Archive | May 2015

Ireland votes for Same-Sex Marriage

Celebrations at Dublin Castle

Celebrations at Dublin Castle

Overwhelming majority approve equality

The Republic of Ireland has voted to allow same-sex marriage.  Ireland is the only country to date which has actually held a referendum on the issue.  This was wholly necessary as to allow equal marriage was a constitutional matter, and it must now be enshrined in the Irish republic’s written constitution.

The Irish people could not have made themselves clearer either.  There was a 60% voter turnout, over 62% of which voted Yes.  In voter terms, 1,201,607 people voted in favour of same-sex marriage, while 734,300 voted against.

Ireland had allowed same-sex civil partnerships in 2010.  However, the ‘protections’ under these could be changed by the government.  Now couples in same-sex marriages will have the same constitutional and legal rights and protections as heterosexual married couples.  Those rights and protections can now only be removed by another majority vote.

The vote marks a huge cultural change for Ireland, where the Roman Catholic Church once had not inconsiderable influence, with views towards sexuality and families tended to be extremely conservative.

Come on, Northern Ireland, Isle of Man and the Channel Islands; time to join the club, drag yourselves into the 21st century and quit being the embarrassment on the doorstep of these isles.

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No same-sex unions in the Bible? Someone better tell Noah!

Noahs-Ark3

I pinched this from Pink News.  Someone posted this picture to Twitter, an illustration from a children’s book about the Biblical story of Noah’s Ark – complete with two male lions going into the Ark.  Lionesses are of course much more slender and cannot grow manes.

Just a thought, if there was a large collective of homosexual lions, would that make for “gay pride”?

Oh, come on dears, you love my puns.

The Neopagan art of Rosaleen Norton

Bacchanal

“Bacchanal”

A celebration of nature and sexuality from the Witch of King’s Cross

Something a little different from the usual fare one finds in my blogs.  I have been reading recently about New Zealander occultist and artist Rosaleen “Thorn” Norton.

Rosaleen Norton and "The Horned God"

Rosaleen Norton and “The Horned God”

Rosaleen Norton was born in October 1917 in New Zealand, although her family moved to Sydney, Australia, when she was seven years old.  From an early age Rosaleen was ‘different’.  Refusing to sleep indoors, she preferred her tent in the garden, where her sole companion, an orb spider, guaranteed a modicum of privacy most children are not privilege too (nothing wrong in that – I like spiders too).  Sleeping outdoors instilled a love of nature and the night which was to heavily influence Rosaleen’s life.  She spoke of visions of dragon, fairies, elementals and “daemonic” creatures.

Finding a talent for drawing, Rosaleen pursued classes in art, which due to the influences upon her life, soon got her into trouble.  A drawing inspired by the Danse Macabre of Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns so horrified her teachers at Chatswood Girl’s Grammar School that she was duly expelled as an immoral influence.  She won a place at East Sydney Technical College where two teachers, hearing of her expulsion from Chatswood, attempted to have her similarly expelled from the college.  The college head however stood behind Rosaleen and refused to expel her.

"Fohat"

“Fohat”

Rosaleen while at college moved out of home and into a hotel near Sydney’s Circular Quay, known locally as the “Buggary Barn”, which was a magnet for eccentrics, radicals and beatniks; or as Rosaleen would have it, “artists, writers, musicians and drunks”.  Soon afterwards however she moved to Darlinghurst, a run-down area near the city’s King’s Cross district, which was to be her home for years to come and where she was to produce some of her finest work.  Being a night person, an occultist, an artist, a freethinker, and already having discovered her sexuality as an out and open bisexual, Rosaleen immediately fitted into the King’s Cross atmosphere.

Rosaleen studied eastern religions and philosophies, and arcane and occult literature, including that of the founder of Theosophy, Madame Blavatsky, and the self-styled “Beast 666”, Aliester Crowley.  She dabbled in many things and claimed to have once achieved the Buddhist “trance of annihilation” – being in a trance for five days.  Other trances and occult rites were achieved with and without the use of hallucinogenic drugs.  These philosophies and occult beliefs resulted in some of the most wonderful pagan / witchcraft based sketches and watercolours ever seen.

