Photo by Jasmin Sessler from Pixabay Leanne Wood has accused the Home Office of persecuting LGBT people seeking asylum in the UK.
Speaking ahead of Pride Cymru this weekend, she said that asking LGBT asylum seekers to “prove their sexuality” was both “absurd and offensive” adding that the Home Office is dismissive of any evidence presented to them by those fleeing persecution because of their sexuality.
Earlier this week, Abderrahim El Habachi, a young gay man who fled from Morocco to Swansea two year ago in fear of his life, accused the UK Home Office of putting LGBT asylumn seekers “through hell”. In a separate case it was reported on Tuesday that an asylum seeker’s appeal was rejected because the judge did not think he was ‘effeminate’ enough to be gay and did not have a gay ‘demeanour’. Wood, Plaid Cymru’s shadow minister for social justice, added: “In many cases, the only “evidence” a person might have is their own testimony and to open up to a complete stranger who has your life in their hands about such personal details of your private life is both intimidating and difficult. Often, even if a person has written or physical evidence, the Home Office will dismiss or ignore whilst suspecting asylum seekers of lying about their sexuality.
“This is why Pride is still needed. It is a celebration but also a protest at the ongoing discrimination that LGBT people still face. Nobody should have to suffer the humiliation and persecution the Home Office currently subject LGBT asylum seekers to.
“Whilst the UK Government is deliberately chasing a hostile environment agenda, Wales can choose to do different. If we had power over asylum and immigration we could protect our asylum seekers and ensure that those fleeing from persecution because of their sexuality are not neither discriminated against nor deported back to a country that could kill them. Wales could become a true nation of sanctuary.”
Time & Again. Filmed in Cardiff and starring Dame Sian Phillips I watched a beautiful love story this week called Time & Again. Filmed in Cardiff and starring Dame Sian Phillips, it was just half an hour long.
But those 30 minutes attempted to make up for years and years of this kind of love being invisible on Welsh screens.
Not only did it show what women know to be perfectly normal but popular culture still recoils from – the fact that even when we’re old we feel passion – it portrayed emotional and physical love between two octogenarian women.
Its writer, producer and director Rachel Dax believes this is a first. I certainly can’t think of any other positive representation of an elderly lesbian relationship in film or television drama. Which, when you come to think of it, is a startling state of affairs in the 21st century.
And to get this story made Rachel had to do it without any backing from a studio or broadcaster. Shot in two and a half days on a miniscule budget which she scraped together herself, it is an astonishing achievement given those restrictions.
The involvement of Dame Sian – who also helped bring veteran actress Brigit Forsyth to the project – was transformative. Once the Welsh acting icon had seen Rachel’s script she immediately wanted to do the film. Dame Sian Phillips (Image: PA) The story was partly inspired by older gay people fearing prejudice in care homes. We see Dame Sian’s character Eleanor being reunited with Isabelle (Brigit Forsyth) who arrives in the same care home 60 years after their relationship was torn apart by family opposition.
Isabelle had complied with her parents’ wishes and entered a loveless marriage while Eleanor remained true to her sexuality, going on to live the life she wanted, but sacrificed her bond with her mother and father who never spoke to her again.
These brutal choices reflect the reality many lesbians of this generation would have faced, as Rachel told the BBC:
“I think the main thing is families would be ashamed,” she said.
“It was very much like forced marriage. They were told ‘if you don’t marry, we’re disowning you’. Lots of lesbians went to London.”
But Time & Again is anything but grim and, without too many spoiler alerts, an uplifting denouement awaits. Actress Brigit Forsyth (Image: PA) “It’s not all doom and gloom and shows in your old age you can heal,” Rachel explains, adding: “I think older women in general tend to be treated like they don’t have any sexuality. I think it is important for lesbian visibility. Not all, but a lot of LGBT films with older characters are more male-focused.”
Time & Again is being shown at Barry Pride on September 19th and will also have screenings at the Cardiff International Film Festival in October but it deserves a pan-Wales platform. Let’s hope BBC Wales, who hosted the screening in the build up to this weekend’s Pride Cymru event, can broadcast it.
If these kind of fictional stories deserve the biggest possible audience the same goes for Wales’ factual LGBT history which has remained in the shadows until very recently.
