The Australian Labor Party has lost an “unlosable” election after being ahead in almost every poll for two years. Labor supporters are devastated and Scott Morison couldn’t believe his luck.
Coalition sources have said that voters rejected Labor’s taxation proposals and didn’t want to take a risk on their economic management.
Progressive critics, on the other hand, have argued that Labor’s choice of leader and policies were not ambitious enough to inspire a mass movement of grassroots support.
Although there might be some truth to each of these claims, we shouldn’t see Labor’s defeat as a resounding endorsement of the Coalition. In fact, the Coalition suffered a 0.5% swing against it in first preference votes.
The sad result is that the great winners of this election were a motley collection of right-wing minor parties and the brand of out-in-the-open racism and Islamophobia they represent.
Fraser Anning may be out of the Senate but support for his fascist politics has evolved from 19 personal votes below the line as a One Nation senator to over 60,000 votes for his Conservative National Party.
Anning called for a ban on Muslim and “black” immigration and has been described as too racist even for the standards of Pauline Hanson.
With the Overton window of Australian politics marching in goose-step ever rightwards, figures such as Fraser Anning and Malcolm Roberts have steadily achieved more mainstream positions in the Australian political landscape.
The scene has shifted so much over the past decade that the right-wing dominated Coalition now looks like the sensible centre.
It’s true that minor parties did well in this election (24.7% of all formal votes cast in the lower House). Yet it was the right-wing minor parties that achieved the highest gains and took the most out of Labor’s vote.
Pauline Hanson’s One Nation (PHON) vote share was up 1.7% to 3% of the national vote. Although they were fielding more candidates, which partly explains the rise, in Queensland PHON increased its vote from just over 5% to 8.7%. Palmer’s United Australia Party (UAP) had not previously contested lower house seats but pulled over 3% of the national vote.
It’s too early to obtain exact figures, but it looks like over 1,000,000 first preferences were directed towards right-wing minor parties (including PHON, UAP, Katter’s Australian Party, National Conservatives, and other micro parties).
It’s the sheer thriving ecosystem of the far right that is most alarming. Xenophobes are spoilt for choice. If you find Fraser’s brand of neo-fascism a little on the nose, you have the more veiled racism of the One Nation party or the right-wing populism of billionaire mining magnate, Clive Palmer.
This rise of open white nationalism has been downplayed for too long in Australia as a fringe phenomenon. White nationalism and its related ideologies of anti-feminism and anti-Islam are the most troubling developments in Australian politics.
Their policies and rhetoric have been advanced by far-right actors previously considered outside the boundaries of legitimate political discourse. But more alarmingly, these ideas have been normalised by the actions of mainstream political parties, particularly the Coalition.
The far right have also been treated to serious interviews and appearances on mainstream national television programs where their ideas are legitimised as one possible answer to today’s political questions. Media outlets have been seduced by the pursuit for easy clicks and views by airing the views of these controversial figures.
Arguments for preserving Australia’s “Judeo-Christian heritage” and banning certain races and religious groups from immigration and are now regular parts of Australian political discourse.
The Left are too quick to draw a line back to economic causes , rather than confront the issues of race, religion and identity as politically salient in their own right.
Before John Howard assumed office in 1996 there was a mainstream agenda of multiculturalism, progressive taxation and republicanism. The Howard era radically transformed the terms of public debate and led to a rise in jingoistic nationalism and the demonisation of asylum seekers. Australian politics has continued to shift even further to the right under his successors.
Analysing and confronting the underlying causes of the continuing rise of white nationalism should be a top priority for Labor and other progressive parties during the next three difficult years.
James Muldoon is a lecturer in political science at the University of Exeter
Frameline is a reminder about why it’s so important to
Frameline is one of the world’s biggest LGBTI film festivals | Photo: Frameline
One of the directors at the world’s oldest LGBTI film festival says it’s the audiences that inspire him.
Paul Struthers is Frameline’s director of Exhibition and Programming. He joined the team last year after extensive global experience in curating some of the world’s biggest film festival.
Based in San Francisco, Frameline is returning for its 43rd year and is bigger and better than ever.
