Brexit: Back to the backstop

Brexit: Back to the backstop

Confused by Brexit jargon? Reality Check unpacks the basics. "The backstop."

That was Theresa May’s succinct reply when she was asked in the House of Commons on Monday what was in the 5% of remaining issues, standing in the way of a deal on the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.

Yes, we’re still stuck on the guarantee that both the UK and the EU have signed up to as a principle: that no hard border – in other words, no new checks or delays – should emerge at the land border in Ireland after Brexit, under all circumstances.

At issue: what exactly the backstop should say, and what legal guarantees can be given to reinforce it. After Brexit the border between Northern Ireland in the UK, and the Republic of Ireland in the EU, will be the only EU/UK land border Why is it proving to be such a problem?

Because for both sides it has become an issue of the basic sovereignty of their Union.

Once both sides had pledged to abide by a guarantee to avoid a hard border, and to write it into the legally binding Withdrawal Agreement (the terms on which the UK is due to leave the EU), it was the European side that came up with a draft legal text in March this year.

That text basically said that if no other solutions were found, Northern Ireland would have to stay in the EU customs union and most parts of the single market, unless and until a long-term trade deal emerged that kept the border as open as it is now.

The UK’s response was emphatic: it could not accept that because it would mean treating Northern Ireland differently from the rest of the United Kingdom, and it would create a customs border in the Irish Sea.

The subsequent seven months have been largely devoted to the search for a compromise.

It appears that the UK government is prepared to accept backstop proposals that would mean goods which move between Great Britain and Northern Ireland would be subject to some regulatory checks – especially on food and animals.

But there would be no checks on goods moving in the other direction (from Northern Ireland to Great Britain), to ensure that Northern Ireland businesses retain unimpeded access to the whole of the UK.

Customs, though, has proved to be a more difficult issue to resolve.

The UK’s preferred backstop solution was a temporary customs arrangement that would tie the whole of the United Kingdom (not just Northern Ireland) to EU customs rules for a limited period, if a future trade deal that avoided a hard border was not ready in time.

But the EU was reluctant to address issues linked to the future relationship before Brexit had actually happened, and it argued that there was insufficient time left before 29 March 2019 to agree the details of such a customs arrangement anyway. So where have we got to now?

The UK, as Theresa May emphasised in the House of Commons on Monday, now wants a legally binding commitment in the Withdrawal Agreement that a temporary customs arrangement will be negotiated during the proposed 21-month transition period after Brexit.

Or, if that proves problematic, then the transition (the government calls it an implementation period) could be extended if necessary.

It’s not entirely clear how you make such a "commitment" to negotiate a customs arrangement legally binding, because you can’t guarantee in advance the precise outcome of separate treaty negotiations.

Nevertheless, the EU has been willing to discuss this proposal. And trying to find language that satisfies both sides is a focus of technical discussions that are still going on behind the scenes.

The trouble is that the EU has a problem with the UK position (also set out by the Prime Minister in parliament) that any such arrangement cannot last indefinitely.

So EU negotiators continue to insist that no matter what language is agreed on a temporary customs arrangement, its original backstop proposal – for Northern Ireland only – must remain in the Withdrawal Agreement as a legally binding guarantee of last resort. Theresa May says 95% of Brexit deal is done

Reality Check: Red lines on the Irish border

So that’s where the stalemate lies?

Yes. The UK says the EU’s proposals would create unacceptable barriers between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, and undermine the sovereignty of the United Kingdom.

And the government insists that any backstop proposal must have some sense of finality – either through a time-limit or a "mechanism" that enables the UK to leave. Again, what that mechanism might say is the focus of intense debate behind the scenes.

As for the EU, it says it cannot allow any wiggle room which could lead to different rules and regulations operating in the future on opposite sides of an open Irish border. That, it argues, would undermine the sovereignty of its economic area, the single market.

Both sides are trying to fudge the language in order to try to get an agreement, but both also have lines they will not cross. As things stand, the EU can’t see a way to avoid having its version of the backstop (an all-weather version, as it calls it) enshrined in the Withdrawal Agreement in some form.

