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Friday, January 27, 2006

Strange bedfellows

Well they might want to nuke the living daylights out of each other, but it is good to see that the Presidents of Iran & the USA agree on the really important issue of our times ie homosexuality is bad. This is from the Human Rights Watch website (courtesy of Lenin's Tomb):

United Nations: U.S. Aligned With Iran in Anti-Gay Vote-Rice Must Explain Repressive UN Ban on LGBT Rights Groups

(Washington, D.C., January 25, 2006) - In a reversal of policy, the United States on Monday backed an Iranian initiative to deny United Nations consultative status to organizations working to protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. In a letter to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, a coalition of 40 organizations, led by the Human Rights Campaign, Human Rights Watch, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, called for an explanation of the vote which aligned the United States with governments that have long repressed the rights of sexual minorities.

“This vote is an aggressive assault by the U.S. government on the right of sexual minorities to be heard,” said Scott Long, director of the LGBT rights program at Human Rights Watch. “It is astonishing that the Bush administration would align itself with Sudan, China, Iran and Zimbabwe in a coalition of the homophobic.”

In May 2005, the International Lesbian and Gay Association, which is based in Brussels, and the Danish gay rights group Landsforeningen for Bøsser og Lesbiske (LBL) applied for consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council. Consultative status is the only official means by which non-governmental organizations (NGOs) around the world can influence and participate in discussions among member states at the United Nations. Nearly 3,000 groups enjoy this status.

States opposed to the two groups’ applications moved to have them summarily dismissed, an almost unprecedented move at the UN, where organizations are ordinarily allowed to state their cases. The U.S. abstained on a vote which would have allowed the debate to continue and the groups to be heard. It then voted to reject the applications.

“The United States recklessly ignored its own reporting proving the need for international support for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “The State Department’s ‘Country Reports on Human Rights Practices’ show severe human rights violations based on gender identity and sexual orientation occur around the world.”

As the U.S. government acknowledged in its 2004 country report on Iran, Iranian law punishes homosexual conduct between men with the death penalty. Human Rights Watch has documented four cases of arrests, flogging, or execution of gay men in Iran since 2003. In its 2004 country report on Zimbabwe, the U.S. government noted President Robert Mugabe’s public denouncement of homosexuals, blaming them for “Africa's ills.” In the past, Mugabe has called gays and lesbians “people without rights” and “worse than dogs and pigs.” [and what's so wrong with dogs & pigs, Mugabe, you fascist scumbag?]

The U.S. has reversed position since 2002, when it voted to support the International Lesbian and Gay Association’s request to have its status reviewed. Officials gave no explanation for the change.

“It is deeply disturbing that, at the UN, the United States has shifted gears toward an aggressive stance against human rights for LGBT people,” said Paula Ettelbrick, executive director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. “Unfortunately, denying LGBT groups a voice and a presence within the United Nations – the world's most important human rights institution – is fully in keeping with the U.S.’s assault on basic human rights principles worldwide.”

In voting against the applications to the NGO committee, the U.S. was joined by Cameroon, China, Cuba, Iran, Pakistan, the Russian Federation, Senegal, Sudan, and Zimbabwe. Votes in favor of consultative status came from Chile, France, Germany, Peru, and Romania. Colombia, India, and Turkey abstained, while Côte d'Ivoire was absent.

“It is an absolute outrage that the United States has chosen to align itself with oppressive governments – all in an effort to smother the voices of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people around the world,” said Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. “It is deeply disturbing that the self-proclaimed ‘leader of the free world’ will ally with bigots at the drop of a hat to advance the right wing’s anti-gay agenda.”

