Gay UK News & Reports 2007 Oct-Dec

1 Top prize for lesbian coming of age film 10/07

2 Government approves incitement to gay hate law 10/07

3 Muslims join Christian condemnation of gay protection law 10/07

4 York to host lesbian festival 10/07

5 Manchester Pride raises £95,000 for charity 10/07

6 Lack of funds may force group to return imperiled gay Iraqis to the streets 10/07

7 Comment: Stop deporting gay refugees back to Iran 10/07

8 Gay activists picket Saudi embassy 10/07

9 Christian JP refused to rule on gay adoption 10/07

10 Study claims homophobic literature is available at UK mosques 10/07

11 RAF among new entries in Stonewall recruitment guide 10/07

12 History month to tackle small town homophobia 11/07

13 Newspapers triumph at Stonewall Awards 11/07

14 Bi and gay Africans with HIV face double stigma says report 11/07

15 Gay poets London residence to become museum 11/07

16 C4 cleared over Muslim gay-hate documentary 11/07

17 Tutu hits out at Church of England over treatment of gays 11/07

18 Echoes of Diana as Queen shakes hands with HIV+ man 11/07

19 New gay HIV infections at highest rate ever 11/07

20 Tatchell to celebrate 40 years of activism 11/07

21 10% of London’s gay men have HIV 11/07

22 Archbishop of Canterbury’s meeting with LGBT clergy 11/07

23 FCO confirms Spanish recognition of UK partnerships 12/07

8th October 2007

Top prize for lesbian coming of age film

by Asavin Wattanajantra
A drama about a teenage African-American lesbian has won a £25,000 award. Pariah was directed by Dee Rees, an American director who originally wrote it as a semi-autobiographical feature-length piece. The movie already made a stir on the American short film circuit as well as winning the best narrative short award at the Newfest film festival in New York. The Iris award is the largest ever prize given for a gay and lesbian short film and Pariah was the best entry from thirty shortlisted at the climax of a three day film festival in Cardiff. The film is the story of Alike (Adepero Oduye), a 17-year old girl struggling to find her sexual identity.

She juggles the life she has with her gay friends and the world of her family and conservative parents, who she keeps her sexuality a secret from. Ms Rees collaborated with her girlfriend Nekisa Cooper, who produced the 27-minute film. The Iris prize is a award which aims "to recognise, celebrate and promote gay and lesbian moving image content, which will also promote tolerance, acceptance and further understanding of the credibility and business of gay and lesbian filmmaking."

Gay and lesbian cinema has undergone big changes in the last 20 years, and the success of Brokeback Mountain put it firmly mainstream with box office success and Oscar acceptance. In the UK, the British Film Institute (BFI) has annually held the London Lesbian and Gay Festival since 1986, and is now the third biggest film festival in the UK.

8th October 2007

Government approves incitement to gay hate law

by Tony Grew
The Justice Secretary has announced that a new offence of incitement to hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation will be introduced in the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill. Jack Straw added that he would consider similar protections for trans and disabled people. The House of Commons met today for the first time since July to hear a statement from the Prime Minister on Iraq and to give the bill its second reading. "It is a measure of how far we have come as a society in the last ten years that we are now appalled by hatred and invective directed at people on the basis of their sexuality," Mr Straw told MPs.
"It is time for the law to recognise this."

Gay rights advocates had been lobbying for a homophobic incitement law for more than six months.

Fundamentalist religious groups are claiming their members could face seven years in jail for expressing their views about homosexuality under the proposed new legislation. Stonewall chief executive, Ben Summerskill, said: "We’re delighted. We’ve worked tirelessly over the last six months, seeking to persuade ministers to match existing race incitement laws with identical protections for sexual orientation. A new offence will help deter extremists who stir up hatred against lesbian and gay people. These protections aren’t about preventing people expressing their religious views in a temperate way. However, we refuse to accept any longer that there’s no connection between extreme rap lyrics calling for gay people to be attacked or fundamentalist claims that all gay people are paedophiles, and the epidemic of anti-gay violence disfiguring Britain’s streets. Our traditional opponents are already spreading typically lurid misinformation about what the new law might mean and will try and get it overturned. We anticipate, as always, a tough battle in the House of Lords but remain determined to secure complete equality in the criminal law."

The Christian Institute claim that the proposed incitement law restricts free speech, targets Christians and will stifle debate about homosexuality. Earlier this year the institute failed to stop the introduction of the Sexual Orientation Regulations which protect LGB people from discrimination in goods and services. It objects to the extension of incitement to racial hatred laws to sexual orientation as "homosexuality is a chosen lifestyle. Many ‘gay rights’ activists would say that their sexual orientation is a choice, not a genetic characteristic."

Christians are already protected from incitement to religious hatred by law.

9th October 2007

Muslims join Christian condemnation of gay protection law

by Tony Grew
The Islamic Human Rights Commission has condemned a proposed new offence of incitement to hatred on the basis of sexual orientation, adding its voice to a chorus of complaints from evangelical Christians. The IHRC, an "independent, not-for-profit, campaign, research and advocacy organisation based in London," attacked the concept of a gay incitement law.