All this really matters because both sides say they are absolutely determined to protect the Good Friday Agreement which lies at the heart of the Northern Ireland peace process. The development of the all-Ireland economy, with an open and almost invisible border, is an integral part of that process. The UK says the EU’s proposals would create unacceptable barriers between Northern Ireland and Great Britain And, obviously, the clock is ticking?

Yes, with only five months to go until the UK is due to leave, this is the core issue which needs to be resolved.

It may seem almost inexplicable that the entire Brexit process appears to hang on a technical dispute about the Irish border.

But both sides are treating Ireland as a special case.

Nowhere else around Europe is the external border of the EU single market as open as they want the Irish border to be after Brexit.

The EU argues that – even in the long term – the only way to guarantee an open border is to keep either Northern Ireland or the whole of the UK tied to the customs union, and following many of the rules of the single market.

A clean-break Brexit, and a Canada-style free trade agreement favoured by many Tory backbenchers, would not achieve that.

So there is a fundamental difference of opinion.

Which takes us back to where we started: "The backstop." What do you want BBC Reality Check to investigate? Get in touch Read more from Reality Check

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Groping suspect says Trump said it was OK to grab women

Groping suspect says Trump said it was OK to grab women

The female passenger said she was groped twice A man accused of groping a woman on an aircraft has told US police that President Donald Trump had said it was OK to grab women.

The man was charged in New Mexico with "abusive sexual contact" after he allegedly touched the breasts of the passenger sitting in front of him.

The woman was helped by aircraft staff to find a different seat and the man was arrested on arrival in Albuquerque.

Mr Trump was once recorded boasting about grabbing women by the genitals.

According to the criminal complaint released by the district court in Albuquerque, the accused told police "that the President of the United States says it’s ok to grab women by their private parts" .

The accused will remain in custody pending a preliminary hearing, the court said.

A conviction of abusive sexual contact would carry a maximum penalty of two years in prison and a fine of $250,000 (£193,000). What is said to have happened?

The woman says in the complaint that she fell asleep after boarding but woke from being touched "on her right side at and around her ‘bra line’".

She first assumed the contact had been by accident but half an hour later was allegedly being groped a second time. Street harassment ‘relentless’ for women

Victim blaming: Is it a woman’s responsibility to stay safe?

The woman said she had then got up and confronted the man seated behind her.

She was helped by a crew member to move to another section of the aircraft for the remainder of the flight.

During the 2016 US presidential campaign, a tape surfaced on which Mr Trump can be heard bragging about grabbing women. A video obtained by the Washington Post shows Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump making lewd remarks about women The tape was of a 2005 conversation with TV host Billy Bush with neither of the two men aware they were being recorded.

On it, Mr Trump can be heard saying that "you can do anything" to women and "grab them by the pussy". Trump lewd video on women: Transcript

The then-candidate later apologised for the comments , saying they did not reflect who he was.

What should you do if you are harassed in public?

What should you do if you are harassed in public?

In an ideal world women would not be harassed while walking in the street.

The responsibility always lies with the perpetrator and the onus should not be on women to change their behaviour to avoid such situations.

But, sadly, harassment – which can range from cat-calling to sexual assault – is a reality for many women.

So what should you do if this happens to you? Street harassment ‘relentless’ for women

Should sexual harassment be a criminal offence?

Molly Ackhurst of Hollaback London, a regional branch of an international movement tackling harassment, says there is no right or wrong way to respond.

"Essentially people should respond in whatever way they feel able to at that moment," she says.

"People often feel like they haven’t done enough, or they haven’t done the right thing, but any response is valid."

The group does have some general tips on what to do if you are harassed. Keep safe

If the incident takes place on a bus you could consider getting off at the next stop "The most important thing is to take yourself out of that situation if you can. Not all sexual harassment escalates, but it can, so your safety should be your first priority," says Ms Ackhurst.

Rachel Nicholas from Victim Support, a charity offering help and advice to victims of crime – including harassment and assault – agrees the priority should be to get yourself to a safe space.

If you are on public transport, she advises, you could get off at the next stop, or stand closer to the driver until you can get somewhere safe.

