The Auckland Pride Parade is part of the annual Pride Festival promoting awareness of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues and themes. (Fiona Goodall/Getty) Auckland Pride organisers have caused major controversy in New Zealand after announcing that police officers in uniform will not be allowed to march next year.
The Auckland Pride Board, which is responsible for organising the local pride celebrations traditionally held in February every year, announced the decision on November 9.
“Whilst there is goodwill towards the NZ Police, as an institution they do not currently meet the degree of safety and awareness of intersectionality required by our rainbow communities,” the announcement stated .
The organisers’ decision echoes conversations around the participation of police in pride marches around the world. In the US, pride organisers in Wisconsin and Minnesota faced similar controversies after deciding to exclude LGBT+ police officers from marching in their uniforms. “Auckland Pride values people over uniforms.”
In Canada, Pride Toronto banned police officers in uniform from taking part in the march in 2017 and 2018, but organisers recently announced the police will be able to apply to join the 2019 event following productive conversations on “policing and institutional power.” Auckland Pride parade attendees confront the police in 2016. (Photo by Cam McLaren/Getty) The Auckland Pride board later clarified that the decision to ban uniformed police was taken following meetings with the LGBT+ hui community, who reported “personal experiences of police mistreatment” that organisers said they “could not ignore.”
“Auckland Pride values people over uniforms,” the board wrote in a statement on November 15.
An additional meeting to discuss and explain the decision was called for November 18 in collaboration with the hui community. “There are also gay policeman and we can’t just pretend that they don’t exist.”
Reports about the gathering published by Radio New Zealand describe an “incredibly tense” atmosphere, with one of the attendees becoming particularly aggressive after he was asked to leave.
“He got out of his chair, he walked over to where I was sitting and stood over me screaming in my face that Māori asked for it when we were murdered by the police, shaking his hand in my face and yelling at me,” People against Prisons Aotearoa spokesperson Emilie Rākete told the news outlet.
“When I told him maybe he should consider just leaving he started to spit in my face,” she added. Why are people protesting the Auckland Pride decision?
The controversy continued this week, as the New Zealand Defence Force withdrew their participation from the march in solidarity with the police, saying they “do not feel comfortable participating in an event that excludes other uniformed services.”
On November 20, several sponsors, such as Westpac bank and Vodafone, decided to end their backing of the event. The Rainbow New Zealand Charitable Trust (RNZCT), which sponsored non-profit groups’ participation in the march, denounced the Auckland Pride Board decision as “contrary to the wishes of the vast majority of the Rainbow Community.” Participants take part in the Auckland Pride Parade along Ponsonby Road on February 22, 2014. (Phil Walter/Getty) The pride parade founder Gresham Bradley called on Wednesday for the current board to be fired . Four members of the organisation have already expressed a lack of confidence in the Auckland Pride Board, and called for a special meeting.
Even British actor Rupert Everett weighed in. “There are also gay policeman and we can’t just pretend that they don’t exist. It feels to me that not making them wear their uniforms, is in denial. There’s so much violence towards us brewing up in places that we need to be friends with police as much as we can,” he told New Zealand publication Stuff . New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern became the first Kiwi leader to take part in the Auckland Pride Parade in 2014. (Fiona Goodall/Getty) Auckland Pride Board Chair Cissy Rock said organisers remained open to working with institutions working towards becoming more inclusive.
“The Pride Parade is so much more than its corporate sponsors or Government institutions.” Black said in the latest statement addressing the ongoing controversy, adding: “True allyship by institutions to our community is listening to its affected members and compromising where possible.”
Dr Christian Jessen attends the World Pride Power List party at Corinthia Hotel London on June 27, 2014 in London, England. (Niki Nikolova/Getty Images) Dr Christian Jessen, best known for presenting Channel 4’s Embarrassing Bodies, has shocked Twitter users by posting an unedited photo of a penis stuck inside a Diet Coke bottle to promote his latest show.