Frameline’s executive direction Frances Wallace explains to Gay Star News why people would love this year’s festival.
‘Of the 174 films that will screen at Frameline43 – 59 of these films have never played in the US – cinephiles will turn out in droves to see the freshest in LGBTQ+ films from the US and around the globe,’ Wallace says.
‘We always work to extend the boundaries of queer representation on the screen and behind the camera, and the audience want to see what’s on the horizon for the queer culture and creatives.’
According to Struthers, there are a lot of reasons to attend this year’s Frameline and he’s proud of a lot of the lineup. He also admits that he had to fight hard to get some films confirmed.
‘I think the one I was happiest about was BENJAMIN, directed by Simon Amstell,’ he says.
‘They literally told me on program lock day that we could play it. I was desperate to screen the film, as it is a light, fun, and charming film, and we need more queer films like that, especially in the dark times we are living in.’ Why Frameline is important
While there is a lot of LGBTI festivals and events out there, especially in San Francisco, Struthers explains why supporting Frameline is important.
‘We keep putting on Frameline, the San Francisco International LGBTQ+ Film Festival, because the LGBTQ+ need a place they can come and see themselves represented,’ he says.
‘Also, popular queer films often only show a very limited representation of queer life, and we really try to have as many different representations of LGBTQ+ life onscreen as we can find.’
More than 62,000 people attended last year’s Frameline festival, making it one of the biggest in the world. It’s that audience that remind Struthers why LGBTI festivals are so important.
‘The Frameline audience keeps me going,’ he says.
‘I have never encountered such a vocal and engaged audience anywhere else. Between the standing ovations, hissing, and feet stamping, it is an experience like no other.’
Frameline43 , the San Francisco International LGBTQ+ Film Festival, takes place June 20-30, 2019 in San Francisco, Berkeley, and Oakland. This year’s slate includes 59 films screening for the first time in the US. It also includes 22 world premieres, eight international premieres, 12 North American premieres, and 17 US premieres.
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World’s best Pride has been named and it’s not where you’d expect Weeks away from the official kickoff of Pride month, a survey has revealed the best 50 Prides in the world.
The ranking by HomeToGo includes 50 cities from 22 countries across the globe. And it shows that it’s not all about size, with lesser-known Pride festivals in mid-sized cities ranking among the most popular.
The world’s largest holiday rental search engine has released the results of its annual Pride index.
Five factor were taken into account to establish the world’s wildest LGBTI celebrations. LGBTI-friendliness and nightlife, for instance, but also the year-on-year growth of Prides.
Travel connections and affordable accommodations were also key factors. Sao Paulo named best Pride in the world
The top three cities are all outside the United States.
Sao Paulo, Mexico City and Madrid ranked first, second and third respectively. New York, hosting this year’s WorldPride, ranked fourth, followed by Paris.
Alongside Madrid and Paris, Milan, Sitges and Barcelona made the top ten. EU Prides on the rise
This year also saw the growth in popularity of European LGBTI celebrations. 26 Prides across the EU made the cut, compared to 17 in 2018.
Seven of the EU Prides are in the UK. Both Bristol and Birmingham are in the top three fastest-growing festivals worldwide, joined by Philadelphia. The growth is based on the increase in bookings during the parade weekend.
Asia has three cities in this year’s ranking, compared with one last year. Seoul, Manila and Taiwan all made the ranking, with Taiwan set to be especially popular after it became the first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage. See also
Photo: EU2017EE Estonian Presidency, Wikimedia Commons UK Prime Minister Theresa May surrendered to mounting pressure from her lawmakers today (24 May) and formally announced her resignation.
As her departure is finalized , bringing an end to her two year and 315 day-long premiership, questions will quickly arise of her successor.
Hard-line Brexiteers all seem in line to succeed her, including former foreign secretary Boris Johnson . But with his non-existent voting record, Johnson would be the worst Conservative PM for LGBTI Britons. Boris Johnson
Johnson, a leader of the pro-Brexit campaign before the country’s 2016 referendum on leaving the European Union, said on Thursday that he would run for the leadership when it became available.