If you’re close to home, you might want to consider going to a neighbour’s house so your home location isn’t easily identified, she says. Ask for help

Ms Ackhurst also suggests calling out to people around you to ask for help.

If you are on public transport you may be able to speak to a member of staff or the driver.

Or if you are outside Mrs Nicholas suggests going into a shop and asking a member of staff if you can wait there until the person has gone. You could also call a friend of family member to come and meet you. Don’t engage

Hollaback advises you should only respond directly to harassers if you feel safe doing so Hollaback generally advises against engaging with harassers as it could escalate the situation.

However if it feels like the right thing to do, the group recommends looking them in the eye and denouncing their behaviour with a strong, clear voice.

For example you could say "that is not okay" or "don’t speak to me like that". What can I do to help?

Ms Ackhurst suggests you should try and speak to the person being harassed rather than the harasser to avoid any escalation.

"Often when we use responses that don’t engage the harasser it makes them feel powerless and it means they know someone realises what they are doing," she says.

She suggests making eye contact with the person being harassed and getting between them and the harasser to interrupt the incident.

You can then attempt to talk to the person being harassed, for example by pretending you know them, to further disrupt and de-escalate the incident, she says. How to report harassment

"Any harassment that makes you fearful for your safety either in the moment, or afterwards, should be reported," says Mrs Nicholas.

"If you have been harassed or assaulted it is your right to report this to the police. There is often a fear that these incidents will not be taken seriously, but this should not be a barrier to reporting."

If you are in immediate danger you should call 999 straight away.

If it is not an emergency you can report the incident to the police by calling 101 or contacting your local force.

You can also report incidents on public transport to the British Transport Police by calling 0800 40 50 40 or texting 61016.

If you don’t feel comfortable reporting harassment to the police, charities such as Rape Crisis and Rights of Women can provide independent support and help you through the process of reporting the incident if you wish to do so.

‘LGBT’ flyers — picturing Lady Liberty, Gun, Beer and Trump — sent to Nashville gay bars

'LGBT' flyers — picturing Lady Liberty, Gun, Beer and Trump — sent to Nashville gay bars

The acronym “LGBT” typically stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. However, flyers sent to Tennessee gay bars last week with the acronym emblazoned on them were not interpreted by the local community to be supportive of gender and sexual minorities.

Gay bars in Nashville received pamphlets with the acronym and images of the Statue of Liberty (L), a gun (G), a beer bottle (B) and President Donald Trump (T). The gun pictured in the flyer, an assault rifle, is similar to the one used in the Pulse nightclub shooting , advocates pointed out. Trump says transgender policy seeks to ‘protect the country’ Melvin Brown, owner of Stirrup Sports Bar, found the flyer Thursday in his bar’s mailbox. He called it “disturbing” and said whoever created it was sending a “very deliberate” threat.

“We live in a post-Pulse world in the LGBTQ community, especially in the bar scene,” Brown told NBC News. “To see somebody send a postcard that had a picture of the weapon used in one of the deadliest assaults in this nation’s history, and one that happened at an LGBTQ bar, and to send that image to LGBTQ bars, to me is not a coincidence.” The envelope of an anti-gay LGBT flyer sent to a gay bar in Nashville recently. The flyer was sent to at least four gay bars in the area, according to WTVF Newschannel 5 . The return address on the mailing is that of an empty parking lot, and the sender signed the flyer “MAGA,” an acronym for President Trump’s popular catchphrase: “Make America great again.”

Chris Sanders, executive director of the Tennessee Equality Project , said the flyers were mailed for intimidation purposes and could be politically motivated. He explained that many gay bars — including Stirrup Sports Bar — host voter registration drives.

“This has a very aggressive tone about it,” Sanders said. “It doesn’t use many words, but it uses a lot of images I think are meant to threaten us. The community’s message back is, ‘Yes this is frightening, but we’re going to turn out and vote regardless.’” LGBTQ History Month: Early pioneers of the gay rights movement Kris Mumford, a spokesperson for the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department, told NBC News the department is aware of the incident, but said there is no investigation at this time. Mumford did, however, say the department has dispatched additional officers to patrol Church Street and other areas where gay bars are located.