Embarrassing Bodies’ Jessen, who is openly gay, posted the graphic penis image to his followers on Tuesday morning (November 20) in the lead up to #sextakeover being aired on BBC 5 Live with Anna Foster. “I’m tweeting a picture of what can happen when your sex life gets a little too adventurous…”
The Embarrassing Bodies doctor co-hosts the show with trans campaigner and model Munroe Bergdorf.
The BBC show is billed as the “UK’s biggest conversation about the nation’s sex life.” Dr Christian Jessen: This is what happens when your sex life gets “too adventurous”
Jessen posted alongside the photo: “To kick off @bbc5live #SexTakeover I’m tweeting a picture of what can happen when your sex life gets a little too adventurous…” Dr Christian Jessen’s tweet shocked social media users on Tuesday morning. (November 20) Twitter users were shocked by the explicit penis photo.
“When you open Twitter at work during a screen break and the boss walks in ,” one posted.
Another posted: “I had to work out wtf that was for a minute, jammed sore thumb came to mind at first. ” And a third person posted : “I have so many questions for this, but I’m not sure I really want the answers .” Munroe Bergdorf is co-hosting the BBC’s#sextakeover with Christian Jessen. (Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images for BFI) Dr Christian Jessen is a sexual health expert
Jessen presented Embarrassing Bodies from 2007 to 2015.
Jessen, who has a MSc degree in sexual health, has campaigned for better education on HIV.
He is an ambassador for National HIV Testing Week.
In 2015, he carried out a HIV test on the mayor of Lambeth to mark National HIV Testing Week.
At the time, Jessen said: “I am proud to be the National HIV Testing Week Ambassador. Testing for HIV is crucial for prevention.
“The fact that diagnoses have increased is encouraging in one sense.
“If you get tested and receive a positive diagnosis, you can now immediately go onto treatment, and if you are on medication you are classed as ‘undetectable’ and the virus cannot be passed on.
“Most concerning to me is the fact that nearly one in six people with HIV do not realise they have it, so they are putting their own health at risk and HIV could unknowingly be passed on.”
Daniel Craig poses with the Brandenburg Gate behind during a photocall prior the German premiere of the new James Bond movie ‘Spectre’ at Hotel Adlon on October 28, 2015 in Berlin, Germany. (Sean Gallup/Getty for Sony Pictures) A poll has found that the public are more opposed to a gay incarnation of James Bond than a woman or black actor taking the role.
The Hollywood Reporter / Morning Consult poll asked 2,000 Americans for their views potential future depictions of the British spy in the franchise, following the departure of actor Daniel Craig.
The poll found that 52 percent of people opposed the portrayal of “a gay James Bond” in a future movie, with 28 percent supporting the idea.
By comparison, only 29 percent of people were opposed to a black James Bond, and only 26 percent of people opposed the reinvention of the quintessentially-British character as an American. The polling shows the public is most opposed to a gay James Bond (Morning Consult) 37 percent of people supported a female James Bond, with 48 percent opposed.
While 52 percent of people were opposed to a gay depiction of Bond, just 27 percent of respondents said they see every Bond movie, and only 38 percent of people saw the latest addition to the franchise, Spectre —suggesting that people who do not watch James Bond films were nonetheless opposed to a gay re-imagining of the character.
Unsurprisingly, 2016 Donald Trump voters were strongly opposed to any depiction of James Bond other than that of a straight, white man.
69 percent of Trump voters opposed a gay James Bond, and 68 percent said they opposed any kind of diverse reboot—although 57 percent of Trump voters were in support of an American James Bond. Daniel Craig as James Bond in a promotional image The strongest support for a gay James Bond comes from the Generation Z (18-21) age demographic, with 44 percent supporting a gay James Bond and 34 percent opposed.
By comparison, only 21 percent of Boomers (54-72) supported a gay Bond, while 59 percent were opposed. Gay James Bond suggestions have split the film’s stas
Former Bond star Roger Moore previously dismissed suggestions that the famous womaniser could have a dalliance with a man in a future film.