Minutes after May’s statement, the PM hopeful tweeted: ‘It is now time to follow her urgings: to come together and deliver Brexit.’
Johnson’s political resumé stretches nearly two decades. Starting as a Member of Parliament for Henley, a constituency in Oxfordshire, in 2001 until 2008.
He’s since ran as Shadow Minister for the Arts (2004), Shadow Minister for Higher Education (2005-2007) and Foreign Secretary (2016-2018). Boris Johnson on LGBTI rights
However, his record on LGBTI rights is appalling.
For the most part, he was absent during several seminal pro-LGBTI measures. From granting LGBTI citizens the right to civil partnerships to outlawing discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Although he did claim to back marriage equality, he was out of Parliament during the vote. He also voted to repeal Section 28 which banned the teaching of homosexuality in schools in 2003.
In 2018, he gave the British island territory Bermuda the green light to abolish marriage equality .
Moreover, his journalism portfolio contains clippings full of homophobia. As a columnist, he once referred to gay men as ‘tank-topped bumboys’ in 1998.
Penning pieces in the Spectator in 2000, Johnson attacked ‘Labour’s appalling agenda, encouraging the teaching of homosexuality in schools.’
He also compared same-sex marriage to bestiality in his 2001 book, Friends, Voters, Countrymen. Referring to women as ‘hot totties’
Johnson has an objectionable attitude towards women. As a journalist for the Telegraph in 1996, Johnson went to the Labour party conference and wrote an article reviewing the quality of the ‘hot totty’ who were present.
‘The unanimous opinion is that what has been called the “Tottymeter” reading is higher than at any Labour Party conference in living memory,’ he wrote.
But it doesn’t end there. He once said that ’emotional’ women are often ‘blubbering blondes’ or ‘collapsing with emotion.’
While campaigning for Conservative MP in Henley (which he won) he wrote that ‘voting Tory will cause your wife to have bigger breasts.’
Also, in this farewell piece in the Spectator, he advised his successor to ‘pat’ the paper’s publisher ‘on the bottom and send her on her way.’
He even referred to Hillary Clinton in 2007 as having the stare of ‘a sadistic nurse in a mental hospital.’ Offending entire countries and Islamaphobia
Johnson was not happen when US President Barack Obama sounded out that Britain should remain in the EU.
His response was to call the president ‘part-Kenyan’ with an ‘ancestral dislike’ of Britain.
Back in 2002, as a Telegraph columnist, he suggested Queen Elizabeth must love touring the Commonwealth because she’s greeted by ‘cheering crowds of flag-waving piccaninnies.’
The word ‘picaninnies’ is a racist term used to describe black children.
When Danish lawmakers banned burqas and niqābs in public spaces, he wrote in his Telegraph column that it was ‘absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letter boxes.’
He also later added that female students wearing the Islamic garbs look like ‘bank robbers.’
Furthermore, offending all of Papua New Guinea is one of his achievements: ‘orgies of cannibalism and chief-killing.’
Finally, he spoke about Britain reinstating control over its former African colonies.
Writing: ‘The best fate for Africa would be if the old colonial powers, or their citizens, scrambled once again in her direction; on the understanding that this time they will not be asked to feel guilty.’ What’s next?
Under party rules, Conservative lawmakers will select two candidates.
But the final call will go to the ballot of party members, about 120,000 people.
Many analysts expect the first phase of the contest to be completed before Parliament breaks for its summer vacation, towards the end of July. See also
Sexual harassment is prevalent in marginalised communities in California. | Photo: Pexels A new report has shed a light on the sexual assault incidents reported by LGBTI Californians.
Particularly, overall Californians who identify as gay or bisexual are at higher risk of sexual harassment and assault than straight people.
Results also showed that reported sexual harassment is 5% higher for women and 10% higher for men than the national average. Sexual assault prevalent in marginalized communities
The research is a joint effort from the Center for Gender Equity and Health (GEH) at University of California San Diego School of Medicine and the nonprofit organization California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA).
‘California has led the nation’s focus on the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement,’ said Anita Raj. Raj is a professor in the Department of Medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine and director of GEH.