Brown said he has no idea who could have sent the flyer to his bar, but he confidently said if their intent was to “scare,” “intimidate” or “threaten” the LGBTQ community, “it won’t work.”

“It will galvanize,” he said. “People will respond in ways that are positive and uplifting, because that’s the way we choose to live our lives.”

Mobile app data sharing ‘out of control’

Mobile app data sharing 'out of control'

Data harvesting and sharing by mobile apps is "out of control", University of Oxford researchers have warned.

Nearly 90% of free apps on the Google Play store share data with Google parent company Alphabet, the Financial Times reported .

Google said it had clear policies for how developers could handle data, and that the research had mischaracterised some "ordinary functions" of apps.

"If an app violates our policies, we take action," the online giant said.

Many free apps track behaviour across many different digital services, which lets companies build up a detailed profile of people using the app.

This data can include age, gender, location, and information about other apps on a smartphone.

The data can then be used for a number of purposes including targeted advertising, credit scoring, or targeted political campaign messages, the researchers said in a paper .

Revenues from online advertising are more than $59bn (£45bn) per year in the US alone, they said.

And many people are not aware how data flows from smartphones to advertising groups, data brokers and other intermediaries, Prof Nigel Shadbolt, who lead the research team, told the BBC.

"People [in businesses] are desperate to get as many eyeballs and click-throughs as they can," he said.

Researcher Max Van Kleek added: "I don’t think there’s any notion of control." Information pool

Data tended to get concentrated by big companies and their subsidiaries.

The researchers found that more than 88% of free apps on Google Play shared information with firms owned by Alphabet.

Nearly 43% of apps shared data with Facebook, while significant percentages shared data with Twitter, Verizon, Microsoft and Amazon firms.

News apps – and apps aimed at children – shared information with the largest number of trackers, they found.

Google said: "Across Google and in Google Play we have clear policies and guidelines for how developers and third-party apps can handle data and we require developers to be transparent and ask for user permission. If an app violates our policies, we take action."

Google added that it disagreed with the methodology of the study.

"It mischaracterises ordinary functional services like crash reporting and analytics, and how apps share data to deliver those services," Google said.

But campaigner Frederike Kaltheuner from Privacy International said that it has become "impossible" for the average user to understand how their data is being used, and to opt out.

"Companies track people… and they use this data to profile and then target people in ways that most of us would find intrusive and very surprising," she said.

"This is no longer about the need to collect data to show ‘relevant ads’ – this is about profit maximisation at the expense of people’s fundamental rights," Ms Kaltheuner added.

Check in to the Hilton Heathrow to bring style back to the jet age

Check in to the Hilton Heathrow to bring style back to the jet age

Cocktails in your room at the Hilton Heathrow airport hotel. | Photo: GSN In a world where the words ‘airport hotel’ denotes a million shades of grey mediocrity, the Hilton Heathrow flies above the crowd.

Just a few minutes walk from Terminal 4 via a covered walkway, it succeeds in adding style and charm to mere convenience. Contemporary design

As the great comic sci-fi writer, Douglas Adams, remarked, no civilisation in the universe has ever coined the phrase, ‘as pretty as an airport’.

And indeed, the Hilton’s cavernous central atrium does evoke an aircraft hanger. Whether this is considered brilliant architecture or a design problem to overcome, I am not sure.

But the Hilton has cleverly made the most of it by adding to the aviation theme.

Just like the airport itself, it’s best viewed from above. So ascend to your room via the glass elevator and step out to the landings, spread like wings over the space.

The Hilton’s atrium has been cleverly designed to split up the enormous space.

Seen from the upstairs landings, cabbage-white butterfly wings appear to provide a roof to one of the restaurants. A towering sculpture fills another area. And a runway of lights, set into the floor, directs you to your room.

The door number for each room is picked out in cool black and white light fittings, complete with an aircraft symbol. Restful rooms before your flight

If you are at an airport hotel, you will almost certainly be dog-tired or need a sound sleep before a long journey.

The Hilton’s rooms deliver the peace you need in stylish surroundings.

The lime-green armchair and dark grey desk chair could be lifted from a Scandinavian design magazine.

