Saturday 26 April 2014

Time for DUP to stand the stand

This is the line that the DUP are using in their party election broadcast and posters for the European Elections:

Now while it may be simple for the DUP to brand the brand, it is so simple for them to stand the stand.

There is talk in their Party Election Broadcast of how effective Diane Dodds has been in securing EU funding for Northern Ireland. It lists certain areas. I wonder how active Mrs Dodds has been in helping secure Northern Ireland's share of the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) funding for NGOs working against all types of discrimination and the rights of LGBT people.

You may not be surprised to learn that nowhere in here voting record as an MEP or as an MLA has Mrs Dodds voted in favour of any LGBT equality measure.

So how are the DUP standing up for Northern Ireland when it comes to LGBT Northern Irish people. The truth of course is while they go on and on about supporting a British culture here in Northern Ireland and are prepared to stand up to defend the people of Northern Ireland's right to be British that ends where it coincides with LGBT Britain. The have taken court action to prevent same-sex couples adopting, they are doing the same about the lifetime ban on men who have had sex with men donating blood. The continually use a petition of concern to act as a potential veto against any majority that might be achieved on the issue of marriage equality. Their MPs actually spoke out in favour and voted in Westminster to ensure that Same-Sex Marriages carried out in England and Wales would not be recognised as marriages in Northern Ireland but only as Civil Partnerships.

However, I want to see if they will truly stand up for Northern Ireland and that is all of us. There is a third motion on Tuesday on the issue of Equal Marriage. I would like to see them really stand up for Northern Ireland and everyone being equally British is voting for this motion. If they can't or won't do that I would like them to not use the petition of concern, let the representatives of the people of Northern Ireland have their vote and see what the democratic result will be. the constant threat of the petition of concern has led to a few MLAs not wanting to vote in favour. Bizarrely a mechanism put in to protect both sides of the sectarian divide from abuse by the other side is being used to oppress other minorities who do not have the same right to being represented by those within their grouping and those outside of it.

Friday 11 April 2014

Sue Townsend RIP

Here are some of the Obituaries from the Ashby-de-la-Zouch Echo today.

TOWNSEND, Sue 10th April 2014. Dearly loved literary mother of Adrian Albert Mole chef, antiquarian book dealer and author of Offally Good formerly of Ashby-de-la-Zouch but now resident in London. Departed too soon, just over a week, after my forty seventh birthday. I don't know what I, my darling wife Daisy or my sons Glenn Bott-Mole, William Mole and daughter Gracie Pauline Mole will do without you.

TOWNSEND, Sue 10th April 2014. Deeply missed by Dr Pandora L.E. Braithwaite M.P. for Ashby-de-la-Zouch. Thank you for introducing me to the love of my life Prof. Jack Cavendish, not so sure about Nigel Hetherington, Adrian Mole and Julian Twyselton-Fife not that as New Labourite I have anything against gay men, but two of them, where was my perception. До тех пор, замечательный рассказчик

TOWNSEND, Sue 10th April 2010. Sadly missed inspiration of your fellow author Baz Kent. The way you constructed words helped to inspire my masterpiece Dork's Diary which although there are accusations of similarities to other members of Neil Armstrong Comprehensive are purely coincidental.

TOWNSEND, Sue 10th April 2010. Missed by Pauline Hilda Mole. Thank you for helping me through the breaks up of my marriages to George Mole. Also the tough times with my second husband Martin Muffet and the sad passing of my husband Ivan Braithwaite. You will be sorely missed by me, my husband again George and Animal. Although you did seem to know about my son that I did which is highly uncomfortable.

TOWNEND, Sue 10th April 2010. Sadly departed literary mother of Rosie Germaine Mole. Although you seemed more infatuated with my brother you gave me a sense of how women can stand up to the misogyny we see around us in the world dominated by men, including my birth father. Now that you are gone I might have regretted aborting Aaron and mine's baby but as he wasn't ready for me I wasn't ready for it.

TOWNSEND, Sue 10th April 2010. Not since I lost my best mate Robert Staniforth on active service in Iraq have I missed someone as much as you, Sue. With deep regret and much love Glenn Bott-Mole.

Here is the real one from The Independent.

Wednesday 2 April 2014

Equal Marriage for Northern Ireland: Take 3

Mark the 29th April 2014 in your diaries.

