Gay UK News & Reports 2010 Aug-Dec

1 Attitude magazine tackles mental health issues in gay men 8/10

2 20,000 protest over Pope’s views on homosexuality 9/10

3 Sir Ian McKellen: Gay marriage has to be on Stonewall’s agenda 9/10

3a British army claims having openly gay soldiers has ‘increased productivity’ 9/10

4 Sir Ian McKellen unveils Tatchell blue plaque Award 10/10

5 Gay Saudi prince ‘strangled servant in sexual killing’ 10/10

6 The Gay Liberation Front’s social revolution 10/10

7 Gay Saudi prince sentenced to life for killing servant 10/10

8 Nigerian gay man Uche Nanbuife faces deportation from Britain 11/10

9 Government says it will work to make companies ‘more gay-friendly’ 12/10

August 25, 2010 – PinkNews

Attitude magazine tackles mental health issues in gay men

by Christopher Brocklebank
The latest edition of Attitude, the UK’s best-selling gay magazine, is focusing on the sensitive – and often taboo – issue of mental health problems in gay men.
The "Issues Issue" addresses the "alarming" high rates of depression, suicide, anxiety and addiction in gay men, and provides "concrete reasons" for why some may suffer from these things and what they can do about them.

Attitude’s editor, Matthew Todd said: "It’s not just treading over old ground. We’ve taken advice from the world’s leading gay psychologists and I think we have some real, solid answers about what causes the increased levels of anxiety, depression and self-destructive behaviour in many of us, including myself, as I say in the issue – and how those of us who do feel that way can do something about it.

"I’m hoping this will be the first step towards discussing this openly. I’m especially pleased that people can now download Attitude onto their iphones or ipads because we know some people are anxious about buying gay magazines in shops." The findings presented in the magazine are backed up by research which shows that gay men suffer a disproportionate amount of mental health problems – certainly more than their straight brethren.

20 September 2010 – Fridae

UK: 20,000 protest over Pope Benedict XVI’s views on homosexuality and the spread of HIV/ AIDS

Thousands of protesters ranging from humanists/atheists to gay rights campaigners, sexual health campaigners and women rights campaigners gathered in London on Saturday against Pope Benedict XVI’s 4-day visit. reports:
Thousands of protesters gathered in central London on Saturday with banners and blown-up condoms, angered at the Pope’s response to the child abuse scandal, his homophobic comments about gay relationships and his claims that condoms spread rather than prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS.
Organisers believe that up to 20,000 activists took part in the demonstration in Hyde Park. Protesters included the author of ‘The God Delusion’, Richard Dawkins, and gay human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.

Protesters unfurled banners with statements including: "Pope’s opposition to condoms kills people", "Keep the Pope out of women’s’ reproductive rights" and "F*CK the Pope … But wear a condom". Others simply called the Pope a "bigot" or a "homophobe", while others balloons made up of blown up condoms, while some protesters displayed their anger at the Pontiff’s apparent role in covering up the child abuse scandal within the church.

September 29, 2010 – PinkNews

Sir Ian McKellen: Gay marriage has to be on Stonewall’s agenda

by Jessica Geen
Stonewall co-founder Sir Ian McKellen said today that the gay charity should lobby for gay marriage but issues such as tackling homophobic bullying must take priority. He becomes the second co-founder of Stonewall to call on the charity to campaign for gay marriage, Michael Cashman authored a column for on Monday entitled, "What part of ‘equality’ can’t Stonewall understand?"
He was speaking after the unveiling of a blue plaque outside the home of gay rights activist Peter Tatchell in Southwark, south London.

The veteran actor and gay campaigner told PinkNews that although marriage was not for him, he called on Stonewall, the gay charity he co-founded, to put the issue on its agenda. However, he praised the charity’s "vital" work in tackling homophobic bullying in schools, which he said was a more pressing issue.

Sir Ian said: "[Marriage] is not for me, but as Peter [Tatchell] says, it’s for other people and if people want to get married, whoever they are, they should be allowed to. That’s self-evident to me and all I’ve ever campaigned for is equality for gay people and at the moment there is inequality in that civil partnerships are all that’s available. So, I’ve no doubt, that if we wait and wait, eventually it’ll just happen. I mean, everyone calls civil partnership marriage now, so what’s the problem? It’s the sensibilities of some people that think marriage belongs only to them and not to the world." But he added: "It wouldn’t be top of my priorities. I think there’s other crucial work to be done. Of course, marriage should be available to people of the same gender if they want it."