Meanwhile the bed-head evokes the kind of privacy shell you see around reclining seats in business or first on intercontinental jets. Of course, in this case, everything is far more spacious, and the bed really is 100% flat. It’s also very comfortable.

The comfortable bedroom at Hilton Heathrow has aircraft styling but is a world away from sleeping on a plane.

Don’t panic if you packed your electric converters at the bottom of your luggage. The Hilton thoughtfully provides plug sockets suitable for most international devices.

The high standard of design continues in the bathroom. It boasts a cool mussel-shell shaped hand-basin.

Most importantly, there’s a bright-white walk-in shower with powerful rain shower to help you wash away your weariness and woes. Finally, Crabtree and Evelyn products add some pampering to the experience. Dine and drink

If you only associate airport dining with tasteless junk food, think again. Heathrow has worked hard to extend its restaurant quality. And the Hilton has several good choices.

If you upgrade to using the hotel’s tasteful and modern Executive Lounge, make sure you enjoy its happy hour with complimentary prosecco, wines and beer.

You can also enjoy a delicious smörgasbord of snacks and treats. Tuck in to vol-au-vents, canapes, samosas, spring rolls, olives, gherkins, crudite, a cheese selection and more.

We had to avoid eating too much, however, as we had a table booked at the hotel’s Aromi Restaurant.

It boasts an authentic Italian menu, delivering crowd-pleasing traditional favourites with contemporary flair.

I started by tucking into a fresh mozzarella and tomato salad. Both the star ingredients were high quality, accentuated by rocket, pine nuts, pesto and balsamic beads.

For my main course, I found the chicken saltambocca tender and succulent. It was served with orzo pasta, cooked al dente and with just the right amount of truffle to be aromatic, rather than overpowering.

My partner meanwhile had an exciting and attractively laid out plate of antipasti, with wafer thin slices of good salami and perfect artichokes. For his main, he tucked into swordfish, cooked perfectly, and served with a fresh, zingy salad of tomatoes and olives.

Our charming waiter completed the meal with a limoncello, served with almond biscotti. He was keen to offer desert, which certainly looked tempting, but seemed more than our waistlines could take after such a good meal. Meet the new Portobello Burger

If you don’t fancy Italian, the Hilton Heathrow offers several alternatives. These include a modern Chinese menu at Zen Oriental and international dishes, including a first-class burger, at Oscar’s.

Oscars is also the home of the new Portobello Burger, which mixes 30% field mushrooms with 70% beef. Not only does this make a tastier, moist burger, it also cuts the C02 impact of the burger by almost a third. What better treat for National Mushroom Day (15 October)? Stay at the Hilton London Heathrow Airport

Sadly, we had to jump on a shuttle bus to our terminal first thing in the morning. So we didn’t have time to enjoy a dip in the Hilton Heathrow’s pool, unwind in its sauna and steam room or use its well-equipped gym.

But we did find it to be a very convenient and relaxing way to start our trip.

You can check rates and book a stay at the Hilton London Heathrow Airport here. Best of Heathrow on Gay Star News

Iowa man burns public library’s LGBTI children’s books in live video

Iowa man burns public library's LGBTI children's books in live video

21 vibrant pictures of the biggest, sunniest Honolulu Pride so far Photo: Rescue the Perishing Facebook An Iowa man threw LGBTI children’s books into a fire on a live Facebook video.

Paul Dorr , who t0ok the books from Orange City library, chucked the books into the fire in the 30 minute video. He is director of Rescue the Perishing, a organization that campaigns ‘against moral evil to advance the Kingdom of Christ’ by standing ‘against abortion, the sexual revolution in general, corruption in the churches and colleges.’

He says in the video: ‘You won’t be peddling this one anymore. You should all be ashamed of yourselves and repent.’ Burning the books

After posting the video, Dorr released a very lengthy statement on his website.

Dorr concludes with: ‘continuing my 25-year stand for Christ I cannot stand by and let the adults – this time the shameful Orange City library board – bring the next group of little children into their foul sexual reality without a firm resistance.