In addition to the Human Rights Campaign, Human Rights Watch, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the organizations signing the letter are:

Advocates for Youth
Al-Fatiha Foundation for LGBT Muslims
Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic, Yale Law School
Amnesty International USA
Catholics for a Free Choice
Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE)
Center for Women’s Global Leadership
Colombian Lesbian and Gay Association (COLEGA)
Congregation Beth Simchat Torah
Equality Now
Family Care International
Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation
Gay Men’s Health Crisis
Global Rights
Immigration Equality
International Women’s Human Rights Clinic, City University of New York School of Law
Jan Hus Church
Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund
Latino Commission on AIDS
L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center
Legal Momentum
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center (New York City)
Mano a Mano
Metropolitan Community Churches
National Black Justice Coalition
National Center for Transgender Equality
National Coalition Building Institute Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender Caucus
National Center for Lesbian Rights
New Hampshire Freedom to Marry Coalition
Open Society Institute
Queer Progressive Agenda
Queers for Economic Justice
Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S.
Women's Environment and Development Organization

There has been a lot about homosexuality and politics over here in the last week with two wannabe Lib Dem leaders Mark Oaten and Simon Hughes being "outed" by the tabloids as being gay. Blimey, you'd think Breeders would not have a problem. In fact it wouldn't bother me if 99.9% of men on the planet did bat for the other team, because (i) it would keep the world's population down & (ii) I might have more of a chance when meeting females. I am immediately suspicious of any public figure (politicians, journalists & religious figures) who go on about how "bad" homosexuality is. What's your problem? I remember hearing about some experiment in the USA a few years ago where men were shown porn films featuring men basically having sex with other men. Those viewers who had expressed homophobic comments before the films were shown were found (don't ask me to go into the details here) to get more aroused while watching than those who weren't that bothered.

I suppose the best April Fool's Day headline I'd like to see in a paper (apart from "Reagan's KGB Past") would be "Littlejohn's Cottaging Shame". Richard Littlejohn, our answer to Rush Limbaugh, has made a big deal of baiting homosexuals or those he thinks are gay for years now. Now at the Mail ("my real home" he says, although I think he's too much of a pleb for the Mail), he used to be at The Sun, where posing as a man of the people he couldn't leave homosexuality alone:

Diary Marina Hyde, The Guardian, Wednesday November 10, 2004

In the Sun, former television presenter Richard Littlejohn is bothered that the latest Miss Marple remake will contain a lesbian kiss. "There's nothing remotely shocking about lesbianism ... in 2004," frets Richard. And yet, is this really correct? A nagging feeling that, to some, anything to do with homosexuality remains fascinatingly transgressive forces us to conduct the annual Littlejohn audit. Behold then the results. In the past year's Sun columns, Richard has referred 42 times to gays, 16 times to lesbians, 15 to homosexuals, eight to bisexuals, twice to "homophobia" and six to being "homophobic" (note his scornful inverted commas), five times to cottaging, four to "gay sex in public toilets", three to poofs, twice to lesbianism, and once each to buggery, dykery, and poovery. This amounts to 104 references in 90-odd columns - an impressive increase on his 2003 total of 82 mentions. There is, alas, no space for us to revisit the scientific study which found obsessive homophobes more responsive to gay porn. But Richard, we're begging you: talk to someone.

However, this obsession with homosexuality is not the preserve of the Richard Littlejohn's of this world. This I saw on the Green Party's website:

Vitriolic attack on gay-rights campaigner, 24th Jan 2006
Desi Xpress has published unjustified and prejudiced attack on gay-rights campaigner, Peter Tatchel

The Green Party are shocked and appalled by the recent attack on gay-rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell, in the Asian weekly entertainment newspaper, Desi Xpress. The attack came in the form of an abusive and prejudiced article by Adam Yosef, a leading member of George Galloway's Respect Party, in the January 6th-12th edition of the paper.

Yosef accuses Tatchell of being anti-Muslim and a 'hate-mongerer'. Yosef states that he 'needs a good slap in the face' and also suggests that Tatchell and 'his queer campaign army should pack their bent bags and head back to Australia'.

Keith Taylor, Principal Speaker of the Green Party, states "I am outraged by this totally unjustifiable attack. Peter Tatchell is labelled as a 'hate-filled bigot' and accused of being the head of a racist organisation. In view of Tatchell's commitment to campaigning against all forms of prejudice and discrimination, this is simply unfounded slander. In addition to his work for lesbian and gay communities, Tatchell has campaigned against racism for 35 years and was active in the anti-apartheid movement for 20 years.