Yesterday Sinn Féin lodged yet another motion with the Northern Irish Assembly that will be debated one month on from the date that the first same-sex marriages took place in England and Wales. The motion is rather more robust that the one that tried to bring to the house after the Irish Constitutional Convention decided that they would hold a referendum on the matter in the Republic of Ireland. It reads:

That this Assembly notes that other jurisdictions on these islands have moved forward with equal marriage rights for same-sex couples; believes that all couples, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, should have the same legal entitlement to marry and to the protections, rights, obligations and benefits afforded by the legal institution of marriage; supports freedom of religion by allowing religious institutions to define, observe and practise marriage according to their beliefs, granting them the freedom whether or not to conduct same-sex marriages; calls on the Minister of Finance and Personnel to introduce legislation to guarantee that couples of any sex or gender identity receive equal benefit; and further calls on the First Minister and deputy First Minister to ensure that all legislation adheres to the Executive’s commitments to protect equality for all. 

This motion allows the freedom of religion that everyone will no doubt go on about, allow freedom of the individual and bring about parity that was lacking from the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act. of course it leaves us a month to try and lobby unionist politicians that have thus far voted overwhelmingly against any legal advances for the LGBT community.

Tuesday 1 April 2014

What is Sainsbury's policy on modesty for magazines?

Apparently the picture on the right from last month's Attitude is too racy for customers of Sainsbury's customers to view as they browse their magazine stands.

Bear this in mind next time you walk in past a poster advertising Tu's swimwear collection as you walk through the door, or maybe a biography of Tom Daley being advertised right at the entrance (like the last one was). In both those occasions in recent years Sainsbury's has a bare chested man on display prominently as you entered the store not tucked away in the magazine racks. In the case of Tom Daley of course at the time he had yet to come out as being in a same-sex relationship, unlike Robbie Rogers pictured here, but he was wearing even skimpier swimwear than the footballer is wearing in this picture.

In fact there is nothing in this picture that anybody wouldn't expect to see at the beach, swimming pool or even in the park (maybe on the street) when the summer finally arrives here in the UK. Men in shorts and topless, often sunburnt, is a sure sign that the sun has actually made an appearance across this country.

The reason I am bringing this up is that I stumbled across this post from a female Twitter user in Manchester. You know the gay capital of Northern England. She took the following picture:

Yeah just to the left where you see the stop of Robbie's eyes and quiff you will see Carmen Electra on the cover of FHM magazine. She is not wearing swimwear, that is lingerie that she is wearing, and that is a push up bra accentuating her bosom. Is there double standards at play here?

What Carmen Electra is wearing is not something that women would typically be seen wearing as outerwear. Yet somehow this particular store did not find it necessary to protect her modesty.

Sainsbury's did replay to the original poster with a reply spanning two tweets:

Hi, we use modesty covers for a range of publications – including Loaded, Zoo, Nuts, Bizarre, Front & Attitude. We do regularly review the titles covered and we’ll look into this. Thanks

Do Sainsbury's also cover up Men's Health or other sports magazinessee update below should they display a topless man? You know I reckon they don't.

This month's Attidude comes in its own modesty pouch, it is one of their naked issues, so the choice of five cover stars1 are all nude. But even then the cover is somewhat self censoring and the cover is to prevent people scanning through the issue looking for the actual nude pictures more than anything else. This is a policy that both Attitude and GT follow wherever they have one of their raunchier cover shoots, they self censor, yet somehow these gay lifestyle publications with their self censoring policy get further censored by supermarkets.

Indeed my local Asda appears to have stopped stocking these two publications, I do wonder if this is down to over zealous DUP (maybe even defected to UKIP) councillors over the proximity of this store to a number of schools, as well as the train station. The net effect is that about £10 of business a month from my wallet leaves the town centre and is most often2 spent in Belfast instead, so well done for those who got these titles removed from Bangor's Asda and giving my trade to another part of Northern Ireland altogether.

Update: There is an update to this particular stores position. There is now a hastily made modesty cover over FHM. But as this angle shows Men's Fitness which has a far more bulked up topless male model on the front cover this month was not while Robbie Rogers was. It does therefore appear that there is one rule for the straights and that Sainsbury's haven't got a clue of how offensive they are being in this. For a start Attitude should not have been covered up for the cover at the top, but the fact that Men's Fitness that give a far more unrealistic male body image every month through its topless cover models remains uncovered is ridiculous considering the action this particular store has been taking.