‘I have check out, from the Orange City library, several of the books targeting 4- & 5-year-old’s which the Drag Queens will likely be reading to children here in Orange City this evening.

‘These copies owned by the city of Orange City, IA will not be part of those they get to read, as I am going to do what the German church leaders should have done in 1933. I am now going to burn these copies. God be praised!’

In this he’s referencing a story time to young children in many public libraries read by Drag Queens . These story times hope to highlight LGBTI issues. Continuing the statement

Throughout the statement, he mentions how sexual education, which he refers to as ‘sex talk’, has changed through the years to highlight the existence of LGBTI people and AIDS.

Then, he claims to fear the rise of socialist Nazism by pro-LGBTI people, while referencing Hirschfeld, the famous LGBTI research library burnt by the Nazis.

Recently, religious groups organized against the books . Over 300 people signed a petition to ban books containing homosexual and trans content in a public library.

This movement was led by Rev Sacha Walicord, who said LGBTI books are ‘pushing an agenda’. More from Gay Star News:

The art of the vulva: do we have a problem with vaginal symbols?

The art of the vulva: do we have a problem with vaginal symbols?

21 vibrant pictures of the biggest, sunniest Honolulu Pride so far Georgia O’Keeffe painted Grey Lines with Black, Blue and Yellow in 1923. When it comes to genitalia representation, we’re so invested with phallic icons that anyone can legitimately claim to be an expert on dick-drawing. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve actually seen a penis in the flesh or not.

However, things change if we think about vaginas . We’ve all come out from one, but hardly anybody knows how to draw it. And don’t even get us started on how to draw a clitoris.

As if there was such thing as a mono-dimensional image of a vagina! Just like penises, vaginas come in all shapes and sizes. Yet you’ll be lucky if anyone – mostly men, but also women – knows how to draw one without going for the safe, stylized triangle. Vaginal disch-art

Why is it so? Well, this has nothing to do with one’s artistic skills. And it has everything to do with the way vaginas are concealed as something it would be either disrespectful or disgusting to show.

The patriarchy has taught us that female sexuality is something to enjoy in private, if at all. Therefore, penises can be boldly put on display, while vaginas need to stay where they belong: covered by virginal underwear.

Many artists have challenged that assumption throughout the years, coming up with some interesting vaginal depictions.

One might argue that femininity has always been a popular subject in fine arts.

While the female body has always been represented in traditional arts as a symbol of fertility, vaginas were rarely shown in an accurate manner. And such works of arts were hardly ever accessible to the general public.

That was up until the realism of French painter Gustave Courbet took the game to a more graphic level. ‘The Mona Lisa of vaginas’

Courbet will be forever remembered for his most provocative painting, celebrating the power of female sexuality. It is so famous it has earned the title of ‘the Mona Lisa of vaginas’.

Finished in 1886, L’Origine du Monde (The Origin of the World) has been on display at the Musée d’Orsay since 1995, shocking patrons with its graphic content.

If you think shock might be a thing of the past, an urban legend to scare the new generations, you need to think twice. Facebook banned the painting in 2011, in the middle of a prude wave affecting all other NSFW works of art.

Portraying a woman with her legs spread open, the work of art shows a vagina in all its hairy majesty. It is not possible to identify the model as her face is not in the frame. It’s rather her vagina to be the focal point, one of the first mainstream examples in arts.

Recently, however, the mystery on the identity of the model has been solved. Experts say they are ‘99% sure’ the painting depicts the Parisian ballet dancer Constance Queniaux. She was also a mistress of the Ottoman diplomat Halil Şerif Pasha. What do you see here?

What Courbet did was groundbreaking in many regards, but it wasn’t certainly the first depiction of the female reproductive organ in history.

The Japanese print artist Utagawa Kunisada used the traditional ukiyo-e woodblocks to create Beanman and Beanwoman Prepare to Attack the Vagina, a print dating back to 1827, more than sixty years before Courbet.

In the print, the labia and the interiors are even more visible than in L’Origine du Monde, where they appeared to be partly concealed by a wild, unapologetic bush.

After Courbet, other Western artists took upon themselves to show the female body in a new light.

