Friday, July 5, 2013

Tilda Swinton Flies Rainbow Flag In Moscow’s Red Square, Britain’s Education Secretary Michael Gove Calls Pejorative Use Of Gay “Medieval” And Pledges To Police Its Use, Archbishop Of Canterbury Warns Church Of England Leaders They Need To Reassess Attitudes To Gays And Lesbians, Gay Activists Cyber-Attack Nigerian Government Website, Advocates Calls For Action After YouTube Video Shows Abhorrent Anti-Gay Incident Aboard New York City Subway, Former Ohio Attorney General Republican Jim Petro To Support Ballot Measure Seeking To Overturn State’s Same Sex Marriage Ban, Chris Colfer And Boyfriend

In Russia, the great Tilda Swinton posed with a rainbow flag in front of Saint Basil's Cathedral in Red Square, Moscow, near the Kremlin. The actress's representative Christian Hodell urged people to share the image of the actress waving the gay pride symbol. "Please share this message from Tilda: 'In solidarity. From Russia with love'," said Hodell. The rainbow flag was popularized as a symbol of LGBT pride by San Francisco artist Gilbert Baker in 1978. Despite the decriminalization of male homosexual acts in Russia in 1993, there have been increasing restrictions on gay rights in recent years. Moscow's top court has ruled that no gay pride parade may be held in the capital for 100 years, while a bill to ban the distribution of "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations" to minors was signed into law this earlier week by President Putin.

In the United Kingdom, Education Secretary Michael Gove has pledged to clampdown on the use of homophobic language in the school playground, Gove telling a conference, “It is outrageous and medieval to think that the use of the word ‘gay’ as an insult is somehow acceptable. Whether it is Chris Moyles (the former Radio One disc jockey) or anyone else it is wrong and it should be called out.” Moyles was accused of being homophobic after he said he would not accept a telephone ring-tone “because it’s gay.” The Independent reports that Gove, who was addressing the annual education conference of Stonewall - the gay and lesbian rights campaign group, said he would be holding discussions with it to determine whether the existing law outlawing incitement of hatred was being “properly policed” - and that he would be prepare to consider strengthening it if necessary. Gove made his pledge after being urged by the pop singer Will Young, who was attending the conference to crack down on the problem. Will Young said homophobic bullying - particularly through the use of homophobic language was “almost on crisis level” that one in four young LGBT people had made an attempt on their life or self-harmed. He singled out the use of the word “gay” as a term of abuse as a particular problem. Earlier student Catherine Hennigan had told the conference how she had been afraid to come out at her top girls’ grammar school even though she had known she was gay from the age of 11 - because the girls commonly used insults like “that’s so gay” or “you’re such a lesbian,” Hennigan adding, “It is absolutely essential that all our young teachers are trained to tackle homophobic bullying - not just in secondary schools but primary, too.” Gove said it was wrong that “someone struggling with their sexuality should be made to feel marginalised and worth less” than other people. He added that he would take every opportunity of a public platform to affirm that “every child is of equal value and equal worth”. He said that all children should feel that “any aspect of how they live their life or how they wish to love others should be celebrated as part of who they are and how wonderful they are as well.” Wes Streeting, director of education at Stonewall, said that schools should be sending a message to same sex couples that “they will be welcome at parents’ evenings or when they go on sports days and school trips.”

Also in the United Kingdom, the Archbishop of Canterbury has warned the Church of England that it had to face up to a “revolution” in attitudes to homosexuality. In his most widely anticipated address since taking over the leadership of the Church, the Most Rev Justin Welby insisted that it was now “absurd and impossible” to ignore an “overwhelming” change in social attitudes. According to the Telegraph, in a deliberate echo of Harold MacMillan’s 1950 speech which attacked apartheid in South Africa, the Archbishop warned church leaders that they needed to reassess their own attitudes to gay people – even if they do not “like it.” While insisting he had no immediate plans to change policy on issues such as gay marriage, he announced a major campaign to curb anti-gay bullying in the Church of England’s more than 5,000 schools. He is understood to have approached Stonewall, which led the campaign in favour of gay marriage, to invite it into church schools to teach up to a million children about homosexuality. “We may or may not like it but we must accept that there is a revolution in the area of sexuality,” the Archbishop said. His comments, signalling a dramatic change in tone from the established church, came in his first address as Archbishop to the Church’s General Synod which is meeting in York as it attempts to come up with a new solution to the fiasco over women bishops. In a wide-ranging address he said that Britain, like other countries, is living through a “time of revolutions” affecting the economic and political sphere but also in social attitudes. He acknowledged a “radical” decline in religious affiliation, as borne out by the recent census and other polling, as well as an “overwhelming” shift in public attitudes on issues such as sexuality where “predictable attitudes” were disappearing. But he insisted that the Church could benefit and even begin to grow again if it was willing to “respond radically and imaginatively” to a changing world. The Archbishop, who visited Egypt last week, drew comparisons with the fast-moving situation in the country. "We live in a time of revolutions,” he said. “And the trouble with revolutions is that once they start no-one knows where they will go.” Turning to the “many revolutions” underway in Britain, he said that, “The cultural and political ground is changing, there is a revolution. Anyone who listened to much of the Same Sex Marriage Bill Second Reading Debate in the House of Lords could not fail to be struck by the overwhelming change of cultural hinterland. Predictable attitudes were no longer there. The opposition to the Bill - which included me and many other bishops - was utterly overwhelmed, with amongst the largest attendance and participation and majority since 1945. There was noticeable hostility to the view of the churches.” He admitted that it had been “close to the bone” to evidence of young gay people driven to suicide because of uncaring attitudes from churches. “In some things we change course and recognise the new context. In others we stand firm because truth is neither set by culture, nor morals by fashion. But let us be clear, pretending that nothing has changed is absurd and impossible.” Ben Summerskill, chief executive of Stonewall, said that, “Of course we will always help an education provider in helping to tackle homophobic bullying in schools and there are already several dozen Church of England schools working with Stonewall. But the cynic would be tempted to think perhaps that the Archbishop is trying to distract attention from his failure to engage gay people - when they requested it over the issue of marriage.”