The first book exploring the experiences of notable Welsh lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people through the centuries was only published last year.
In the introduction to Forbidden Lives – LGBT Stories from Wales (Seren Books), author Norena Shopland outlines the challenges researching such a work presents. After all, the mainstream historical narrative we have all grown up with in Wales is resolutely male, heterosexual and British.
So Norena’s mission was to “read between the lines” to uncover hidden lives, as she explains: “Once outside the famous names such as Ivor Novello, the Ladies of Llangollen and more modern people such as Sarah Waters and Gareth Thomas things became harder. Trying to find the everyday lives of people became an exercise in ‘bit picking’ from other works. For much of what had existed had been shattered. For example, Frances Power Cobbe destroyed both her and her partner Mary Lloyd’s letters and diaries. Nothing they did was illegal, women were not affected by a ban in law the way that men were, but society did not approve and so the material was destroyed.
"Consequently, we are left to pick around in the letters and diaries of others to piece together stories about LGBT people in history. Over the years I have done much picking at bits and pieces and this book represents that. This is the first work highlighting real lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and events in and from Wales.”
A second pioneering work will arrive on the shelves this October. A Little Gay History of Wales (University of Wales Press) by Dr Daryl Leeworthy tells a big story. The historian who was brought up in Pontypridd draws on a rich array of archival sources and oral testimony to examine the experience of ordinary Welsh LGBT men and women from the Middle Ages to the present day. Gentleman Jack, featuring Suranne Jones as Anne Lister, and Sophie Rundle as Ann Walker, on the BBC, portrayed a historical lesbian relationship (Image: BBC) It’s the narrative of poets who wrote about same-sex love and translators who worked to create a language to describe it; activists who campaigned for equality and politicians who created the legislation providing it; teenagers ringing advice lines for guidance on coming out and revellers in the pioneering bars and clubs on a Friday and Saturday night. It is also a study of prejudice and of intolerance, of emigration and isolation, of HIV/AIDS and Section 28.
And for its author, it’s also a deeply personal project: “My childhood and adolescence coincided almost exactly with the implementation and enforcement of Section 28,” Daryl explains.
“Introduced in 1988 when I was a toddler, it was abolished in 2003 when I was in my final year of Sixth Form. Its legacy was still palpable when I went up to Oxford in the autumn of 2004. Talking to friends and former teachers in more recent times, it is clear just how fundamentally the legislation marked – and continues to mark – those of us who went to school during the period of its existence. To be blunt: this is a book that should have been written a long time ago.
“In other words, I wrote the Little History because I felt it should exist and that the longer such a book didn’t exist, the poorer we are here in Wales intellectually and culturally. Call it my revenge on Section 28!
“But it’s also a book that is very much about the ordinary men and women who we might now describe as LGBT, and I’ve tried to reflect the diversity of the community as far as possible, too. So the Muslim sailors who landed in Cardiff and had sex with local men; or the woman (Daphne Higuera) from Caerphilly who established Wales’s first ever gay women’s support group in the early 1970s; or Tim Foskett, a student from London studying at Cardiff, who helped to create the first pride march in the city in 1985; or the two ladies – Jamie and Eileen, active Christians – who ran Lan Farm in Pontypridd as an LGBT hostel in the late-1980s and early 1990s.
“I wanted to move away from LGBT history as being about the great and the good – the Ladies of Llangollen, Viscount Tredegar, Ivor Novello, Rhys Davies, even (heaven forbid) Edward II, etc – and make it about the rest of us. When those pioneers marched through Cardiff in 1985 they shouted ‘we are everywhere’, but what does that mean if our histories only talk about the people whose lives are far more easily documented?
“I also wanted a book that could form the basis of a better understanding of heritage and the ways in which gay, or gay-friendly, spaces existed in far more places than we often realise.
"Even now I’m learning about new ones. If you look in the columns of the pink press of the 1970s, for instance, they tell you that Gay News was sold in the Salisbury Hotel in Ferndale, that Merthyr had Britain’s most boring gay scene (but by implication, it had one), and that there was even a branch of the Gay Liberation Front in Aberdare. I hesitate to call this hidden history: those who needed to know, did know. But for today’s generation of young people, or tomorrow’s, knowing that someone else from your community was LGBT is both powerful and comforting.
