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Monday, 24 October 2011

Defence Ministry’s homophobic chaplains

The UK gay humanist charity the Pink Triangle Trust (PTT) – owner of this blog – is said to be very concerned to learn that the UK Ministry of Defence is employing chaplains representing religions that are ultra-homophobic.

The MoD spends £22 million annually on Christian chaplains and currently employs 280 chaplains in all three services, says the PTT. It employs and funds the chaplains, but their authority comes from their Sending church. At present, the permitted Sending churches are Anglican, Roman Catholic, Methodist, Baptist/URC/Congregational, Church of Scotland/Presbyterian, Elim and Assemblies of God.

A statement on homosexuality on the Assemblies of God website states: “Clearly on every front whether it be moral, spiritual, physical, or psychological, the practice of homosexuality has proven itself devoid of any individual good or social benefit.”

Another Sending church, the Elim, made headlines when one of its followers, Iris Robinson, former MP and wife of Peter Robinson MLA, First Minister of Northern Ireland, compared the sexual abuse of children to homosexual relationships. Robinson stated in Parliament: “There can be no viler act, apart from homosexuality and sodomy, than sexually abusing innocent children.”

When contacted by the Belfast Telegraph, Mrs Robinson reiterated her views and said she was following scripture.

The PTT’s secretary George Broadhead commented: “The most recent annual British Social Attitudes survey published earlier this year revealed that 51 per cent of the population have no religion. It would seem perfectly reasonable, therefore, for the MoD to provide nonreligious counsellors, for example humanists, to cater for the needs of what must be a substantial number of service men and women with no spiritual beliefs.

“Also, the entrenched homophobia of some of the Sending churches must be a cause of great concern for LGBT people and hardly seems consistent with a service that describes itself as committed to equality and diversity.”

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Sham claim over gay marriage in Scotland

So poor, hard-done-to church members in Scotland fear that Scottish government assurances over gay marriage are a sham.

Ministers have said no decision will be taken while a consultation is under way. But some antigay Scottish National Party members are claiming that ministers will press ahead anyway.

Oh, did I say antigay? Perhaps I meant anti-gay-marriage. But it amounts to the same thing: if you don’t agree with equality for gay people, you’re antigay. Why else would you disagree with equality?

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Sir Cliff and gay marriage (and other things about being gay)

We’ve often wondered about the . . . you know, the sexuality of Cliff Richard. But it’s something he doesn’t like to talk about.

However, he’s come out this week. I mean, come out in favour of gay marriage, not come out.

He’s also come out in favour of assisted suicide, it seems, because he’s been talking about a pact he has with his sister about not wanting to be allowed to linger in this life if he should ever suffer from dementia.

As for gay marriage, he reckons other people should have the same rights as his gay friends.

As for his own sexuality, Digital Journal has this to say:

Richard (71) – who became Sir Cliff in 1995 when he was knighted – has always avoided talking about his own sexuality. He currently lives with a former Catholic priest, John McElynn, whom he describes as his property manager.

When asked about his sexuality, he has said it’s the commitment that counts. “[L]et’s face it, homosexuality has been legal for more than thirty years,” he says in his autobiography, My Life, My Way (written with Penny Junor). “I’ll leave the judging to God.”

Keanu Reeves

OK, we don’t exactly go along with the God stuff here on PT, and, if he is . . . you know, gay, it might be an idea to be honest about it, and that might just go a long way to helping others to come to terms with their own sexuality.

But, really, I suppose it shouldn’t matter – just shouldn’t matter what a person’s sexuality is. I recall some years ago that the Hollywood actor Keanu Reeves refused to talk about his own sexuality because he thought that to do so might suggest that homosexuality was somehow wrong.

You may be interested in this 1996 article, reproduced here from USA Today, in which says (among other things about Reeves):

Still, rumors of his ambiguous sexuality flourish. To the suggestion that his refusal to set the record, er, straight only feeds the rumors: “I don’t know why anyone cares, and I don’t know if it matters or not. I just, uh, I don’t—”

Silence, shrugs.

“It’s, you know, the whole aspect of coming out. I mean there is a whole, people, you know, who are gay [who] have decided that it can be – that whole thing about calling people out – and you have to share that, because there needs to be an equality and a lack of prejudice, and you need to have a voice, so I mean, it’s important, but I’m not involved in those dynamics and I have no point of view on it.”

Well, I’m not sure he ever has set the record straight, but, really, should it matter? You may argue that it does, because people who are – for whatever reason – looked up to could set an example and show they have no problem with their own homosexuality.

Perhaps coming out is more important at this cusp moment in our history when there are plenty of people in public and celeb life who are OK with being openly gay and turning up to functions with their boy/girlfriends on their arms, but there are still so many frightened people trying to come to terms with their sexuality and not daring to tell anyone.

The former might do the latter a big favour.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Humanists speak out against anti-gay legislation in Nigeria

Leo Igwe
The UK gay Humanist charity the Pink Triangle Trust has warmly welcomed the reaction of the Nigerian Humanist Movement to that country’s move to criminalise same-sex marriage.

The Bill for an Act to Prohibit Marriage Between Persons of Same Sex, Solemnization of Same and for Other Matters Related Therewith, sponsored by Senator Domingo Obende, has gone through the second reading and has been referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Human Rights for further legislative work.

The NHM’s executive director, Leo Igwe, said: “We in the Nigerian Humanist Movement are deeply concerned by yet another move by the Nigerian Parliament to criminalise same-sex marriage in the country. This bill is a big distraction and a waste of Nigeria's limited legislative resources.

“It will worsen Nigeria's human rights records and undermine the efforts by Nigerians to foster true democracy, national dialogue and tolerant pluralism. Similar bills considered by the Parliament in 2006 and 2008, were never passed into law. Nigerian Humanists are wondering why the current members of the parliament deemed it necessary to bring up this bill again at a time the nation is facing clear and urgent threats and challenges of insecurity, crime and conflict, religious fundamentalism and terrorism, poverty and social unrest.

“It is difficult to comprehend why the Nigerian Parliament wants to set the country on a path against the global trend of abolishing homophobia and ending all forms of discrimination against persons on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Nigerian Humanists hereby urge the lawmakers to shelve this bill and instead to consider decriminalising homosexuality and taking other legislative measures to promote, protect, uphold and enforce the full human rights of all persons whatever their race, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, religion or belief.”

Commenting on this, the PTT’s secretary, George Broadhead, said: “We warmly welcome this reaction and the support the NHM has given to LGBT rights over many years. Since its founding in 1996, the NHM has taken part in campaigns against antipersonnel landmines, child labour, female genital mutilation, ritual killing, witchcraft, caste discrimination, sharia law and homophobia.

“Whilst the various religious institutions are in the main overtly hostile to LGBT relationships and their rights, the Humanist movement worldwide can be relied upon to champion them.”