In Nigeria, the nation’s Ministry of Information says it has defeated a cyber-attack on its government website by foreign gay-rights activists. The Associated Press reports that a statement from press secretary Joseph Mutah says Thursday night's hacking of WWW.NIGERIA.GOV.NG was traced to activists who have recently attacked other governments' sites in a proclaimed fight for gay rights. Local news reports said a message on the hacked site gave President Goodluck Jonathan 72 hours to veto a new law that would jail homosexuals. The hacker threatened to "unleash a torrent of fury" starting with "some startling but not surprising evidence of corruption." Mutah's statement Friday called it "a criminal attempt to blackmail countries" and said Nigerians "remain overwhelmingly opposed to the imposition of gay rights." He says his ministry is taking measures to stem future attacks.

In New York City, CBS reports that the LGBT advocacy group the Anti-Violence Project has called for action from police and elected officials, following a confrontation on a subway train in which a man hurled anti-gay slurs at a group of youth and allegedly shoved a woman to the floor as she videotaped the incident. The YouTube video clip of the confrontation (available at the source) had drawn over 750,000 views as of Friday. The video, titled “LGBT Hate Crime New York Subway,” was taken around 11:45 p.m. this past Sunday on a Queens-bound F train, and was posted two days later to a YouTube account named “Stopp Hating.” The woman who took the video wrote in its description that the disturbance began with two men “loudly making homophobic comments like, ‘Today was a scary day for me. There were fags everywhere.’” A group of LGBT youth got on the train soon afterward, and the men began harassing them, “stating that the teens made them want to puke and that they would be killed if they were in Iran,” the woman wrote. The video begins with a man telling the group, “You’re going to get fucked like you’ve never been fucked,” while the group protests that his remarks amount to discrimination. The man goes on to remark, “Did you hear what the Supreme Court did” and make reference to faggots,” before the woman holding the camera appears to be shoved to the ground. “Seeing that he was being recorded, the first assailant lunged at me, violently grabbing my arms while trying to steal away my phone. One of the youth took the phone from me temporarily to protect it and told the assailant he shouldn’t attack a woman,” the woman wrote. “When the assailant threatened to punch me, I took the phone back and ran to the other side of the train to push the emergency button and alert the authorities. At this point the second assailant got up and came towards me, grabbing my body and hands to try and get the phone to destroy the evidence. I yelled and told him I was an attorney.” A man’s voice is then heard telling the woman he will have her arrested for taping him, and that he will “snatch” the camera and break it. Meanwhile, a group of other people on the train begins to confront the alleged assailants. In a caption in the video, the woman claimed one of the men put his hand around another young woman’s neck as the confrontation escalated. The woman wrote that the men eventually got off the train at Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights, Queens, and she called 911 while following them to the station exit. The woman wrote that she suffered bruises and scratches in the confrontation. The woman who took the video, whose name has not been released, spoke with the Village Voice this week about the incident. She told the newspaper that she had posted the video to YouTube in the interest of identifying the men who started the confrontation. The Anti-Violence Project said in response to the video that officials there have reached out to the NYPD, as well as City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, the Queens District Attorney’s Office, Queens City Councilman Ruben Wills, and advocacy partner Make the Road New York.

In Ohio, Republican Jim Petro, the state’s former attorney general and state auditor, is expected to endorse a 2014 Ohio ballot measure that would permit same sex marriages in the state. Petro, who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2006, is scheduled to appear at a Columbus news conference Monday with officials of FreedomOhio, the group that wants to overturn Ohio’s ban on same sex marriage. Ian James, co-founder of FreedomOhio, said yesterday that his group has decided to put the ballot question to Ohio voters on the general election ballot next year. FreedomOhio had considered waiting until the 2016 presidential election, but the organization’s executive committee voted this month to place it on next year’s ballot. Freedom Ohio must submit 385,245 valid signatures of registered Ohio voters on petitions by July 3, 2014, to qualify for next year’s general election ballot. The signatures must come from at least 44 counties. “We’ll definitely have enough signatures to qualify from at least 50 counties,” James said. If passed, Freedom Ohio’s initiative effectively would cancel the 2004 constitutional amendment passed by Ohio voters to prohibit gay marriage in the state. In an interview with the Dispatch this year, Petro said he had rethought his opposition to gay marriage after his daughter, Corbin, legally married Jessica Clare Gelman last year in Massachusetts. Corbin is chief operating officer of the Massachusetts Department of Medicaid in Boston and Jessica is vice president of the Kraft Sports Group, which owns the New England Patriots. Petro’s expected endorsement of an initiative to permit same sex marriage in the state would come on the heels of another high-profile Ohio Republican reversing his opposition to gay marriage. In March, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman changed his position after learning that his son, Will, a junior at Yale University, is gay.

Chris Colfer and his super sexy boyfriend Will Sherrod spotted July 4 wandering the wilds of West Hollywood, California.

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