if you build a church on claims of fucking moral authority
And with threats of hell impose it on others in society
Then you, you motherfuckers, could expect some fucking wrath
When it turns out you’ve been fucking us in our motherfucking asses

So fuck the motherfucker
And fuck you, motherfucker if you’re still a motherfucking papist
If he covered for a single motherfucker who’s a kiddie fucker
Fuck the motherfucker, he’s as evil as the rapist

And if you look into your motherfucking heart and tell me true
If this motherfucking stupid fucking song offended you
With its filthy fucking language and it’s fucking disrespect
If it made you feel angry, go ahead and write a letter
But if you find me more offensive than the fucking possibility
That the Pope protected priests when they were getting fucking fiddly
Then listen to me, motherfucker, this here is a fact:

You are just as morally misguided as that motherfucking
Power-hungry, self-aggrandized bigot in the stupid fucking hat.

What are you waiting for?

Monday, 3 May 2010

Benedicto condomo

I know I'm a bit behind the times with this one, but you've got to have a laugh.

Revelation of the leaked Papal Visit Team memo got the UK Foreign Office into all of a lather last week.

But, instead of being outraged about the suggestions contained within it, Exuse For An Atheist David Miliband should have apologised to the Catholic Church-instigated child-abuse victims for the invitation that his government has extended to Pope Benedict XVI to visit this country later this year.

The memo included such brilliant suggestions as:

Launch of "Benedict" Condoms
Open an abortion ward
Bless a civil partnership
Reverse policy on women bishops
Training course for all bishops on child-abuse allegations

To which should have been added

Turn around, get back on the plane and bugger off back to the Vatican.

For the full story, see this Digital Journal article.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

At last! A cure for homosexuality! Woo-hoo!

Wow! The power of prayer can cure homosexuality! Go to it, readers (those of you who are gay, that is), and get cured. After all, this disease you’ve had all these years is far worse than herpes, pox and clap all rolled into one.

We have it on good authority that being gay can be cured. We’re told so by one Philippa Stroud, likely to win the Sutton and Cheam seat in the general election on Thursday. She is head of the Centre for Social Justice – a Tory think tank set up by the party’s former leader Iain Duncan Smith – and believes that gays are possessed by satanic forces. Only prayer can liberate them.

So what are you waiting for?

Our father, who art in heaven, heal us, we beseech thee. Cure us of this vile affection that causes us to lie with man as with woman (and the evil lesbians among us to lie with woman as with man). We praise, oh Lord, thine everlasting mercy. Ah, men! (Sorry, ladies – couldn’t think of a pun for gay women along those lines, so I’m sure you’ll excuse me and not feel excluded. I can’t resist a pun.)

Now this silly woman is part of an organisation that has had and continues to have a lot of influence on Tory policy. It won’t surprise you to know that she’s married to a man who is a minister for the New Frontiers Church, which is allied to the US evangelical movement.

Need I say more?

It remains to be seen whether newly gay-friendly leader of the Toff Party will sack the evil cow. Doubt it.
Hat tip to Barry over at the Freethinker, where I first saw this story.