"The Initiate"

“The Initiate”

Rosaleen’s art often brought her into conflict with the conservative Australian media, who dubbed her “The Witch of King’s Cross” and the authorities.  Her exhibitions were frequently raided and closed down and she was tried on a number of occasions for obscenity.  Indeed, so much were the establishment out to make an example of Norton, that when private photographs of her and her poet lover, Gavin Greenlees, having sex were stolen and the thieves attempted to sell them to the press, is was Norton and Greenlees who were tried and fined for producing obscene photographs.

Rosaleen Norton continued working unafraid of the authorities, giving interviews to the press, in which she tried to explain witchcraft and her devotion to Pan, while also allegedly supplementing her income by casting spells for some people.

Rosaleen Norton died of colonic cancer at the Sacred Heart Hospice in Darlinghurst, Sydney, in 1979.  A pagan and a witch to the end, her last words were reportedly “I came into the world bravely; I’ll go out bravely.”

"Goddess Lilith"

“Goddess Lilith”

Some may wonder why I, an atheist, should be at all interested in what amounts to religious art.  I sometimes wonder myself.  I would say however that just because one is an atheist, does not mean one cannot be impressed by some facets of religion.  I love the Beatitudes of Jesus Christ, but that does not make me a Christian, no more than admiring the strong stance against usury in the Qur’an makes me a Muslim.

Plus of course, one can appreciate art without necessarily believing the faith of the artist (or more frequently, who commissioned them).  I would love to see the Sistine Chapel to fully appreciate the beauty of Michelangelo’s frescoes, and I am deeply moved by the religious works of Leonardo da Vinci.  And of course, I just loved the way their minds worked, as I do that of Rosaleen Norton.

I must however admit to having a soft spot for pagan and wiccan beliefs, as they show reverence for nature, which they fully recognise can be kind and cruel in equal turn.  That facet of paganism has no need for religious fables – it works upon truths, even unsavoury ones.

Rosaleen Norton and 'familiar'

Rosaleen Norton and ‘familiar’

And of course, paganism never judges sexuality but rather celebrates and reveres it in all it’s forms.  You will never find a homophobic or transphobic pagan.  In fact, they are much more likely to actively bisexual.

These are the things which attract me to Rosaleen Norton’s work, where Pan, representing nature, and sexuality are often strongly prevalent.  What conservative Australia saw as obscene, I see it in the context Norton obviously intended; a celebration.

And in that celebration, we see that all sexuality in all forms is represented.  There are beautiful young men and women, as well as the elderly, hetero sex, gay, lesbian and bi sex, fantastic creatures with human bodies and animal heads.

Detail from "Bacchanal" - self portrait?

Detail from “Bacchanal” – self-portrait?

Indeed, it could even be claimed that trans people get a look in.  for at the top left of the watercolour Bacchanal, there is a beautiful woman with breasts – and sporting a penis and testicles.  Now look closer at this character, and you’ll see she has a striking resemblance to Rosaleen Norton herself.  This can only suggest that Norton saw herself as embracing both female and male sexual characteristics.  She may indeed have been a pansexual, capable of loving all sexualities and genders.

If such art can celebrate and never judge anyone for their sexuality, while at the same time recognising the truths of the light side and dark side of nature, then I for one say it deserves to be embraced, rather than shunned, no matter how uncomfortable that may make some people feel.

Amtrak Engineer’s sexuality blamed for fatal crash

$$-Amtrak118Homophobes never let facts get in the way of a story

On Tuesday, 12 March 2015, Amtrak Northeast Region train 188 from Washington DC to New York City derailed at Port Richmond Junction, Philadelphia, killing eight people and injuring over 70.  The train was travelling at approximately 102 mph in a 50 mph section when it derailed on a left-hand curve.

