Transphobia peaks in despicable bathroom political ad in Massachusetts

Transphobia peaks in despicable bathroom political ad in Massachusetts

First Hebridean Pride condemned as ‘sad and shameful’ by religious leader The fear-mongering ad | Photo: YouTube/No on 3 Keep MA Safe A group released a political ad in Masschusetts promoting transphobia and stoking fear.

Citizens of the state will be voting in the upcoming midterm election on 6 November. On the ballots will be three questions, along with candidates running for various seats of office.

One of the questions deals with transgender discrimination in public accommodations, such as public restrooms.

Question 3 is a veto referendum, allowing people to vote on whether or not they want to repeal a state law. The law in question, Senate Bill 2407, was passed in 2016. It prohibits discrimination in areas of public access on the basis of gender identity.

A No vote would repeal this anti-discrimination law, while a Yes vote would preserve it and continue protecting people who are not cisgender in Massachusetts.

A group encouraging a No vote, to ‘keep MA safe’, released an add on Wednesday (19 September). It reeks of transphobia and reinforces the harmful myth that transgender people pose a danger to others in restrooms. According to the ad, the law says ‘any man who says he is a woman’ can enter places like a woman’s locker room or restroom, but that is wrong. Bathroom laws harm trans people, they don’t protect others

One of the biggest myths surrounding bathroom laws is that sexual predators will take advantage of laws protecting trans people.

In fact, it’s trans people who face disproportionately high amounts of discrimination, harassment, and violence. Forcing them into unsafe places, or areas where they are uncomfortable (such as a bathroom not corresponding with their gender identity), is incredibly harmful.

A group of more than 200 sexual assault organizations came out against bathroom laws in 2016 .

‘Over 200 municipalities and 18 states have nondiscrimination laws protecting transgender people’s access to facilities consistent with the gender they live every day,’ they said.

‘None of those jurisdictions have [sic] seen a rise in sexual violence or other public safety issues due to nondiscrimination laws.’

CNN also did research into locations in the US with nondiscrimination laws. They consequently contacted 20 law enforcement agencies in areas with these policies, and found no evidence of bathroom assaults.

Michael Dunton, who works at the Cranston Police Department in Rhode Island, told CNN: ‘We track our sex offenders very carefully and we haven’t seen any instance of sexual predators assaulting in bathrooms.’

The midterm elections take place on 6 November.

GSN reached out to MassEquality for comment. More from Gay Star News

Keira Knightley’s turn as queer French author Colette is a refreshing marvel

Keira Knightley's turn as queer French author Colette is a refreshing marvel

Knightley and West in the movie | Photo: IMDB/Bleecker Street Colette has three things going for it that make it a must-see: Keira Knightley in one of her best roles to date, it’s a lush period drama that bucks the tropes of period dramas, and it approaches its subject of queer identity with finesse and enthusiasm.

Wash Westmoreland’s newest film, inspired by his late husband , tells the story of the real-life French novelist, Colette (Knightley).

Living in France at the dawn of the modern age, her life takes a turn when she finds success with her Claudine novels under the thumb of her husband, Willy (Dominic West).

The thing is, the novels are published under Willy’s name, not her own. It leads Colette down a path of self-realization in a number of ways, including her sexuality and agency. Yes, all sorts of queer people existed in history

This movie is both subtle and open in its exploration of fluidity, both in regards to sexuality and gender, but what it manages above all is to be natural.

Not only does Westmoreland delicately — but not timidly — peel back the layers of Colette’s own sexuality and coming into her own, but he provides a showcase for genderqueer people, and the fluidity of masculine and feminine identities, and beyond.

There is no bold proclamation in the film — everything simply is, and it’s refreshing to watch. Should there be queer films with bold proclamations? Absolutely, but that doesn’t need to be every queer film. A lack of queer films and representation does not mean such a film must fulfill everything Hollywood is behind on; instead, there is worthiness in a multitude of POVs and stories.

Trans actors are cast in cis role in this film, while people of color play characters who were originally white, but there is nothing inauthentic in this. Instead, Westmoreland takes outdated ideas of the period drama and bucks them, deciding instead there should be no limitations.

For Colette, it’s a reminder that queerness has always existed. Even if certain terms or ideas are modern, being queer is not.

Colette existed, her genderfluid lover, Missy (Denise Gough), existed, and so too did people of color in society.

It keeps the truly important aspects of a period drama — a lively score that washes over you, lush cinematography, and costumes to die for — while turning everything else on its head. ‘He’

One scene sticks out in the film. Perhaps because it feels so relevant to now, or perhaps because it’s simply a well-written and effective scene. Or both.