“Like all minorities it is important to know that you are not alone, that your experience is not unique. That’s the value of this type of history – of the history of us – it means we don’t always have to start over.” Pride Cymru was taking place in Cardiff today (Image: Matthew Horwood) Cardiff is hosting Pride Cymru this weekend – Wales’s biggest celebration of equality and diversity.
Around 50,000 people are enjoying a mile-long parade and entertainment, music and comedy in support of our LGBT+ community.
It is an event that shows modern, inclusive Wales at it best but we also need to take Pride in the LGBT heritage and history of our nation – whether its expressed in the drama of Time & Again or through the pioneering research of Norena Shopland and Dr Daryl Leeworthy.
LGBT-free Zone stickers distributed with Polish conservative weekly magazine Gazeta Polska. (Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty) The world-famous venue Carnegie Hall, New York, has listed a concert presented by a group associated with the Polish publication which produced “LGBT-free zone” stickers.
The concert, titled “From Chopin to Gershwin,” is due to take place on October 24 and the only information provided is that it is “presented by the Gazeta Polska Community of America.”
The Gazeta Polska Community of America said on its Facebook page that its clubs in the US are “supported by… Gazeta Polska media and its editorial board,” but that it is “independent and separated from” the magazine.
It continued: “The Clubs represent a broad social movement which inherits the freedom and patriotism oriented legacy of Gazeta Polska.”
Gay concert pianist Paul Bisaccia told NBC News that he was asked to take part in the “star-studded event,” but when he realised the concert was associated with the anti-LGBT publication he said he had to turn it down.
He said: “It is not a small thing to turn down a concert at Carnegie Hall, no one does that.”
“To walk out on that stage is a great honor, to be asked to do it is a great honor, and to find out that the sponsor is someone who would besmirch this honor is very depressing and saddening to me.”
Carnegie Hall in New York City. (Peter Kramer/Getty) A member of anti-racism group Never Again said the Gazeta Polska editor was involved in organising the group
Carnegie Hall spokesperson Synneve Carlino also told NBC News that the show was “an event presented by an outside producer renting Carnegie Hall.”
Carlino said that Carnegie Hall “strongly rejects this sticker campaign and does not condone discrimination or intolerance against any group.”
Gazeta Polska said it would distribute “LGBT-free zone” stickers to readers with its July 24 edition, but earlier this month the Warsaw District Court ordered the magazine to cease distributing the controversial stickers.
A spokesperson for The Gazeta Polska Community of America told NBC News the organisation “does not support, take part or promote” the stickers.
However, a member of a Polish anti-racism group Never Again said that the organisation is “a political movement built around the newspaper… It shares the political perspectives of the newspaper and [ Gazeta Polska editor] Mr. Sakiewicz is very active in organizing it and leading it.”
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had draft "religious freedom" legislation presented to him yesterday. (Tracey Nearmy/Getty) A new poll has shown that Australians “overwhelmingly” believe that religious organisations should not have the right to discriminate against LGBT+ people.
The Galaxy/YouGov poll, commissioned by PFLAG Australia, showed that 63 percent of people in Australia disagreed with religious discrimination against groups like unmarried mothers or people who are divorced, as well as the LGBT+ population, according to Q News .
When same-sex marriage was legalised in Australia in 2017, conservatives in the country called for “religious freedom” to discriminate .
A draft of new “religious freedom” legislation was presented by attorney general Christian Porter to prime minister Scott Morrison’s cabinet on Tuesday, August 20, and it is expected to be revealed to the public in the next few weeks.
68 percent of Australians also said that religious organisations should not be able to discriminate against people with different views or values.
Almost half (48 percent) of people who described themselves as strongly religious said the same.
62 percent of respondents agreed that religious people and organisations should also be protected from discrimination because of their faith. Pride march in Melbourne, 2010. (Scott Barbour/Getty) PFLAG Australia spokesperson said “Christians in Australia are not persecuted and not likely to be”.
PFLAG Australia spokesperson Shelley Argent told Q News that the prime minister should listen to “the actual ‘quiet Australians’, those who don’t want discrimination in the name of religion”, and said that Australia needed a bill of rights to protect the “rights and freedoms” of everyone.