Speaking in 2015, he said: “I don’t know how it would work. I don’t think Barbara [Broccoli, producer of every Bond film since 1993’s Octopussy ] would allow a gay Bond to happen in her lifetime.
“But it would certainly make for interesting viewing.” Roger Moore (Will Oliver/AFP/Getty) Moore clarified to the Daily Mail: “It is not about being homophobic or, for that matter, racist—it is simply about being true to the character.”
However, Bond star Daniel Craig took a difference stance.
Asked about the possibility of a same-sex romance or a woman-led reboot, he said: “Anything’s possible. You can do anything as long as it’s credible and it works. It doesn’t matter.”
Broccoli shut down talk of a female depiction of the character in a Guardian interview in October 2018.
“Bond is male,” she said. “He’s a male character. He was written as a male and I think he’ll probably stay as a male.
“And that’s fine. We don’t have to turn male characters into women. Let’s just create more female characters and make the story fit those female characters.”
Conservative MP Victoria Atkins has said the government expects to respond to the GRA consultation in "Spring next year." (Victoria Atkins MP/Facebook) A Tory MP has said that the government expects to announce its response to a recent consultation on reforms to the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) in “spring next year.”
Victoria Atkins, parliamentary under secretary of state at the Home Office, also said at the Westminster Hall event on Wednesday that “no decisions have been made yet as to what, if any, changes are to be made” to the Gender Recognition Act.
Atkins said the government received “more than 100,000” responses to its public consultation about the GRA. A trans rights placard at the PinkNews Awards 2018. (Paul Grace) Tory MP: Gender Recognition Act response in “Spring next year”
“We hope to have a government response to the consultation ready in spring next year,” said Atkins.
“As you’ll appreciate, 100,000 responses—it takes a bit of time to work through. Also, we want to make sure that we get the right response and it is in that response we will set out the next steps.”
Atkins added that there are still no formal plans for the government to introduce self-identification, a process that would more easily allow transgender people to legally change their gender, as part of the reform of the Gender Recognition Act. “We hope to gave a government response to the consultation ready in Spring next year.”
“People shouldn’t walk away with the idea that we have made up our mind yet,” she said.
“It’s only been a couple of months since the consultation has been closed and no proposals have been put forward as to self-identification or other ways in which we can deal with this act.” The House of Commons event, called “Proposals to allow self-identification of gender,” is believed to be the first time self-identification has been the focus of a UK parliamentary debate. Prime Minister Theresa May at the Conservative Party Conference earlier this year. (Dan Kitwood/Getty) It was organised by Tory MP David Davies, who opposes self-ID being introduced in the Gender Recognition Act and previously voted against equal marriage, describing it as “barking mad.” Victoria Atkins: There will be a call for evidence for intersex and non-binary people published “shortly”
Atkins also announced there would be a call for evidence regarding intersex and non-binary people, which will be published “shortly.”
She added that this call for evidence “won’t cause delay” to the “response to the overall consultation.”
“There will be no loss of trans rights, trans people’s rights. This consultation is an open consultation to try to determine what the law is and where people’s thoughts [are] to its application in the 21st century.”
Prime Minister Theresa May has previously said she wants the “intrusive” process to legally change genders to be “de-medicalised.”
This means the government could introduce a self-identification system in the Gender Recognition Act, similar to the process used in other countries like the Republic of Ireland, Norway and Denmark.
Currently, trans people have to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate in order to legally change gender.
This requires trans people to get a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria and prove that they have lived in their “acquired gender” for at least two years.
Daniela Tejada previously said her husband Matthew Hedges was being held in "inhumane and degrading" conditions A British PhD student has been sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of spying in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Matthew Hedges, 31, of Durham University, denies the charge and said he had been conducting research.
A court in Abu Dhabi declared him guilty of "spying for or on behalf of" the UK government. His family claim the verdict is based on a false confession.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he was "disappointed" by the verdict.
Click here for live updates
A statement from the family said during the first six weeks of his detention, Hedges was interrogated without a lawyer or consular access available.