The Engineer driving the train, 32-year-old Brandon Bostian, survived although he had to be taken to hospital to receive 14 staples to a laceration to his head.  Bostian stated at the time that he had no recollection of events prior to the accident.

As soon as he was identified, the right-wing press and religious fanatics in the USA discovered he is gay, a gay rights activist, put two and two together and came up with five.  Brandon’s sexuality and his gay rights activism are now being openly blamed for the crash, by people who know nothing about him, about train operations, and have pre-empted any enquiry into the incident.

Top hatemonger is right-wing blogger Charles C Johnson, who stated “Gays have a higher rate of mental illness than do straights. You decide if engineer’s homosexuality is worth noting. I report it.

“It is reasonable to ask if this night shift #amtrak188 train driver was on meth or had history with it, given gay proclivities to it.”

In fact, even before it was discovered the Engineer was a white gay man, Johnson immediately surmised that he may have been an African-American, and thereby somehow incapable of driving a train.

Johnson Tweeted;

“Affirmative action hiring low qualified blacks is more often to blame for train derailments than poor infrastructure.”

And…

“We need the name and race of the conductor. I’m offering $400 to first person to get it to me exclusively.”

Seems that Johnson thinks that African-Americans on the railroads are only fit to be porters and should all be referred to as “George”, after George Mortimer Pullman, as was once the case across the USA.  And of course, I would just love to see his peer-reviewed scientific evidence that gay men are more likely to suffer mental illness that heterosexuals.

Sandy Rios of the American Family Association stated she was not claiming that Bostian being gay was the cause of the crash, then inferred exactly that;

“Now I am not saying, I am not inferring to those of you that are gay rights activists and like to monitor this show, I’m not inferring that this accident happened because he was gay, but I do think it’s an interesting part of the story and you can bet it would be edited out,”

Rios said then tried to parallel the case with a transgender person she claims to know, whom she claims was “going through some confusion that has to do with the very core of who they are,”  Rios continued, “Someone I know who worked for a very large airline started taking hormone shots and put his entire plane at risk because he had an emotional, angry outburst to something that happened,”

If Sandy Rios does indeed know a transgender person, which I sincerely doubt, I do hope they slap the stupid out of her for her apparently thinking Brandon Bostian had a ‘gay hissy fit’, and explains to her that gay does not equal transgender, the two are different things, and gay men tend not to take HRT.

Here in the UK, the right-wing newspaper the Daily Mail screamed from their headlines “Engineer REFUSED to give interview to investigators”, and of course had to highlight that Brandon Bostian was gay and a gay rights activist.

More than 200 right-wing sites have reported that Brandon Bostian is gay, all claiming that his sexuality was somehow a factor in the crash, ranging from him being incompetent but employed because of his sexuality, through to claims that he was depressed and decided to commit suicide, taking as many people with him as possible.  The most bizarre comment I read was from someone claiming that because Amtrak are state-owned, it was all a conspiracy to kill as many innocent Christian Americans as possible.  There’s some real whackos out there.

Funny how everybody is an expert all of a sudden.  Just so happens that I am dears.  As surprising as it may seem, I have driven trains in my time.  In fact, on a local preserved railway, I have not only driven diesel trains, I have even on a few occasions driven steam trains, which are very hot, dirty, smelly – and one of the most wonderful fun things in the world.

So here’s a few facts about Brandon Bostian and Amtrak 118.

Far from being “incompetent” employed purely because of his sexuality, Brandon Bostian has in fact been an Engineer with Amtrak for the past five years, with no previous incidents.  Four years prior to that he worked with Amtrak as a Conductor.

The Los Angeles Times picked up this old post from Brandon’s Facebook account;

“At work, I run through a five-item checklist after I inspect my engine and before I touch anything. Then a 10-item checklist before I move the train an inch, and another four-item list at every station stop. So I guess it’s no surprise that I keep a checklist for packing a bag for an overnight trip.”