“Parents of LGBTIQ sons and daughters are concerned a small but vocal group of religious leaders are determined to keep our children second-class citizens,” she continued.
“Our children have families who love them. They contribute to society and pay their taxes – which is more than those in the churches can say.
“This push for religious freedom is just a backlash against marriage equality. Christians in Australia are not persecuted and not likely to be. Christians have nothing to fear except fear itself.”
More than 30 rainbow flags now decorate the street where the Manchester resident suffered ‘homophobic abuse.’ (Lis Sharpley/ Facebook) The neighbours of a man who suffered “homophobic” abuse for hanging a Pride flag outside his home are hanging their own rainbow flags along the street in solidarity.
Alex Hancock, 31, hung the flag last Monday (August 19) in celebration of Manchester Pride but only hours later he said he was harassed outside his house by two men who threatened to kill him.
Hancock told the Manchester Evening News : “They were calling me a f*cking b*tty b*y, a c*ck sucker, a p**f, shouting all this really vile abuse.
“I said they should educate themselves and that they should leave this neighbourhood. Then one of them started walking towards me. He said he was going to batter me and kill me.”
But now, more than 30 rainbow flags outside homes on Hancock’s street have been hung by his neighbours in a show of solidarity.
He told Metro : “It started with one of my neighbours, Liz, who responded to the original email letting them know what had happened.
“She was acting in solidarity and was putting up a flag anyway and said she would put in an order for some more flags and it just spiralled from there.”
He added: “The community is just very accepting, open and diverse and they wanted to put two fingers up to the haters.”
Alex Hancock’s original flag in Old Trafford, Manchester. (Manchester Evening News) The abuse suffered by the Manchester resident reflects an increase in hate crimes in the whole of England and Wales
Hancock told Metro that it meant even more that people outside of the LGBT+ community were supporting him.
“Often it is the LGBT+ community that speak out when something like this happens, but in this case it has been the whole community,” he said.
“It’s been totally led by my neighbours and that’s really touched me. Culturally we have come a long way.
“There is often still a stigma and as long as people don’t speak out that’s what keeps prejudice for future generations.”
The abuse suffered by Hancock in Manchester reflects an increase in hate crimes in the whole of England and Wales and he said “we can’t take it for granted” how far LGBT+ rights have come.
He added: “The visibility of the rainbow flag is really important. There might be someone out there who is not able to be their true selves and I think by seeing the flag out there it may give them that courage.”
A Welsh man said that being the victim of a homophobic attack ten years ago inspired him to join the police.
Cairn Newton-Evans, 28, told BBC Radio Wales that he was punched multiple times and had his head smashed into the tarmac during the assault in November 2008.
The 28-year-old was attacked by someone he knew from school who followed him over a railway crossing in his home town of Ammanford. I wanted to “change things from within,” says police officer beaten in homophobic attack.
Newton-Evans spoke out ahead of Pride Cymru this weekend. (KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/AFP/Getty) He said he was left with a fractured nose and displaced cheekbone, which required surgery, after the assault.
His assailant also subjected him to “homophobic remarks” and death threats.
Speaking ahead of Pride Cymru, Newton-Evans said he decided to join the police in a bid to change attitudes, after officers only gave his attacker a caution and a “slap on the wrist”.
However, he said an LGBT+ officer from his local police station supported him and encouraged him to join the force to “change things from within”.
Newton-Evans joined Dyfed-Powys Police in 2009 and is currently the chief officer of the special constable. Police officer is now friends with person who attacked him.
He even said that he is now friends with the man who assaulted him.
The officer met his attacker, who works in emergency services, again in 2012 after they were both called to the same incident.
“He came and apologised,” Newton-Evans told BBC Radio Wales .
“What happened gave both of us the kick up the backside to achieve something.
“He knows he is so lucky he has the life he has now – it turned a negative into a positive.”
In June, analysis by The Guardian revealed that homophobic and transphobic hate crime has more than doubled in England and Wales in the last four years.
The rate of LGBT+ hate crime, including offences like harassment, assault and stalking, increased by 144 percent between 2014 and 2018.
There were 4,600 LGBT+ hate crimes reported in 2014, but in 2018 that number rose to 11,600.