‘This report offers a stark look at the widespread prevalence of verbal, physical and cyber-based sexual harassment in the Golden State,’ she also said.
She furthermore added: ‘This report demonstrates that sexual harassment is prevalent and ubiquitous, but at the same time, we also see higher rates on some of our most marginalized residents, such as gay, lesbian and bisexual people and foreign-born men.’ Californian gay and bi people more likely to be sexually assaulted
According to the study, four out of five lesbian and bi women have faced sexual assault. On the other hand, only one in four straight women has been victim of sexual assault.
Three out of four gay and bisexual men have faced sexual harassment, such as stalking and unwanted sexual touching. Only one out of three straight men have experienced the same issue.
Men born outside the US are also more likely to be victims of sexual harassment. Three out of four foreign-born men reported harassment compared to one out of two US-born men living in the state. Desperate need for education about sexual consent
David S. Lee, director of prevention, CALCASA, said that the study offers yet another confirmation of the desperate need for education about sexual consent.
‘Prevention efforts, including education in schools as early as possible, around issues of consent and harassment are crucial,’ said Lee.
‘We know that prevention works, and it’s necessary to shift to a culture where individuals look out for one another.’ See also
Justice Mwita (L) and Lady Justice Aburili hand down the ruling on repealing Kenya’s laws criminalizing homosexuality | Photo: Reuters TV The High Court in Kenya has ruled to keep the gay sex ban in a devastating ruling.
The High Court voted to not repeal Sections 162 and 165 of the Penal Code. Lady Justice Aburili, Justice Mativo and Justice Mwita handed down their ruling at the court in Nairobi. They ruled unanimously to uphold the laws.
One can still be sentenced to up to 14 years for violating the law.
‘Even though the enforcement of the Penal Code is necessary to maintain law and order, such enforcement can have implications for Kenyan’s human rights,’ Justice Mwita said in the ruling.
High Court Justice John Mativo said petitioners could not prove that the definitions of the Penal Code were unclear and vague.
He asserted that because Sections 162 and 165 do not single out LGBTI people but state ‘any person’ who commits those offences can be punished it is therefore not unconstitutional.
Mativo also argued that petitioners couldn’t prove LGBTI people had ‘been denied medical care’ and access to a fair trial.
‘Petitioners failed to provide credible evidence to demonstrate that they had been discriminated against,’ he said.
He then declined to repeal the laws. Not sure how Queer people are supposed to record each and every single violation so we can bring it to court as proof. #Repeal162 https://t.co/knSe5GZhKp — Afroqueerpodcast (@Afroqueerpod) May 24, 2019 Lady Justice Aburili said ‘it’s our duty to defend the constitution and uphold our core values’.
She also said there is no scientific evidence to prove LGBTI people are ‘born that way’.
Aburili said acknowledging cohabitation among people of the same sex would ‘indirectly open the door for unions [marriage] of people of the same sex’. Devastating blow to LGBTI progress in Africa
Kenya’s National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (NGLHRC) launched the legal challenge early this year. We’re at the high court waiting for the #Repeal162 ruling to start. #LoveIsHuman #loveislove pic.twitter.com/O7ZZI1Rtzc — mwanaume.com (@MarigaThoithi) May 24, 2019 They argue the colonial-era law violated constitutional rights to privacy and dignity.
‘All citizens in Kenya [are protected] regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity,’ they said.
Charles Kanjama, the lead lawyer representing the Kenya Christian Professionals Forum, argued the case to keep the law.
‘We think that it is in the interest of our country, as do most other Africans in this continent in which we live, to outlaw homosexuality,’ he said.
‘That is gay sex in particular, and any manifestations as promotion or propagandizing in favor of gay sex, so that we can try as much as possible to encourage and promote healthy sexual behavior.’
However, the NGLHRC still have hope. They will appeal to the Supreme Court and hope to win in Kenya’s highest court. Here’s all you need to know about #Repeal162 . The Decriminalisation of or Section 162 (a) and (c) will be a huge step towards equality and non-discrimination of all persons. pic.twitter.com/CMvEsOoa9z Real progress delayed in Kenya
Kenya remains a homophobic and transphobic country.
