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January 9, 2015

News Briefs

Irish marriage foes go crazy on their leaflets

County Wicklow, Ireland--An unidentified group opposed to same-sex marriage handed out flyers that have now gone viral online, although the ridicule being heaped upon them might not be what the organization was hoping.

“Should children be exposed to sounds of sodomy?” the flyer plaintively asks in all-capital letters, before continuing, “Good Christians, Christ calls you to action!”

Of course, regardless of what the rest of the flyer actually says (calls to speak to one’s legislator to express opposition, biblical passage, etc.), the Twitterverse exploded with glee, delight, mirth and ribaldry, making #SoundsofSodomy a thing.

One Twitter user begged Simon and Garfunkel to write a new song called “Sounds of Sodomy,” based on their classic “Sounds of Silence.” Another posited, “Lesbian parents must be feeling fairly smug at the moment.”

Ryan Barrell, writing for the Huffington Post UK, noted “the fact that straight parents have sex too, and straight people sometimes unwittingly allow their children to hear it.”

As another Twitter user pointed out, “If nothing else, that #soundsofsodomy leaflet confirms that no-one imagines gay sex quite as vividly as homophobes.”

Upcoming cable special blasted

New York City--TLC, which used to stand for The Learning Channel and now apparently means not much at all, is slated to run a one-hour special, My Husband’s Not Gay.

The program focuses on a group of Mormon men, all married, who are attracted to men but do not identify as gay. The show is being criticized for the implication that one can choose a sexual orientation, and an online petition demanding that TLC pull the show has garnered over 80,000 signatures.

“This January, TLC will debut… a TV show that promotes the false and dangerous idea that gay people can and should choose to be straight in order to be part of their faith communities,” organizer Josh Sanders writes in the petition’s introduction. “As a gay Christian man who’s seen first hand how this message can harm people, I am calling on TLC to cancel [the show] and to stop telling America that LGBT people should lie to themselves and to their faith communities about who they are and who they love.”

Stephen Fry to wed

London--Actor, writer, documentarian, comedian, television presenter and all-around brilliant chap Stephen Fry is set to marry his boyfriend, fellow comedian Elliott Spencer.

Fry rose to fame in the sketch comedy show A Bit of Fry and Laurie with Hugh Laurie, and the two starred together in the television series of P.G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Wooster short stories.

He has written novels, essays, an autobiography, hosted a British quiz show called QI, guest-starred on the American television show Bones and, with the announcement of his upcoming nuptials, broken my heart.

Patrick Strudwick, writing for the British newspaper The Independent, noted that Fry’s impending marriage will anger radicals who believe that same-sex marriage is assimilation, as well as those opposed to same-sex marriage as the rice-throwing harbinger of the end of human civilization.

He argues, however, that Fry’s marriage is exactly what same-sex marriage needs as its poster child: a groom who can do pretty much whatever he wants, assimilation or co-opting marriage as is his wont.

“Why would Stephen Fry slavishly copy the traditions of either weddings or marriage? He has already found someone 30 years younger, an act to raise some eyebrows at any afternoon tea in the Home Counties,” Strudwick writes, noting that, even as Fry did cocaine in Buckingham Palace or confronted homophobes on camera across the globe, he simultaneously became a darling of suburban England.

“Middle England are a right bunch of perverts. It’s just hidden behind the scones,” Strudwick continues. “Fry’s model of encroaching behind enemy lines has always worked wonders for gay liberation, alongside the mass protests and abseiling lesbians.”

Atlanta gives homophobic fire chief the boot

Atlanta--Mayor Kasim Reed gave Kelvin Cochran, the city’s fire chief, the axe on January 6, after Cochran had been suspended for 30 days for violating city conduct standards.

Cochran self-published a book, Who Told You That You Were Naked?, in which he compared homosexuality to bestiality and called it perversion. He was suspended for 30 days while the city investigated the situation.

In the end, Reed offered Cochran a chance to resign. When he refused, Reed fired him.

Reed held a city hall press conference in which he reiterated the city’s antidiscrimination policy, and his commitment to a safe, welcoming working environment for every city employee.

“His personal religious beliefs are not the issue at all, despite the number of comments and emails I have been receiving on a daily basis,” Reed said, according to the Georgia Voice newspaper. “His judgment and ability to manage the department was the subject of this inquiry.”

“If you work in an organization, you check in with the person signs your check. And that didn’t happen here. And after that happened there was no contrition about it,” Reed noted.

The book also included misogynistic and anti-Semitic language. Reed’s decision to fire Cochran was supported by a statement from the local firefighters union.

India gets its first transgender mayor

Raigarh, India--Madhu Kinnar made history on January 4, becoming the first transgender person in India to be elected mayor.

Kinnar, 35, is a Dalit, a group that in earlier days was considered “untouchable” in India’s strict caste system. Recent years have seen the expansion of laws protection “untouchables” like Dalits from violence and discrimination.

India has a long, troubled relationship with its transgender citizenry. As is the case in many Asian countries, transgender people have existed for millennia, and there are references to hijras, transgender people, in some ancient Hindu texts.

Historically, they were well-treated, often enjoying a position similar to that of two-spirit people in Native American tradition. In parts of India, it was customary to have a hijra bless a newborn.

In recent centuries, however, they have been ostracized more, often forced to survive by begging, sex work or other liminal means.

Hijras, while similar to the Western construction of transgender, is broader, encompassing those who consider themselves transgender, transsexual, a cross-dresser or a eunuch.

Almost 600 LGBT people murdered in the Americas

Washington, D.C.--The Organization of American States’ Inter-American Commission on Human Rights released a study on December 17 identifying 594 murders in the Western Hemisphere of LGBT people between January 1, 2013 and March 31, 2014.

An additional 176 people were attacked, but not killed, because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

“The IACHR notes that the majority of OAS Member States do not collect data on violence against LGBT persons. With a few exceptions of State reporting, the IACHR had to resort to other sources for information such as media coverage and reports from civil society organizations,” the group notes in its press release. “The Registry of Violence is not exhaustive but reveals the diverse and pervasive forms of violence experienced by LGBT persons in the Americas.”

Almost half of the murders were of transgender women, 80 percent of whom were under the age of 35. The majority of the rest of the murder victims were gay men.

“Lesbian woman are at particular risk for violence because of misogyny and gender inequality in society,” the report reads. “According to the data collected by the IACHR, lesbian women were victims of ‘corrective rape’ or rape targeted to punish them in an effort to ‘change’ their sexual orientation; collective beatings for public display of affection; attacks with acid; and forcibly committed to centers that offer to ‘convert’ their sexual orientation.”

The OAS has 35 nations in it, including the United States.











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