During this time, they said, he was made to sign a document in Arabic which it transpired was a confession.
"Matthew does not speak or read Arabic," the family statement said.
Hedges’ wife, Daniela Tejada, who was present during the five minute hearing earlier, said she was in "complete shock". Daniela Tejada has repeatedly rejected suggestions her husband, Matthew Hedges, is a spy She said: "Matthew is innocent. The Foreign Office know this and have made it clear to the UAE authorities that Matthew is not a spy for them.
"This whole case has been handled appallingly from the very beginning with no one taking Matthew’s case seriously."
She said the British government "must take a stand now" and the UAE authorities "should feel ashamed for such an obvious injustice".
Ms Tejada said her husband shook his head as the verdict was delivered, adding: "I am very scared for Matt.
"I don’t know where they are taking him or what will happen now. Our nightmare has gotten even worse." Does UAE stability come at a price?
United Arab Emirates profile
Mr Hunt said he had raised the case with the "highest levels of the UAE government" and the verdict "is not what we expect from a friend and trusted partner of the United Kingdom and runs contrary to earlier assurances".
He also urged the UAE to reconsider the case.
Mr Hunt said: "Our consular officials have been in close contact with Matthew Hedges and his family.
"We will continue to do everything possible to support him."
Middle East reporter Paul Blake said foreign media were barred from the short hearing, he had no lawyer present and the sentence was revealed by the family.
Hedges is said to be in a poor state of mental health, the BBC understands, and Ms Tejada has previously criticised the lack of treatment he received in prison.
His family allege his physical and mental health "seriously deteriorated" during solitary confinement and he was fed a "cocktail of medication" by guards that caused him to vomit on a daily basis.
The new deal will see Sky broadcast every play-off game live as well as the Carabao Cup and Checkatrade Trophy finals The Football League has agreed a record £595m five-year TV deal with Sky Sports.
It represents a 35% increase on the previous contract, which expires at the end of this season.
The EFL is certain it represents the best possible deal for its 72 member clubs, not just financially but in "maximising reach and exposure".
But the majority of Championship clubs are not happy. They didn’t want the deal signing and have expressed "grave concern" that it has.
So, what is the problem? What’s the deal?
The new deal allows Sky Sports to show 138 EFL games, every play-off match, 15 games in the EFL Cup and the semi-finals and final of the EFL Trophy. For the final two seasons of the contract, Sky Sports can broadcast an additional 20 league games, which must be taken out of the weekend programme.
In addition, Sky Sports can show any game they are not showing live, apart from matches that kick-off on Saturday at 15:00, on their red button service to residential customers.
Sky can select any game for TV coverage but must show each Championship club at least twice at home. This increases to three times for the final two years of the contract.
The majority of Championship clubs believe this deal is materially different from the short form agreement they were sent last year. Is everyone happy?
Absolutely not. The vast majority of Championship clubs were opposed to the deal.
One senior executive at a member club told the BBC that the EFL "have started a war".
Right until the last minute, the Championship clubs were urging the EFL to delay, in order to provide more time to assess the changes and to come up with an alternative. They are incredulous their voice was not heard.
On Tuesday, seven Championship clubs met to discuss the situation and released a statement that ended with an ominous warning: "There is a calm determination within Championship clubs to ensure the matter is not left here."
Given those clubs deliver the vast majority fans and TV viewers to the EFL, it means some pretty powerful people are upset – and they have a number of complaints. Why are they annoyed?
Firstly, they feel the deal is miniscule compared to the £4.55bn Sky and BT have agreed to pay to show 180 Premier League games per season from 2019-22. Two of its member clubs, Aston Villa and Leeds, were the 10th and 12th best supported clubs in England last season. Seven Championship clubs were in England’s top-20 best average attendances last season. The Championship as a whole do not understand why the gap between the top two leagues is so big and fear the consequences of it getting larger in terms of financial competitiveness.
In addition, a number of clubs have said they were not told about the EFL decision to allow Sky to show ‘non-TV’ midweek games on their red button service. The EFL is equally forthright in its view that they were. The disparity suggests the communication was not delivered effectively.
