Thursday, June 13, 2013

Nova Scotia Reverses Earlier Decision And Announces It Will Fund Gender Reassignment Surgery, Australian Radio Station Suspends Host After He Belligerently Questions Sexuality Of Prime Minister Gillard’s Partner, Mother Of Murdered Gay Teenager Michael Causer Mission To Construct Homeless Shelter For LGBT Youth, Florida Republican Senator Rubio Says He Will Revoke Support For Immigration Reform Bill If Gay Couple Amendment Remains, UFC Lightweight Josh Thomson Says He Is Not Opposed To Same Sex Marriage, One Direction

In Canada, Nova Scotia will become the eighth province to fund sex reassignment surgery, the NDP government announced Wednesday. The news came after a meeting between Health Minister Dave Wilson and members of the Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project. “Based on the values and direction this government has taken on the issue, I am happy today to confirm funding for gender reassignment surgery,” Wilson later said in a news release. “This morning I met with members of the LBGTI community to communicate this decision.” Wilson said he came to this conclusion after reviewing medical evidence and the policies of other provinces that fund the procedure. “This is an extremely complex issue, and I know over the last number of weeks I asked the department to look at this and revisit where the barriers (are) in place for Nova Scotians who want to seek the support of the health-care system for this type of surgery,” Wilson told reporters. “Today I met with the Rainbow Action group to advise them that we are going to take down those barriers, that we’re going to move as quickly as we can to ensure that Nova Scotians who find themselves in the position that they want to choose to have the reassignment surgery done, that they can get it done here in Nova Scotia, and I fully support that.” Previously, the province had said it could not pay for reassignment surgery due to a restriction in MSI regulations. That restriction will be removed immediately, Wilson said. The province enshrined transgender rights in legislation in November. Kevin Kindred, chairman of the Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project, told the Chronicle Herald he was pleased to have been called in to meet with the minister Wednesday morning. “It’s a very different message than what we received in writing last week,” Kindred said, referring to a letter the group received from the Health Department saying the province had decided not to fund the surgery. “We’re really happy to see this development. It’s something we’ve been working on for a long time. There will be further work required from here, so we don’t have a commitment as to the specifics of what funding will look like. That varies province by province.” In general, the cost of sex reassignment surgery ranges from $30,000 to $60,000, the Rainbow Action Project’s website says. Kindred estimates six to eight Nova Scotians undergo the surgery each year. Some Nova Scotians have obtained the surgery at their own cost, and others have been forced to move to another province to have it. Kate Shewan, a Halifax-area resident who was male-identified at birth but is now female, said she “was overjoyed” with the government’s reversal on funding. “It’s something that the community has been pushing for a very long time, and it’s really just the right thing to do,” Shewan said. “We’re glad that the government has just finally made that step.” Shewan’s transition happened over the past three years. She preferred not to say if she has had surgery. “For many, many trans people, surgery is a hugely important piece of the transition and it was basically unattainable for many people just because of this lack of funding,” she said. “Research has shown that a gender transition, including a surgery component, has really been shown to improve the quality of life for people. It takes away that distress and discomfort that’s caused by the situation where your gender or your internal experience of gender doesn’t match your sex assignment at birth. To be able to rectify that really relieves that distress, which can impact all areas of life, really.” Sheena Jamieson, support services co-ordinator for the Youth Project, a Halifax agency that provides support and services to young people on issues of sexual orientation and gender identity, has many questions about Wednesday’s announcement. “When is this going to happen, what is it going to look like, does the transgender community have a voice in this kind of process afterwards?” Jamieson asked. “So we have a lot of questions, but we’re also very stunned and very excited that there’s been such a reversal.” New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island are the two remaining Maritime provinces that do not fund gender reassignment surgery

In Australia, the Morning Herald reports a Perth talk radio host has been suspended pending an internal inquiry after provoking outrage and bemusement by questioning the sexuality of Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s partner. Howard Sattler offered the Prime Minister a chance to dispel ‘‘myths, rumours, snide jokes and innuendo’’ at the tail-end of a digressive interview on Fairfax-owned station 6PR Thursday afternoon Perth time. ‘‘Tim’s gay,’’ was the first rumour Sattler raised. ‘‘Well, that’s absurd,’’ the Prime Minister replied flatly. ‘‘But you hear it - he must be gay, he’s a hairdresser,’’ Mr Sattler said. ‘‘It’s not me saying it.’’ The Prime Minister dismissed the suggestion. But Sattler pressed the point. "You can confirm that he's not?" he asked. ‘‘Oh Howard don't be ridiculous, of course not,’’ the Prime Minister said, while remaining cool and composed. ‘‘On the internet there are lots of [...] nutjobs, people who peddle and circulate vile things. Howard let me just bring you back to earth, you and I have just talked about me and Tim living at the lodge, we live there together as a couple, you know that." The interview comes towards the end of a week in which the Prime Minister has been subject to personal attacks, and gone on the offensive about sexism in politics. Sattler had previously asked the Prime Minister why she was not married. She replied: "I think that you can have a relationship that is committed and full of love and full of significance in your life without being married." 6PR said in a statement released late Thursday evening, that “"Howard Sattler, Drive presenter on Perth radio station 6PR, put a number of questions to Prime Minister Julia Gillard regarding the sexuality of her partner, Tim Mathieson. Mr Sattler has been suspended from broadcasting on 6PR pending an internal inquiry." Reaction to the interview online was a mixture of confusion and anger: ‘‘Baffling interview,’’ said Twitter user Andrew Heslop. "Howard Sattler should be sacked," wrote Patrick Avenell, "no one would ever ask a male PM the inverse." Other users questioned why Sattler was given a weekly platform on the Channel 7 morning show, Sunrise. Sattler is a 25-year broadcast veteran known for his polarising style. He recently disclosed that he had been battling Parkinson’s disease since being diagnosed in June last year.