Austrian Expressionist Egon Schiele inherited Gustav Klimt’s focus on erotic images of the female body. He created several sensuous paintings and sketches featuring women, even in clearly sexual, queer depictions.

In terms of female genitalia, Reclining Nude With Yellow Towel is one of the most prominent examples. The early Expressionist painting dates back to 1917 and features a female figure leaning on one side and spreading her legs to reveal her vagina to the looker.

American painter Georgia O’Keeffe is among those artists honoring a delicate yet raw femininity.

Despite the artist rejected the interpretations of her nearly 200 flower paintings as depicting female genitalia, there is one that leaves little to the imagination.

O’Keeffe painted Black Iris in 1926. The enlarged flower has darker petals resembling the labia majora and minora. There is also an evocative darker area leading to the center of the flower, suggesting the entrance to the reproductive canal. There’s a vulva on my plate!

Contemporary art has several and more daring examples of vaginal depictions in arts.

In 1966, Niki de Saint-Phalle, Jean Tinguely och Per Olov Ultvedt created an installation for the Moderna Museet in Stockholm.

Hon – en katedral (She – A Cathedral) was a giant sculpture of a pregnant woman lying on her back with her legs open. Visitors can literally enter the artwork, 75 feet wide and 20 feet tall. On the inside, patrons could find an aquarium, a cinema showing a Greta Garbo’s movie, a bar and much more.

In the late 70s, The Dinner Party was perhaps the most ambitious work featuring the female body.

Judy Chicago created one of the first feminist artworks, conflating inspirational women and the idea of a blooming female sexuality.

Chicago figuratively brought some of the most inspirational women in history at the same table. First exhibited in 1979, the artwork features Virginia Woolf, Susan B. Anthony, and again Georgia O’Keeffe among the guests. Each place-setting at the triangular giant table includes a hand-painted china plate, depicting a brightly-colored, stylized vulva.

In more recent years, different, anatomical vaginas became the protagonists of The Great Wall of Vagina.

Created by Jamie McCarthy the 2013 artwork displays the molds of 400 women’s’ vaginas. Its aim is to normalize the idea that there is no such thing as the ‘perfect vagina’. On the contrary, every possible variant is perfectly normal. The clitoris and other stories

Women, men, and non-binaries might have a hard time trying to crack the anatomy of the clitoris.

American artist Laura Kingsley created Clitorosity, a project raising awareness on the key to the female pleasure. Traveling the world, Kingsley graced different locations with sidewalk chalk arts portraying the little pleasure button. Which doesn’t look like a button at all.

‘After giving talks to hundreds of people on my college campus on the clitoris and sexual communication, I realized how surprised the majority of the people were when they saw an anatomical clitoris diagram for the first time,’ Kingsley told Bustle last March.

‘Clitorosity was born from a dream of a collaborative and creative way to spark more of these conversations and spread awareness about the full structure of the clitoris.’

While Kingsley is still on her educative mission, vagina artworks from around the world could soon have their own permanent home.

The Vagina Museum could become a reality. Based in the UK, the project aimed to create the world’s first museum dedicated to the vulva. If you’re wondering, there’s already one for penis art in Iceland.

‘We’re currently very much in the startup stage. We’re doing traveling exhibitions and looking for a temporary space for about 2-3 years,’ the project’s director Florence Schechter told Gay Star News.

Following its launch in 2017, Schechter hopes to turn her project in a permanent museum by 2032. There’s plenty of time to catch up on the female anatomy until then. You might also like:

Firefighter is suing New York City Fire Department for homophobic abuse

Firefighter is suing New York City Fire Department for homophobic abuse

Photo: Pixabay A firefighter is suing the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) after his squad allegedly branded him ‘gay’.

Jason Johnson, 40, filed a Manhattan federal lawsuit on Monday (22 October) claiming a campaign of harassment forced him to quit an elite rescue unite.

The former National Guardsman joined the FDNY in 2006 before making it into the Special Operations Command unit in 2016. The suit claims he was one of only two black firefighters in the unit and ostracized from the start.

One incident references a ride in a firetruck where one of the squad allegedly attempts to grab Johnson’s crotch. Johnson responds by trying to kiss the alleged grabber, attempting to make him feel ‘equally uncomfortable’.