Clubs recently relegated from the Premier League have noted the difference in how that organisation is run by Richard Scudamore and how the EFL operates under the control of its chief executive Shaun Harvey. Many clubs have complained at the lack of clarity in decision making by EFL executives. Clubs even found difficulty getting to see the actual TV document submitted by Sky ahead of Monday’s decision.
Ultimately, as the nine-member EFL board – comprising EFL interim chairman Debbie Jevans, Harvey, EFL non-executive director Ian Watmore and representatives from Walsall, Scunthorpe and Carlisle in addition to those from the three Championship clubs – voted on the TV deal, it could be argued the other clubs did not need to see it.
In addition, the biggest clubs also feel their matches are shown too often, disadvantaging fans and teams – last season, for example, 19 of Leeds United’s 46 league games were selected for Sky TV coverage. It has also been suggested that some centrally negotiated deals end up costing clubs money because of the number of tickets they have to give away as a consequence. How this deal compares to other television contracts
The Championship was the third most-watched league in European football during the 2016-17 season, while the Premier League was top with total attendances of more than 13m and Germany’s Bundesliga second.
However, the Championship’s attendances of more than 11m ranked higher than Spain’s La Liga, Italy’s Serie A and France’s Ligue 1.
But some of the clubs feel the EFL could have got more money for its television rights.
The Premier League’s three-year deal with Sky and BT Sport, which begins in 2019, is worth £4.55bn, although the amount Amazon paid for one package of games has not been disclosed.
The top flight’s previous deal, agreed in 2015 and running until 2019, was worth £5.14bn.
In June, Spain’s La Liga sold its 2019-2022 domestic television rights for 980m euros (£871.41m) per season to Telefonica, an increase of 15% on the last three seasons.
The domestic television rights for Ligue 1 in France were sold in May in a record deal of 1.15bn euros (£1.02bn) for the rights from the 2020-2024 seasons. Spanish group Mediapro won the main "lots" auctioned by the League, with another "lot" acquired by BeIN Sports. By comparison, the prices for the period 2016-2020 amounted to 762m euros (£677.5m).
Germany’s top two divisions sold their domestic media rights for 4.6bn euros (£3.6bn) in June 2016, almost double their previous deal.
The deal is in its second of four seasons and was an 85% increase on the amount raised by the same rights in 2013.
Five months ago, broadcaster Sky and sports media group Perform won the rights to screen top-flight Serie A football matches in Italy until 2021 for more than 973m euros (£893.1m) per season. What happens now?
The Championship clubs are still to decide their next move.
Forming a breakaway league ‘Premier League 2’ has been rumoured but this is thought to be unlikely due to the timescales involved.
More likely, legal advice will be sought to see if any regulations have been broken in agreeing the contract.
In the meantime, attention may start to focus on Harvey, a former chief executive at Bradford and Leeds, who became EFL chief executive in 2013.
Harvey, 48, was behind the proposal to expand the EFL to four divisions of 20 teams, an idea that was scrapped when the FA refused to transform the FA Cup into a midweek competition.
In 2016, he caused controversy by inviting 16 Under-21 teams from the Premier League and Championship into the EFL Trophy as a way of helping young players gain greater experience in a competitive environment.
I get a lot of hate on social media. I’m an investigative journalist but I am also somebody who is seen as anti-establishment, and being a Muslim woman as well, I tick all the boxes.
The online world has always been a difficult place for me to navigate because those who aren’t able to find flaws in my work seek to discredit me with misogynistic statements and abuse. People have called me ‘the most abused woman in India’. If I even put one full stop on Twitter, I get a thousand replies.
I always tried to ignore it by telling myself it’s only online hate and it would never translate into offline abuse.
But in April this year, that changed.
An eight-year-old Kashmiri girl had been raped and there was outrage across the country. The nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was marching to support the accused. I had been invited to speak on the BBC and Al Jazeera about how India was bringing shame on itself by protecting child sex abusers.