Does that sound like an incompetent to you?

Brandon Bostian has a record of criticizing Amtrak for not having methods of automatic train protection in place.  He has posted his concerns about this on several industry message boards, including this one from Trainorders.com:

“At any point over the previous EIGHTY years the railroad could have voluntarily implemented some form of this technology. I wish the railroads had been more proactive in adopting active signaling systems from the get-go. (The) reality is that they have had nearly a hundred years of opportunity to implement SOME sort of system to mitigate human error, but with a few notable exceptions have failed to do so.”

Brandon is absolutely correct, and I am somewhat disturbed that the US rail network does not have such a system in place.  As far back as the 1920s, here in the UK the Great Western Railway developed the railway Advanced Warning System (AWS), which was greatly improved as technology increased.  AWS is common across the UK rail network today and works by interactive exchange between signals and driver.  One electromagnet between the rails will send a signal to the cab, causing a bell or buzzer to sound.  The driver then has 3 seconds to hit a button, and if s/he fails to do so, an automatic brake in the train, which cannot be overridden by train crew, comes on.

The more advanced system Brandon Bostian favours is Positive Train Control (PTC), which computer-driven and uses GPS real-time positioning.  Under PTC the on-board computer would “know” track conditions, signalling and speed restrictions ahead, and automatically alter the speed, independent of the driver.  One day trains will have nobody in the cab but one person and a dog.  The person will be there to feed the dog – and the dog will be there to keep the person away from the controls.

Brandon has also on occasion posted about the stress train crews are put under;

“Everyone wants an extension to hours of service to avoid inconvenience, but what will you say when the crew that’s been on duty for longer than 12 hours accidentally falls asleep and passes a stop signal and rear-ends a loaded hazmat train, killing dozens or hundreds of people? A crew is probably not any less safe after 12 hours and one minute than they were a few moments ago, but you have to draw that line somewhere.”

Preliminary findings by the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) have postulated that Brandon hit the emergency brake before the derailment occurred.  The section before the curve had a 70mph speed limit, dropping to 50mph in the curve.  The last recorded speed was 102mph.

Robert Sumwalt posted on the Board’s Twitter feed, “Moments before derailing, train was placed into “engineer induced braking,” with full brake application.”

Having looked at a grainy CCTV image of the derailment, and the pictures of how the carriages are strewn across the tracks, I would be strongly inclined to agree with Sumwalt on that. I don’t usually like to speculate, but it seems to me that Brandon Bostian suddenly discovered he was way over the speed limit, panicked, and hit the emergency brake.

In fact, I would go further and state that in all probability it was this sudden braking which caused the train to derail.  Ironic as it seems, had Bostian just rode the curve in excess of speed, then brought the brakes on slowly, that would probably have been the safer course of action.  This is why in the olden days Guards were in charge of trains, not drivers.  That fool up front was just there to drive the damned thing, but the Guard was the person trained in bringing a train to a controlled stop if necessary.

And strange as it may seem, the train derailing may have saved lives.  If the emergency brake was hit, then passengers can think themselves lucky that the train was on a curve, causing it to derail.  Had it happened on a straight section, the carriages would have been much more likely to “concertina” into each other, with much greater potential for fatalities.

Brandon Bostian initially refused to talk to investigators without an attorney present.  Once he had an attorney he fully co-operated with the NTSB.  Given that he cannot recall anything prior to the crash, no reasonable person could call this course of action anything but reasonable.

Brandon’s attorney, Robert Goggin, told ABC News that his client not only fully co-operated with police, but even offered up access to this blood, and addressing the claims of some that he may have been texting or on the internet, that he offered up his cellphone;

“Among other things, they indicated that they wanted to get a search warrant for his blood, which we consented to. He said, ‘You don’t need a search warrant, happy to give it to you.’ It had already been drawn at Einstein Hospital. They asked for his cell phone, which they had. [We] said, ‘Have it. Take all the information you want. You don’t need a search warrant for that either. We’ll give it to you.’ I’m assuming [authorities asked for the phone] because they want to see whether he was on the telephone at the time of the accident. So he’s cooperated, and not only that, he’s indicated that he would make himself available to the police if they need any more information.”