The NGLHRC claims there has been more than 3,000 cases of murder, sexual assault, violence, blackmail, and extortion against LGBTI people since 2013.
Many activists believe if Kenya had decriminalized homosexuality, it could have influenced other nations to remove gay sex bans from their law books.
This is due to Kenya’s powerful role in east Africa.
Kenya could have become the second country to decriminalize homosexuality in 2019.
Angola dropped the crime of ‘vices’ against nature from their penal code, a law historically used to prosecute against gay sex, in January. The day in court
Hundreds of people tried to get into the courtroom ahead of the ruling. Court officials locked the doors just before 2.30pm with many of the petitioners unable to enter. They reopened the doors about 20 minutes of the planned start time of 2.30pm.
Advocates, media and petitioners filed into the courtroom and waited patiently for the High Court justices to enter.
Some waved rainbow flags, while others excitedly gave each other the thumbs up.
One woman was heard saying ‘we have waited so long for this’.
‘The mood is silent and people are slowly shuffling out,’ activist Mariga Thoithi told Gay Star News after the ruling.
‘People are in tears but most people are just sad and silent and in disbelief. Most people thought that this was it. This was the day.’ See also
A Kenyan man attending a Uganda Pride event. | Photo: Facebook Local and international LGBTI activists are reacting to Kenya keeping homosexuality illegal .
In what was a major blow for the community, the High Court voted to not repeal Sections 162 and 165 of the Penal Code .
Lady Justice Aburili, Justice Mativo and Justice Mwita handed down their ruling at the court in Nairobi. They ruled unanimously to uphold the laws.
One can still be sentenced to up to 14 years for violating the law. Blow to LGBT community as High Court dismisses petitions seeking to legalise homosexuality in Kenya pic.twitter.com/23xkRxthTA — WimwaroFM (@wimwaro_fm) May 24, 2019 Colonial laws devastate people’s lives
‘The NGLHRC has seen time and time again how these old colonial laws lead to the LGBT community suffering violence, blackmail, harassment and torture. They devastate people’s lives and have no place in a democratic Kenyan society,’ Njeri Gateru said.
Gateru is the Executive Director of Kenyan National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (NGLHRC) and the main petitioner in the case.
‘All Kenyan citizens are guaranteed freedom from discrimination, equality and to be treated with dignity under our Constitution. Yet in handing down this most disappointing judgment, the Court has ruled that a certain sector of our society is not deserving of those rights,’ he continued.
‘Our Constitution, the supreme and homemade law of our land, should be respected and upheld as sacrosanct. The Court has missed an opportunity to help ensure a future free from the intrusion of the state in our private lives, and to turn the tide
for the LGBT community here at home in Kenya, and on the wider African continent.’ Twitter reacts angrily as Kenya rules to keep gay sex illegal
Twitter is brimming with frustration at the decision to keep consensual gay sex illegal. So, so disappointing. In the week that Kenya lost an amazing LGBT activist @BinyavangaW it was a lost opportunity. https://t.co/HQncyjh3cb — Failed Whoopi Goldberg (@thetwerkinggirl) May 24, 2019 ‘So, so disappointing,’ one Twitter user said.
‘In the week that Kenya lost an amazing LGBT activist, it was a lost opportunity,’ they also wrote.
Earlier this week, Kenyan LGBTI activist Kenneth Binyavanga Wainaina died at the age of 48. His work was crucial to help create tolerance for the LGBTI community in his home country. — Melusi Simelane (@MelusiSiboniso) May 24, 2019 ‘What a very sad day,’ another wrote. International support
My heart goes out to the people of #Kenya , whose high court today stumbled on the road to #humanrights for all, upholding a discriminatory, colonial-era law used to persecute #gay people. It is time to end all anti- #LGBT oppression and affirm love throughout all of #Africa . https://t.co/Jb4ERlf1CK — Evan Wolfson (@evanwolfson) May 24, 2019 ‘My heart goes out to the people of Kenya, whose high court today stumbled on the road to human rights for all, upholding a discriminatory, colonial-era law used to persecute gay people,’ activist Evan Wolfson wrote.
