The Tenth Great Thing is a moving video out of Vietnam about the love between two young men, decidedly more romantic than the assertive Mackelmore and Lewis’ “Same Love.” I have to wonder whether its release might have had some role in persuading the government of Vietnam to at least take the first step toward recognizing same-sex love by decriminalizing same-sex marriages this past November.
As this short video makes clear, our movement always finds its force in one simple fact: We Will Love…Regardless
Today, surfing around the international cyber-LGBT world, I came across a truly impressive social media effort in Asia that’s being funded by the UN Development Program (UNDP) and the USAID program. It’s called “Being LGBT in Asia” and while it has the usual accounts you would expect on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (as well as key Chinese social networks QQ, Weibo and Douban) here’s is what is really impressive: Being LGBT in Asia also has a page on Crowdmap where anyone can report violence or verbal harassment in locations all across Asia using a smartphone, email, a tweet or a web form.
Not only can folks file reports about discrimination, violence, or harassment but they can also tell stories about positive developments — personal stories of support from their families, pride rallies, and legislation making a difference. And they can file in their own language. The site even has an alert system so that you’ll know if anyone files a report within 20 kilometers of your own location — a good way to keep up with what’s going on in your own city.
As we launch into a new lunar year, the Huffington Post today carries an overview of gains and setbacks LGBT citizens are both celebrating and suffering around the world:
While gay-rights activists celebrate gains in much of the world, their setbacks have been equally far-flung, and often sweeping in scope.
Russia’s anti-gay speech law is noted, of course, as are the new laws in Nigeria sending citizens to prison if they organize or promote a LGBT organization and in Uganda imposing life in prison for gay sex. These laws are all being advanced with the argument that “traditional cultural values” trump universal human rights values when it comes to LGBT citizens. The Article 19 organization (named after the freedom of speech article in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) recently analyzed these violations of the UDHR. Read the Article 19 report: Anti-LGBTLaws
Asia, the Huffington Post article points out, “is a mixed bag when it comes to gay issues, due to vast differences in culture, religion and history.” No Asian nation allows gay marriage, but Thailand’s
While a great deal of international effort still has to go into removing explicitly anti-LGBT laws — think sodomy laws such as the various Section 377s in Asian countries, or Russia’s anti-gay speech law — it’s also important to press positive legislation that promotes LGBT visibility and inclusion. Equal marriage is one such type of legislation. Another, which hasn’t gained as much attention but is building, would be laws that put an end to coerced therapies designed to “convert” LGBT citizens to “more acceptable” forms of heterosexuality.
California was the first state in the U.S. to pass a law banning so-called “gay cure” therapy — which immediately set off a controversy over whether that was an interference with freedom of speech if such therapies and therapists use only counseling techniques. Could the state put an end to a therapist’s speech aimed at converting LGBT individuals?
(The previous barbaric tactics of electro-shock and lobotomies have usually receded in most civil societies. You can read an excerpt from Gay Seattle about Washington state’s most famous case involving the actress Frances Farmer by clicking here.)
The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals delivered its decision last August. Yes, by all means, it said, governments have a right to regulate therapists and therapies. If approaches are considered harmful, useless or forms of consumer fraud — as conversion therapy is by scientific and medical groups — then the government can ban them.
For anyone young or suffering from social or religious pressure to become more gender- or sexual-conforming, these laws are an absolutely critical and much needed advance in how we all live together civilly.
Now that more and more states are adopting equal marriage laws — or having their discriminatory laws struck down by federal judges — Catholic archdioceses have begun responding by firing any employees who exercise their right to same-sex marriage. The Seattle Times today carries a good overview of what’s happening. Click here to read the story. (To read a subsequent New York Times update, click here.)
For Seattle, most of the focus has been on the dismissal of a popular vice principal at Eastside Catholic High School, Mark Zmuda. He was fired shortly before Christmas, prompting a student uproar and the collection of more than 20,000 petition signatures online urging the Archdiocese of Seattle to reinstate him. Presented with those signatures yesterday, an Archdiocese spokesman said that although Continue reading The new Catholic response to marriage equality→
Ed Murray was inaugurated as Seattle’s mayor yesterday, the first LGBT person to claim such a high political post in Washington state. As a previous state representative and then state senator, Murray has worked for LGBT rights for decades, successfully coordinating the passage of an anti-discrimination law in employment as well as the passage in 2012 of an equal marriage law. He and his partner Michael Shiosaki, who have been together for 22 years, were just married five months ago.
Ed is a classic example of a social justice advocate who knows how to pragmatically work in the legislative trenches and build coalitions, finding ways to position himself so that others need his help and then coaxing them along to also help LGBT causes. His early work, under his legislative mentor Cal Anderson, was documented in the closing chapter of the original 2003 version of Gay Seattle; his latest work was detailed in the introduction to the 2013 paperback edition.