The Lord of the Rings star co-founded Stonewall in 1989. The charity has been criticised for not yet having a stance on marriage equality, although chief executive Ben Summerskill warned this week that the issue would need more scrutiny and cross-party support to pass in the House of Lords. Co-founder of Stonewall, Michael Cashman MEP wrote: "I’m disappointed to see Stonewall, the organisation I co-founded 21 years ago, fail to support genuine equality for same-sex couples. We must open up marriage to everyone, and we must do it now."

Today, Sir Ian said: "Stonewall has not put it at the top of their agenda and that may well a sensible politic thing. There’s a lot that Stonewall has to get on with, like the treatment of gay people in our schools, around the staff or students in the classrooms. "It’s vital, crucial work that would change people’s lives immediately and frankly I would put that ahead of campaigning for gay marriage. But there’s no doubt about that, gay marriage should be on Stonewall’s agenda. Stonewall was founded to establish equality and this is a perfect example of an inequality that needs to be corrected."

September 29, 2010 – PinkNews

British army claims having openly gay soldiers has ‘increased productivity’

by Staff Writer,
Following the defeat of a vote in the US Senate to debate ending the US army’s Don’t ask, Don’t tell’ policy, the British army claims that allowing gay and lesbians to openly served has improved the armed forces.

Last week, primarily Republican US senators voted to block a debate into gay and lesbian people being able to serve openly in the military. A minimum of 60 senators were required to be in favour of overturning a filibuster of the ‘defence authorisation bill’ which includes the repeal of the US military ‘Don’t ask, Don’t tell’ policy by senator John McCain but only 56 senators voted in favour. Although some of the senators who voted against did so because of an immigration amendment ‘tacked’ onto the bill.

The vote came after a high-profile campaign by the singer Lady Gaga which included her wearing a dress made from meat at the MTV Video Music Awards and posting a video message to YouTube where she appealed directly to a number of Republican senators to support the vote for a debate and ultimately to repeal the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy.

Colonel Mark Abraham, head of diversity for the British Army, told People Management the lifting of the ban on gays serving in the military in 2000 had “no notable change at all.” He added: “We got to the point where the policy was incompatible with military service and there was a lack of logic and evidence to support it. “We knew a lot of gay and lesbian people were serving quite successfully, and it was clear that sexual orientation wasn’t an indication of how good a soldier or officer you could be.”

He continued: “The reality was that those serving in the army were the same people the day after we lifted the ban, so there was no notable change at all. Everybody carried on with their duties and had the same working relationships as they previously had while the ban was in place.”

Colonel Abraham argues that the lifting of the ban actually made the armed forces more productive: “A lot of gay and lesbian soldiers who were in the army before the ban was lifted, reported that a percentage of their efforts was spent looking over their shoulder and ensuring they weren’t going to be caught. That percentage of time can now be devoted to work and their home life, so actually they are more effective than they were before.”

Last year, Soldier – the magazine of the British army – featured a gay serviceman on its cover for the first time, honouring ten years of gay and lesbian soldiers serving openly in the army. Trooper James Wharton, of the Household Cavalry Regiment, is shown wearing dress uniform complete with an Iraq medal. He appears on the cover next to the slogan ‘Pride’.

October 1, 2010 – Peter Tatchell

Sir Ian McKellen unveils Tatchell blue plaque Award for 43 years of human rights activism

Acclaimed actor and film star Sir Ian McKellen this week unveiled a blue plaque honouring gay rights and human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell. The plaque was given a "secular blessing" by one of the world’s only openly gay Catholic priests, Father Bernard Lynch. The local MP, Simon Hughes, also spoke, together with Southwark Council Cabinet Member, Veronica Ward.

The plaque, erected on Mr Tatchell’s block of flats in south London, reads:

"Peter Tatchell. Born 1952. Campaigner for human rights, gay freedom and social justice. Lived here. Voted by the people."

The ceremony took place on Wednesday 29 September 2010.