"If someone is reading the Bible and calls homosexuality an abomination, is that going to be incitement? There are similar passages in the Koran and the Talmud," Massoud Shadjareh of the IHRC told the Daily Express. I was against the incitement to religious hatred legislation. Either you water it down until it becomes pointless or you have a situation where you deprive people the right to have access to freedom of speech."

The Christian Institute, a group that has tried and failed to oppose a range of new laws protecting gay people from discrimination, claimed that the legislation proposed by Justice Secretary Jack Straw yesterday will stifle any criticism of gay people.

"In a democratic society people must be free to express their beliefs without fear of censure from the state," the institute’s director Colin Hart said in a press release. A homophobic hatred law would be used by those with an axe to grind against Christians to silence them. There has already been high profile cases of the police interfering with free speech and religious liberty regarding sexual ethics. People shouldn’t face prison for expressing their sincerely-held religious beliefs."

The new law will target people who create an "atmosphere or climate" which fosters hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation, which could include heterosexuals. Similar protections for trans and disabled people are also being considered. Anyone found guilty could face up to seven years in jail. The police will decide if a person’s comments or actions are serious enough to warrant prosecution. A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Justice told The Guardian: "The new law would not prohibit criticism of gay, lesbian and bisexual people, but it would protect them from incitement to hatred against them because of their sexual orientation."

The Church of England did not raise the possibility of vicars going to jail for quoting from the Bible.

"We will be scrutinising any legislation to ensure that it safeguards the safety and rights of minorities without jeopardising wider concerns for freedom of expression, including the expression of religious faith," a church spokesman said. Gay equality organisation Stonewall’s chief executive rejected criticism of the proposed new law: "These protections aren’t about preventing people expressing their religious views in a temperate way. However, we refuse to accept any longer that there’s no connection between extreme rap lyrics calling for gay people to be attacked or fundamentalist claims that all gay people are paedophiles, and the epidemic of anti-gay violence disfiguring Britain’s streets. Our traditional opponents are already spreading typically lurid misinformation about what the new law might mean and will try and get it overturned. We anticipate, as always, a tough battle in the House of Lords but remain determined to secure complete equality in the criminal law."

9th October 2007

York to host lesbian festival

by writer
The biggest Lesbian Arts Festival in the country will be taking place in the city of York later this month. There are a range of events, some open to everyone, others women-only. On Saturday 27th October a Book Festival will be held at York Racecourse. The event and be packed with talented and inspiring authors and artists from the UK and USA. Authors in attendance include Val McDermid, Stella Duffy, Rhona Cameron, Manda Scott and Sarah Waters.

The Book Festival is open to all women and men as guests of women. During Saturday the York Lesbian Arts Festival Debate will look at lesbian identity and consider whether we need lesbian anything anymore, including lesbian art. The panel will start with a screening of Inge Blackman’s short film Fem and another installment of Reina Lewis’ entertaining look at lesbian fashion, Out of the Closet and into the Wardrobe. Julie McNamara will be compering the Open Mic Slot, where artists can step up and read or perform their work.

There will also be Fun & Funky Fresh short performance events, including Fiona Cooper’s funny and moving Fantastic Voyage, Julie McNamara’s I’m Your Man with comic monologues and a bit of Leonard Cohen, plus the True Pride and Prejudice (the real natures of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy), a ridiculous regency romp by the YLAF Playas.

In the marketplace there will be a selection of stalls and places to purchase food.

On Saturday evening the events continue with Club DIVA. DJs Sadie Lee (Lower the Tone), Claud Cunningham (Black Angel), DJ Ad Astra (Vanilla) and DJ Emma (Fuel, Climax) will be performing at what is billed as the UK’s biggest lesbian dance party, playing from 8:30pm to 2am and taking place over two floors. Club DIVA is women-only. Trans and intersex people are welcome. On Sunday 28th, from 12noon until 1.30pm, York City Centre will rock to the sound of lesbian performers at the outdoor Street Concert.

Singer-songwriter, Clare Mooney, will MC and play her critically-acclaimed repertoire of political, passionate and punchy tunes. The event is entirely free and visitors will also be able to enjoy the sounds of the 8-strong acoustic singing group Deep C Divas, soulful duo Secret’s Out, drummers Sister Slap and witty, and occasionally moving, performance poetry from Helen Sandler. The Street Concert is open to all, including children. Pre-booked ticket prices cost £22 for the Book Festival and £14 for Club DIVA.

For more details click here. To book online at or by phone via Libertas on 0207485 8317

15th October 2007

Manchester Pride raises £95,000 for charity

by writer
The city of Manchester’s ten day Pride celebration in August raised £95,000 for charity, it has been revealed. Organisers estimate that 200,000 people watched the main Pride march through the city centre, while 40,000 tickets were sold for the Big Weekend. Andrew Stokes, chairman of Manchester Pride, said: "This was the first year that Manchester Pride operated as a charity in its own right.