Goggin also stated that his client was devastated at the crash;

“The television was on in the police district, and the constant count and recounting of the incident was being broadcast in his face all morning, and he was distraught”

I usually post stories of the LGBTQI community being accused of all sort of things as humour.  On this one, I cannot do so.  I am merely sad and angry.  There are no winners in this.  Certainly not for the 8 dead, or the loved ones who are left to grieve them.

Neither does Brandon Bostian win in this.  He is a lifelong train fanatic who was living his dream job.  This derailment will of course be deeply investigated, and if Brandon was indeed found to be at fault, he faces the possibility of prosecution and imprisonment.  Even if he is not, he has to live the rest of his life with eight deaths on his conscience.  I know some train drivers, and they will tell you that even if it’s one life, it is with them every time they climb into the cab, and it never leaves them.  For a train fanatic like Brandon, this tragedy must be tearing him apart.

Unlike the haters, and unlike those who know diddly-squat about train driving, I am not going to cast judgement on Brandon Bostian, for the simple fact I was not there and I don’t know what happened.

And of course, neither do Charles C Johnson, Sandy Rios, or the rest of the homophobes, who may voice their mock outrage and cast all sort of accusations, pretending to care about the dead and injured.  Of course, they do not; they merely saw an opportunity to attack a gay man and jumped on it.  And in doing so, far from respecting those who died in the crash, they are doing them a gross dishonour by abusing those deaths to promote their own bigotry.

Within hours of the crash, Brandon Bostian blacked out pictures of himself on social media, and is said to be extremely upset at his face being plastered all over the media.  I therefore choose to respect his wishes and shall not be posting any photographs of him.

What the Hell is this “Truscum” business?

11154968_394318284083775_1727804353313483432_oAnother tool for LGBTQI division?

Thunder and lightning over Montrose as Xandra goes off on an angry rant…

I came across a post from an online trans friend who has been kicked out of her local trans group by “truscum” individuals, for questioning why they demand that trans people should always give an account of their transitioning, oh and apparently they referred to non-binary individuals and some trans women as “trannies”.

I’ve never encountered the word before, so I decided to Google it.

Top of the table comes the Transgender Teen Survival Guide in which an anonymous poster quotes Fox:

“Truscum are trans humans who believe that biological sex dysphoria is required to be trans– but it’s more than that. Truscum have many subnotes on their definitions of trans.

For example, if someone does not hate themselves for their genitalia and is not in constant agony of genital dysphoria, they are not trans enough. They must want to receive hormones and surgery at some point in time.

Those are the basics.”

Now, as I say Loves, this is Fox speaking, so I’m immediately wary of it. However if there is any modicum of truth in it, that sounds like one helluva lot of self-loathing to me, and I simply dont buy it. Okay, I’m not trans myself, I’m genderqueer, but if there is anything my experience has taught me, it is that you have to learn to embrace your gender and sexuality and far from self-loathing, you have to love who and what you are.

Urban Dictionary was a bit more helpful and gives two definitions:

“Truscum also known as transmedicalists are a commonly misunderstood community on Tumblr. They follow the medical definition of transsexualism i.e that it’s a medical condition and that you need sex dysphoria to be trans.

Bun: Truscum hate all non-binary people!

Truscum: Actually, 98% of us actually support non-binary people!”

“Trans people, mostly on Tumblr, who believe you need body dysphoria to be transgender. They police the identities of other transgender people and often mock nonbinary teenagers.

Kei: i’m a demigirl and my pronouns are fae/faer/faeself.
John: OHHH MMY GOD! SPECIAL SNOWFLAKE! IM A REAL TRANS
Kei: shut up truscum”

We see in the first definition that there is an actual online discussion quoted, in which the person defining themselves as a truscum claims that 98% of truscums support non-binary people. Yet in the second one, we see a truscum openly insulting a non-binary person.