As Westmoreland explained to GSN , in Colette’s letters to Missy, she interchangeably used both male and female pronouns for Missy from letter to letter.

Draped across a couch, Knightley’s Colette discusses her relationship with Missy in a conversation with Willy. Every time Willy uses female pronouns for Missy, Colette gently but firmly uses male pronouns.

It’s an effective scene because it is quiet. It shows how easy respect is — how a person does not even need to think about their decision to respect and accept someone’s identity. There’s nothing overblown about it, Colette simply asserts the reality of the situation.

This idea of reality — of simple and pure acceptance — is what makes the film shine. Being open enough to the world to learn who you are, or who you could become, and accepting those around you for who they are, is precisely why Colette thrives by the end of the movie. Feminism, feminism, feminism

Feminism and LGBTI rights are intrinsically linked, and this movie knows it.

Westmoreland loves his female characters, no matter how they identity or express themselves, and it is thrilling to watch. Colette, both character and film, is unabashedly feminist.

Despite being set over a century ago, the film feels particularly modern and timely. It is due to Knightley’s performance — as she brings such an acute presence to all her roles — as well as the frankness with which Westmoreland approaches his subjects.

Similar to the importance of supporting a film like Crazy Rich Asians , this film excels in diversity and a championing of stories and people across the board, and it feels like a true success for us all when that happens.

Westmoreland’s film is one of the best LGBTI films to come out of Hollywood, and it deserves to be seen.

Colette is now out in the US, and arrives in UK theaters on 25 January. More from Gay Star News

China Gay力: The Upcoming Events and Ongoing Mission of Beijing’s LGBT Center

China Gay力: The Upcoming Events and Ongoing Mission of Beijing's LGBT Center

China Gay力: From Strength to Strength We moved to the music and sipped woozy mimosas, but it wasn’t all fun and games by any means. Indeed, Beijing’s first Drag Brunch blasted off successfully on Sep 16, serving not only as a chance for us to finally dust off our dancing shoes, but also standing as a testament to how united our community has become, and how fortunate we are as a result. Proceeds for the event went to the Beijing LGBT Center , a non-profit organization that has been working with the LGBT community in the capital since 2010. Here we catch up with two of the center’s staff, Echo and Sachi , to find out what’s been going on behind the scenes. A picture from last weekend’s Drag Brunch Echo is the frontrunner of the development squad. She manages a team of volunteers at the center who dream up and execute fundraising ideas. Aside from last weekend’s inaugural Drag Brunch, the team also recently worked on 9/9, the Sep 9 fundraising campaign, which Echo says is special in part because it is run by crowdfunding platform Tencent Charity Foundation (腾讯公益). “Last year was the first time for us, and we fundraised for three different project areas: LGBTQ+ social work, mental health, and transgender programs. Right now we have achieved the goals for the first two pledges, and the third program is still ongoing,” Echo explains.

For this year’s campaign, Echo says they aim to fundraise close to RMB 300,000, saying, “This program uses professional psychological and social work practices to provide services to gender and sexual minorities. We plan to continue expanding services such as mental health education, counseling, small group discussions, and mentorship programs in order to improve participants’ mental health and help them establish a healthy social support network.” An image from the Beijing LGBT Center’s 9/9 fundraising campaign Sachi is one of the program managers working on transgender initiatives at the center. She is also the host of a LGBT-related podcast called “不直 bù zhí ”(Bent). “Regarding the trans situation in China, there has been a very quick development,” she says. “There are lots of young trans activists coming out and wanting to do a lot. Of the trans hotline that was started in 2015, we can now really say it is ‘countrywide,’ as since July/August we are now collaborating with four organizations in other cities to reach more people.” Sachi also states that the hotline is now open seven days a week and emergency cases can be referred across cities, ensuring people get the help that they need. The hotline has processed more than 1,000 calls since its summer inception.

I asked them both about what they thought were the center’s biggest achievements over the past year. Echo is particularly excited about the counseling department in part because it now has the technology needed to offer online counseling, reaching more people no matter where they were in China. Sachi, meanwhile, is proud of the center’s capacity-building opportunities for Beijing’s growing pool of young local trans activists, who she describes as being highly passionate but in need of tools. Such tools include practical leadership training in management and other skills as well as specialized meetings. One such event included a recent medical health conference that brought together isolated surgeons performing gender reassignment surgeries from all around the country to discuss gender diversity. Medical health conference for doctors working with transgender patients The duo doesn’t shy away from the challenges involved in such work. “The pressure is much bigger now,” says Echo, adding, “Support from overseas is harder to get and because the LGBTQ+ community is not listed as one of the designated charitable areas, it also means that it is hard to get support inside the country.”