"Naturally, I am delighted we have continued the tradition set by previous Manchester Pride events and raised funds for LGBT and HIV charities and groups in Greater Manchester. We have already lost far too many organisations for want of a few pounds and that is why Manchester Pride is committed to keep fundraising at the heart of everything we do. We’re only able to achieve what we do because of a great team of volunteers from Manchester Pride, George House Trust and the Lesbian & Gay Foundation."

Operation Fundraiser, working with Manchester Pride, has raised nearly half a million pounds in the past four years. The money has been shared between more than eighty local LGBT and HIV groups and charities. The opening event of this year’s Big Weekend was a civil partnership ceremony for ten couples at Marriott Victoria & Albert Hotel.

130 police officers from forces around the country took part in the Pride parade in a show of solidarity with the LGBT community. Manchester Pride was called the Ab Fab Weekend, GayFest and Mardi Gras in previous incarnations.

October 16, 2007

Lack of funds may force group to return imperiled gay Iraqis to the streets

by Julie Weisberg
According to Hili, 34, the cost of funding a safe house — which serves 10 to 12 people at a time — is about $1,800 a month: $800 for rent, usually paid three months in advance; $400 for the salaries of two armed guards for each house, an essential part of securing each facility; and $600 per month for gas, fuel for electricity generators, food, clean drinking water and hygienic supplies.
To put that in perspective: Halliburton’s US-Iraq contracts passed $10 billion in 2004 — with $10 billion Hili could operate 462,000 shelters for a year.

Currently, the majority of the group’s work is funded through private donations and small grants from other non-governmental organizations. Complicating the situation, Hili said, is that the need for Iraqi LGBT’s services and assistance has continued to increase while financial resources have dwindled. Unless more financing can be raised quickly, the group’s safe houses will have to close their doors, possibly as early as the end of this month, putting dozens of vulnerable people at risk of execution. Hili said although he is hopeful that some of his recent grant requests will come through in time, Iraqi LGBT’s financial implosion is imminent. “Until we get a stable source of funds, the group will always struggle,” Hili said.

2005 fatwa kindled anti-gay violence
Since the US invasion of Iraq, gays and transgendered people have suffered intense persecution. This targeted violence has been documented and acknowledged in recent State Department and United Nations reports. Violence against gays has intensified sharply since late 2005, when Iraq’s leading Shiite Muslim cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, issued a fatwa, or religious decree, which declared that gays and lesbians should be “killed in the worst, most severe way,” Hili said. Since then, LGBT people have been specifically targeted by the Madhi Army, the militia of fundamentalist Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, as well as other Shia militant death squads. The Badr Organization, the military arm of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq and one of the leading political forces in Baghdad’s ruling coalition, has been particularly active.

Several months ago, two lesbians working with Iraqi LGBT were assassinated in the safe house they were running in Najaf, along with a young boy the women had rescued from the local sex industry. "These people have given their lives," Peter Tatchel of British gay rights group Outrage! said of Iraqi LGBT’s work during a phone interview last week. "And the group’s members inside Iraq have managed to save lives."

Hili said that in addition to the raid on Iraqi LGBTs headquarters last year, there are other credible reports of gay men being arrested and executed by the Iraqi police. Although British and Canadian news organizations have reported on the persecution of Iraqi gays, the issue has largely been ignored by mainstream US media. Veteran investigative journalist Doug Ireland was the first to break the story for an American publication, GayCityNews, last year. Ireland has continued to file reports on the increasingly precarious situation for Iraq’s gays.

"Every LGBT person is in danger"
The chaotic situation in Iraq makes it impossible to document precisely how many gay, transgender and lesbian individuals have been killed as a result of their sexuality or gender expression. But Hili said his group has specific knowledge of hundreds of cases of homophobic persecutions. Every LGBT person in Iraq is in danger, he said. “Some people need a permanent settlement, while others could be moved to outside Iraq,” Hili said. “We have to study each on a case by case situation.” Last month, Iraqi LGBT — working along with British gay human rights group Outrage! — helped two gay Iraqis secure asylum in the UK after the men narrowly escaped assassination attempts by Shia Islamist death squads.

Both men had their initial applications for asylum turned down last year by the British Home Office, despite providing authorities with strong evidence of homophobic persecution and death threats, according to Tatchell. But they appealed the Home Office’s decision and won. The Home Office often turns down asylum requests on the grounds that it does not recognize homophobic persecution as a legitimate and valid grounds for asylum under the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention, Tatchell stated. Iraq’s lesbian, gay and transgendered residents have become an all-too frequent target of that occupied nation’s lawlessness. Now they face the possibility of losing the lone organization that has sought to protect them from violence.

Friends of Iraqi LGBT, an all-volunteer human rights organization currently based in London, runs a series of safe houses in Iraq for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered Iraqis who have been targeted for persecution — including beatings, imprisonment and even death — by militant Shia death squads that roam the war-torn nation’s streets. Last year, five members of the group were taken into custody by Iraqi police during a raid on Iraqi LGBTs headquarters in Baghdad. So far, only one of the five has been accounted for.

