Many Russias: Sochi’s Absurdist Olympics

Many Russias: Sochi’s Absurdist Olympics

On 7 February, the world will witness one of the most absurdist events in its history: the Winter Olympic Games will be hosted in notoriously cold Russia, but in its warmest geographic point – the summer resort area in subtropical Sochi. This absurdity, however, is part of the everyday lives of the Russian citizens. Imagine Russian political debates on TV or in the Duma (Russian parliament). Men in black suits and cassocks shout at each other with conviction, all claiming that ‘traditional family values’ best fit the country’s situation and must be codified and propagated. This rhetoric is referred to as ‘cultural bondage,’ which means that some ‘traditional’ notions tie together the imaginary Russian nation. These notions are heterosexuality, male domination and political power privileges. Who would submit to such values, you ask? The government gives the answer and it is absurdly simple: everyone, because these ‘values’ are essential for the Russian people. This trick is just a robbery of our voices. [Rest.]

Girls’: Lesbians in Russia

‘Girls’: Lesbians in Russia (

The photo series ’Girls’ was made in response to the Russian federal law banning ‘propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations’. Since the legislative ban on gay propaganda, the attitude of Russian society has worsened towards lesbians. An assertion that lesbianism is dangerous to children, anti-Russian, and a Western influence is imposed widely. It leads to an increase of violence against lesbians and penalties for ’propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations’. This is the reason why the the identity of the women in the photographs is hidden. Moreover, their identity is protected by literally burning their faces. The burned-out faces both literally and metaphorically reveal the imprints of homophobia in Russia. [Rest.]

Crisis in South Africa: The shocking practice of ‘corrective rape’ - aimed at ‘curing’ lesbians

The prevalence is unknown though “one support group in Cape Town told ActionAid researchers in 2009 they deal with 10 new cases every week.” On the independent:

Mvuleni Fana was walking down a quiet alleyway in Springs – 30 miles east of Johannesburg – on her way home from football practice one evening when four men surrounded her and dragged her back to the football stadium. She recognised her attackers. One by one, the men raped her, beating her unconscious and leaving her for dead.

The next morning, Mvuleni came round, bleeding, battered, in shock, and taunted by one overriding memory – the last thing they said to her before she passed out: “After everything we’re going to do to you, you’re going to be a real woman, and you’re never going to act like this again”.

Corrective rape is a hate crime wielded to convert lesbians to heterosexuality – an attempt to ‘cure’ them of being gay. The term was coined in South Africa in the early 2000s when charity workers first noticed an influx of such attacks. But despite recognition and international coverage, corrective rape in the region is escalating in severity, according to Clare Carter, the photographer behind these images. This is amid a backdrop of parts of the country “becoming more homophobic”, as one recent victim asserts. [Rest here.]

The disgrace of papal blessing for Ugandan homophobia

From: the guardian

The Catholic Church is foundering, and it’ll take a lot more than 140 characters and a rightwing “news” hack to put it on a modern track.

The pope is a social issues guy, more interested in themes like “traditional” family values, gay marriage and abortion than, say, helping the poor. And the Vatican is quick to slap down anyone – but especially any women, and particularly women who have the nerve to think of themselves as equal to men – who focuses on helping the most in need, instead of crusading against abortion and gay people. As far as the Church is concerned, advocating for the equal participation of women is “radical feminism” worthy of condemnation; pushing for legislation that kills gay people is worthy of a blessing.

Yes, that’s correct: just around the same time the pope was drafting his first tweet, he met with Ugandan parliamentary speaker Rebecca Kadaga, who had earlier promised to level the death penalty for gays as a “Christmas present” to the Ugandan people (minus, one assumes, the Ugandans who will be murdered because of their sexual orientation). She received a private audience with the pope, and a blessing.

Uganda has been a target for western evangelicals who see that they’re losing the gay marriage battle in their own countries. Religious leaders and rightwing groups, including Rick Warren and the National Organization for Marriage, have gone to Uganda for years to spread anti-gay propaganda and bolster homophobia. These religious leaders position themselves as experts, telling Ugandans that gay people sodomize children, spread Aids, destroy marriage, break up families and pose an imminent threat to society – and then they feign shock when Ugandan leaders decide that the legal punishment most befitting these child-raping, society-crushing individuals is death.

In the meantime, gay, lesbian and transgender Ugandans face vigilante attacks daily, and are routinely raped, beaten, ostracized, tortured and murdered.

