Chechnya’s Human Rights abuses against the LGBT community

Amnesty International are currently working to raise awareness of Chechnya’s abduction and killing of LGBT people. ‘According to independent daily newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, up to 100 men suspected of being gay have been abducted as part of a coordinated government campaign.’ It has been in the news for the last month about human rights abuses being meted out to the LGBT community in Chechnya simply because of their sexuality. Time magazine showed it on their YouTube channel, as did CNN and Sky News.

Dozens of gay men from Chechnya who’ve been trying to flee the region in fear for their lives are hopeful that a country will act as a safe haven for them and issue them a visa. Nine men have already been granted visas. Two of them went to Lithuania, which has announced its involvement. “It’s very important to act, because they are suffering,” Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius told the BBC. He would not name the other countries involved but described them as “allies”. His country’s decision was an “implicit message” to Russia, he said, because “we are taking care of Russian citizens… [whose] rights were abused”.

If you are thinking, ‘where is Chechnya?’ or ‘why have I heard of this place before?’ then maybe a read of the Washington Post’s 9 questions about Chechnya and Dagestan you were too embarrassed to ask  might be worth a read!

chechnya

#allemannenhandinhand

There are so many different ways of protesting or trying to bring about change.

To protest (verb) – express an objection to what someone has said or done

If you decide to go out and protest then you can consider: signage, shouting, sit-ins, petitions, silence, marches, boycotts, putting your body in the way, mock awards, vigils, silliness, singing, praying or flash mobs. There are hundreds of other ideas on non-violent protest and sometimes you can do something specific to the cause you are protesting about.

This is what has recently happened in the Netherlands, where men are showing their support for gay men being able to hold hands and openly express their relationships. Over the weekend in the Dutch city of Arnhem there was a vicious assault of two gay men.  Ronnie Sewratan-Vernes suffered four missing teeth and a severed lip, whereas Jasper Vernes-Sewratan was left with injured ribs. Jasper said they usually hide their relationship, but had decided to hold hands as they walked home after a night out. Dutch politicians as well as celebrities are joining with other Dutch men to show their solidarity to the gay men who were attacked – by holding hands.

Alexander-Pechtold-Wouter-Koolmees

The politician Alexander Pechtold attended a meeting at The Hague with Wooter Koulmees a financial specialist.

hand in hand

hand in hand 3

Beauty and the Beast gets adults only rating in Russia

In the UK Beauty and the Beast gets a PG rating (requires parental guidance), whereas in Russia it has been given an adults only rating. This is for exactly the same film.

beauty and the ebast

The reason is homosexuality. In Russia since 2013 it has been illegal to talk or give information to minors (children) about homosexuality. In the new Beauty and the Beast live action film LeFou and his handsome friend begin a loving gay relationship. This is too much for the Russian culture minister who has slapped this heavy rating on the film.

Emma Watson (Beauty) appears in the new movie and is travelling around the world with Dan Stevens (the Beast) giving numerous press interviews.

It’s not all fine for people in the LGBT+ community

When Jeremy Corbyn leader of the Labour Party in the UK said that people ‘chose’ to be LGBT+ he was criticised, but a journalist writing for the Independent says Corbyn wasn’t being offensive. In fact after being called obscene names and given dirty looks for showing affection to his partner in public, he wonders whether many of the LGBT+ community would argue it is easier in the closet.

“The truth is, I have no idea why I’m gay, and while it would be nice to think that I was “born this way”, and genetic studies strongly suggest this may well be the case, it shouldn’t matter if it’s a “lifestyle choice”, to borrow a phrase that’s been thrown at me by religious friends.  Denying that it cannot be a choice devalues the experiences of those that have made such a decision, and adds an extra layer of discrimination that the LGBT community does not need. I’ve never met anyone that claims to have consciously decided to be gay, but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible.”  Zak Thomas in the Independent.

Church of England still rejects same-sex marriage

The Church of England bishops have rejected the need to change its standpoint on same-sex marriages. A new report entitled Marriage and Same Sex Relationships after the Shared Conversations, by the Church of England bishops suggests new teachings on marriage and relationships should be drawn up to replace those introduced in the 1990s. It said, despite rejecting the idea of changing policy on same-sex relationships, that the new teachings should provide “maximum freedom” for gay people. 

The report also said there was “some support” in the House for the new document including “penitence for the treatment some lesbian and gay people have received at the hands of the Church”. Penitence means the action of feeling or showing sorrow and regret for having done wrong which is like repentance.

In England and Wales the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act was passed in 2013 and became law in 2014. It allowed marriage for the first time between gay people because the Government believed that it should not prevent couples from marrying unless there are very good reasons – and loving someone of the same sex is not one of them. The law stated that religious organisation were allowed to opt out of being forced to conduct same-sex marriages as part of human rights legislation which guarantees the freedom of thought, religion and conscience.

Gay Cake Case Rumbles On

In 2015 Ashers Bakery in Northern Ireland was found guilty of discriminating against a gay couple due to their sexual orientation and then at a recent appeal hearing they were once again found to be breaking Equality laws. Well now the case has been referred to the supreme court in London to be re-heard.

So this case goes on and on. The BBC give a run down of the whole story and explain how the bakery has been supported financially by a Christian institution.

_81918122_pacemaker_ashers_baking_company_01

Ultra-orthodox Jewish Newspapers Won’t Publish Photos of Women

It’s hard to believe that in 2016 when gender equality has been celebrated and supported in the West since the 1970s that some religious groups still have a problem with female imagery. Ultra-orthodox Jewish newspapers which won’t publics photographs of women are currently struggling to cover the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton and one does wonder how they’re going to cope if she make it to US President in November!

In Britain the last four decades have witnessed an enormous religious renaissance of orthodox Judaism with several organisations like Lubavitch, Aish, The Jewish Learning Exchange (JLE) and Project SEED spearheading the change. Aish runs packed weekly lectures in its centres in North London and annually takes up to 500 young people for three week study programmes to Israel, Australia or New York. They recently had the success of their programmes endorsed by MORI which reported, ‘Of those participants who have married or have become engaged since participating in the program, 97% have chosen a Jewish partner. Of those who remain single, 92% are committed to marrying someone Jewish who shares a commitment to Judaism and the Jewish people.’

Being an orthodox Jew is difficult if you are gay, as homosexuality is not seen as acceptable. A BBC article about being a gay Orthodox Jew describes the difficulty a woman faced living in a society which wouldn’t accept her.