Amjad, 27, was found dead and mutilated in the same area three days later.

Iraqi LGBT was formed early last year after reports of homophobic violence in Iraq spiked. The organization provides financial assistance to LGBT individuals in particularly dangerous areas of Iraq, allowing them to move to relatively safer parts of the country, or seek refuge in neighboring countries. In all, the group has assisted some 40 gay Iraqi asylum seekers in the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as Sweden, Germany, Canada, Holland, Lithuania, Romania, Turkey, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. But now Iraqi LGBT’s life-saving work is in jeopardy, as the organization is facing a critical shortage of funding. Ali Hili, the group’s founder and coordinator, spoke to Raw Story in a recent phone interview from London.

“The United States and European governments have hidden behind this, and used it as an excuse to refuse refugee status to individuals facing persecution in places like Iraq,” Tatchel said. “Lesbian and gay asylum seekers have a particularly hard time.” Many other groups in Iraq — particularly women — have also faced daily threats of violence and human rights abuses at the hands of the roaming militias since the beginning of the occupation, Tatchel added. “I fear it may take many more ghastly homophobic persecutions, and possibly a change in the government, before the current widespread refusal of asylum claims is reversed," Tatchel said.

Raw Story’s attempts to contact the British Home Office for comment on the men’s cases went unanswered. When asked if US officials had put pressure on the Iraqi government to crack down on the escalating violence against gay and transgendered people, a State Department spokesperson referred Raw Story to its 2006 report on human rights abuses in Iraq. “We warned that even before Saddam’s overthrow the repression of lesbian and gay Iraqis would gradually intensify. … What we failed to realize was the rapidity of the rise of Islamist extremism,” Tatchel said.

In addition to its work with the gay and transgendered communities, Iraqi LGBT has also provided anti-retroviral drugs to HIV+ men and women in desperate need of the medications. Since the occupation, HIV/AIDS patients have been killed simply because they have the disease, Hilli said. “They have been doomed … just killed because [the Islamist militas] see them as prostitutes, and immoral sexually,” Hili said. “So, HIV/AIDS patients can’t declare their situation to the authorities because they will get killed.”

Hili himself has faced frequent death threats, even in London where he is now living. “I am taking precautions because of what I am doing,” he said, adding that the London authorities have told him not to make public appearances and to keep a low profile, to protect his safety. I am doing everything on the Internet now,” he said. “But I have to do something to help… I do passionately love Iraq. I miss it every day. I wish I could go back every minute.” Hili added that his group’s work and success stories have given him “an energy to carry on, to go ahead and do what I am doing,” despite threats to his safety and the difficulty he has had keeping the organization afloat financially.

“I am trying everything to keep these safe houses going … and I’ll try more,” he said. “We have a dream that one day our country will be safe, stable and secure. … I can’t give up.”

Friends of Iraqi LGBT is collecting funds at their website,

22nd October 2007

Comment: Stop deporting gay refugees back to Iran

by Oman Kuddus
Detention centres stand as monuments to Britain’s attitude to human rights, incarcerating behind razor wire asylum seekers awaiting deportation. They are the last stop for those who have failed to make a successful asylum claim, a key tool in the British governments attempt to "manage migration" and hold an average 25,000 every year. Much of the debate around immigration to the UK focuses on the legitimacy of asylum claims. In order for campaigners aiming to prevent the deportation of specific individuals to stand any chance of victory, they have to focus on the individual’s legitimate claim to refugee status.
It is time to recognise that the global system of population control creates and maintains injustices and inequalities.

Sexual minorities in the UK have every right to exercise and celebrate their own hard won rights; however the time has still not come to take things for granted. The stance of Britain on homosexuals seeking asylum on the grounds of their sexual orientation is worrying. Arguably Britain should exercise caution when letting people into the country, but also should be reasonable. One has to ask, would you want to send a gay Iranian back to Iran, only for him to face public execution just for just being gay? Human sexuality is as much a fundamental right as the right to free speech or the right to freedom and no one, least of all a government elected by the people, has the right to interfere with that.

Most judges are dismissing homosexual’s claims to asylum and destroying their credibility, with all the evidence confirming that they are being used as a soft target (to bring down the asylum figures). Peter Tatchell recently stated "it is designed to fail as many applicants as possible in order to meet government targets to cut asylum numbers."

Homosexuals do not qualify a social group within the 1951 United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. The Home Office systematically refuse asylum on the grounds that it does not recognise homophobic persecution as a legitimate and valid ground for asylum under the 1952 Refugee Convention. The Home Office’s recent refusal of asylum for 35-year-old gay Iranian, Saeed Faraji, on the grounds that he could not prove that homosexuals are subjected to "torture, inhumane or degrading treatment" in Iran, despite his sworn statement, further establishes this.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad recently denied the existence of gay people in his country in address to an audience at Columbia University in New York. "In Iran we don’t have homosexuals like in your country," he said. "In Iran we do not have this phenomenon; I don’t know who has told you that we have it."