The pope – whose own track record on men who sodomize children isn’t exactly stellar – blesses one of the people whose hateful policies not only provide social cover and justification for that violence but, if enacted, would put state power behind the imprisonment and execution of gay people.

[Read more: guardian. There's an interesting summary on the piece of the Church's policing of women's sexuality also.]

“None of these princesses get to marry another girl…

Earlier this month I posted about the project my 11-year-old pupils have asked to do in their PPE (Politics, Philosophy and Economics) lessons. They want to investigate why men and women are different, if indeed they are.

We’ve identified a range of potential causes, and different classes have been investigating the sources they found most interesting. Here are a few of my favourite comments from the class who chose to look at the impact fairy stories might have on young children:

  • “Why is it that the women are just lying around in these stories, and the men galloping around rescuing them?”
  • “They all get married, none of them get a proper job, that’s not very aspirational.”
  • “and none of these princesses get to marry another girl – what’s that about?”

[Read more: thefword]

Two thirds of gay students feel excluded from team sports at university

Rainbow flag (LGBT movement) LGBT (lesbian, ga...

Rainbow flag (LGBT movement) LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) Pride flag (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Homophobia in school can put gay students off sport for life, according to research by the National Union of Students (NUS). By the time they get to college or university 34.6% of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students said they were prepared to take part in team sports while 14.3% said that homophobia had put them off. The culture around sport was blamed by 46.8% as the reason why they avoided sport while 41.9% said they had been put off by a negative experience at school. There were 62.2% of LGBT students who had no problems with being open about their sexual orientation to their team-mates and coaches. Most of the 17.1% who kept quiet said it was simply because it was no one else’s business and irrelevant. The fear that coming out to team-mates might trigger verbal or physical abuse was the reason given by 20.5% of student sports people for keeping quiet.

Sports facilities and teams should be more welcoming to students of all sexualities, the NUS report – Out in Sport – concludes. Some 845 LGBT students were interviewed.

[Read more: guardian]


California Outlaws Therapy To “Cure” Homosexuality In Kids

California is now the first state to outlaw “conversion therapy” — treatments intended to “cure” homosexuality — when practiced on minors. (You can read the bill here). The future of the bill is up in the air, since several right-wing groups are saying they will sue to have the law overturned.

[Read more: amptoons]


The New Gay Marriage Map (US)

, U.S. Congresswoman.

Tammy Baldwin, U.S. Congresswoman. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gay rights advocates won five major victories across the United States yesterday. Wisconsin elected America’s first openly gay Senator, Democrat Tammy Baldwin. Maryland voted to affirm a same-sex marriage act the state legislature approved earlier this year. Ballots are still coming in, but Washington is expected to approve a similar measure. In Maine, voters approved gay marriage by popular vote, making it one of the first states to do so. Minnesota also shot down an amendment to ban gay marriage in the state’s constitution, paving the way for passage down the road*.

[More here, including up-to-date map by state: motherjones]

I Was a Secretly Gay Jehovah’s Witness: How I Tried to Pray the Gay Away

The following is an excerpt from  Cowboys, Armageddon, and The Truth: How a Gay Child Was Saved from Religion published by Lethe Press.

I learned what it meant to be a homo from a fellow sixth grader. Michael was the most “grown up” kid I knew. He had blond hair that was so blond it was white and I always wanted to ask why he had white hair but that wouldn’t have been nice, so I never asked. I liked him enough to want to spend private time with him, making him my friend, which wasn’t going to happen. I admired his independence, and his confidence. His mom was a psychologist which I assumed was the obvious reason for his being so grown up. He stole a page out of his father’s Playboy magazine and brought it to school.

He unfolded the centerfold in front of friends, and three boys huddled around the image, totally absorbed by the female nudity. Bobby Prescott giggled uncontrollably. I watched them, starkly aware of the disparity between my boredom and the spell my classmates seemed to be under.

Michael’s older brother showed up at Piru Elementary every now and then. He was in high school, and he thought his own muscles were impressive enough to show off. He pulled up his pant legs, displaying his muscular calves to sixth graders, flexing them into a knot, and I felt an instant attraction.

[Read more: alternet]

Same-Sex Marriage Support Up Among Basically Everyone

Republicans have been trying to use same-sex marriage as a wedge issue to secure more votes from Latino Americans — a group that the GOP has actively marginalized because of the GOP’s general racism and anti-immigrant policies — assuming that Latinos tend to be more religious and socially conservative than many other voting blocs. Well, whoops: It turns out that more than half of Latino voters support marriage equality. Sorry Republicans, but you’re on the losing end of the electorate (and history) on this one.