1Yes I did choose the one with a Strictly Come Dancing winner especially for Caron Lindsay. 2On other occasions I do make the short walk to my local Sainsbury's from home, where these titles are not covered!

Bisexuality and a lesson for the Evangelical Alliance Northern Ireland

Speaking in The Newsletter today the public policy officer of the Evangelical Alliance Northern Ireland (EANI) David Smyth said:
"While Saturday was a day of celebration for some, it was a concerning day for many. 

"Christian opposition to same-sex marriage was never just about protecting churches. It's always been about the wellbeing and welfare of family and communities for generations to come.

"The whole idea of "equal" marriage comes from a premise that many outrightly reject, that marriage is an inequality to be corrected.

"This change in marriage law was argued on the grounds of equality and love.

"What about 'equal marriage' for the bisexual person who is 'banned' from being able to marry both their male and female partners?"

First a definitions for Mr Smyth:

bisexual (baɪˈsɛksjʊəl) adj
1. sexually attracted by both men and women from
Note this is merely the attraction to both sexes. Under no definition of bisexuality will you find that that attraction is to two people of opposite genders simultaneously or concurrently. Bi-sexual people have the same propensity to monogamous relationships as any other individual, indeed 89% of those in a ten year study in 19971 found that to be the case. Considering the number of unfaithful straight people who are cheating on their wives and partners this is probably about the norm, but something that the EANI would probably want to sweep under the carpet.

Another fact about the new marriages that came into law in England and Wales at the weekend is that there is still the point in the ceremony where anybody present knows of any lawful impediment why they cannot be married. This includes an non-dissolved marriage or civil partnership to another individual (even the one that is standing opposite them). So the current law does not allow for anybody to be married to two partners of different genders, they would be subject to the same bigamy laws that apply to heterosexual couples.

What Mr Smith appears to be worried about is polyamorous relationships. Definition time:

polyamory (pä-lē-ˈa-mə-rē) noun

the state or practice of having more than one open romantic relationship at a time  from

You will notice here there is no reference to sexual orientation of the couples involved. However, there are plenty of examples of such relationships in the bible all of which are one man with two or more wives and/or concubines.

However, the one thing that does strike me from this statement is actually the line which says, "it's always been about the wellbeing and welfare of family and communities for generations to come."

Now I certainly have the support of my family, whether as the gay son, brother, cousin or uncle. However, my well being is often under threat from those in the church who condemn me or them for giving that support to me. The same applies to the other LGBT people I know who have grown up and exist in or on the periphery of church life.

Now by outrightly rejecting the idea of marriage equality as the EANI are they also condemning those in the church who are LGBT to a lifetime of singleness without love, or into a marriage with someone they are not attracted to (damaging to two people long term and their family). In doing this are they also condemning love that those individuals may find how can this be good for the wellbeing and welfare of those in families that they claim they want to help.

I have been to a number of funerals in churches in recent years where one of the children of the family and their same-sex partner have been present. Some of these churches are members of the EANI, they are there to offer support to the whole family even the gay child and their partner (whether in a civil partnership or not). This is looking after those LGBT church members and those on the fringe support for their well being and welfare, yet somehow the church wants to continue to fail them day to day on the matter of love.

However, single people in the church after they reach a certain age are always getting asked by the church who and when they are going to marry. There is pressure from well meaning church members to pair up to both spinsters and bachelors at least while they are still in their 30s and 40s to pair up. Yet when you are gay and get asked are you not married yet, the fact that the true reason is because you're not allowed to be married here, is liable to draw a mixture of reactions.

I say mixture as unlike what Mr Smyth ascertains there is not outright condemnation of marriage equality. There are people within the churches even here in Northern Ireland who feel for those LGBT people that they know in person and their inability to be treated equally in this regard.

So while it may be a concerning day for some when equal marriage was brought in throughout England and Wales:
  1. It is not condemned outrightly by all in Northern Irish churches
  2. Polygamous marriage is a separate issue and not solely a subject for bisexuality so should not be used as an argument against for monogamous same-sex marriages.
  3. If you are really concerned about families and their members wellbeing and welfare support equal love and let them marry the person they love, not condemn them to hatred and denial of support.

1Spalding, L. R., & Peplau, L. A. (1997). The unfaithful lover: heterosexuals’ perceptions of bisexuals and their relationships. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 21, 611-625.