According to Iranian human rights campaigners an estimated 4000 gay men have been executed since the Ayatollahs came to power in 1979. According to the gay rights group OutRage! "the Islamic Republic of Iran is qualitatively more homophobic than any other state on earth. "Its government-promoted and religiously sanctioned torture and execution of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people marks out Iran as a state acting in defiance of all agreed international human rights conventions." The Islamic Sharia law followed in Iran makes gay sex illegal with penalty of death, for offenders as young as 14 years old.

The BIA (Home Office Border and Immigration Agency) is choosing to send people back and just hope that things go well and that they are not executed. Several failed asylum seekers have committed suicide, rather than face the barbaric persecution, torture and punishment awaiting them in Iran, having publicly admitted their sexuality to the Home Office. The newly formed EHRC (Equality and Human Rights Commission) is about building a fairer, more confident and united Britain, and provide practical guidance including to individuals.

Its chair, Trevor Philips, said: "We will continue to support meritorious and significant individual cases" and Ben Summerskill, chief executive of gay equality organisation Stonewall and one of the 14 commissioners said: "This is hugely important…because people will have a public body required to defend them for the very first time."

The challenge is to make it work.
Now the gay community finally has a voice, we must ask for the end of deportation of gay asylum seekers, who do not have the luxury of being themselves as we do. The Home Office’s refusal to accept failed asylum seekers can have a profound effect. I should know. The person I fell in love with and want to form a civil partnership with happens to fall within this category.

Despite being British myself I have for the past three years lived a life of uncertainty, despair and fear that he will be deported and returned back to Iran, where he is certain to face the gallows, along with myself, as I have no intentions of being parted from him.

Executed just for being gay.
Mr Ahmadinejad in his speech used the phrase, hamjensbaaz (derogatory Farsi slang equivalent to sodomise or faggot) to present homosexual relationships in a negative way, instead of hanyensgara (a more respectful word). By denying that homosexuals exist, Ahmadinejad ceased to officially recognise or accept their citizenship rights. It was a clear assertion of the government’s position on homosexuals. The Islamic Republic of Iran has been doing brisk business entrapping, harassing, lashing, imprisoning and executing homosexuals from the moment it came to power, with little notice or complaint from the West apart from the occasional human rights report.

The government, who has until now claimed Iran to be a safe country for homosexuals and sent refugees back to Iran without considering the dangers they faced, must now accept that the government of Iran has never granted rights to homosexuals as citizens, so much so that even in its explanation of its discrimination, it denies their existence. We are all aware of the long road ahead before we reach the desired conditions, rights and social and legal status for Iranian homosexuals. But how many are to suffer violence, torture and death before we stop the deportation of fellow homosexuals. I only pray my partner is not on that deportation list.

22nd October 2007

Gay activists picket Saudi embassy

by Tony Grew
Students and members of OutRage! took to the streets of London last week to protest about the treatment of gays in Saudi Arabia.
Fifty people picketed the Saudi embassy after it was reported that two men had been sentenced to 7,000 lashes for "sodomy." The London protest, organised by the National Union of Students (NUS) LGBT campaign and supported by OutRage!, came eleven days ahead of the state visit to the UK of the Saudi head of state King Abdullah bin Abdul Azaz al Saud.

Members of LGBT Labour also attended the event. NUS protest organiser Scott Cuthbertson called on others to protest the "continued criminalisation, imprisonment, torture and murder of LGBT people in Saudi Arabia." The protesters handed in a letter of protest to the Saudi Ambassador, HRH Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf, calling on his government to respect the human rights of its own LGBT citizens.

Human rights activist Peter Tatchell criticised the excessive punishment reportedly handed down on 2nd October to two young men in the Saudi Arabian city of Al-Bahah, and the wider record of the Saudi regime. "7,000 lashes is a form of torture, calculated to cause maximum, prolonged suffering," he said. " So many lashes can be fatal, depending on how many are delivered at any one time. As well as flogging and executing gay people, the Saudi leaders are guilty of detention without trial, torture and the public beheading women who have sex outside of marriage. The Saudis import migrant workers to do menial tasks. They are treated like de facto slaves, frequently abused and with few rights. The media is heavily censored. Trade unions, political parties and non-Muslim religions are banned. The country is a theocratic police state. The British and US governments support the despotic, corrupt Saudi regime. Labour sells the Saudi leaders arms and honours them with state visits. It refuses asylum to gay Saudis who flee persecution and seek refuge in the UK," he said.

King Abdullah bin Abdul Azaz al Saud’s state visit begins on 30th October

Times OnLine

October 23, 2007

Christian JP refused to rule on gay adoption

by Hannah Fletcher
Join the debate about religion ( A Christian magistrate was forced to resign because he refused to place children for adoption with gay couples, an employment appeal tribunal was told yesterday.