[More: feministe]


Gay and lesbian parents are “perfectly average” (i.e. just like everyone else)

A report out in the October issue of the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry finds that “high-risk” children adopted from foster care do just as well when matched with gay, lesbian or straight parents. Of the 82 foster children that psychologists at UCLA monitored for the study, 60 were placed with straight parents and 22 with gay or lesbian parents. After a two-year period of evaluation, the psychologists found little difference between the children’s positive outcomes.

According to the study’s lead author, doctoral candidate Justin Lavner, “The children showed meaningful gains in heterosexual, gay and lesbian families. Their cognitive development improved substantially, while their behavior problems and social development were stable.”

There was, however, one important difference: Gay and lesbian parents were significantly more likely to adopt children with heightened risk factors — such as premature birth, prenatal substance abuse or repeat placements in foster care. And yet, despite the additional challenges, these children made near-identical gains to the others in the study.

[More: salon]


Nick Griffin’s tweets and the limits of free speech


Regardless of whether people visit this house or not, this controversy will unfold in a particularly frustrating manner. Griffin has already begun to complain that he is a free speech martyr, the victim of hypocrisy, denied free speech yet again.

But that is not what is going on here. The tweets are unacceptable not because he is a misguided racist, but because they directly incite violence and invade privacy. It is entirely consistent to say that these tweets are beyond the pale, while simultaneously defending the right of people to make sick jokes and the celebrate the death of British soldiers.

[liberalconspiracy] – tracking homophobic language on twitter

Look at how quickly those trackers rise.  And, beautifully, the tweeters are being named and shamed.


How My Church Tried to Make Me Hate Gay People

[Trigger warning]

The following post contains frank descriptions of the hate speech against LGBTQ people that my church used to inculcate fear and contempt in its youth. It’s probably not something you want to read if you’re already having a bad day. I have decided to write about homophobia for two reasons: first, to demonstrate the falsity of fundamentalist rhetoric about “hating the sin and loving the sinner,” and, second, to shed light on the tools fundamentalists use to instill fear of LGBTQ people in their children.

In my church, homophobia was a matter of course. We didn’t spend a lot of time hashing out the Scriptural arguments against homosexuality. Occasionally Paul and Leviticus were cited, but more often, sermons would rattle out evidence of modern depravity along these lines: “…and Satan has so perverted this generation that it thinks there’s nothing wrong with divorce, abortion, contraception, homosexuality, and girls throwing their babies in trash cans and doing drugs.” Defiance of gender roles was just one of the most obvious signs of demonic control.

Whether or not my church explicitly intended for me to receive this message, I understood homosexuality as one of an array of perversions. Homosexuality, promiscuity, pedophilia drug addiction, alcoholism, cheating, self-harm, unwed pregnancy and abortion were not treated as separate issues. I was afraid of gay people because I was taught that it was impossible to be gay or lesbian without partaking in all of the above. It was a slippery slope argument of the worst kind. One image that absolutely never came to mind when my church talked about homosexuality was a committed, loving gay or lesbian couple. We were taught that sexuality was like a fire: if it was not contained, it would consume a person, annihilate their love for other people and cause them to abuse each other sexually. In other words, a gay man was a straight man who had failed to keep his carnal desires in check (or a straight man who had fallen prey to a demon).


There were all the justifications, the lies that enabled us to pretend we weren’t just scared:

  1. Gay and lesbian people are sexual predators.
  2. They all have AIDS.
  3. They hate God and want to drag us down to hell.
  4. They have abortions for fun.
  5. They want to spread their “lifestyle.”

[Read more: alternet]


Homophobia is still rife in UK prisons

Despite moves in recent years towards eradicating discrimination against prisoners on the grounds of race or religion, the challenges facing gay men in prison have still not been addressed sufficiently by the prison service.

letter in this month’s edition of Inside Time, the national newspaper for prisoners, highlights their plight. “I am gay and very ‘camp’ and due to my sexual orientation I have received abuse from other inmates,” writes the prisoner. He explains that when the abuse turned to threats of violence he was granted “VP status”, meaning he is now classified as a vulnerable prisoner and located on the vulnerable prisoner unit.

