Tag Archives: UK

Why These Heterosexual Couples Are Demanding A Civil Partnership

A group of heterosexuals are fighting for the right to have civil partnerships available to them and not just to the LGBTQ community. Civil partnerships were introduced in the UK in 2004 to give same sex couples legal recognition and rights.

A few years after gay marriage was made legal in England and Wales. In January, a private members bill led by the Conservative MP Tim Loughton – and backed by MPs across the spectrum – will be debated in parliament which asks for 2004 Civil Partnerships Act to be amended to include heterosexual couples.

Charles Keiden and Rebecca Steinfield launched a petition to extend civil partnerships to heterosexuals and they amassed 75,000 signatures. The couple took their case to the High court stating that it was a violation of their human rights that heterosexuals were excluded from civil partnerships. They lost the case but have appealed and are now waiting to find out the verdict.

The couple told the Independent Newspaper that:

We have been together for over six years and have a 19-month old daughter. Like many others, we don’t feel that marriage is right for us. We see each other as partners in life and want to be recognised as partners in law – not as husband and wife. Civil partnerships already exist, they are a modern social institution giving almost identical rights as marriage, but without the baggage. They should be opened up to opposite-sex couples, so that everyone has the choice, it is basic fairness that everyone should be treated equally under the law.”

Another couple, Matt Hawkins and Clare Phipps also told the independent:

We want legal and financial protection and recognition for our relationship but marriage comes with so many cultural associations, traditions, and expectations that just don’t feel right for us. A civil partnership would give our relationship that protection and in a way that we feel more comfortable with. “

Martin Loat, 55, and Claire Beale have already had a civil ceremony that was held on the Isle of Man. Martin stated:

We don’t see the need to take vows (religious or civil) underwritten by God or the state to validate that we have a firm relationship.  Marriages fail any way. A civil partnership sums up who we are. Claire doesn’t like being known as a “wife” and I don’t like marriage’s references to one’s private sexual activity with consummation and adultery being mentioned in marriage laws. That is up to us, not some cleric from the Middle Ages!”

It appears these couples are simply wanting recognition for their love and commitment to each other without the need for vows or taking the traditional heterosexual route of marriage. It will be interesting to see if the law is changed in the future to allow heteros the right to have a civil partnership and even more interesting to see how many couples will take these over the traditional institution of marriage.

Gender Defying Drag Kings Are Gaining A Massive UK Following

All around the UK Drag Kings are gaining followers by the 1000’s. 5 years ago there were only a handful of Drag Kings in the UK getting regular work in the performance world. Now, there are around 60 getting gigs on a weekly basis.

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There are some venues in the UK that are now offering special Drag King nights. In She Bar, Soho, they have a night once a month called Boi Box. In Glory Bar, East London, they hold a weekly Drag King contest with a prize of 1000 pounds and they get up to 12 acts performing a week.

The Marlborough Theatre in Brighton holds an annual Drag King competition and in Blackpool they have the UK’s first ever Drag King Karaoke Bar.

Dr Meagan Tyler, an expert in gender and feminist theory believes the reason Drag Kings are getting so popular is because:

 The current growth is born out of younger generations of women,” They are less bound by traditional paradigms of gender conduct in the wake of various feminist movements. Social attitudes in this country are undergoing tremendous changes when it comes to acceptance of otherness.”

Also there are a number of celebrities talking about being gender fluid – such as Ruby Rose, and Lady Gaga’s drag alter ego, Jo Calderone – or even trans gender’s, and it’s not hard to see why drag kings are gaining popularity. Some acts are accumulating more than 50,000 hits on YouTube which proves how popular they are becoming.

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Stylist Magazine spoke to Benjamin Butch (real name Bethan Rainforth), a 22-year-old sales assistant originally from Lincoln, to discuss a Drag King’s typical stage dress and preparing for a show. Benjamin said:

 “Being in drag on public transport is not a pleasant experience. I start with make-up, which my fiancée does for me, then hair (it’s short, though some people use wigs), then body – binding [to strap down the chest] before contouring my abs with make-up, though some people use Sharpies for darker lines. I find binders annoying, so I use sports tape on my chest; it’s comfier. And then it’s the package – a prosthetic penis – and the right outfit. Because, of course, the clothes maketh the man…”

Most of the acts consist of a combination of lip synching, dancing and singing as well as some comedy. Stylist magazine asked Adam All (real name Jen Powell) who also runs Boi Box, how it feels when she performs:

“When I’m Adam, I feel powerful and liberated. The first time I dressed in drag I was 17, and my first public appearance on stage was at 19. It was quite nerve-wracking; I didn’t know how people would react. Yet the audience loved it. It felt so free to be appreciated for myself, or the part of myself that I previously had to keep hidden away all the time. People mistook my gender from as young as four-years-old. I never fitted the typically feminine stereotype and I found it really hurtful. I struggled with gender identity between the age of 18 and 22, and considered transitioning to male at one point, but in the end it didn’t feel like the right thing to do.”