Andrew McClintock, 63, stood down from the family panel in Sheffield after he was refused exemption from adoption hearings involving same-sex couples. He had written to his employers requesting the exemption before the law changed in April to allow same-sex couples to adopt. His request was refused and he resigned. Mr McClintock lost a claim for discrimination at an employment tribunal in March. At his appeal against that decision yesterday, Paul Diamond, for Mr McClintock, said that his client believed that he had rational grounds to question whether it was in the child’s best interest to be placed with a gay couple. He said that his client felt that placing a child with a gay couple was an experiment in social science.

It is possible to argue that a child can thrive in a same-sex household. What is more difficult to argue, however, is that it is anything but experimental,” Mr Diamond said.

Mr Diamond insisted that Mr McClintock’s view was not a deep-seated religious belief, but the “valid and responsible” opinion of a “reasonable scientific officer”. Mr Diamond said: “He simply said, ‘In my view the best interests of a child are best served by a dual-gender upbringing’. A sitting judge was put in the position where he was forced to step down. There cannot be a religious barrier to office – people are religious and do carry their views.” He added: “This is a judge saying, ‘I’ve got a duty – you wouldn’t experiment with medicine on children, show me the evidence’. He could have stayed on if he was prepared to sit in a court and say, ‘I don’t know where this child is going and I can’t fulfil my duty’. He had no option but to go or do something which he felt was wrong.”

Adrian Lynch, for the Department for Constitutional Affairs, said that it was for Parliament to decide who could adopt children. Mr Lynch said claims that Mr McClintock had been forced to resign were without foundation. He said: “It was [Mr McClintock] who made it abundantly clear that he would resign from the family panel if he were not allowed special exemption. The judge’s duty is to apply the law . . . the truth is that Mr McClintock was refusing to apply the law.” He said the department had given “full consideration” to Mr McClintock’s position, and judges and magistrates could not decide which parts of the law they wished to apply.

Keith Porteous Wood, of the National Secular Society, called for the appeal to be dismissed. He said: “Andrew McClintock is not, as he is claiming, facing discrimination for his Christian beliefs. When he took on his position he undertook to uphold the law without fear or favour. “He now wants to pick and choose his cases, something other magistrates are not permitted to do. We must not allow the law to be ‘religionised’.”

Mr McClintock, a father of four, has been a magistrate for 18 years and continues to sit on nonfamily cases. The result of the appeal, which is being held in London, will be announced at a later date.

30th October 2007

Study claims homophobic literature is available at UK mosques

by writer
Extremist texts that encourage hatred of gays, Christians and Jews is available at Britain’s mosques. Researchers for the centre-Right think tank Policy Exchange claim to have found such publications in a quarter of the 100 mosques and Islamic institutions they visited, including London Central Mosque in Regent’s Park, which is funded by Saudi Arabia. Many of the publications allegedly called on British Muslims to segregate themselves from non-Muslims and contained repeated calls for gays to executed and for women to be subjugated.
Most of the material is produced by agencies closely linked to the Saudi regime, according to the investigation.

Dr Yunes Teinaz, of the London Central Mosque, told the Telegraph: "Any book or literature like this found in the mosque will reflect the views of the author and not at all the view of the mosque."

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has been urged to challenge King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia about the literature when he meets him tomorrow as part of the King’s state visit to Britain. Later today, the Queen will officially welcome King Abdullah in a lavish ceremony at Buckingham Palace. The report is the most comprehensive academic survey of its kind ever produced in the UK and is based on a year-long investigation by several teams of specialist researchers. Many of the institutions mentioned are among the best-funded and most active of Britain’s approximately 1,500 Islamic establishments. Some have received official visits from politicians and members of the Royal Family.

Anthony Browne, the director of Policy Exchange, said in a statement: "It is clearly intolerable that hate literature is peddled at some British mosques. "I am sure the majority of moderate Muslims will be as horrified as everyone else that pamphlets advocating jihad by force, hatred for insufficiently observant Muslims, Christians and Jews, and segregation have found their way into the UK’s mosques." Mr Browne added: "The fact that the Saudi regime is producing extremist propaganda and targeting it at British Muslims must also be challenged by our own government. It is reassuring that the majority of mosques investigated do not propagate hate literature – but much work needs to be done to ensure that a large number of leading Islamic institutions remove this sectarianism from their midst."

Policy Exchange said it found the literature was accessible both openly and "under the counter". They collected 80 books and pamphlets over the course of the year. Iqbal Sacranie, a former secretary general of the Muslim Council of Great Britain, has criticised the report. He said: "The majority of Muslims will totally dismiss this because it is written by the Policy Exchange, who have an agenda to denigrate the mainstream of Islam in this country. If there is any material which falls foul of the law, then the law should take its course. We cannot accept messages of hate – there is zero tolerance on that. But it is irresponsible to target religious texts and take them out of context. These texts can be found not just in mosques but in ordinary bookshops – the report overlooks that."