Speaking after the unveiling and his acceptance speech, Peter Tatchell later told the media: "I’m grateful but somewhat embarrassed. My contribution is very small. Compared to many others, I am a minnow. It’s very rare for living people to be honoured in this way. You normally only get a blue plaque when you’re dead. I’m still very much alive and I plan to carry on campaigning for another 30 years. This is a special honour. It hasn’t been given to me by a quango or a committee of experts. The people of Southwark voted to give me this plaque, in recognition of my 43 years of human rights and LGBT rights campaigning. I feel humbled and undeserving to receive a blue plaque alongside so many truly great Southwark residents.

"For me, this blue plaque is also a tribute to the many campaigners who I have worked with over the last four decades. Without them, I would not have achieved so much. They have been my rock. Together, we have challenged prejudice and injustice. I am hugely indebted to my campaign colleagues.

"This plaque is wonderful but my greatest honour has been to work with so many inspiring, brave activists, both here and abroad. I dedicate my acceptance of this award to the heroic democracy and human rights campaigners in Iran, Uganda, Iraq, Russia, Zimbabwe, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and West Papua. I walk – no crawl – in their shadow. Their courage is awesome. I do my bit for human rights but so do millions of other people. Together, we are making a better, fairer world for ourselves and future generations," said Mr Tatchell.

Blue plaques are placed on the places of residence of famous scientists, writers, inventors, sportspeople, actors, politicians and social reformers. Previous Southwark recipients include John Harvard, Charles Dickens, Enid Blyton, Tommy Steele, Charles Babbage, Henry Cooper, Isambard Brunel, Michael Faraday, Charlie Chaplin, Octavia Hill, Michael Caine, Oliver Goldsmith and Mary Wollstonecraft.

Southwark borough council, which organised and sponsored the blue plaque, issued the following statement:

"For 43 years, Peter Tatchell has spearheaded campaigns for gay rights and human rights in Britain and across the globe. In 1983 he was the defeated Labour candidate in the Bermondsey by-election – the dirtiest, most violent election in Britain in the twentieth century. He co-founded OutRage! in 1990 and he twice attempted a citizen’s arrest of President Mugabe of Zimbabwe on charges of human rights abuses.

"Peter has also written or contributed to over 20 books such as, The Battle for Bermondsey, Democratic Defence, Europe in the Pink – Lesbian & Gay Equality in The New Europe and We Don’t Want to March Straight: Masculinity, Queers and the Military. He has also authored over 3,000 published articles.

"Last year Peter was named Campaigner of the Year at The Observer Ethical Awards," the council said.

Commenting on being awarded a Blue Plaque, Peter Tatchell said:

"It is a big honour. I am very grateful to the people who voted for me, especially since there were other notable, worthy and deserving nominees. I hope my receipt of this award will encourage others to campaign for human rights. I have lived in Southwark most of my life and I am very proud to be part of its long, illustrious history of distinguished authors, playwrights, scientists, inventors and social reformers," said Mr Tatchell.

"I appreciate this award, but the greatest honour I’ve had is the privilege to know and work with so many amazing, courageous human rights defenders in Britain and around the world. That’s the real, true honour to me. Nevertheless, after so many years of demonisation by the tabloids, right-wingers, homophobes and even some people on the left, it is great to receive this recognition.

"I was born in Melbourne, Australia, but I have lived and worked in Southwark most of my life, since 1978. During this time, I’ve been involved in many local community struggles. When I was Chair of the Rockingham Estate tenant’s association in 1980, we fought a successful campaign to turn derelict Dicken’s Square into a neighbourhood park and adventure playground.

"The biggest battles were against the property speculators who grabbed prime riverside sites, like Hay’s Wharf and Surrey Docks, and squeezed out long-standing working class residents. Most of the redevelopment of the last 30 years has been offices and luxury flats for the rich. Local people have benefited very little. That’s why I stood for parliament in the 1983 Bermondsey by-election. I wanted a fairer deal for the people of Southwark and Bermondsey.