The drag scene seems fun, explorative and exciting. It’s inclusive. Underneath the sports tape and cartons full of fake chest and beard hair, every drag king seems to have one thing in common. Whether they were gay, straight, bi, non-binary, black or white they had found a movement where they finally belong. And as the public are embracing the scene with so much vigour and attending the performances on a regular basis, let’s hope the scene grows from strength to strength all around the country.

High Court Rules The NHS Must Fund HIV-Prevention Drug

A leading HIV charity has won one of the most important motions in UK medicine.

In a ground-breaking ruling, the High Court has decided to allow the NHS in England to fund HIV-prevention drug pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

The ruling was a victory for the National Aids Trust (NAT), which brought the case to court after NHS England refused to commission a large scale role for PrEP.

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Mr Justice Green ruled that NHS England “has erred in deciding that it has no power or duty to commission the preventative drugs in issue”

The “game-changing” anti-retroviral drug acts as a barrier to HIV when the virus is transmitted and could prevent some of the 4,000 people who obtain HIV every year in the UK. The highly-effective drug can now be prescribed to residents in England under the NHS after the National Aids Trust (NAT) won its court battle today (August 2).

The drug, when used consistently and regularly can cut the chances of contracting HIV by up to 90% – a claim that many who are at high risk (men who have sex with men, sex workers and those who inject drugs) of transmission will relish in.

Though the NHS were before convinced they had no legal duty to fund the drug, the case’s judge, Mr Justice Green, sitting in London ruled that NHS England “has erred in deciding that it has no power or duty to commission the preventative drugs in issue”.

Previously legal advisers to the NHS claimed it was the responsibility of local councils to provide preventative treatments for those at high risk of HIV.

However campaigners have pushed that, as well as gay men using condoms to prevent infection, there is an “ethical duty” for PrEP to be available.

In response to this progressive new ruling, NAT’s chief executive Deborah Gold said:

This is fantastic news. It is vindication for the many people who were let down when NHS England absolved itself of responsibility for PrEP. The judgment has confirmed our view that it is perfectly lawful for NHS England to commission PrEP. Now NHS England must do just that.

Over 4,000 people are getting HIV every year in the UK – we desperately need further prevention options to add to condom use. PrEP works. It saves money and it will make an enormous difference to the lives of men and women across the country who are at risk of acquiring HIV. The delay to commissioning PrEP is both unethical and expensive.”

As it stands, 103,000 people are living with HIV in the UK. However, when PrEP comes into mainstream use and becomes a regular for gay and bisexual men and sex workers, we could eventually see the number of Brits diagnosed curbed significantly and the fight against HIV won.

 

Historians Map Out the UK’s Hidden, Undocumented Sites of LGBT History

From the street worked by a medieval transgender prostitute, to a pond used by gay men to bathe nude, a map showing sites of historical significance to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in England was release this week.

The “Pride of Place” project features more than 200 buildings of LGBT heritage across England, many of which were previously hidden or undocumented, according to Historic England, the public body that preserves historic buildings.

Rosie Sherrington, social inclusion and diversity adviser at Historic England, said.

You can see that the LGBT community is not just a modern phenomenon, it has been around throughout history, but now people are accepting it.”

The map categorises the sites under headings such as activism and pubs and clubs, with locations ranging from Bletchley Park, home to the work of Nazi-code breaker Alan Turing, to pub drag shows that are still operating today.

It is really good to look at ordinary and smaller places that are not landmarks but have incredible and interesting stories behind them.”

The project, organised by Historic England and led by historians at Leeds Beckett University, will feature exhibitions and presentations in an attempt to encourage people to campaign for the protection of other buildings.

The launch of the map comes just days after the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling requiring states to allow same-sex marriage, and a month after Irish voters backed same-sex marriage in a referendum.

One Million People Expected to Attend London’s Pride Parade

Last year organisers of London Pride estimated around 700,000 people witnessed the parade, with around 30,000 people participating, this Saturday’s celebrations could be seen by nearly a million.

That number is likely to include tourists and shoppers in the West End, who see the parade, pass by but were not actively participating in the event.

Wembley Arch and the London Eye will be lit up in rainbow colours, to celebrate the parade.