The latter is obviously the experience my trans friend encountered before being thrown out of her trans group.

Here is a selection of quotes from the truscum community;

“There are a group of predominantly trans guys who view their gender as a medical condition, transsexualism, and anybody who does not view their trans-ness as such isn’t really trans and is therefore appropriating their medical condition.”

Who the hell is this guy to judge who and who isn’t truly trans? And “trans-ness”?  Someone please call the Grammar Police.

“Anyone who just wakes up in the morning and thinks “I should be trans. That sounds fun” needs a new definition of fun. Bring this way is one the least of last fun things in the world.”

Non-binary / genderqueer people do not just wake up one morning and think it would be fun to be trans. We fully realise that we are not trans, most of us are pretty well read on trans people and fully support them. Of course, we will never fully know what it is to be trans, but we don’t judge either.

“It’s basically a bunch of generally straight kids who want to feel special but rather than wait for time or necessity to build a personality will come up with stuff like “Gloomgender” instead of being one of those cis scum going through a goth phase.”

‘Cis scum’?  And notice that anyone who doesn’t fit this person’s definition of trans is “generally straight”.

“Dysphoria is basically the state of having sex organs that the brain perceives as incorrect. I’d assume that non-binaries just require something that isn’t male or female.”

Then you assume wrong. I don’t choose to be genderqueer or dress in feminine clothes, and I’m sure my non-binary friends here will agree with me on that.

“Genderqueer or genderfluid refers to a person who feels very strongly male some days and female others.”

No, it really doesn’t. I don’t wake up in the morning and think “I feel particularly male / female” today. If this person thinks that of genderqueer people, then they are as thick as shit in the neck of a bottle. Like any gender / sexuality, being genderqueer is never a choice.

So, for all the claims of some who identify as truscum, we see that there is an awful lot of hate and ignorance out there.

On top of the above we have my trans friend’s experience of her group demanding that trans people must give an account of their transition – or they are not “true” trans, and referring to non-binary people and some trans woman (one would assume pre-op) by the deeply derogatory term, “trannies”.

I have no doubt my friend’s experience is a severe example, but just what sort of person demands that someone divulge the details of their medical history, and then judges them as less than worthy when they refuse to do so? Seems to me that any trans person faced with that should tell those asking to fuck right off and mind their own damned business.

As strange as it may seem – and I know it is rarely known – I could be wrong (sorry to disillusion some readers but I’m not perfect after all), but it seems to me that this truscum identity can only ever be detrimental to the cause of gender / sexuality human rights of all.

I can fully appreciate that many trans people do have gender dysphoria. However, to say you are only a “true” trans if you do have gender dysphoria seems more than a little authoritarian to me. Some truscum say they are taking the medical definition. Fair enough, take that medical definition – which was given to us by a cisgender heterosexual hierarchy. Surely, as little Stephie in the cartoon above makes the point, if a trans woman is pre-op and has a penis, they are still no less a woman, just as a pre-op trans man with a vulva, is still a man? Where then does that leave those born intersex who identify as one or the other of the gender binary? Where indeed does it leave the trans person who would dearly love to transition, but simply will not ever be able to afford what is an extremely expensive procedure?

If some truscum people are maintaining that if you cannot be a “true” trans unless you fit their criteria, and that non-binary people are simply making a “choice”, then that is gender fascism as every bit as insidious as the TERFs. By making such definitions and demands, they are indeed reinforcing the gender binary, and are attempting to set themselves up as a ‘gender elite’ – and we are all aware just how dangerous those sort of ideas can be. Ultimately such views can only be harmful to the LGBTQI community as a whole.

All of us in the LGBTQI community need each other. We have too big and too powerful an enemy in the form of homophobes and transphobes, and even just the cishet “norm”, to be fighting among ourselves. If one group within the community is attacking any other group, then they are not only doing the bigots job for them, they have joined the bigots.