The next day, a series of fake tweets, claiming to be from me, started circulating on social media. ‘I hate India’, ‘I hate Indians’, ‘I love Pakistan’, they read. Another tweet said ‘I love child rapists and if they are doing it in the name of Islam I support them.’ Rana Ayyub These screenshots had been edited to look like they were coming from my verified handle. And they were being circulated everywhere.
I was inundated with abuse. Eventually, I was forced to write a clarification on my real account to make it clear the tweets were fake and to tell people not to fall for it.
But the next day, the misinformation campaign escalated.
I met a friend for coffee and I was still reeling from the tweets, wondering why I was being targeted in such a malicious way. Then a source from the ruling BJP sent me a message to say ‘Something is circulating around WhatsApp, I’m going to send it to you but promise me you won’t feel upset.’
What he sent me was a porn video, and the woman in it was me.
When I first opened it, I was shocked to see my face, but I could tell it wasn’t actually me because, for one, I have curly hair and the woman had straight hair. She also looked really young, not more than 17 or 18.
I started throwing up. I just didn’t know what to do. In a country like India, I knew this was a big deal. I didn’t know how to react, I just started crying.
I asked him why it was circulating within political circles and he told me people within the party had been passing it on.
Before I could even gather myself, my phone started beeping and I saw I had more than 100 Twitter notifications, all sharing the video.
My friend told me to delete Twitter but I couldn’t, I didn’t want people to think this was actually me.
I went on Facebook and I had been inundated with messages there too. They were trying to derail me, every other person was harassing me with comments like “I never knew you had such a stunning body”.
I deleted my Facebook, I just couldn’t take it. But on Instagram, under every single one of my posts, the comments were filling with screenshots of the video.
Then, the fanpage of the BJP’s leader shared the video and the whole thing snowballed. The video was shared 40,000 more times.
It ended up on almost every phone in India.
It was devastating. I just couldn’t show my face. You can call yourself a journalist, you can call yourself a feminist but in that moment, I just couldn’t see through the humiliation.
It had exposed me to a lynch mob in India. People were thinking they could now do whatever they wanted to me.
The next day, they doxxed me.
Another tweet was circulated on social media with a screenshot of the video and my number alongside, saying ‘Hi, this is my number and I’m available here’.
People started sending me WhatsApp messages asking me for my rates for sex.
I was sent to the hospital with heart palpitations and anxiety, the doctor gave me medicine. But I was vomiting, my blood pressure shot up, my body had reacted so violently to the stress.
My brother flew in from Mumbai to see me in Delhi but I just couldn’t face anyone from my family. I felt so embarrassed. The entire country was watching a porn video that claimed to be me and I just couldn’t bring myself to do anything.
Finally, I got in touch with a high-profile feminist lawyer who agreed to take on my case. She told me I needed to be prepared for what could follow if we went to the police. India is not the most liberal country when it comes to women’s rights and sexual freedoms, so she told me to be ready for what could happen after I showed them the video.
When we went to the station, the police wouldn’t file a report. The people who were sharing this video were political and the officers weren’t prepared to take on the powerful.
There were about six men in the police station, they started watching the video in front of me. You could see the smirks on their faces.
They asked me where I was when I had first seen it. When I told them I had seen it at a cafe, they told me to go to the police station nearest to the cafe and file the complaint from there.
I couldn’t believe it. I was a woman standing in front of them who had mustered up the courage to file a complaint and they were trying to dodge it. I threatened them. I told them if they didn’t want to register a complaint then I would write about them on social media. Finally, after my lawyer told them we would go to the media, they filed the report.
That was in April. More than six months later, I haven’t heard a thing from the police. I gave my statement to a magistrate, I gave them all the screenshots, the messages that I received but there has just been absolute silence.
Eventually, the United Nations intervened. Sixteen special rapporteurs wrote to the Indian government asking them to protect me.
That brought some sanity to the situation. The government cares about its reputation internationally and surprisingly, almost immediately, I could see the abuse slowing.