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Michael Salter, Chairman of Pride in London said:

It’s incredible to see how Pride in London has grown over the last three years to quickly become the biggest Pride event in the country.

The annual Pride Parade now includes over 250 groups representing the incredible diversity of London’s LGBT+ community. And this year’s Parade theme Pride Heroes will ensure this is the most colourful and exhilarating Parade the city has ever seen.”

 

Will the Labour Party be Brave Enough to Appoint a Lesbian MP for their Leader?

Ever since Ed Milland resigned as party leader, rumours have been circulating about who will step forward to take the Leadership.

One MP being considered is Wallasey MP Angela Eagle, who happens to also be a lesbian.

Mr Miliband resigned as party leader after the Conservatives won an absolute majority in the General Election.

Labour’s deputy leader Harriet Harman – who is serving as acting leader until a new leader is chosen – has also announced she plans to step down, leading to a second leadership vacancy.

Ms Eagle sits on the centre left of the party and has represented the Wallasey constituency since 1992. She has also served as a Minister under Gordon Brown and is currently Shadow Leader of the House of Commons, is one of just three out lesbians currently in Parliament.

Ms Eagle, who was re-elected with a 38-point lead in her Wallasey constituency, is thought to be considering a run to replace Labour leader Ed Miliband, who resigned yesterday.

A source told the Liverpool Echo:

Angela’s thinking about running the Labour leadership or deputy leadership. She’s popular with members, the PLP (Parliamentary Labour Party), and unions.”

The source said her experience as former chair of the party would stand her in good stead, as would her current positions as chair of Labour’s national policy forum and shadow leader of the House of Commons.

She would face stiff competition from rumoured front-runners Chuka Umunna, Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Dan Jarvis – making a run for deputy leader more plausible.

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Ms Eagle’s twin sister, Maria Eagle, is also an MP.

UK LGBT People Should Fear Government ‘Complacency’, Says Stonewall

If you’ve been following the debates in the run up to the UK’s general election in May, then you’ll know that the top three deciding ‘issues’ that will determine which party gets into power are: immigration, the NHS and the economy. British people want to know how the government is going to cut the deficit, they want to know how the government is going to curb the rise in immigration (or at least build better infrastructure to cope with it) and how the government is going to stop the NHS from going under or going private.

Most notably not a talking point this time around is equality.

England, Scotland and Wales all have marriage equality and all three countries also have laws that permit adoption of children by same-sex couples or allow same-sex partners to be listed on a child’s birth certificate. Northern Ireland is a little bit behind when it comes to LGBT equality but it’s slowly but surely getting there.

The problem Stonewall has is that although the laws that have been passed already are important and are vital on the road to full equality, they are nowhere near comprehensive. There are still great changes that need to be done but “people assume that legal equality is enough by itself” and “there is still a lot to do to change social attitudes towards LGBT people”.

In a Huffington Post article, the LGBTQ organisation explains that the following need to be addressed by the main political parties of the coming election:

  • “Statutory Sex and Relationship Education for primary and secondary school children in England. This includes talking about different types of families to make people aware of the diversity of family life. It also means ensuring that the issues facing LGBT young people are included across the board, including in discussions around consent, abuse and online safety. Finally, Stonewall is calling on the next government to show its commitment to tackling homophobic, biphobic, and transphobic bullying by ensuring all teachers are trained effectively.
  • Combatting homophobic, biphobic and transphobic hate crime. This must be high priority and should be added to the list of ‘aggravated’ offences alongside hate crime based on race or religion. The next government should spearhead a campaign that encourages LGBT people to report all incidences of hate crime; we must abolish the notion that some incidents are not serious enough to report.
  • International aid. The next government must develop initiatives to ensure aid reaches LGBT people across the world. It should encourage its partners to embed LGBT equality into the way they plan and deliver aid, with the support of LGBT people in their countries, and it should make specific funding available for LGBT groups to achieve social change.
  • Reviewing the laws affecting trans people. We also know that across the UK trans people have to fight for the right to be themselves, often struggling with a legal system that doesn’t make that easy. That’s why we’re asking all candidates to commit to reviewing laws affecting trans people, including the Gender Recognition Act, to ensure that all trans people are treated as equal citizens with equal rights.”

Unfortunately, none of these things have been mentioned in a positive light or at all during this election season. For example, the UK Independence Party (commonly known known as UKIP) has come under fire for its views on LGBT equality, having opposed several rulings that would help tackle homophobia against same-sex couples moving from the UK to other parts of the EU and in 2014 they didn’t support the calls to work on a strategy that tackle homophobia across Europe. Whilst UKIP certainly isn’t alone in its poor LGBT track record, the fact that LGBT rights have only really come up when a member of UKIP has said something against them is rather telling.