The suit states: ‘For the remainder of the ride, [the accused] and another firefighter made repeated disparaging remarks about Johnson’s perceived homosexual orientation, saying excitedly, “You’re gay, you’re gay, we have confirmation!”‘ Continued harassment

Another firefighter is said to have remarked: ‘You weren’t supposed to kiss him. You were supposed to punch him! No straight guy would have kissed him.’

Other incidents cited include being taunted when Johnson arrived sweaty from jogging or biking to work. The Squad 18 firefighters would say things like: ‘Did you run through west village to say hi to your gay friends?’

They also allegedly photographed him without his permission while changing. The photo was doctored to include a thought bubbly above his head, saying ‘hey boys’. This was shown to the rest of the squad.

The suit also accused them of racial discrimination. In one incident referenced by the suit, the squad participated in a water rescue drill. A fellow firefighter is said to have remarked ‘black guys really don’t do well in water.’

The lawsuit states that the teasing and harassment continued until Johnson was removed from the unit in March 2017.

Johnson is seeking a court order to reinstate him into the Special Operations divisions, as well as damages. More from Gay Star News:

Courtney Act: gay men are the worst when it comes to biphobia

Courtney Act: gay men are the worst when it comes to biphobia

Courtney Act hosts the first season of The Bi Life | Photo: Supplied/NBCUniversal The multi-talented Courtney Act has the rare, but amazing ability to talk about serious topics, but also be hilarious at the same time.

In a recent chat about her new show The Bi Life , we dove deep on sexual identity, Brexit, but also the weirdest places she’s ever had sex. That could honestly only ever happen in an interview with the winner of Celebrity Big Brother UK.

Act who made it to the top three of RuPaul’s Drag Race season six, identifies as pansexual.

‘Which has nothing to do with having sex with cookware, which many people like to “ha, ha, ha” about,’ Act says.

‘I’ve never had an intimate experience with cookware… I’m not saying I’d count it out.’

The Australian-born Act (Shane Jenek), rose to fame in her come country in the early 2000s. She auditioned for the first season of Australian Idol in 2003 both as a boy and then as Courtney.

The drag queen made it to the finals of that series and even released a single called ‘Rub Me Wrong’ which hit number 29 on the Aussie singles chart.

Even though she didn’t win Australian Idol, it was clear a star had been born. Act’s dry sense of humor, talent and stunning have assured her success in whatever she tries. Courtney Act (center) hangs out with some of the contestants on The Bi Life | Photo: Supplied Pansexuality

Taking on hosting duties for the UK’s first ever bisexual dating show – The Bi Life – seemed a natural role for the reality TV veteran. Not just because of her talent but because of her work to raise bi+ visibility.

Act admitted that she constantly had to educate people about pansexuality.

‘Even with my best friend, I was talking to him the other day and he said “don’t you think you’re just a fag who’s had sex with a couple of women”,’ Act says.

‘And I’m like “yeah, that’s the problem”. When you don’t have any ability to tease out gay or straight, it is just two options.

‘I am attracted to different genders. I’ve had sex with women and trans people and people of different genders and I know I will again. So to me, that’s a textbook example of what being bi or pan means.’

Act explains she’d have those sexual experiences regardless of the labels.

Bisexual and pansexual suffer from poor mental health because of discrimination they face about their sexuality. That often comes from both within and outside of the LGBTI communities.

So having someone as famous as Courtney Act speaking up on behalf of you is a massive boon for bi+ visibility. Gay men are the worst

But Act is very blunt when it comes to who she thinks is the worst at stigmatizing bi+ people.

‘I really think gay men are really guilty of bi erasure because a lot of gay men used bisexuality on their way to being gay,’ she says.

‘Gay men like to have the benefit of other people’s empathy and understanding their own sexuality and I think there needs to be a step taken back to say “just because I took a step towards identifying as bisexual on my way to being gay, doesn’t mean that bisexual people don’t exist”.’ The Bi Life

The hotly anticipated The Bi Life hits TV screens on E! UK & Ireland on 25 October.