But the effects have stayed with me.
From the day the video was published, I have not been the same person. I used to be very opinionated, now I’m much more cautious about what I post online. I’ve self-censored quite a bit out of necessity.
Now I don’t post anything on Facebook. I’m constantly thinking what if someone does something to me again. I’m someone who is very outspoken so to go from that to this person has been a big change.
I always thought no one could harm me or intimidate me, but this incident really affected me in a way that I would never have anticipated.
I’ve always come under fire. The only way my critics have found to discredit me is through misogyny and character assassination.
I get called Jihadi Jane, Isis Sex Slave, ridiculous abuse laced with religious misogyny. They will photoshop me in front of a minister’s house to claim I’ve been sleeping with him.
When I exposed a scandal around a high-profile murder investigation, people started putting photoshopped images of me online in sexualised positions.
When my book was published, a police officer wrote on social media I had been sleeping with my sources and using unethical methods to get information.
But this has changed me.
The irony is, about a week before the video was released, I heard an editor talking about the dangers of deepfake in India. I didn’t even know what it was so I googled it. Then one week later it happened to me.
I didn’t speak about it for a long time because I worried the larger audience would not empathise or sympathise with me but they would want to explore it more. I didn’t want deepfake to get that kind of popularity.
But unfortunately, in the last couple of weeks I’ve seen numerous deepfake videos of very high-profile female film stars, so it feels like it’s too late to prevent it.It is a very, very dangerous tool and I don’t know where we’re headed with it. As told to Lucy Pasha-Robinson Life Less Ordinary is a weekly blog series from HuffPost UK that showcases weird, wonderful and transformational life experiences. If you’ve got a story to share, email firstname.lastname@example.org with LLO in the subject line. To read more from the series, visit our dedicated page.
One hundred years since women first won the right to stand for Parliament, men still hold the reins of power. They outnumber women in the decision making on crucial political, economic and social impact issues that affect our quality of life and choices. It is time for a reckoning of gender and power in Parliament.
For that, we have to know where we stand. The UK Government is responsible for preventing equal representation in Parliament because it has failed to enact S106 of the 2010 Equality Act , which would compel political parties to publish data on their political candidates to ensure equal representation of male and female politicians. In the absence of this data, the UK government must be held accountable for its complicity in preventing equal representation.
Following 2017′s general election, women represent 32% of female MPs in the House of Commons and as of 2018, 26% of female peers in the House of Lords. Our society has not made significant progress in levelling the playing field of equal representation in politics. Women form 51% of the UK population, according to the Office for National Statistics . But while we may be the majority in population, we are the minority in decision making.
For those who say women should be grateful for the progress made thus far – I say that is nonsense. This is not about waiting our turn. It is about our rights as citizens of this country and as human beings. It is about the restriction of our choices; the imposition of perceived roles of women; and denial of our ability to lead. We can’t wait another 100 years until we reach gender parity in politics.
Lest we forget the disproportionate representation of women from BAME communities in parliament – evidence that political parties are complacent when it comes to BAME representation. As of the 2017 general election, 52 ethnic minority MPs were elected – making up under 8% of the Commons, compared to 14% of the population.
There is still so much work to do so this is not the time to drown in complacency, ambivalence or become agnostic to the struggle of equal representation in parliament.
We must demand government transparency by forcing those in power to enact S106 of the Equality Act with immediate effect. As part of this, we should implement a strategic target with the aim to achieve 50% representation of women in Parliament before or by the next general election.
We also need to do more to eradicate barriers, to make Parliament a conducive working environment, irrespective of gender and race. We need to simplify the route into politics; provide financial support on childcare; end the trolling of female politicians on social media; and provide training and mentorship for women who are interested in entering into public life.
We honestly can’t claim to be a progressive society when we are still in denial over the seriousness of unequal representation in Parliament. It demonstrates a regressive leadership that lacks the political will to prioritise women as part of the strategic growth and success of the future.
To all MPs: I challenge you to do something about equal representation in Parliament today.