In Liverpool, the mother of murdered gay teenager Michael Causer has spoken of her mission to raise £1m for a homeless hostel. According to the Liverpool Echo, Marie, 52, from Whiston, whose son was brutally killed five years ago, was touched by the plight of youngsters who said they had run away, rather than tell their parents they were gay, or had been kicked out of the family home because of their sexuality. Her goal is to fund a hostel that can provide temporary emergency care for gay and lesbian youngsters at risk of being on the street. Marie, with husband Mike, set up the Michael Causer Foundation after 18-year-old Michael was killed at a house party in 2008. She said she still cannot find it in her heart to forgive those responsible for his death, who she brands as “evil,” but spoke of her determination to do good work and set up the safe house in Merseyside in Michael’s name. She said that, “The money was there initially to help us. At the time of Michael’s death we obviously couldn’t work, we ran our own business and we couldn’t face people or customers. So we quit work, but we didn’t use the money – we lived on what we already had. It was when some people contacted me saying they had nowhere to go that I had the idea. I went on holiday in Torquay and there was a lovely chap there who was gay but he couldn’t come out because his parents were Christians. I was with my friend Pauline and said would you like us to tell them and he said ‘No, I’ll just run away, get a train to London’. I just thought how sad. Gay people can also have a hard life in hostels because of their sexuality so I decided this is what we should do with the money – fund a safe house where they can be safe if they are thrown out on the street. I don’t care if it takes five years or two years or 20 years, it is important to make them safe so they have got a bed and food if their parents are too ignorant to understand that it’s not a disease being gay or lesbian, they were born that way.” The safe house will be for young people aged 16 -25 and the Foundation says social services will be involved and other agencies. Michael’s killer was sentenced on the basis it was not a hate crime, but his family have always believed he died because of his sexuality. Marie added tearfully that, “It’s just a fact that there’s so much hatred towards the likes of Michael. It’s that which drives me because it was so wrong. People do not realise children are not born to be hate, it is bred into them. That’s why we do the Pride festival every year. I’m not lesbian or gay but I lead that procession because I was proud of Michael and he was proud of himself. When Michael died, people came up to me and said ‘I didn’t know Michael was gay’ – did he have to put a billboard up in the front garden?” In August, it will be five years since Michael died and the pain of losing him is still as raw as ever for the whole family. Marie added: “What happened to Michael was pure evil and no, I will never forgive them in my lifetime. I miss him so much. I think it’s his personality. He was a strong person and his personality outshone everything. I’ve met people just met Michael and I think if I give up who is going to be there for them? We need this house, we need accommodation for them. People say to me ‘if Michael wasn’t gay, would you be doing this?’ I said ‘yes’. Michael used to call the bingo and do events for charity. So, on some level, I’m helping because he would.” For more details or to make a donation, please visit www.michaelcauser

Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio, a co-author and key proponent of the Senate immigration bill, said he will revoke his support if an amendment is added that allows gay unauthorized immigrants to claim foreign same-sex partners as family, reports Yahoo News. "If this bill has in it something that gives gay couples immigration rights and so forth, it kills the bill. I'm done," Rubio said Thursday during an interview on the Andrea Tantaros Show. "I'm off it, and I've said that repeatedly. I don't think that's going to happen and it shouldn't happen. This is already a difficult enough issue as it is." The amendment, introduced by Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, would grant green cards to foreign partners of gay unauthorized immigrants who seek legal status under new rules in the bill. Leahy originally introduced the measure during the Senate Judiciary Committee markup of the bill, but he withdrew it under pressure from Republican lawmakers who said it would reduce the chance of the bill passing. The effort underway in Congress to overhaul the nation's immigration system is a bipartisan one, and its success hinges on a fragile coalition of political, business and religious groups that span the ideological spectrum. Opponents of Leahy's amendment have said repeatedly that his proposal would cause some key groups to withdraw their support and kill the bill. Rubio's exit would be especially devastating to its survival. The Senate is expected to vote on Leahy's amendment soon. In the interview, Rubio also said that as the bill is currently written, it has "no chance" of passing. "If the border situation is not improved in this bill, this bill won't pass," he said. "It won't pass the Senate and it has no chance in the House. It won't become a law and we're wasting our time."

An update on a previous post: UFC lightweight contender Josh Thomson came under fire Wednesday after he made comments comparing gay marriage to pedophilia, incest and polygamy, via Vigilante MMA. Thursday, "The Punk" has deleted all Facebook and Twitter posts on the comment and issued a press release apologizing, via Bloody Elbow, as well as stating that members of the media took his words out of context. "Yesterday top UFC lightweight contender Josh Thomson used social media to poll fans with what turned out to be a controversial and thought provoking topic. The subject of gay rights, including gay marriage, is sensitive for many people and Mr. Thomson fully supports equality for all human beings. The statements made by Mr. Thomson were intended to provoke thought on some of the bigger issues that come up when people start to fight not only for equality but for more off-the-wall rights often frowned upon by society. 'I am not against gay rights or gay marriage in anyway,' stated Thomson. 'My comments were completely taken out of context by some members of the media and I have since removed them out of respect for anyone who may have been offended. It was not my intention to offend or hurt anyone.' With organizations fighting for legalized polygamy and the North American Man/Boy Love Association fighting for rights of their own, the line between equality and controversy becomes very thin. Mr. Thomson was merely giving extreme examples of very real movements in our country but he in no way meant to isolate the gay community in a negative manner."

One Direction spotted in Miami, Florida, looking almost lifelike.

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