Femme footwear by Syro. (Instagram) Two queer designers in New York have launched Syro, a femme footwear brand, with the goal of creating wearable heels for men and gender-nonconforming people.
According to Shaobo Han and Henry Bae, Syro’s co-founders, men wearing heels is much more than just a trend.
“The market is mainly catered towards drag and bondage communities, or high-end custom/luxury price points,” Han told i-D . “The thirst for casual heels in larger sizes is very real.”
“We are part of a bigger generational movement living outside the binary ,” Han said. I have ALWAYS wanted to find a heel I could wear everyday to the shops dream come true!! I love you @shopsyro
A post shared by Sam Smith (@samsmith) on Jun 19, 2019 at 7:14am PDT The pair made a small run of shoes in 2016 to test the market, receiving an “avalanche of support”.
With a tagline of “femme footwear: gay as in happy, Queer as in Fuck You”, the Syro website describes the brand as a “queer cult” in Bushwick that makes heels, disrupts systems and “voted for Cynthia [Nixon]”.
The designers also said, in an interview with Refinery29 , that Syro’s goal is to “Refuse femme oppression. Liberate femme expression. Heels for men.” when ppl stare…
Beth Ditto is the lead singer for the recently reformed band Gossip. (Cowan/Getty) Beth Ditto, of the recently reformed band Gossip, has voiced her concerns about the “pink pound” and said of Taylor Swift’s single “You Need to Calm Down”: “Great anthem… straight white girl?”
Ditto, who announced Gossip’s return in March this year, said in an interview with the Independent that the “pink pound,” which she describes as “a whole market deliberately aimed at gay men to take their money,” bothers her.
She continued: “That’s what Taylor Swift did [with “You Need to Calm Down”] . I was like, great anthem… straight white girl? Cool, thanks.
“Released just in time for Pride! I wonder where the proceeds are going for that, you know? That’s the thing that bothers me about it.”
When the song was released in June this year, there was controversy on social media, with Swift facing accusations of pandering to the LGBT+ community during Pride month.
However, in April Swift did make a six-figure donation to the Tennessee Equality Project in April , a non-profit group fighting for LGBT+ rights in the southern state.
When questioned about this, Ditto responded: “She did? She is doing that?
“Good, she should! Especially if you’re releasing a song like that. That makes me happy, I’m glad she’s doing that.” Shot from the music video for Taylor Swift’s single, “You Need to Calm Down.” (YouTube) Beth Ditto also questioned Taylor Swift’s portrayal of “rednecks”
Ditto also questioned the”You Need to Calm Down” video’s portrayal of homophobic protesters as “rednecks,” and said it could add to negative portrayals of Southern women.
She said: “It gets very academic very quickly, doesn’t it? And I never went to college, so I don’t even f***ing know.
“My mum used to say when we were growing up: ‘You’re poor, you’re not stupid.’ And when you do equate being poor with being ignorant, I think that is when it gets insulting.”
President Donald Trump speaks during campaign MAGA (Make America Great Again) rally at Southern New Hampshire University Arena on August 15, 2019. (Lev Radin/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images) There were reportedly empty seats at a New Hampshire rally for US president Donald Trump earlier this month after a LGBT+ teen played a prank on Twitter.
Twitter user Noah hinted to his followers that they should reserve free tickets to Trump’s rally campaigning for his reelection on August 15 – but then not turn up.
“Hey everyone you totally shouldn’t go on tr*mp’s website and reserve tickets for his rally and not show up so that there’s empty seats (the tickets are free) but you should definitely not do that!!,” he wrote.
Noah’s tweet soon went viral, racking up more than 17,000 re-tweets and over 60,000 likes at the time of publication. Twitter users reserve free tickets to Donald Trump rally with no intention to show up.
Twitter users then began to respond about how they had reserved multiple tickets with no intention to attend the rally.
“Can’t wait to NOT be there,” wrote one person , alongside screenshots of two tickets.
One ticket was reserved for “ligma ass”, while the other was listed under “yoongis Asscrack”. Empty seats reported at Trump’s reelection rally after viral Twitter post.
(noahforchange/Twitter) What’s more, the hashtag #EmptySeatMAGATour even started trending on Twitter.