"I love the history of North Southwark. It’s crammed with connections to Geoffrey Chaucer, Michael Faraday, William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens. I especially appreciate the Red Bermondsey history, when Labour won control of Bermondsey Borough Council in 1922, and led the world in municipal socialism. It initiated pioneering schemes to replace the slums with a garden city. People came from all over the world to marvel at the council-run "people’s palaces" – the new houses with gardens, the health centre, baths and public library. The Bermondsey Labour MP, Dr Alfred Salter, was a great champion of working class people.

"The 1983 Bermondsey by-election was the dirtiest, most violent election in Britain for over 100 years. I was attacked in the street, had my flat smashed, there were arson attempts on my home and three attempts by drivers to run me down in the street. I got a bullet through the door and I received dozens of threats to kill me. But I have no regrets. I stood against the developers, on the side of local people. I did what I believed was right.

"The current plans for the redevelopment of the Elephant and Castle are selling local people short. Only a small proportion will be affordable council and social housing for rent to low-income families. The developers will make billions, while the local community will get relatively little. With a development of this size, not only should the existing council housing stock be fully replaced, but the developers should provide at least an additional 500 council houses for needy families in the surrounding areas.

"My political inspirations are people like Mahatma Gandhi, Sylvia Pankhurst, Martin Luther King and, to some extent, Malcolm X and Rosa Luxemburg. I’ve adapted some of their ideas and methods to my contemporary struggle for human rights rights, and invented a few of my own.

"My proudest achievements as a human rights campaigner have been my two attempted citizen’s arrests of the Zimbabwean dictator, Robert Mugabe. They helped draw international attention to the human rights abuses perpetrated by his murderous regime. I was glad to support the people of Zimbabwe who are fighting for democracy and human rights. Even though I got badly beaten by Mugabe’s bodyguards and have ended up with some brain and eye damage, I have no regrets" said Mr Tatchell.

October 5, 2010 – PinkNews

Gay Saudi prince ‘strangled servant in sexual killing’

by Staff Writer
A gay Saudi prince has been accused of killing his servant in a London hotel room. Saud Abdulaziz bin Nasser al Saud, 34, was accused of murdering Bandar Abdulaziz, 32, in a "sexually-motivated" attack last February. The pair had been staying at the Landmark Hotel in Marylebone since January 20th as part of an extended holiday. Mr Abdulaziz was found beaten and strangled in bed at the pair’s room on February 15th.

Press Association reports that Mr al Saud admits the killing but denies murder and one count of grievous bodily harm with intent. The jury at the Old Bailey is to decide whether he is guilty of murder or manslaughter. According to the prosecution, the victim’s body displayed injuries consistent with a sexual attack. These included bite marks to the face.

Prosecutor Jonathan Laidlaw QC said: "Theirs was a far more complicated relationship that the defendant was prepared to admit and there was an abusive undertone to it. What is plain is that they did not travel as equals or as friends. Bandar was treated as an aide or servant and there was a far more sinister aspect to the defendant’s treatment of the victim. He would beat Bandar up and the abuse was not confined to physical violence – there was a sexual element to it as well."

Mr al Saud has maintained that the pair were equals and that he is not gay. However, Mr Laidlaw said there were large amounts of evidence to prove that he was gay, such as evidence from male escorts, internet search histories and evidence from witnesses such as barmen. He said: "The evidence establishes quite conclusively that he is either gay or that he has homosexual tendencies.

"It is clear that his abuse of Bandar was not confined simply to physical beatings. There is clear evidence, over and above the bite marks, that there was also a sexual element to his mistreatment of the victim." The prosecutor added that there was evidence Mr al Saud had attacked Mr Abdulaziz before, including CCTV footage from a hotel lift. The case continues.

12 October 2010 – The Guardian

The Gay Liberation Front’s social revolution –
Forty years ago, the Gay Liberation Front challenged society’s gender system – luckily we’ve had some success

by Peter Tatchell
On 13 October 1970, the Gay Liberation Front was founded in Britain. It was a modest beginning, with 19 people meeting in a basement in the London School of Economics. But it grew rapidly and proved to be a defining, watershed moment in British queer history. From 1970 onwards, thanks to GLF, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) mindset changed for ever, from victims to victors.