‘It is time to end all anti-LGBT oppression and affirm love throughout all of Africa.’ A sad day for Kenyan LGBT – but also for the future of Kenya as a whole LGBT across the world, please consider donating to the appeal! Until all of us are free, none of us really are. https://t.co/z2IMuQYPjp #Repeal162 #Kenya #humanrights — Jack de Welldoer (@AndrewLegon) May 24, 2019 ‘A sad day for Kenyan LGBT – but also for the future of Kenya as a whole LGBT across the world, please consider donating to the appeal! Until all of us are free, none of us really are,’ an activist for global advocacy group Avaaz wrote. ‘It’s okay to have hope’
While anger and sadness are the most common reactions among LGBTI and allies in Kenya, others still hope in what lies ahead. It is okay to have hopes. Rome wasn’t built in a day. A sure thing is this is inevitable. At some point the law has to reflect the composition and desires of the society. And kenya is, albeit slowly, becoming aware of the diversity within it. ‘It is okay to have hopes,’ a Kenyan lawyer wrote to comfort a demotivated Twitter user.
‘Rome wasn’t built in a day. A sure thing is this is inevitable. At some point the law has to reflect the composition and desires of the society. And Kenya is, albeit slowly, becoming aware of the diversity within it.’ See also
The Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah. | Photo: Proudbruneian, Wikimedia Commons Brunei’s leader, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah , has returned an honorary degree awarded by Britain’s Oxford University .
The weight of a 120,000-strong petition last month calling for the institution to rescind the nominal law degree awarded in 1993 proves pressuring.
Oxford University confirmed on Thursday (24 May) that the world’s second-longest reigning monarch had returned the degree back on 6 May. What happened?
Oxford awarded the Sultan an Honorary Degree of Civil Law in 1993.
But since the global outcry in the Sultan’s forcing of Bruneians to abide by his governmental bloc’s Shariah law, they announced they were reviewing it.
However, in a statement attained by the Thomas Reuters Foundation, the college said it contacted the sultan.
‘As part of the review process, the university wrote to notify the sultan on 26 April 2019, asking for his views by 7 June 2019.
‘Though, a letter dated 6 May 2019, the sultan replied with his decision to return the degree.’
Gay Star News has contacted Oxford University for comment. Adding their voice
Oxford are the latest in a long line of companies and people to boycott Brunei in the wake of their laws. Continuing criticism after the sultan announced that execution by stoning for people convicted of gay sex would not be carried out .
However, critics pointed out that harsh punishments remain on the books, including lashing for lesbian sex , whipping, and amputation.
Continued and consistent opposition must be done until the laws are completely redacted. Background of Brunei
Rulers of Brunei have long enforced strictly traditional provisions of Islamic teachings. The country, in Southeast Asia, operates under an absolute monarchy.
In other words, the head of state, the Sultan of Brunei, is also head of government. Royalty and lawmaking are one the same.
For example, under the current 51-year-long monarch Hassanal Bolkiah, 72, the country banned alcohol and forbade the proliferation of non-Islamic faiths.
All a stark contrast to neighbouring Muslim-majority nations, such as Indonesia or Malaysia.
Things have been this way since 1962, when a left-leaning political party, Parti Rakyat Brunei, won local elections.
But the Sultan refused to recognize this, and the party staged a failed coup. As a result, Brunei has been under emergency rule ever since, granting the Sultan full executive decision-making power. Sharia Penal Code: In three stages
Back in 2014, Bolkiah announced the Brunei governmental bloc would implement the Sharia Penal Code in three stages.
The first stage of legal reforms was no struggle to lawmakers, but its second and third stages experienced holdups.
However, the Bruneian Attorney General’s Chambers website officially posted plans to fast-track implementation of the SPC on 29 December 2018. See also
EXCLUSIVE: Despite him imposing the death sentence on LGBTI people, two of the three colleges will not revoke the degrees
Regina Bakirova / Bok o bok Festival Pro-Kremlin activists tried to shut down the opening of an LGBT film festival in Moscow on Thursday.