If any truscums, or anyone else, thinks that I make a “choice” to be genderqueer, then bring it on dears. You know nothing about me, so you are hardly in a position to judge me. I am the expert on my body, my gender and my sexuality; you are not. I understand what it is to be genderqueer; you know fuck all about it.

I did not suddenly wake up one morning and decide to start crossdressing and act feminine. It is something I fought all my adult life, and that caused me no end of depression. I only came to begin to accept it around five years ago, and even a cursory glance at the history of my blog will make people realise that I was still trying to work out my actual gender and sexuality when I first came on here. I was in denial for a long time before identifying as pansexual and genderqueer. I didn’t go through a lifetime of angst and confusion, just for some know-nothing fuckwit to tell me I am merely making a choice. Particularly if it’s some acne-ridden little squit of the type who tend to patronise Reddit. Come back in 20 years when you have some life experience, dearies.

Finally, I see that some truscums use the term “Special Snowflake” to deride non-binary / genderqueer people. I’m not sure what that’s about, but know what? I kinda like it, so I’ll embrace it, purely because I am camp, I am a fairy, I am what is known here in Scotland as “a big Jessie”, and I’m PROUD of it; I am a feminine pretty girlie, and I’ll be a FABULOUS special snowflake.

New Equalities Minister stood against Same Sex Marriage

Caroline Dinenage MP

Caroline Dinenage MP

(But she promises to support it now)

With a new Conservative government being formed at Westminster, the Prime Minister, David Cameron has appointed a new Equalities Minister for England, and his choice is Caroline Dinenage – who not only voted against Same Sex Marriage but took a strong stance against it in public.

In 2013 Ms Dinenage replied to a letter from a reader of Pink News in which she stated that marriage is defined in Canon Law as “one man, one woman”, that this definition is “distinctive”, that the state had no right to change that definition, nor was there any need for it in her opinion.

Ms Dinenage stated in her letter,  “As you may know, as the established Church, its own Canon Law is part of the law of the land and one of its canons states that marriage is in its nature a union of “one man and one woman”.

She continued, “I therefore believe that the institution of marriage is distinctive and the State has no right to redefine its meaning – these proposals were not included in any of the three main manifestoes nor did it feature in the Coalition’s Programme for Government. As I have mentioned, under current law same-sex couples can have a civil partnership but not a civil marriage and I believe that there is no legitimate reason to change this.”

Ms Dinenage subsequently also voted against same-sex marriage in the last parliament.

Caroline Dinenage is the Conservative Member of Parliament for Gosport.  In 2013 the MP, who is also a mother of two children, left her husband and entered a relationship with fellow Conservative MP, Mark Lancaster.  Lancaster walked out on his wife of 12 years, Katherine, in 2007 and moved in with Journalist Amanda Evans.  18 months later he left Evans, just four months after the birth of their baby daughter, and entered a relationship with election agent Kathryn Buckie, but their relationship soured.  After Dinenage and Lancaster entered into relationship in 2013, the pair married in February 2014.

Strangely enough, for all her moral outrage against same-sex marriage, Caroline Dinenage has never once made any mention on what the Bible has to say about a wife disobeying her husband, divorce, adultery, and sex outwith marriage, all four of which she has participated in.

With her new appointment however, Ms Dinenage claims to have had a change of heart.  She told Pink News that she is now “fully committed” to LGBT equality and that she was “looking forward” to her new post.

Caroline Dinenage stated “I know that some of your readers will be concerned about my voting record on same-sex marriage however, I want to be clear – I am fully committed to advancing the cause of LGBT equality and support the law on same-sex marriage.

“I’m proud that the UK has just been named the most progressive country in Europe for LGB & T rights for the fifth year running, but as the new minister for equalities I know there’s no room for complacency.

“That is why I’m particularly looking forward to taking forward this government’s work on tackling homophobic bullying in schools and implementing our manifesto commitment to introducing a new law that will build on the posthumous pardon for Alan Turing by erasing the historic convictions of those who would be completely innocent of any crime today.