"While criticising Tatchell as an ineffectual campaigner against homophobia, Yosef's vitriolic attack mainly focuses on Tatchell's sexuality as a cause for contempt. Yosef seems remarkably confused about his arguments and I would suggest that this article is highly damaging to its author.

"Hopefully, no one with any sense will take his comments seriously and recognise Peter Tatchell's valuable contributions to the lobby for equal rights."

Yes, that anti-gay cobblers came from a member of Respect, a political party that has been touted as the last, great hope of British Socialism (well, the last great hope for flogging copies of "Socialist Worker" to all and sundry anyway). You may think this type of reactionary claptrap was the opinion of just one member of Respect, but its main man, George Galloway, is quite ready to spout the most ridiculous rubbish to get the most backward sections of the Muslim community to vote for him:

Saturday, September 17, 2005, by Greg Palast

During his debate with Salman Rushdie at the recent Edinburgh TV Festival, someone asked George Galloway if television should broadcast an adaptation of Rushdie's novel, "Satanic Verses." According to Rushdie, Galloway replied, "If you don't respect religion, you have to suffer the consequences."

Holy Jesus! This was, unmistakably, an endorsement of the death-sentence fatwa issued against Rushdie by Ayatollah Khomeini.

Add this endorsement of killing for God to Galloway's notorious opposition in Parliament to a woman's right to choose abortion, and you get yourself a British Pat Robertson. What next? Will he be "saluting the courage, strength and indefatigability" of abortion clinic bombers, as he saluted Saddam?

The Honorable Member of Britain's House of Commons has become the new love-child of American progressives for his in-your-face accusations about our own government's mendacity in sending our troops to war in Iraq. I myself quoted Galloway with admiration.

But the man who saluted the "courage" of Saddam Hussein in 1994, who today can't and won't account for nearly a million dollars in income and expenditures for a charity he founded to buy medicine for Iraqi children is not, friends, the best choice as our anti-war spokesman.

Where did this guy come from? Who invited him here? The answer: US Senate REPUBLICANS. As Cindy Sheehan was gathering public sympathy as the Gold Star mom against the killing in Iraq, the Republican party decided to import an easier target to pummel. So they brought over the "I-salute-your-courage, Saddam" religious fundamentalist crack-pot who can't tell us where the money went.

That's why the Republicans chose him for us. This gross cartoon from abroad whose "charity" is stuffed with loot from an Oil-for-Food profiteer is the image they prefer on TV to Cindy Sheehan whom they dare not confront.

Yes, Galloway was the punching bag that punched back, and for that we are appreciative. Now GO HOME, George.

We need to repudiate this guy -- before the warmongers do, with glee.

I'm sorry, but I'm not going to let Karl Rove or some sick GOP Senator pick my heroes for me.

Some well-meaning progressives have said that my exposing Galloway plays into the hands of the "other side." Friends, this isn't a World Cup match, with sides; it's a World War, with too many dead bodies piling up.

Galloway says, "I have religious beliefs and try to live by them. I have all my life been against abortion and against euthanasia."

Well, Mr. Galloway, you may live by your beliefs -- anti-choice, fatwas, Saddam's "courage" -- but too many are DYING by your beliefs.

I admit, I was suckered by Galloway. I was the first journalist in the UK to rush to his defense on television when he was accused of wrong-doing. I wanted to believe in him, but the hard facts condemn him -- and us, if we don't act true to our moral imperative.

Mr. Galloway told the Independent newspaper, "I'm not as Left-wing as you think."

Indeed, he isn't.

However, it appears that Mr G's performance in the "Celebrity Big Brother" house has done untold damage both to his own reputation and that of Respect/SWP. I can't see why!

"Well, Pete, you can join Respect, but please don't tell all the others..."


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