Two fringe nationalist groups called the National Liberation Movement (NOD) and SERB harassed attendees and poured ammonia on an employee of the Canadian Embassy in Moscow, organizers said. The two groups are known for attacks on opposition activists and art exhibits .
To view this media, you need an HTML5 capable device or download the Adobe Flash player. www.adobe.com/go/getflashplayer “People stood with posters depicting neo-Nazi and extremist symbols and acted aggressively,” the Side by Side festival organizers wrote on its Facebook page.
The organizers accused law enforcement of inaction and said that a senior officer attempted to put pressure on the venue to stop the festival. They later said that police took control of the security situation.
Photographs from the opening showed half a dozen people dressed in white medical coats waving the Soviet flag with NOD insignia. They were seen wearing tags that say “emergency psychiatric care.”
Police detained around 10 of the estimated 30 to 40 pro-Kremlin activists, the Dozhd TV news channel reported , citing a volunteer.
The Side by Side International LGBT Film Festival runs in St. Petersburg every year since 2008. Its offshoot in Moscow wraps up this Sunday.
According to a poll released earlier this week, an increasing number of Russians support equal rights for LGBT citizens.
The Irish actor has made audiences here swoon. Now he’s doing the same in the US
Andrew Scott: ‘Being gay certainly wasn’t allowed’ by the Catholic Church when he was a boy. Photograph: Aaron Richter/New York Times Two weeks later in May and Andrew Scott might not have been safe venturing out in New York in public. The second season of Fleabag, Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s irreverent dive into grief, alcohol and fornication, had debuted on the BBC in March – and turned Scott into the pulse-quickening, knee-weakening sensation who became known among fans as the Hot Priest.
But earlier this month, before the final round of Fleabag had landed on US shores, Scott – despite villainous turns as Moriarty opposite Benedict Cumberbatch in Sherlock and opposite Daniel Craig in Spectre – walked through the city virtually unrecognised. Give it time.
In season two of Fleabag, now available on Amazon’s Prime Video service, Scott plays a G-and-T-swilling, expletive-spewing, utterly divine man of the cloth about to perform the second wedding of Fleabag’s father. And Fleabag, true to form, can’t help but be drawn to someone so wildly inappropriate.
It’s a role Waller-Bridge has said could have only been played by Scott, whom she met in a theatrical production a decade earlier. “Andrew has the charisma of 10 people rolled into one,” she told the Guardian in February.
She first broached it in what Scott recalled as a magical sit-down with Waller-Bridge in a Quaker meeting house in London, where they mused on the portrayal of religious people on television and what kind of love they wanted to create. “I think we’re both very romantic and have a light attitude toward sex and ownership,” he said. “It was very nice to play someone who’s closer to myself.” Making Fleabag: ‘We’re both very romantic and have a light attitude toward sex and ownership,’ Andrew Scott says about Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Photograph: Luke Varley/Two Brothers/BBC Scott, who grew up gay and Catholic in Dublin, has first-hand knowledge of sexuality and the church – an experience he found damaging.
After leaving Ireland in his early 20s, he took root in London, gathering laurels that include an Olivier nomination for best actor in Robert Icke’s acclaimed 2017 production of Hamlet. Americans fancied him too: he earned a Drama League nomination for his 2006 Broadway debut, in The Vertical Hour, directed by Sam Mendes , who is reuniting Scott and Cumberbatch in his coming first World War drama, 1917.
Just hours before his flight home to begin rehearsals for Noël Coward’s Present Laughter at the Old Vic, Scott, who is 42, ducked into an Upper West Side restaurant to discuss keeping the faith and losing his religion. Here are edited excerpts from the conversation.
People are saying you’re the best thing to happen to Catholicism lately.
[Laughing] It’s such a strange thing. I certainly think Fleabag has got people talking about sexuality and religion and how those two things can marry each other and coexist. The statistics that have come out since the show began, they’re mind-blowing about what people are looking up on the internet. I saw something the other day that religious pornography has increased by 125 per cent while the show is on. I mean, maybe something else is going on, but I definitely think the show just does it for people.