There’s just one month to go until the UK general election (May 7) so it seems unlikely that any of the leading political parties will change their tune between now and then, but we should still push for them to take action no matter what.

Nigerian LGBT Activist’s Bid for Asylum Rejected Becasue Judge Doesn’t Believe She’s a Lesbian

Nigerian LGBTI activist, Aderonke Apata, bid for asylum was rejected by a British High Court, because the judge ruled her lesbian relationship was ‘fabricated’.

Apata says she now faces persecution, imprisonment and even death if she returns to Nigeria, where she had been an outspoken gay rights activist before moving to the UK in 2004.

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Her applications for asylum have been repeatedly denied as the Home Office did not believe she was really a lesbian.

Also read: UK Home Office Claims Asylum Seeker Can’t Be A Lesbian Because She Is A Mother

Last year Apata, desperate to prove to the authorities that she is homosexual, submitted private photographs and a DVD of her sex life.

However, a Home Office barrister argued last month that Ms Apata cannot be a lesbian as she has children. He claimed that while she “indulged in same-sex activity” she was not “part of the social group known as lesbians”.

Deputy High Court Judge John Bowers QC this week said:

I find it difficult to disagree with the conclusions of the First Tier Tribunal that ‘she has engaged in same-sex relationships in detention in order to fabricate an asylum claim based on claimed lesbian sexuality. I also accept the associated submission made by [the Home Office] that she has in effect adjusted her conduct so as to adopt other customs, dress and mores of a particular social group purely as a way of gaining refugee status.”

He mentioned the “impressive” amount of support she had received, including a petition signed by several hundred thousand people, but said that did not count as evidence.

He disagreed that having children could be considered evidence against her, but did agree Ms Apata was not part of the “particular social group” of lesbians.

In court, Apata was supported by human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell. He said:

It’s bizarre that the judge does not accept that Aderonke is a member of a particular social group, namely lesbian women. I find it offensive to suggest that she’s adopted the ‘customs, dress and mores’ of lesbian women purely in order to gain refugee status, given the evidence that she’s presented in her claim. 

The worst aspect of the ruling is the judge doesn’t accept that she has a well founded fear of persecution if she returns to Nigeria. It’s clear that she’s been publicly identified in the UK and in Nigeria as a lesbian or bisexual woman. Such women face the twin threats of legal persecution and mob violence in Nigeria.”

In Nigeria homosexuality is punishable by up to 14 years in prison, under laws passed in January 2014; the country has also seen a spike in violence against homosexual people.

Apata’s mental healt also formed part of the case. In 2005 she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress and attempted suicide while she was in prison, waiting for deportation.

She has not made a public statement, but although she is frightened of the future Apata believes there may be a chance for her to stay.

Her long-term partner Happiness Agboro, to whom Apata is engaged, is also from Nigeria and has already been granted asylum because of her sexuality.

TV Viewers Upset Because Soap Character is Not a Lesbian

Out UK actress Michelle Hardwick, who plays Vanessa Woodfield in the TV soap Emmerdale, has revealed she had angry messages from fans  after her character started dating a man following a lesbian storyline.

In the soap, she shared a short lesbian affair with friend and colleague Rhona Goskirk (Zoe Henry), before dating current 17-year-old toyboy Kirin Kotecha (Adam Fielding).

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Talking to Digital Spy, Hardwick said

“There are certain people on Twitter that were so upset that Vanessa is not a lesbian after the Rhona story. I don’t respond to everyone but what I say is that when Vanessa came into the village, she wasn’t a lesbian. 

She was a free spirit who was quite man mad, eyeing up Andy Sugden at the bar. Vanessa fell in love with her best friend who she was helping through a difficult time, and it became more of an obsession. Some people would prefer her to be with a woman, but hey ho – let’s mix it up a bit, that’s what I say!

Michelle Hardwick

Hardwick came out in 2013 and proposed to her girlfriend in real life on New Year’s Eve, 2013.

UK Home Office Claims Asylum Seeker Can’t Be A Lesbian Because She Is A Mother

Aderonke Apata is an LBGBT rights activist, who moved to the UK from Nigeria in 2004. However, her application for asylum on the grounds of her sexuality was rejected last year, despite providing proof of former girlfriends in both the UK and Nigeria.

Ms Apata claims she is at risk of being deported to Nigeria, which an increasingly conservative Nigeria, as of January 2014 it is illegal to be gay; the punishment is imprisonment, and on a less official scale, the fear of vigilante attacks is high.