That is specifically in reference to the NGO law that came into effect last year that prohibits local NGOs from receiving money from organizations outside of China. They must also avoid "difficult dates" such as diplomatic summits when planning an event because police and other authorities are more likely to disrupt large gatherings during such occasions.

Echo laments the ambiguity of what is allowed and what is not, and the instability that such vague rules create. Because of this nebulous state of affairs, she and her LGBT Center cohorts have to be extremely careful, for fear of their social media posts being removed, or worse still, an event being canceled at the last minute. This can bring not only frustration but also impede event publicity, attendance, and therefore, awareness.

Sachi agrees that such hurdles also affect her work, before highlighting an equally troubling issue: discrimination from within and outside the LGBTQ+ community: “There is a lot of stigma too, with people only recognizing trans-men and trans-women, but not the whole spectrum of gender diversity." I ask, has the popularity of drag helped bolster the public’s understanding of gender diversity? In Echo’s eyes, it has, as it encouraged more people to challenge gender norms and experiment in a safe space, something that can only lead to greater understanding. A picture from last year’s capacity building training with trans activists And what of the future? “The media can be more open,” Echo says, before expressing her hopes about freer expression and depictions of gender diversity, because, "that way, more people can understand more about it.”

Sachi is hoping for more groups to emerge. She describes the capital’s trans community as small and short on resources but is also therefore tight-knit and highly supportive. She hopes more activists will join the community and allow it to grow. Sachi also dreams of holding more diversity training sessions for important stakeholders such as doctors, lawyers, and government officials. She says this would have a considerable ripple effect on other parts of society.

So what can we do to show our support? Coming to the affiliated events, not to mention paying a visit to the Beijing LGBT Center in Liufang , all, of course, makes a difference. More importantly, though, we should make sure to spread the word about the center’s work, events, and campaigns, so that more people have the opportunity to hear about and support them. One such opportunity will take place this coming Monday, Sep 24 at a Beijing LGBT Center event ( click here for full details ). This Mid-Autumn Festival outdoor picnic in Dongfeng International Sports Park is perfect for children, pets, and a great place to make friends in the community. Among the fun happenings will be six different competitions (think tug of war), along with chances to win prizes like vouchers to popular local pro-LGBT restaurants like Tube Station, The Local, Ganges Indian Restaurant, and Q Mex Taqueria. Bring your own snacks or drinks, or alternatively, buy drinks and food at the barbecue. Arrive at 2pm, and try not to dally because the games begin at 2.30pm, and you don’t want to miss the chance to win some of these prizes!

Photos courtesy of the Beijing LGBT Center, Uni You

Anwar: DPM’s remarks on LGBT community don’t contradict mine

Anwar: DPM’s remarks on LGBT community don’t contradict mine

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and his wife, Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail leave after a press conference at PKR headquarters in Petaling Jaya September 21, 2018. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 22 — Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has insisted that Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail’s views about the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community do not differ from his.

Anwar, who is prime minister-in-waiting, chuckled when asked by Al Jazeera English’s UpFront programme host Mehdi Hassan about the seeming contradiction.

Mehdi noted that Dr Wan Azizah had said it is “haram” or forbidden for Muslims to support the LGBT community or their fight for equality, and that they should keep their practices behind closed doors, while Anwar himself said that sexual orientation is up to the individual.

But Anwar, after laughing, replied: “Azizah is an intelligent leader in her own right.

“What she said precisely was that the sexual act is haram, and that is not disputed in any Islamic text or religious texts. I don’t see a contradiction between my views and hers on this.”

In the same interview, Anwar maintained his stand, expressed previously, that Malaysia’s laws against sodomy are “archaic” and should be amended.

“This is not only archaic, it is British colonial laws, introduced in India and replicated in Malaysia. It is completely unjust because one can be just accused, and without any proper evidence or, in my case clearly.

“What’s important is if we have a case against homosexuality, then it must be done in a transparent manner,” he told Mehdi.

“The laws must be amended to ensure there’s justice in the process and is not a matter of sexual orientation.

“It’s what you perform or you display publicly, which is against the norms of the majority of Malaysians, not only Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists alike in this country,” he added.

Sodomy is punishable as a criminal offence in Malaysia through Section 377A of the Penal Code, which criminalises “carnal intercourse against the order of nature”.

The offence is punishable with imprisonment up to 20 years, and also whipping.

Anwar was sent to prison twice over sodomy charges, which he insisted had been political persecution.