I was an activist in the GLF, aged 19 with long curly hair and living in Shepherd’s Bush with my 16-year-old boyfriend, Peter Smith. I was a student. He was a budding jazz guitarist. GLF was a glorious, enthusiastic and often chaotic mix of anarchists, hippies, leftwingers, feminists, liberals and counter-culturalists. Despite our differences, we shared a radical idealism – a dream of what the world could and should be – free from not just homophobia but the whole sex-shame culture, which oppressed straights as much as LGBTs. We were sexual liberationists and social revolutionaries, out to turn the world upside down.

GLF espoused a nonviolent revolution in cultural values and attitudes. It questioned marriage, the nuclear family, monogamy and patriarchy – as well as the wars in Vietnam and Ireland. Although against homophobic discrimination, GLF’s main aim was never equality within the status quo. We saw society as fundamentally unjust and sought to change it, to end the oppression of LGBTs – and of everyone else.

GLF aligned itself with the movements for women’s, black, Irish, working-class and colonial freedom. We marched for troops out of Ireland and against the anti-union Industrial Relations Act. Although critical of the "straight left" and often condemned by them, most of us saw ourselves as part of the broad anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist movement, striving for the emancipation of all humankind.

Our idealistic vision involved creating a new sexual democracy, without homophobia, misogyny, racism and class privilege. Erotic shame and guilt would be banished. There would be sexual freedom and human rights for everyone – gay, bi and straight. Our message was "innovate, don’t assimilate". GLF’s critique of straight society amounted to more than condemning violations of gay civil rights and campaigning for equal treatment. Revolutionary not reformist, our goal was an end to "male chauvinism" and the "gender system".

We saw queer oppression as a consequence, at least in part, of the way many LGBT people deviated from the socially prescribed gender roles of traditional masculinity and femininity. According to the orthodoxy of millennia, men were expected to act masculine and desire women. Women were supposed to be feminine and be attracted to men.

We queers subverted this conventional gender system. Gay men love other men and many of us are deemed inadequately macho. Lesbians love other women and tend to be less passive and dependent on men than most of their heterosexual sisters. Queer males don’t have to sexually subjugate women and female queers have no need for men to fulfil their erotic and emotional needs.

Read Article

October 20, 2010 – PinkNews

Gay Saudi prince sentenced to life for killing servant

by Staff Writer,
A gay Saudi prince has been sentenced to at least 20 years in prison for murdering his servant in a luxury London hotel. Saud Abdulaziz bin Nasser al Saud beat and strangled Bandar Abdulaziz to death at the Landmark Hotel last February. The Old Bailey heard that the attack had a “sexual” element and that Saud, a member of the Saudi royal family, had abused his servant before.

CCTV from a hotel lift showed the prince kicking and hitting Mr Abdulaziz shortly before his death, while the servant was found to have suffered multiple injuries, including bites to his face. Yesterday, jurors found Saud guilty of murder and a second count of grievous bodily harm which related to the attack in the lift. Associated Press reports that Justice David Bean told Saud: “It is very unusual for a prince to be in the dock on a murder charge. No one in this country is above the law.

“It would be wrong for me to sentence you either more severely or more leniently because of your membership of the Saudi royal family.” He added that Mr Abdulaziz, who did not fight back as Saud beat and kicked him to death, was a “vulnerable” individual who had been “exploited” by his master.

Today, it was revealed that Saud tried to hide the fact he was gay from the court. Jonathan Kelsey-Fry QC, the lawyer for Saud Abdulaziz bin Nasser al Saud, applied for all legal argument relating to his client’s sexual orientation to be heard in a courtroom closed to journalists. Mr Kelsey-Fry said reporting of legal arguments could jeopardise the case and that his client’s sexuality was irrelevant.

The Daily Telegraph and other newspapers successfully appealed, arguing that there was no good reason to exclude the media and that journalists knew not to report legal argument before the end of the trial. Justice Bean said that the gay element of the case should be reported and that the jury should decide the motivation behind Mr Abdulaziz’s murder. Homosexuality is illegal in Saudi Arabia and the prince could face the death penalty if he returns home, although his status as a royal is likely to offer protection.

November 27, 2010 – LGBT Asylum News

Nigerian gay man Uche Nanbuife faces deportation from Britain

Uche Nnabuife is a 33-year old Christian Nigerian national who has been detained at Haslar Immigration and Removal Centre, since November 2009. He has received removal directions for 6 December on flight KL1000 at 6:35am from Heathrow Terminal 4, continuing on KL587 at 11:20am to Lagos. He is gay and is afraid of being killed if he returns to Nigeria.