However, Andrew Bird, the lawyer for the Home Secretary Theresa May, yesterday told a court that the UK would be happy to deport Ms. Apata because, well, she doesn’t seem gay to him. Saying that although Ms Apata had “indulged in same-sex activity” she was “not part of the social group known as lesbians” because she had children.

“You can’t be a heterosexual one day and a lesbian the next day. Just as you can’t change your race.”

Andrew Bird

Um, sorry… did this guy miss the memo that there are plenty of lesbians who don’t realise they’re gay until later on in life, especially those who live in countries where it just isn’t accepted to ‘come out’. And also bisexual women who can find people of either sex attractive?

Ms Apata’s barrister Abid Mahmood attacked the claims as “highly offensive… stereotypical views of the past.”

“Some members of the public may have those views but it doesn’t mean a government department should be putting these views forward in evidence. There is evidence of the genuineness of her case, that she will be picked out as a lesbian if she is returned.”

Abid Mahmood

Deputy High Court judge John Bowers QC has delayed a decision for three weeks, saying he would like time to go over all the arguments.

For what it’s worth, Ms. Apata is in a relationship with a woman called Happiness Agboro; they’re engaged and were holding hands at the court yesterday.

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Speaking outside the court alongside her female partner, Ms Apata told the Independent:

“The Home Office has treated me badly from day one. Staying in Britain means staying safe, staying with my partner and continuing my campaigning.”

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In the UK, the government is allowed to grant people asylum on the basis of their sexuality, if it is one that could mean they’re persecuted or punished in their home country. However, the Home Office has a bad record with dealing with these sorts of cases. Until the EU banned the tests, LGBT asylum seekers have had to undergo quizzes to ‘prove’ their sexuality, like knowing stuff about 19th Century writer Oscar Wilde or answering ‘sexually intrusive’ questions about their sexuality like ‘what do you get from a homosexual relationship you can’t get from a heterosexual relationship’ and ‘Did you put your penis into X’s backside?’

 

Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual UK Servicemen And Women Are Now Willingly Out Themselves On Their Military Records

Hundreds of gay, lesbian and bisexual servicemen and women have willingly outed themselves on their military records in the UK.

Around 250 servicemen and 181 servicewomen ­said they are homosexual on files, while 86 men and 18 women were bisexual.

However, 829 men and 102 women chose to keep their sexuality secret – many because of fear of bullying, says a military source.

This first official audit came after the Ministry of Defence gave service personnel the option to reveal their sexual orientation in January.

An MoD spokesman said:

“The MoD proudly encourages diversity. Personnel are now encouraged to declare their orientation. Although this is not mandatory, collecting this data will give us a better understanding of the composition of our Armed Forces and help ­ensure policies fully support our personnel.”

Another military source applauded the news, but warned more must be done.

“The fact many troops feel ­confident enough to declare their ­sexuality on their personal documents is a major step forward in the right direction. But homophobic bullying still exists within the military and it is a problem, which isn’t going away. The armed forces need to ensure that they continue the good work because there is a lot more to be done. 

The Ministry of Defence should not be complacent because some troops feel confident enough to declare their sexuality.”

Stonewall, however estimates there could be at least 10,000 LGBT troops serving in the UK armed forces, but many fearing abuse and prejudice, which stops them from coming out.

Recently lesbian soldier, Lance Bombardier Kerry Fletcher, won £124,000 in 2009 for sexual harassment that led to her quitting the Royal Artillery. And one general recently ­revealed he is ­preparing to out himself in protest over homophobic ­comments made by a colleague.

“I never ­considered outing myself until ­another very senior officer said he believed that ­admission of­ ­homosexuality by a senior ­officer would be career suicide. I actually felt like saying, ‘Actually I’m gay and it has never prevented me from serving Queen and country’. “I was furious, but in the end I let the comment pass. Over the last few weeks, I started to ask myself whether the time had come for someone of my rank to speak out and say you can serve your country at the highest levels as a gay man or woman.”

 

Finally, Couples in Civil Partnerships Can Now Marry

As of today, same-sex couples already in a civil partnership can decide if they to convert to a marriage, or remain in this legal status.

Couples already in civil partnerships may opt for a simple conversion at a register office, or a two-stage process, which includes a ceremony at a venue of their choice, which allows them to choose a religious venue, hotel or other venue to host their conversion ceremony. A superintendent registrar must be present for the first part of the conversion, and a religious figure may take over to conduct the rest of the ceremony.

However, the legal formation of the marriage is conducted by the registrar, not the religious minister, unlike in a same-sex marriage for a couple not in a partnership.