“I’ll be meeting with LGBT organisations such as Stonewall as soon as possible to discuss this Government’s priorities for this parliament.”

I for one shall believe it when I see it – and I’m not holding my breath. Right away I am concerned at the lack of “Q” and “I” in that statement.  At least the Scottish Parliament has extended their definition to “LGBTI”.

It also may interest Ms Dinenage to learn that while boasting “the UK has just been named the most progressive country in Europe for LGB & T rights for the fifth year running”, it was actually Scotland, which she will have no remit over (thank goodness) which led the league table, with 92%, while the rest of the UK achieved 86%.  One can only wonder if England would have achieved that figure had Ms Dinenage’s appointment been known when IGLA (International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association) drew up this year’s “Rainbow Index”?  I sincerely doubt it.

Meanwhile in a poll in Pink News, over 90% of readers have voted that Caroline Dinenage should never have been appointed Equalities Minister.

During the UK General Election, Conservative Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said of Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon, “You wouldn’t get Herod to run a baby farm, would you?”  Where England’s LGBTQI community are concerned, it seems to me that Boris’s old school chum and Conservative Party leader, David Cameron has just done precisely that.

Scotland best for LGBTI legal equality

$$-129737-same-sex-marriage-rally-outside-parliamentScotland meets 92% of LGBTI rights criteria

The highly respected International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (IGLA) has named Scotland as the top European country for legal LGBTI rights.

IGLA is an association of 1100 organisations from 110 countries around the world, campaigning for IGLA rights.

The 2015 IGLA ‘Rainbow Index’, which judges nations on legal rights fo LGBTI people against 48 standards of criteria, placed Scotland with 92%, compared to 86% for the UK as a whole.

The criteria nations are measured by include legal protections from discrimination in work and services, measures to tackle hate crime, rights and recognition for transgender and intersex people, and equality in family law including same-sex marriage and parenting rights.

The Scottish LGBTI charity, Equality Network, released the news on Sunday, 10 March, stating that it was their belief that the success was largely down to the devolved Scottish Parliament’s willingness to engage with the Scots LGBTI community over matters of legislation.  Scotland’s LGBTI laws include same-sex marriage under the Marriage and Civil Partnerships (Scotland) Act, 2014, which had cross-party support in the Scottish Parliament and only came into Scots Law on 31 December 2014, after a long consultation with Equality Network.  The result was some of the most LGBTI-inclusive marriage legislation in the world.

Equality Network also stated that the rest of the UK fared poorer due to inadequate provision for intersex people in English and Welsh legislation, and Northern Ireland’s “failure to respect LGBTI human rights in a range of areas including its refusal to legalise same-sex marriage”

Equality Network’s Policy and public affairs coordinator, Tom French, welcomed the news but also cautioned that there is still room for improvement.

“The fact that Scotland now ranks best in Europe overall on LGBTI legal equality is welcome recognition for the efforts of campaigners and the willingness of our politicians to properly consult with LGBTI people and then act on the evidence by passing progressive measures,” Tom French stated, “However, the Equality Network warns against any complacency, as we know there is still much more to do to achieve full equality for LGBTI people in Scotland. As ILGA’s review shows there are still areas where Scotland is failing to respect LGBTI human rights and falling behind the progress in other countries, particularly when it comes to the rights of trans and intersex people.”

He concluded, “There is also a big difference between securing legal rights and full equality for LGBTI people in their everyday lives. Despite real progress in the law, LGBTI people in Scotland are still facing unacceptable levels of prejudice, discrimination and disadvantage throughout their lives.”

Scotland now takes pride of place at the top of the IGLA European table, with the rest of the UK on 86%, Belgium on 83%, Malta on 77%, and Sweden on 72%.

The lowest countries for LGBTI rights are Azerbaijan (5%), Russia (8%), Armenia (9%), Ukraine (10%) and Monaco (11%).