Tuesday, 29 March 2011

The Flaws Of First Past The Post

AV is not a perfect system, nor is it my preferred system, but it does help eliminate some of the worst features of first past the post. This video shows you exactly what they are...

Yoinked from here

I made my own case for AV here

If you feel benevolent and particularly generous, this writer always appreciates things bought for him from his wishlist

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Marriage Equality: Coming To A Town Near You Soon

Well maybe not soon... but I'm beginning to feel the ball is really rolling now. In England and Wales, we have even the Home Secretary herself echoing her Equality Minister's words in a speech at the weekend at a Stonewall event *spit*:

Civil Partnership legislation, for example, marked a great advance for gay rights in this country.

And we will go further – we will implement section 202 of the Equality Act which will remove the ban on civil partnership registrations being held on religious premises.

No religious group will be forced to host a civil partnership registration, but for those who wish to do so this is an important step forward, not just for LGB rights but also for religious freedom. Let’s not forget that this amendment was brought forward in response to religious groups such as the Quakers and Liberal Jews wanting to celebrate civil partnerships.

Having listened to stakeholders it is clear from many that there is also a desire to move towards equal civil marriage and partnerships and we will consult further on how legislation can develop, working with all those who have an interest in this area.

Given we had former Labour ministers just last summer telling us there was no call for marriage equality, having the Coalition Government admit there is some (and in doing so on several occasions even at the Ministerial level) we are getting somewhere. Now we must seek to ensure the consultation *groan* is done as quickly as possible and comes out favourably. This weekend I shall begin annoying these key stakeholders (that's coded speak for unelected bodies of self important so and so's [shorthand: Stonewall]) to ensure there's no doublespeak like some managed at the civil partnerships consultation.

And in Scottish news (hurrah, we're getting Scottish news... hopefully the Holyrood elections will bring much more) the opening salvo for the final battle for marriage equality has been made by the ECHR I shall be ensuring I annoy my Scottish friends into annoying their representatives even more than I have in the past. There's been some good feedback and some bad. The SNP and Tory MSPs seemed the least likely (quelle surprise, nationalists and conservatives not liking equality) to have a positive response in replies I saw to letters from their constituents on the subject last year. Let's hope for better this time round.

Now, who is brave enough to start the fight in Northern Ireland?

If you feel benevolent and particularly generous, this writer always appreciates things bought for him from his wishlist

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Between The EDL And The Religious Fundies: East End Gay Pride

In my most recent post I made clear my dislike, abhorrence even, of the English Defense League. As any long term reader will know one of my little "ticks" is my deep, near irrational, hatred for nationalism. Even just having the word "English" in the title is likely to put me off. There's little in their views or beliefs that I can find even remotely of interest.

And as most of you will know, I'm no fan of the religious especially those of a fundamentalist bent. If you base your beliefs on the irrational mutterings of just the one book then I'm afraid we're unlikely to get on. Especially if your beliefs include homophobia and other prejudices. It's just not my thing.

So you can imagine my moral confusion over the latest controversy: East End Gay Pride. It seemed simple enough. In February some stickers appeared declaring East London a "gay free zone". Some thought they were put there by Muslims, others by the EDL to show Muslims in a bad light. In any case it soon emerged a group was gathering to organise a pride event, supposedly to show that the LGBT community were here, queer and everyone better get used to it.

This group was, from the off, seen by many local LGBT groups as an EDL front, based mainly on Facebook postings. Many LGBT groups in the area, especially the more left wing ones, were aghast (mainly quite rightly really) that the EDL should be involved and were upset that a pride event might upset "community relations" (a concept that, to be honest, fills me with such a rage that I can barely begin to to express it in writing).

And eventually, in the last few days, things have descended to the point where the pro and anti camps have been arguing incessantly.

Today brought revelations from gay group Imaan that the principal organiser Raymond Berry had links to the EDL. Damning stuff, and he's quickly been removed from the official site for the April the 2nd event.

But this all leads me to the wonder: even if this event is totally organised by the EDL, something I don't believe and suspect some of the organisation is being done properly, it is clearly labelled as pride event, it's clearly labelled as being "non-political" (whether that's possible at an LGBT pride event is up for debate) and political signs are explicitly banned. So what is the issue?

The EDL obviously think, quite rightly too, that a gay pride event in the East End is one way to show up the homophobia of a great number (if not all) of Muslims in the area and no obvious political protest need be added to it. And instead of Muslims in the area, and their LGBT supporters, showing clearly this isn't the case by EMBRACING the event they are desperately trying to ensure it gets cancelled so as to avoid highlighting any controversy. They claim pride is meant to be about community cohesion and building links between groups. Where is this in the history books?

Pride is meant to be confrontational, in your face and argument worthy. It's meant to be about highlighting and combating homophobia. What possible reason could the local community have for not wanting this event, if handled correctly and not demonstrating Islamophobic tendencies in either discriminating against those involved or racist/insulting signs, other than homophobia? Absolutely, with the EDL involved, extreme caution must be used and concerns raised. But if the answers are "this is an LGBT pride event to show solidarity against the recent anti-gay stickers", then what's the problem??

So I have to say, with a little regret as I completely see where the local community and LGBT groups are coming from, "No to an EDL rally, YES to East End Gay Pride". I hope the LGBT community shows itself in force and makes sure this is a demonstration of hope over hate rather than just hate against another minority.

If you feel benevolent and particularly generous, this writer always appreciates things bought for him from his wishlist

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Disturbing Images From The Western World

Whilst the world's attention is focussed on the horrific but also exhilarating revolutions occurring in the Arab countries of the Middle East and North Africa, other equally disturbing images have been coming from within our own midst.

Hate Comes To Orange County

I find this video almost too upsetting to watch. Muslims families being tormented and insulted by protesters waving American flags whilst elected US officials spread hate among the crowd. I can almost hear the echoes of the fascists in the 1930s and their anti-Jewish rhetoric. Awful stuff, and we are just not condemning this enough.

EDL Thugs

The English Defense League. It's everything I've worried about when I've spoken about English nationalism on here before. Now they bring in violent unionist imagery (no, I do not understand that either, we're English but we support the British cause? Hmm...). They are just a bunch of thuggish little boys terrified of the Other. We must oppose them thoroughly and consistently wherever they go.

The German Question

German interior minister reopens bitter row over Muslim integration. Certainly, Islam is not part of traditional German culture. Nothing controversial there, that's just a historical statement. But I don't think that's what is being said here, and we all know that. The wink, wink, nod, nod of the anti-Islam crowd is almost as disgusting as what they actually say.

"To say that Islam belongs in Germany is not a fact supported by history."

Well some interpretations of German history might suggest Jews don't belong in Germany (they've spent more time as pariahs than they have as equal German citizens throughout Germany's complex history). But you wouldn't say that because that would sound pretty damn disturbing. Are we to get rid of everyone in our countries whose presence isn't backed up by history? And what history are we talking about? Modern or ancient? Perhaps the German people don't belong there either as my memory of Germany 65 million years ago certainly doesn't back up their claim on residence either. History is useful, interesting and complicated. But it's not a Bible. We make our own destinies whilst learning from our history. But Germany seems to be just repeating the same old mistakes.

It's time we stood up and said no more. I'm no fan of Islam. To me it's just another silly religion. But that doesn't mean I do not support Muslims rights to their beliefs nor that I think they are some holier than thou angels without any issues themselves. But we must have a frank and honest debate not a "Them and us" one. The West needs to wake up to the hate it is brewing before it's too late.

If you feel benevolent and particularly generous, this writer always appreciates things bought for him from his wishlist