He received a royal pardon in May while serving a five-year jail term since February 2015 over the second sodomy case.

Japanese publisher admits magazine’s articles contained expressions of ‘aberrant prejudice’ against LGBT community

Japanese publisher admits magazine’s articles contained expressions of ‘aberrant prejudice’ against LGBT community

A screenshot of Shinchosha Publishing Co. President Takanobu Sato’s statement. The president of a Japanese publishing company admitted Friday that there were troublesome opinions expressed in articles of its monthly magazine that supported a lawmaker who called LGBT couples unproductive.

Shinchosha Publishing Co. President Takanobu Sato said in a statement that he found “expressions filled with aberrant prejudice and a lack of recognition in certain parts” of the articles in the October issue of Shincho 45 magazine.

Sato pledged to pay due attention to discriminatory expressions but did not clarify which sections of the issue he was referring to.

In an article in the magazine’s August issue, Mio Sugita of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party questioned the purpose of spending tax dollars on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender couples.

Those couples “don’t have children. In other words, they are unproductive,” she wrote.

One of the seven authors who contributed related articles to the October issue wrote that identifying as LGBT is not about sexual orientation but sexual preference.

LGBT is “a sufficiently ridiculous concept for a traditional conservative like me,” the author wrote, drawing criticism.

AISD Rental Policy under Scrutiny after LGBT supporters raise concern

AISD Rental Policy under Scrutiny after LGBT supporters raise concern

Controversy after AISD changes its policy on renting its buildings (KXAN) Video

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Who gets to rent Austin Independent School District’s buildings is now under scrutiny, and there’s a word of warning from the Texas Attorney General.

This started with Celebration Church in Georgetown using AISD’s Performing Arts Center on Barbara Jordan Blvd. in east Austin for its Sunday services.

Some parents and some AISD board members expressed concern because of the church’s view on marriage.

The church’s website says while it welcomes everyone, " Marriage is a lifelong covenant between a man and a woman ."

"I feel like that kind of love gets us killed," said Candace Aylor. She has been part of a group that’s been protesting Celebration Church on several Sundays since the school year began.

They plan on being out there again this coming Sunday .

She said they’ve heard from LGBT students who operate audio and video equipment at the center.

"It is inappropriate to ask a student to serve in their role as a student for a church that is demonstratively against their existence," she said.

Friday, AISD sent KXAN a statement: "The district is continuing a review of its regulations concerning facility use agreements relating to the Performing Arts Center. No final determinations have been made." However, the Austin Civic Orchestra contacted us and said they’ve been told their Sunday performance in December will have to be moved because AISD won’t rent to outside groups on Sundays anymore.

"The orchestra is greatly inconvenienced by this change that affects community organizations throughout the city and reduces opportunities for residents to benefit from classical music, theater, educational programs and more," said ACO Music Director Lois Ferrari. "We urge the school district to reconsider its stance and open the venue back up for the use of performing arts organizations that serve our city on all days, including Sundays, when an AISD group is not using it."

Attorney General Ken Paxton has also weighed in. He sent a letter warning AISD if it doesn’t rent to churches, that violates Texas law and the Constitution.

“The district should welcome churches who want to rent its facilities after school and on weekends, not discriminate against some of them based on their beliefs,” the letter said. “We caution you to reconsider these changes and be respectful of the religious liberty protections afforded churches under the Constitution and Texas law.”

We asked Celebration Church if the policy review process is affecting their scheduled worship services.
They sent us a statement through their legal counsel. "We are aware of the situation, monitoring it closely, and appreciate the guidance provided by the Texas Attorney General earlier today."

Crisp packet graduation gown worn in Walkers recycling protest

Crisp packet graduation gown worn in Walkers recycling protest

Emily Stevenson said she designed the dress to apply pressure to Walkers to change their packaging A marine biology student who wore a home-made graduation gown made out of crisp packets has used her ceremony to highlight the effects of pollution.

Emily Stevenson, 21, created the protest outfit to "send a message to Walkers" which she said should do more to reduce its non-recyclable packaging.

Campaigners 38 Degrees claim Walkers makes 7,000 crisp packets per minute.

The firm has said the packaging for all of its products would be recyclable, compostable or biodegradable by 2025.

Currently its crisp packets are made from a type of metallised plastic .

More on this story and other Devon and Cornwall news

Ms Stevenson said she was "not a fashion person at all" and the dress took her "at least 20 hours" to stitch together using needle and thread. It took the graduate more than 20 hours to create her protest dress She wore the creation to her graduation ceremony at Plymouth University on Monday after becoming inspired by the "ancient crisp packets" that she found littered on the beach.

