This week in gay news
It's true. I LOVE writing about fun and fanciful things; pop culture, art, music, fashion, new technology. All 'stuff' that is at the forefront of minds for stylish and happening gay men and women everywhere. (well most of us anyways)
The truth of the matter is though, I have a responsibility to report on events that are happening around the world and here at home that really impact our community. The SAD truth, is that more often then not, this news is of a depressing nature.
Let's begin in the old US of A.
From Boston and the revered halls of Harvard comes this story:
Approximately 40 books dealing with LGBT issues were vandalized with what appeared to be urine in Lamont Library on November 24, according to a report filed Friday by the library security staff to the Harvard University Police Department.
HUPD spokesman Steven G. Catalano wrote in an e-mail that the vandalized books' subject matters included lesbian and gay issues and same-sex marriage. Due to the nature of books, HUPD is currently investigating the incident as a bias crime.
"The HUPD has zero tolerance for any bias-related incidents or crimes," Catalano said.
Brainard said that the library staff assessed the value of the vandalized books before reporting the incident, accounting for the space of two weeks between the incident and the report to HUPD. The books—which Brainard estimated to be worth a few thousand dollars—will be discarded due to the severity of the damage.
Sad- especially when you consider that Harvard is supposed to house America's best and brightest...
From Washinton DC, this little update in regards to the US Military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) Policy:
The effort to repeal hit a brick wall last week with the defeat of the motion to reconsider debate on the defense authorization bill, better known as the NDAA. But there a variety of Plan B's -- some more optimal than others -- that could rid the United States of a shameful, discriminatory policy that threatens national security and robs it of talent in the midst of two wars and other challenges around the world.
The legislative route is the best.
Jonathan Capehart of The Washington Post reports: "As I have long argued, DADT is an act of Congress and ought to be abolished by an act of Congress. And President Obama made it clear last night that he wants Congress to keep at it during the lame-duck. That's why a stand-alone bill -- S.4022 -- introduced by Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and co-sponsored by Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) is perhaps the best route to repealing the ban on gay men and lesbians serving openly in the military. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who got repeal through her chamber in May thanks to the tireless work of outgoing Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.), said last night that she stands ready to move on the Senate measure.
As one activist told me this week, it would be a massive failure for Congress to walk away for the holidays while 65,000 continue to serve in silence and others aren't even allowed to serve at all."
From Africa, comes these frightening reports.
The Washington Post has published an article today on the recent increase in anti-gay sentiments and horrific violent crimes against gays and lesbians all across Africa.
"'It has never been harder for gays and lesbians on the continent,' said Monica Mbaru, Africa coordinator for the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, based in Cape Town. 'Homophobia is on the rise.'"
So what's the reason for the increase?
"The growing tide of homophobia comes at a time when gays in Africa are expressing themselves more openly, prompting greater media attention and debates about homosexuality. The rapid growth of Islam and evangelical forms of Christianity, both espousing conservative views on family values and marriage, have persuaded many Africans that homosexuality should not be tolerated in their societies."
American gay rights advocates are helping one side but American anti-gay Christians are helping the other, especially when it comes to Uganda's "kill the gays" bill:
"American gay activists have sent money to help the community here. Western governments - including aid donors - have vocally criticized the bill and denounced the treatment of gays. That has angered conservative pastors here, many of whom are influenced by American anti-gay Christian groups and politicians who say that African values are under attack by Western attitudes. They say their goal is to change the sexual behavior of gays, not to physically harm them."
"'In Uganda, we look at homosexuality as an abomination. It is not normal,' said Nsaba Butoro, Uganda's minister on ethics and integrity and a vocal supporter of the bill. 'You are talking about a clash of cultures. The question is: Which culture is superior, the African one or the Western one?'"
An update on the African tabloid named Rolling Stone which published the names and addresses and called for the hanging (reported on here in The Vancouver Observer) of people it claimed are gay: Gay rights activists "have taken Rolling Stone to court, seeking to stop it from publishing more anti-gay articles. In a packed courtroom last month, their attorney argued that the stories violated constitutional rights of privacy, dignity and right to life."
In South Africa, where same sex marriages are actually recognized and the republic guarantees LGBT citizens equal rights in all realms of life (including adoption and military service), you'd think things would be better...sadly they are not.
The reality of the lives of LGBT South Africans is much more dire, and much less supported, than the aforementioned history might suggest.
This awful story comes from In Depth Africa.
Founded by community activist Ndumie Funda, Luleki Sizwe is a small Cape Town charity that works to rescue, support, feed and nurse to health survivors of ‘corrective rape’, whereby men rape lesbian women to ‘turn’ them straight or ‘cure’ them of their sexual orientation. Ndumie founded Luleki Sizwe in 2007 after her fiancée was the a victim of ‘corrective rape’.
Run by four volunteers, Luleki Sizwe is active in 10 Cape Town townships, a term which historically refers to highly-underdeveloped non-white neighborhoods on the outskirts of South African cities, somewhat akin to ‘slums’.
According to the organization, every week more than 10 lesbians are raped or gang raped in the city of Cape Town alone. 150 women are raped every day in South Africa and over the past decade 31 lesbians have been murdered because of their sexuality. 510 women report being the victims of ‘corrective rape’ in South Africa each year.
Yet despite local and international activism around the issue, the South African legal system does not recognize such attacks, or any violence committed on the basis of sexual orientation, to be hate crimes. More broadly, for every 100 men accused of rape in South Africa, 96 of them walk free.
Last month the South African authorities released Andile Ngcoza, a man who raped, beat up and strangled Millicent Gaika (pictured above) for five hours to ‘turn her straight’, in a case that has been well covered by Change.org. Mr Ngcoza was released on 60 rand bail, the equivalent of less than $10. That led Ndumie Funda, who had helped Millicent Gaika recover from the rape and advocated for her case, to go into hiding.
“Whilst [Ndumie] was in hiding, another victim of corrective-rape, Bulelwa, committed suicide because she could not get the help she needed and Ndumie was not able to come out of hiding to assist,” the organization wrote on their blog. “This is unacceptable, that Ndumie should have to fear for her life, that Millicent has to fear for her life, whilst an animal like Andile Ngcoza is free to live his life and to walk around in the same community as them and laugh at them and make threats against them and their loved ones.”
With the help of international donations, earlier this week Luleki Sizwe announced the charity would buy its first safe house, and Ndumie is moving today.
Homosexuality is illegal in more two-thirds of Africa. As a refresher, check out how these laws appear on a map of the continent.
That's it for now...my apologies for the slightly graphic nature of my reports today. The truth is that people here in Canada still don't not know the realities that many of our brothers and sisters around the world have to endure. Here at home we still have gay bashings and youth being kicked out of their homes by scared and troubled parents.
Some people will claim that we're too 'loud and proud' here in Vancouver and that we should just try to blend in- but the truth is, we need to be as loud, proud and garrish as possible so we can get people talking about what's happening to us as a community. This is the new civil rights movment and collectively as one people, world wide, we're doing all we can to make change happen.