Are you still Catholic?
No, it’s not something that I am any more. I emancipated myself from that very rigid, controlled attitude toward sex. It’s been an absolute great joy, and it’s made me quite proud to be able to talk about sex in a way that is without self-consciousness or awkwardness.
What about celibacy and the priesthood?
I feel like it’s extremely dangerous territory to desexualise any human being. Frankly, I don’t know if it’s possible, because even if you are celibate it doesn’t mean that you’re not sexual. I really welcome a priest being able to marry, because I don’t think those things are mutually exclusive, the love of God and the love of having a sexual, romantic partner. I think, in fact, it would help things enormously. Andrew Scott. Photograph: Aaron Richter/New York Times You’ve spoken about the damage done to you by the church as a child. What do you mean?
Being gay certainly wasn’t allowed. So if you want to be a good, kind member of the community, you can’t also be a sexual member of the community. You’re either a renegade or you’re a very good neighbour. You can’t be both those things – and I want to be both those things. [Laughs]
And yet you’ve recently chosen to buy a home in Dublin, where same-sex marriage was legalised in 2015.
The emancipation of Ireland to me is so incredibly joyful. You see that people are able to hold their partner’s hand without feeling that they’re going to be given a dirty look. When I go back to Dublin and see that, it just fills my heart, because that is new. And I think it shatters that idea that religious people don’t understand sexuality, because of course they do.
Much has been made of your chemistry with Phoebe – though some viewers were surprised that a straight woman and a gay man could combust like that.
I just find it just sort of shocking… I’m hesitant to say insulting, but, I mean, it’s not what chemistry is about. The reason that chemistry is such a fun word to say is because that is about more than sex and it’s about more than brains. It’s about fun and connection. And at the stage door when I do a play, the fans that come and see me are mostly female. For years I’ve always thought, Well, this isn’t based on my sexuality. So who is creating this myth?
Is “kneel” your new pickup line? A million hearts have swooned over that make-out session in the confessional – and that possible sign from above.
That scene is extraordinary, isn’t it? Phoebe’s really not afraid of the grand gesture. She’s not afraid of long scenes, she’s not afraid of pictures falling off walls or of foxes following you to…
…the bus stop and that final farewell, which left me shredded.
I do feel that he’s deeply in love with her – that’s what I feel. [Pause] That’s a spoiler. Hamlet: Andrew Scott in his acclaimed 2017 performance, at the Almeida in London. Photograph: Manuel Harlan In 2017, your Hamlet earned raves for making the language more accessible.
I was obsessed with the idea that 350 books have been written about Shakespeare – how you say it, who said it before, what’s not right, what is right. There’s academia surrounding Shakespeare like no other writer has ever been burdened with. And the reason it’s a burden is because it means that it’s for a certain type of rarefied person and nobody else. I started [performing Shakespeare] when I was about 13, and I didn’t really understand him. So when it came to Hamlet, I wanted them to be able to understand absolutely everything that I said, still adhering to the rhythm of it but just not being really Shakespearey with it. Rob Icke, our director, says this brilliant thing, which is it shouldn’t be like eating your greens. It was very important to me and to Rob that we got a young audience. And they came and they understood it and they loved it. Hamlet is a thriller about a young man with mental-health issues. That’s something that people want to watch on Netflix.
You’ve warned against only LGBT actors playing LGBT roles. Why?
We absolutely adore when our parents are reading us a story when we’re three years old and they put on the voice of the wolf. Transformation is very important for actors. It’s something that the audience and the actor want. And I think the question should be about who gets to transform into what. For a long time, gay people haven’t been allowed to transform into straight people. But making straight people not be allowed to transform into gay people doesn’t seem to me to be the answer. I really do believe that we contain multitudes, and more than just our sexuality. We can have great empathy with people who don’t come from the same social background, the same sexuality, even the same race. I often ask gay people, If someone was to play you in a film of your life, would you want just gay actors? And the answer is always very varied.
No, I wouldn’t just want… because I have other attributes.
Who would you want, then?
[Laughs] Uh, I’d have to go with Streep. – New York Times