Talking to PinkNews, Education Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities Nicky Morgan and Skills and Equalities Minister Nick Boles Marriage said:

“Marriage is a universal institution which should be available to all. It is the bedrock of our society and the most powerful expression of commitment that two people can make. While civil partnerships remain an important part of the journey towards legal equality, it is entirely understandable why so many same-sex couples want to be able to enter into the institution of marriage and express their love in the same way as their peers.”

The first same-sex marriages in Scotland take place on New Year’s Eve, but same-sex marriage will remain illegal in Northern Ireland.

‘Don’t be a bystander’ this Anti-Bullying Week

Stonewall is working with a number of celebrities, workplaces, and schools, to tackle abusive language this Anti-Bullying Week by supporting the NoBystanders campaign. The campaign has already been backed by celebrities including Stephen Fry, Nicole Scherzinger, Perez Hilton, Sinitta, Clare Balding and David Walliams.

The campaign comes in response to shocking figures from Stonewall’s research in the UK, where more than 75,000 young people will be bullied this year simply for being gay, and 21,000 of these will attempt suicide. Homophobic bullying and abuse can have a devastating impact on young people’s self-esteem, with one in three gay pupils who experience homophobic bullying changing their plans for future education because of it.

The charity has sent Anti-Bullying Week education packs, which contain NoBystanders pledge posters and guidance on how to mark Anti-Bullying Week, to more than 1,000 schools and local authorities in the UK.

700 Stonewall Diversity Champions – who together  employ more than six million people – have also been sent materials to help them tackle abuse in the workplace.

“This Anti-Bullying Week we’re asking individuals and groups to do their bit to tackle abuse and prejudice that still blights too many lives. More than half of gay pupils experience verbal bullying and one in six experience physical abuse. People can show their support for the campaign by tweeting using #nobystanders and by ordering their free pin badge at nobystanders.org.uk.”

James Taylor, Stonewall’s Head of Policy

What to Expect at This Years LFest – #LFest2014

LFest is the multi award winning Lesbian Music, Arts and Comedy Festival.

LFest is the multi award winning Lesbian Music, Arts and Comedy Festival, widely recognised as being the “number one” Lesbian festival in the UK and is now in it’s fourth year. With a host of acts and activities to suit all tastes it has grown year on year.

It’s a festival that offers a safe and fun environment where lesbians can bring their families and just hang out. We try and pack as much into the weekend as possible and aim what we do at a broad spectrum of ages and interests. We have outdoor music stages – one for acoustic music – and an arts stage. There’s cabaret, a comedy stage, a cinema, fun sports and a wide array of workshops too. We have an attitude of ‘if it’s not been done before, let’s try it!’

Cindy Edwards – Festival Director

So what and who to expect this year…

2 Music Stages – An Areana and the Acoustic Stage

“Some familiar faces return together with a huge selection of new artists from far and wide who will be tantalising your ears, delivering an eclectic and electrifying mix of smooth acoustic folk through to bluesy soul pop and rock. You will certainly find all you need at L Fest 2014 ..whatever your flavour and whatever your mood, we are sure this year’s line-up will have you rockin’ out in the summer sun…”

Lucy & Mandy Burton. L Fest Music Coordinators

Art Stage

“Three years ago if someone had said to me you will programme the arts stage at L Fest, I would have thought they were mad! I must thank SpringOut once again for the the arts, cinema & workshops programming for the past 3 years… I’m so pleased with the amazing artists we have for you over the weekend with a diverse line up of authors, spoken word,discussion, theatre and much more.”

Cindy Edwards – Festival Director

Cinema

“This year the L Fest cinema has a truly international theme with films from across the globe! We will provide a wide range of entertainment from full length feature films: “Who’s Afraid of Vagina Wolf?” (from Peccadillo Pictures -starring Guinevere Turner) and Australia’s “Submerge” by director Kat Holmes who’ll be flying in for Q & A’s…

Award-winning short films-the adorable “Cat Sitting”(by Wollie Boehm) and thought provoking anti-bullying short “Love Is All You Need” (k Rocco shields writer director & producer Dana Gardner) – PLUS- the PSA/Music video “She4Me” directed by Nicole Conn starring Nicole Pacent, Gabrielle Christian, Barbara Niven (“A Perfect Ending”) with cameos by Traci Dinwidie (“Elena Undone”) and Cathy DeBuono.