Following Noah’s tweet, it was reported that there was a notable number of empty seats at the evening rally at Southern New Hampshire University Arena (SNHU) in Manchester, New Hampshire, with genuine Trump supporters unable to get in.
“Thousands of Trump supporters were locked out of the SNHU Arena in Manchester, New Hampshire, for Thursday’s reelection campaign rally by president Trump even though there were plenty of empty seats in the upper deck of the arena,” reads an article for far-right news site The Gateway Pundit . Hey everyone you totally shouldn’t go on tr*mp’s website and reserve tickets for his rally and not show up. Noah also took to Twitter to acknowledge the alleged mishap, writing “we did it barbz”, alongside images of The Gateway Pundit and social media reports of Trump supporters stranded outside the arena.
Speaking to Out Magazine , 17-year-old Noah said: “I really didn’t know if it would work or not, but according to articles I saw, there were all these empty seats, but they weren’t letting anyone in.
“My only logical conclusion is that it’s because of this, that since we had all these reserved seats, they couldn’t let people without a ticket in, even if they were true fans.”
A man reads The Times newspaper as he rides the tube in London. (Robert Alexander/Getty) The former night editor of The Times’ Scotland edition, who lost an anti-trans discrimination case against the paper, has told PinkNews she is “deeply disappointed” at the judgment.
Katherine O’Donnell, 54, was made redundant by The Times in January 2018 and took the paper to the Edinburgh employment tribunal, claiming anti-trans discrimination and unfair dismissal.
Judge Jane Porter dismissed O’Donnell’s claims in a judgment on August 20.
O’Donnell told PinkNews she has “grave concerns” that her case “has not been understood by the tribunal judge and panel members”.
“It’s too early to say if or on what grounds we will appeal,” she said.
“However, as all those who have been on this path before know, the road to justice and equality is long and with many setbacks.
“I remain determined to do all that I can to change for the better the way that trans people and other minorities are treated in the workplace – especially within and by media organisations.
“I had not allowed myself to have any expectation of winning, but I had had hopes that the case we made around the relationship between workplace culture within a media organisation and editorial output and agendas, while ground-breaking, had been understood.
“When your boss is also your editor and holds or promotes strong opinions and news stories that are factually flawed to the detriment of a minority to which you yourself belong, what do you do?
“I challenged The Times and The Sunday Times over the many and repeated inaccuracies and falsehoods in their coverage of trans-related issues… and here we are today.”
O’Donnell, who worked at the paper for 14 years, said at an earlier hearing that it had a “toxic environment for trans people”.
The Edinburgh employment tribunal heard that she claimed The Times had a sexist “boy’s club” newsroom culture that discriminates against transgender people.
Judge Porter rejected this claim, writing in her judgment that “the tribunal does not accept the evidence of a ‘boys club’ during the claimant’s employment… there was a significant number of senior women in powerful positions”.
Robin White, a barrister from Old Square chambers who represented O’Donnell, told PinkNews that “discrimination cases are never easy”.
“Gender-reassignment discrimination cases are the rarest of the nine categories of protected characteristics, but are on the increase.
“Tribunals (and society) have to learn about the differences between gender reassignment discrimination and other forms of discrimination just as they have done for the other protected characteristics,” White said.
A spokeswoman for The Times said : “We are pleased this judgment dismisses all the claims made by the claimant and confirms that The Times took reasonable and appropriate decisions and did not show any anti-transgender bias towards its staff.”
O’Donnell has 42 days to appeal the judgement. The Times editor said trans coverage is ‘not biased’.
The Times’ editor John Witherow gave evidence to the Edinburgh employment tribunal on May 17 that The Times ‘ coverage of transgender issues is “very sympathetic”.
John Witherow, 67, the current editor of the newspaper and one of the UK’s longest serving editors, rejected allegations that The Times ‘ reporting of trans issues is imbalanced and adversarial to trans people.
When giving evidence, Witherow was shown a piece from The Times entitled “Children sacrificed to appease trans lobby”. When asked if he thought it was appropriate, Witherow said, “Yes, I think it backs up what she is saying.”
The writer of the piece, Janice Turner, won the 2018 British Journalism Awards prize for comment journalist of the year. Turner has been criticised in the past for her columns about trans rights.