"I was a bit worried people wouldn’t get why I was doing it, but everyone loved it.

"They got it straight away, and everyone was asking for photos," she added. You might also be interested in:

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On its website Walkers states it is "working tirelessly to tackle waste challenges", but Ms Stevenson was unsatisfied with its plan to be 100% recyclable by 2025.

"Between now and 2025 they will have created another 28 billion non-recyclable crisp packets. I want them to reduce the time it will take to implement their plan."

A spokesperson for Walkers said protecting the planet was "hugely important" to the company and there were "a number of initiatives" it was undertaking to reduce the amount of packaging it used.

"We don’t have all the answers yet, which is why we’re collaborating with a number of leaders in this area to learn and share the latest science and practical solutions," the spokesperson added.

The couple helping hedgehogs back into the wild

The couple helping hedgehogs back into the wild

While many fill their homes with ornaments, Frank and Veronica Tett’s is packed to the rafters with hedgehogs.

The couple have set up a hospital for the prickly patients at their home in Lincolnshire.

They nurse hundreds of the creatures back to health each year before releasing them back into the wild.

Their operation has become so successful, a team of volunteers helps to transport healthy hedgehogs to their new homes in the grounds of stately homes.

But saying goodbye can be emotional…

You can see this story in full on BBC Inside Out Yorkshire and Lincolnshire at 19:30 GMT on BBC One on Monday 24 September, or via iPlayer for 30 days afterwards. 1h ago

Rihanna appointed as ambassador by Barbados

Rihanna appointed as ambassador by Barbados

The singer was born and grew up in Barbados Pop singer, actress and designer Rihanna can add another accolade to her growing list of achievements after being given a new ambassadorial role by the government of Barbados.

The artist, whose full name is Robyn Rihanna Fenty, was named "Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary" for her home country on Thursday.

The role involves promoting education, tourism and investment.

Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley said she was honoured to confer the title.

"Rihanna has a deep love for this country and this is reflected in her philanthropy, especially in the areas of health and education. She also shows her patriotism in the way she gives back to this country and continues to treasure the island as her home," the prime minister said in a government statement . Rihanna’s lingerie show praised for diversity

Rihanna: Diverse make-up ‘is not rocket science’

"She has also demonstrated, beyond her success as a pop icon, significant creative acumen and shrewdness in business. It is therefore fitting that we engage and empower her to play a more definitive role as we work to transform Barbados." Rihanna been a cultural ambassador for Barbados since 2008 and helped promote tourism The singer was born in Saint Michael in Barbados, and grew up in in the capital Bridgetown.

She lived there until her teen years when she was discovered by an American record producer, who helped her break into the US charts.

Last year a street she used to live on was renamed Rihanna Drive in her honour.

In a statement accepting her new role, the singer (who is now described as Ambassador Fenty by the Barbados government) said she "couldn’t be more proud to take on such a prestigious title" in her home country.

"Every Barbadian is going to have to play their role in this current effort, and I’m ready and excited to take on the responsibility. I look forward to working with Prime Minister Mottley and her team to re-imagine Barbados."

Week in pictures: 15 – 21 September 2018

Week in pictures: 15 - 21 September 2018

Our selection of some of the most striking news photographs taken around the world this week. Mexican Marines walk away from a fire they’d started to destroy seized supplies of cocaine, marijuana and psychoactive pills in Acapulco. A group dances under a shower of fireworks during the Santa Tecla festival in Sitges, Spain. A woman waits backstage before performing at an event to raise money for the transgender community in Mumbai, India. Team Koapman of the Netherlands competes at the Tug-of-War World Championships in Cape Town, South Africa. Around 1,100 athletes from 20 different countries compete across the categories. Two horses stand in their stalls at The Museum of Horse Culture in Jiangyin city, near Wuxi, China. The museum houses 47 breeds of horses from more than 30 countries and has won the Guinness World Record for the club with the largest collection of horses in the world. North Koreans perform during an event celebrating the meeting of the president of South Korea and the leader of North Korea at the May Day Stadium in Pyongyang. Philippe Gillet, 67, lives with more than 400 reptiles and tamed alligators at his home near Nantes, France. Here, in his living room, he feeds his alligator Ali some chicken. A ballet dancer practises in the sunshine at the Southbank skatepark in London. A man participates in the Diawa Irish Pairs sea angling event in windy conditions on the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland. Model Madeline Stuart, who has Down’s syndrome, has the final touches put to her make-up before walking down the catwalk at London Fashion Week. All photographs belong to the copyright holders as marked.