Since becoming a VP he has lost his job in the prison education block, is allowed only one morning session of basic education each day and spends the rest of his time in his cell. “I think the way we are treated compared to ‘normal’ prisoners is completely unfair and unjustified,” he concludes.

[Read more: guardian]

Athy (Ireland) councillor, supporting gay marriage, is called on to resign from school board by Catholic group

Dear Old Ireland.

Athy town councillor Aoife Breslin (pictured) has been called on to resign her position on the board of management of a local school by an Athy resident who represents a right wing Catholic group called Catholics United for the Faith.

Mr Anthony Murphy, who along with this wife Kim, publish The Catholic Voicenewspaper, said Cllr Breslin, who is a member of the Board of Management at Scoil Phadraig Naofa, should “consider her position and conclude that the only honourable thing to do is to step down from her position”.

He claimed her expressed views that gay people should be allowed to marry were “in conflict with the ethos of the school”.


China – Pressure to conform for 17 and 30 million gays “is crippling”

Coming out as gay is tough almost the world over. In China, it can constitute a major tragedy.

When one man in northeast China told his parents he was gay, his father pulled a knife on him, according to Fan Popo, director of “The Chinese Closet: Being Gay in China.” One lesbian committed suicide after her parents locked her in the house, banning her from going outside, Fan told me last week.

These are extreme cases, but the pressure for Chinese homosexuals to conform is crippling. Thirty-five percent of 1,259 gay men surveyed by the sexologist Zhang Beichuan in 2008 said they had contemplated suicide [pdf].

[Read more: actup]

This is how to end gay cures

 An email this morning from

They’re coming to the UK. This Sunday, an extremist religious group is holding workshops for gays and lesbians on how to hate themselves for who they are. These types of “therapy sessions” collect cash for one purpose only: to sell the idea that people who are not straight should stifle it. And it’s not a small fee. These “treatment” sessions can cost up to £525. But we know our plan is working. The French government has launched an investigation into these false treatments. And in Argentina, the scheduled “cure” session was shut down after our campaign made national news. We’re setting off a global domino effect to shut down these sessions and ban “gay cures” for good. Will you call on the British government, and the governments at every tour-stop, to stand against gay “cures”?

These dangerous practices pretend to “cure” people’s sexuality when they actually inflict serious psychological harm. The upcoming session planned for London is part of a global tour of gay “cures” that All Out members have been following around the world. Right now, our record is 2 for 2 and the UK is up next. We have no time to lose – the next session starts on Sunday. Will you add your name now?

Thanks for going All Out.

Andre, Aviya, Guillaume, Hayley, Jasmin, Jeremy, Leandro, Michael, Pablo, Tile and Wesley


Why is Michael Gove so close to Christian extremists from LoveWise?

More evidence (as if we needed it) that this government is vehemently anti-choice.

A government backed Christian charity called Lovewise teaches school children that most rape victims ‘regret abortion’. According to Dina Rickman, the charity also teaches children that abortion causes holes in the womb, depression and infection. LoveWise also describes homosexuality as “damaging to mind, body and spirit” in its code of practice. According to its accounts from 2010 to 2011, it gave 300 presentations and has teams based in Bournemouth, Guildford, Hull, Kendal, Newcastle, Sheffield, South Coast, Suffolk, Sussex and Wimbledon. Details of the presentation were unearthed by Diane Abbott MP and Education for Choice. What’s really worrying is that the charity is backed by the government and part of Michael Gove’s Sex and Relationship Education (SRE) Council.

[Read more: liberalconspiracy]

Archbishop ‘links MP’s death to being gay’


Philip Tartaglia, the current Bishop of Paisley who has voiced his opposition to legalise same-sex marriage, appeared to suggest David Cairns’s death was connected to his sexual orientation. While he did not name the former Scotland Office minister, who died last year at the age of 44 from acute pancreatitis, his comments attracted fierce criticism from friends and the former Roman Catholic priest’s partner. They argued it was clear whom he was talking about. Officials later denied the 61 year-old Bishop had intended to “cause offence and he regrets that anyone may have been upset”. The row came on the same day that Pope Benedict XVI appointed the cleric, the Bishop of Paisley since 2005, as Archbishop-elect of Glasgow. Speaking at a religious freedom and equality at a conference at Oxford University earlier this year, Bishop Tartaglia appeared to refer to Mr Cairns in response to a member of the audience who spoke about an American homosexual author, who had committed suicide.

[Read more: telegraph]