In 1990 he was discovered with another man and was strung up, badly beaten, burnt and abused leading to several weeks in hospital. He saved money to leave the country, working as a male prostitute, where the property that he was living with was attacked. Fearing for his life, Uche arrived in the UK in 2005 and his application for leave to remain has been rejected.

About Uche
Uche is a quiet, peace-loving Christian man, who enjoys spending time with his friends and playing pool. He would like the opportunity to live a normal life and to continue training as a plumber.

After the attack in his village and subsequent hospitalisation, his family disowned him. He managed to persuade his uncle that he was not gay and went to live with him in Lagos to work in his shop. He worked here for a period of about 5 years and got to know other men in the area. Here he met his first boyfriend. They were very careful, fearing they would be attacked.

His uncle began to insist that he should get married and brought a girl and her mother to tea to meet him. On informing his uncle that he could not marry this girl, his uncle’s attitude towards him changed and he stated that what the villagers had said about Uche must be true. Fearing violent retribution and/ or public disgrace, Uche moved out.

On the streets and desperate, he was advised to use an agent to leave the country. His boyfriend introduced to a man, who gave him work, as a male prostitute in order to raise enough money to leave the country. This took him 9 years and during this time the house that they were living and working in was attacked.

He arrived in the UK in 2005 and feels safe here, having become friends with other Nigerians who are gay. He is amazed how open people are able to be about their sexuality. He kept himself to himself fearing that if he contacted any authorities, he would end up back in Nigeria. He found out about asylum in 2009 and made an application, mentioning the fact that he is gay for the first time.

He says:
“I did not know about asylum or about groups such as the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group, who I now speak to for support. If I had known, I would have contacted the authorities. I would like to help to advise other gay men in my position and to encourage them to come out as soon as possible. It has damaged my case, because I felt too embarrassed to discuss my sexuality.”

The Home Office do not believe that he is gay, because he did not reveal all of the traumatic details of his story straight away and because he has served time for a criminal conviction since being in the UK. Whilst living in London, he shared a house and when the police visited they found Uche in the house as well as some cannabis. He was convicted of possession of cannabis with intention to supply. He has served his time and recognises that he made some bad choices in his friends. He wants to put this behind him, to work hard and to use his experience to help others in this position.

Read article

3 December 2010 – PinkNews

Government says it will work to make companies ‘more gay-friendly’

by Jessica Geen
The coalition government says it will commission research into why workplaces are not more LGBT-friendly and work with firms to “improve equality”. The pledge is in the new equality strategy, unveiled yesterday by equalities minister Lynne Featherstone. It says: “We will work with business to consider the report’s recommendations and take steps to improve LGB&T equality in the workplace.”

Other aims include encouraging more lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people to become involved in local and national politics, promoting better recording of homophobic and transphobic hate crimes and implementing the “first ever cross-government programme” for LGBT people. An action plan specifically for trans people is to be developed next year. The coalition said it would “proactively question 42 Commonwealth countries which retain homophobic legislation, with a particular focus on those countries which have the death penalty for homosexual acts”.

Another part of the strategy said that coalition would “work bilaterally with other European countries to overcome the legislative or policy barriers which prevent them recognising UK civil partnerships”. Last week, the new head of the Tory party in Europe came under fire for trying to block a motion to call for recognition of civil partnerships across Europe. Martin Callanan argued that the issue was a matter of states’ sovereignty but Labour MEPs accused him of trying to block equality efforts.

The strategy does not mention marriage but says the coalition is talking to religious groups and gay groups about “what the next stage should be for civil partnerships” and the possibility of religious civil partnership ceremonies. During the pre-election period, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said he supported gay marriage, while Tory leader David Cameron said he would consider the arguments for it.

As home secretary Theresa May said last month, the coalition says it work with organisations with a “proven track record of tackling prejudice-based bullying” to stop anti-gay harassment in schools and will work with sport governing bodies to address homophobia in football. Finally, the document reaffirms the pledge that a provision to delete historic convictions for gay sex will be included in the upcoming Freedom Bill.