Late Night films for the ladies looking for a quieter evening: “Hannah Free” – starring Sharon Gless and “And Then Came Lola” starring Jill Bennett, last year’s L Fest guest. With this great line-up and schedule in our L Fest cinema, we’ll reverse the schedule over the weekend to be sure you get to see the projects important to you while enjoying all L Fest has to offer”

Denise Warner-Gregory

Here Come The Girls Cabaret Night

“Another new area for 2014, the cabaret and comedy stage will run each night due to your feedback for more in 2013! Cabaret style seating and tables, large stage in the downstairs bar will ensure room for everyone… I cannot wait to see all of these shows!”

Cindy Edwards – Festival Director

86% of UK School Teachers say Homophobic Bullying Happens in Their School

Front page imageA new YouGov polling released by Stonewall shows that teachers are still failing to tackle homophobic bullying in Britain’s schools. Just one in eight teachers trained to tackle homophobic bullying, and a third of teachers hear homophobic language from other school staff.

The Teachers’ Report 2014 revealed that fewer than one in ten – 8%, primary school teachers and fewer than one in five – 17%, secondary school teachers have received training on tackling homophobic bullying.

This is despite the fact that 66% of secondary school teachers say that homophobic bullying has a detrimental impact on students’ achievement and attainment at school. Shockingly three in ten secondary school teachers and two in five primary school teachers do not know if they are even allowed to teach lesbian, gay and bisexual issues.

The Teachers’ Report 2014 also reveals that an overwhelming majority of teachers across both secondary and primary schools believe school staff have a duty to prevent and respond to homophobic bullying. Encouragingly the report does show that the percentage of teachers who say homophobic bullying happens often in their schools has fallen by half.

Teachers are the most powerful tool that we have in the fight to tackle homophobic bullying. Sadly our new research shows that, despite some progress, the legacy of Section 28 is lives on in Britain’s schools. We’ve seen what happens when schools fail to get to grips with teaching the realities of 21st century Britain. The Government must now make it a priority that every single teacher is trained to tackle all types of bullying and abuse in our schools.’

Ruth Hunt, Stonewall Acting Chief Executive

The Teachers’ Report 2014 was launched at Stonewall’s annual Education for All Conference, which brings together teachers, politicians and students.

The charity is also launching an interactive new website for primary schools to help them tackle homophobia and to talk about different families in an age-appropriate manner: www.stonewallprimary.org.uk

Alongside of the new guidance and research Stonewall has named the top local authorities who are working to tackle homophobic bullying. Brighton & Hove council is named the top local authority for their work to prevent bullying and create inclusive schools. Hertfordshire Country Council and Wiltshire Council round out the top three performing local authorities in 2014.

When local authorities abdicate their leadership on tackling bullying and prejudice it is students across Britain who suffer. The local authorities, and particularly Brighton & Hove Council, have shown that we can build schools that are welcoming for all where students can achieve their full academic potential, regardless of their sexual orientation.’

Luke Tryl, Stonewall’s Head of Education

 

Meet ‘Say My Name’, the Gay British Series Set in the Black Community

The ‘typical’, often seen queer characters in television in media are white. Propped up by Eurocentric (read: ‘white is right’) ideals, most shows are quick to acknowledge queer identities as diversity, whilst failing to recognise both black and queer identities in the same vein. And it is a problem because without representation people are neither understanding or empathetic of the lives of queer people of colour, especially those who live outside of rich suburbs, living in more typically urban areas instead. But they do exist and there are stories to be told. Grand, emotional, gritty and real stories that would pull at our heartstrings and captivate us in ways that the many instances of middle class white women in high flying jobs never could, because despite not being a very good representation of white queer ladies anyway, there’s an entire subset of queer people of colour being left out of the equation.

This is what Say My Name was created to fix. Based around the 2006 contemporary play of the same name, Say My Name was a “contemporary British gay love story set against a gritty grimy backdrop of ‘street’ reality” that has now been expanded into a full series. Say My Name (the short) originally rose to fame as it won the “Angry Now” competition at the Royal Court Theatre in London, leading many to take interest in the sort of story that frankly, had never been depicted in a good light (or at all) previously. From a play it evolved into a short film and was aired at plenty of film festivals worth their salt (including Outfest in Los Angeles) around the globe.

There are several episodes of Say My Name in the pipeline as the series follows characters Chris and Ricky through the “changing tides of this emotional rollercoaster”. Don’t expect it to be all post-Big Dipper types downs though, as promised scenes include meeting ex-girlfriends, parents and coming out, all of which are likely to create hilarity, elation and a few tears too once the series airs, so watch a preview below to find out more.


Say My Name!

ViaSay My Name.

 

BUFF – An Event for the Trans Masculine Community in the UK

Starting Friday 11th June 2014, BUFF will be holding Manchester’s annual trans masculine pride event.