LGBTI volunteer activists in Taiwan (Photo: Facebook) Activists in Taiwan are engaged in a final frantic push to protect LGBTI rights ahead of crucial referendums this week.
Taiwan residents will vote on whether the country’s Civil Code should recognize equal marriage on Saturday (24 November). Dismantling parts of the country’s LGBTI gender equity education is also on the ballot.
‘The key message is that every family deserves the same respect in Taiwan’ said Jennifer Lu, coordinator of Marriage Equality Coalition Taiwan.
‘Marriage equality and gender equity education are all about protecting and creating social harmony and respect in society’.
In 2017, Taiwan’s Constitutional Court demanded the country recognize same-sex marriage. It gave lawmakers two years to legislate. They have so far failed to do so, however.
A recent change in referendum law allowed conservative campaigners to petition for a referendum on the issue . They want separate legislation to recognize same-sex marriage. This is instead of changing the country’s Civil Code to define marriage as between ‘people’ rather than ‘a man and a woman’.
Taiwan’s small but powerful Christian population and other conservatives are busy sharing misinformation about shrinking populations and HIV epidemics. Taiwan’s LGBTI community is under attack.
Taiwan activists are crowdfunding to pay for advertisements promoting LGBTI rights in the referendums . Furthermore, Lu urged the LGBTI community in Taiwan to do three things: Go home and vote
Taiwanese must cast their vote in the district of their household registration.
Many people move to big cities for work or may be studying away from where they are registered.
Going home to vote, therefore, could mean spending extra time and money on traveling.
On Sunday, Taipei hosted a large rally encouraging young people in particular to make the effort to travel and vote for equality.
Tens of thousands of equal marriage supporters rallied in Taipei, Taiwan on Sunday (Photo: Facebook) Talk to your older relatives to combat misinformation
Lu also encouraged every Taiwanese to talk to family and friends.
‘Make sure everyone around you supports this issue’, she said. ’Speak to parents or older relatives, to clarify the wrong information’.
‘Let them know it is all about protecting social harmony and not harming any families in Taiwan’. Look after one another
A lot of young LGBTI people are suffering from the negative information put out by conservative campaigners.
’There have been lots of conflicts and fights in different cities’ Lu said. ‘We are very sorry to see our young volunteers hurt by the opposition’.
Everyone should get the support they need from the community’ she said. ‘Talk to your friends, and keep them calm’ she urged.
Hong Kong Pride (Photo: @ameliachieu/Instagram) Police arrested a 21-year-old for wearing only his underpants at Hong Kong Pride parade on Saturday (17 Novembe r).
The young man was detained for ‘indecency in public’ at 4.30pm on Hennesy Road, Wanchai, local media reporter. Authorities later released him on bail.
‘[He] exposed his private part in view of [the] public’ police told Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP).
They said the District Crime Squad had investigated the case and released him on bail. The young wan was a performance artist, HKFP reported.
Section 148 of the Crimes Ordinance prohibits ‘indecency in public’. Those found guilty are liable to a fine of HK$6,000 and 6 months in jail. Police arrest 21-year-old ‘performance artist’ who stripped off at #HongKong ’s Gay Pride March. @creery_j aka #CreeryQueerlyQueries https://t.co/wUQMHNg8jM #lgbt pic.twitter.com/ShtWGLUb8N — Tom Grundy (@tomgrundy) November 20, 2018 Hong Kong’s 10th Pride Parade
Thousands braved heavy rain to attend the tenth anniversary of the Hong Kong Pride Parade on Saturday.
Organizers said 12,000 people attended. Police, meanwhile, put estimates at 4,300.
LGBTI Hong Kongers and allies gathered at Victoria Park in Causeway Bay before marching to Edinburgh Place.
In a first, a coalition of LGBTI-friendly religious organizations offered a religious service.
Hong Kong does not currently recognize same-sex marriages and does not have any legislation protecting LGBTI people.
In July, however, a high court ruled a visa policy that did not recognize same-sex spouses was unconstitutional.