The report is entitled The Hijacking of British Islam: How extremist literature is subverting Britain’s mosques. It was written by Dr Denis MacEoin, the Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Newcastle University. The report goes on to make several recommendations, including that mosques and other Islamic institutions must act immediately to remove extremist literature from their premises and that the government, local authorities, police forces, other institutions and prominent individuals should have nothing to do with
mosques that continue to sell or distribute extremist literature

30th October 2007

RAF among new entries in Stonewall recruitment guide

by writer
Lesbian and gay graduates and job-seekers will have a new resource to help them find their dream career with the launch today of Starting Out, Stonewall’s recruitment guide. This is the third edition of the guide, and this year there are new entries from Channel 4, Allen & Overy, Deloitte & Touche, the RAF, Westminster City Council and the Charity Commission. Starting Out is aimed at the estimated 150,000 gay and lesbian students in Britain, and provides vital information on employers across the country who support and welcome gay staff. 20,000 hard copies of the guide are being distributed to student unions, university careers services, employment agencies and university lesbian and gay societies across Britain. Starting Out is also available online. (

"Increasingly, young gay and lesbian graduate recruits want to choose employers who will support and welcome them," said Ben Summerskill, chief executive of Stonewall. Starting Out provides a must-have guide to more than 250 workplaces determined to attract the very best talent in 2007, regardless of background. In an increasingly competitive recruitment market, employers are understandably keen to demonstrate that they connect with all their potential recruits."

A launch event, attended by students from across Britain and supported by Credit Suisse, is being held at the University of London Union this evening. Jennifer Huseman, ULU President, said: "Starting Out showcases those employers who work hard to develop and maintain a culture in which differing abilities and backgrounds are fostered and valued in the workplace." The guide has once again been sponsored by Credit Suisse.

2nd November 2007

History month to tackle small town homophobia

by staff writer
A series of events for the LGBT community in a largely rural part of the UK will take place early next year. Police and local councils have lent their support to the month-long programme aimed at people living in Herefordshire, Worcerstershire, Shropshire and mid-Wales. Herefordshire’s Equality Partnership is planning their contribution to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans History Month in February 2008, called Out In The Sticks, and already a list of events is taking shape.
Authors including Paul Burston and Stella Duffy will be appearing at the county’s libraries and there will be a week-long film festival at the Courtyard, featuring gay-themed films such as the groundbreaking Dirk Bogarde film Victim,,/I> the British classic Beautiful Thing and the camp road movie Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

There will also be a Civil Partnership fair – a one-off event similar to bridal/wedding fairs but exclusively for civil partnerships – and a one-day conference to address issues for young LGBT people in rural areas. Fabulous live events include: Filthy Gorgeous – Scissor Sisters Tribute Show Meets Magic of the 80s; Ceri Dupree – The UK’s greatest female impersonator since Danny La Rue and Comedy Camp, an LGBT Comedy Club. A spokesperson for Out In The Sticks told "This is a huge project in Herefordshire which is aiming to challenge small-town homophobia. We’ve got funding from various sources and we’re really going for it with a month long programme of events."

2nd November 2007

Newspapers triumph at Stonewall Awards staff writer
The Guardian was named Newspaper of the Year at the second Stonewall Awards ceremony last night. Philip Hensher, who writes a column for The Independent, won Journalist of the Year. The awards ceremony, hosted by TV presenter Anthony Crank, took place at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum before an audience of 400 people. Sponsored for the second year by Barclays, it celebrated the positive contributions made by individuals and organisations – both gay and straight – to the lives of gay people in Britain in 2007. The winner of the Hero of the Year award, Antony Grey, was greeted with a standing ovation. As the former secretary of the Homosexual Law Reform Society, he spearheaded the campaign which resulted in the first partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1967.

The other winners were:

Politician of the Year: Alan Johnson MP, Secretary of State for Health, and Angela Eagle MP, Treasury Minister, joint winners. For their work on the 2007 Sexual Orientation Regulations.

Writer of the Year: Val McDermid. For this year’s best-selling crime thriller Beneath the Bleeding. Her Wire in the Blood has been an award-winning ITV series.

Sports Personality of the Year: Nigel Owens. Openly-gay international rugby referee who made his pioneering Rugby World Cup debut in France in October 2007.

Bigot of the Year: The Bishop of Hereford, Anthony Priddis. An employment tribunal found in July that the Bishop unlawfully withdrew a job offer to a gay youth worker after subjecting him to humiliating personal questioning.

Broadcast of the Year: Hollyoaks, Channel 4. For its sympathetic and convincing handling of the gritty and emotional storyline about the developing relationship between teenagers John Paul and Craig.

Stonewall & Barclays Community Group of the Year: London Lesbian and Gay Switchboard, for providing unsung 24-hour support and advice to thousands of gay people. Winner of a £5000 cheque presented by Barclays group vice-chairman Gary Hoffman.

Entertainer of the Year: Dan Gillespie Sells. Openly-gay lead singer of the hugely successful band The Feeling, the most widely-played on UK radio in last 12 months.

The award-winners were selected by a panel of judges including sports presenter Clare Balding, comedian Matt Lucas, journalist Nicky Campbell and former radio personality Paul Gambaccini. Three awards – for Hero, Bully and Community Group of the Year – were voted for by 6,000 Stonewall supporters from across Britain. editor Tony Grew said he was disappointed at losing out in the Journalist of the Year category. "I guess we will just have to work to improve our coverage of gay and lesbian issues," he said. "There is always next year!"