BUFF is an event organised by and for the trans masculine community and their allies. And it is an event, which helps bring further visibility and support to a part of the LGBTQ community that is often overshadowed by other.

This week, we caught up with Jake (one of the event organisers) to discuss the importance of this event for trans males and the LGBTQ community.

KitschMix: Where did the idea of BUFF come from?

Jake: BUFF came from attending Sparkle in 2012 with a group of friends who all identify as trans men and we’d all been attending for a few years, but there was never anything for the male/genderqueer side of the community so we decided to get things going. Originally we were planning to have our first event this year but decided to take the plunge and do it last year with only four months of planning.

KitschMix: Who else is involved in the project, what support does your event get from other LGBT organisations, and how many people do you expect to attend?

Jake: There is me (Jake), Charlie, Frank and Adam. Last year we got around 80 people attending so hopefully we will have a bigger crowd.

KitschMix: Why is it so important for you to hold this event?

Jake: It’s important for us to hold the event because Sparkle is meant to be the national transgender celebration, but it is predominantly aimed at trans women and there’s a lack of visibility for trans men. Also it’s important so we can celebrate what the trans masculine community is in a fun way.

KitschMix: When will the event be held and do you have plans to do any other events?

Jake: BUFF 2014 is held over a weekend in July on the 11th till the 13th. We have no plans to do anymore events this year due to all of our schedules being quite busy.

KitschMix: Are their other trans*masculine events held around the UK? What other support can people get?

Jake: There is trans pride down in Brighton which is a mixed event but as for an event like BUFF then we are the only one I believe. Trans Bare All (who we are raising money for this year) do weekend retreats for trans men and genderqueer people,you’d have to check their website out for more info as there isn’t a planned event this year other than their 5 year birthday party.

KitschMix: What sorts of challenges do you think trans*masculine people face in Britain today?

Jake: I think some of the challenges we face are still very much the same as they always have been such as access to health care, assumptions surgery (I.e all trans men/genderqueer people will have lower surgery/a particular type of surgery), a lack of visibility and that transitioning to male is possible, and not being taken seriously by the general public or gender clinics if you don’t behave in a stereotypically masculine way. I’d like to add is that although trans men and genderqueer people are under the same ‘umbrella’, our experiences can be very different in many ways.

BUFF 2014 is aimed to raise the profile of the trans masculine community but our events are open to everyone no matter how they identify. We hope that you will join us and help us raise lots of money for Trans Bare All.

KitschMix: And finally what does BUFF stand for?

Jake: The word ‘buff’ traditionally refers to big, strong, muscular men, but the team feeling buff should be for everyone!


BUFF 2014 is on Fri 11th – Sun 13th July 2014, coinciding with Sparkle Manchester: The National Transgender Celebration 2014.

BUFF 01

website:  www.buffmanchester.wix.com/buff

Social: Facebook & Twitter

Uk Government Announces New Initiative to Stop Homophobic Bullying in Schools

The National Centre for Social Research has been awarded a contract to take forward the first stage of a project to help drive out homophobic bullying, as well as bi-phobic and trans-phobic bullying in schools.

The project, announced in November 2013, seeks to understand the most effective ways to reduce this type of bullying and its impacts among school-age children and young people. The first phase of the project is a full review of all the available evidence and existing practices currently in place in schools to tackle this issue. Organisations were invited to bid for funding to conduct this work, and NatCen was the successful bidder. This work is now under way and NatCen will report back in the summer.

A recent Youth Chances survey showed that, overall nearly half (49%) of LGBT young people questioned reported that their time at school was affected by discrimination or fear of discrimination.

Homophobic, biphobic and transphobic taunts and teasing in the school playground may seem harmless but it can seriously affect children’s health and well-being, lead to poor educational performance and prevent them getting ahead in life. Young people should be able to go to school without fear of bullying or discrimination. We expect schools to take a strong stand against all forms of bullying and to deal with incidents quickly when they occur. This project will help us to understand all the issues, what works best in tackling this type of bullying, and to develop effective, evidence-based tools and best practice that will help schools and others to stamp out this harmful behaviour.

Jenny Willott, Minister for Women and Equalities

The project builds on action the government has already taken to tackle bullying in schools including publishing updated advice and guidance for schools and governing bodies; and giving schools greater legal powers to tackle bad behaviour and cyber-bullying.

We are delighted to be carrying out this important and well needed piece of research and have put together a team who fully understand and have experience in the areas of equalities and LGBT research. We have designed a mixed methods programme of work which we hope will really get to the bottom of what works and why to eventually help all of those working with children and young people to eradicate homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying.

Michelle Gray, Project Research Director at NatCen