Ben Summerskill, Stonewall chief executive, said: "We are indebted to the winners of these awards for the inspiration and support and encouragement that so many have shown to lesbian and gay people across Britain during the last year."

9th November 2007

Bi and gay Africans with HIV face double stigma says report

by staff writer
The first study into the lives of gay and bisexual African men living with HIV in London describes the challenges they face in dealing with the complex and sometimes contradictory realities of life. The report, entitled I count myself as being in a different world: African gay and bisexual men living with HIV in London, has just been released by the Centre of Sexual Health and HIV at Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. It highlights that the additional stigma of being gay or bisexual and HIV positive is difficult for African men.
However, life in London offers some benefits to men in this situation, including access to healthcare and more liberal sexual attitudes in the capital.

The report shows that the dual stigma of being gay or bisexual and having HIV causes a dilemma when African men consider disclosing their condition. Author Professor Lesley Doyal said: "Our study shows that being HIV and gay or bisexual has created very complex social lives for African men, with many developing and having to manage different groups of friends who will either know some, all or nothing about their situation. "Those who are open about being gay or bisexual and HIV tend to only go where this is accepted, sometimes losing contact with their own communities."

The report highlights that African gay or bisexual men with HIV face additional difficulties to other gay/bisexual men with HIV, because of the expectations surrounding their cultural identity. This has created a new set of practical and emotional needs, which sometimes cannot be met, particularly for those with little money or insecure immigration status. Co-author Dr Jane Anderson added: "The overall view of the men we spoke to was that their experience of healthcare was favourable, with many valuing hospital staff as ‘the biggest support’ they have. "However, there is a need to establish specific support for this group as the study participants identified a real lack of organised groups or networks for African gay or bisexual men with HIV."

Researchers from City University London and Homerton are appealing for African men who have sex with men to take part in a major new national study. The project, Men and Sexual Health (MESH), will investigate whether sexual health services in Britain meet the needs of ethnic minority men who have sex with other men (MSM) including men of African origin. The questionnaire can be found online at This report is third in a series of projects describing the experiences of African people living with HIV in London.

It is available to download from

14th November 2007

Gay poets London residence to become museum

by staff writer
Two of France’s most admired poets are to be honoured with a museum in north London dedicated to poetry. Arthur Rimbaud and his lover Paul Verlaine fled Paris for London in 1872 amid controversy about their love affair. The 28-year-old Verlaine had abandoned his wife and child to elope with the 17-year-old Rimbaud. The couple had a short-lived relationship and stayed in London for less than a year. In a drunken argument in Brussels in July 1873 Verlaine shot his teenage lover through the wrist, a crime for which he was imprisoned.
A film about their relationship, Total Eclipse, was made in 1995. Leonardo DiCaprio played Rimbaud and David Thewlis played Verlaine.

One of the houses the couple stayed in during their time in London has been bought by a businessman who intends to restore it. Poets in the City, a not-for-profit body that specialises in finding financial backers for poetic projects, told The Independent
that renovation has already started and it is hopeful of finding backers. The house will become a museum dedicated to poetry, a scheme backed by prominent gay actors Stephen Fry and actor Simon Callow. Mr Callow said it would be "a wonderful memento of the fruitful if nightmarish stay in England of these extraordinary men, of the work they did there, and indeed, of their affair.

19th November 2007

C4 cleared over Muslim gay-hate documentary

by Steve Leng
The broadcasting watchdog has cleared Channel 4 over a documentary broadcast in January exposing homophobic preaching in UK mosques. The Dispatches programme portrayed a Birmingham mosque as a haven for extreme views. Today Ofcom ruled that Undercover Mosque had not misled viewers or offended Muslims. Undercover footage showed preacher Abu Usamah at Green Lane Mosque in Birmingham calling for gay people to be executed. "If I were to call homosexuals perverted, dirty, filthy dogs who should be murdered, that’s my freedom of speech, isn’t it?" he told followers.

A scene in the advertising for the documentary also showed a preacher calling for people to “take that homosexual and throw him off a mountain.” A complaint made by the West Midlands Police that the show was misrepresenting sections of the Muslim community in the area was not upheld by Ofcom. Channel 4 had said that the WMP had a "fundamental misunderstanding" in the way in which programmes are made. They claimed that the show did not inaccurately portray any of the speakers and that the show contained matters of "important public interest."

In August the Crown Prosecution Service accused Channel 4 of distorting what the preachers were saying. A CPS lawyer who examined 56 hours of uncut footage said the production team had cut together excepts from different speeches and thereby distorted what the preachers were saying. Mr Usamah said that his comments about gay people had been taken out of context and that he was explaining the views of others but did not agree with their stance.

Ed Richards, Ofcom chief executive, said: "Ofcom’s investigation found thatDispatches had uncovered matters of clear public interest and had handled the material responsibility finding no evidence that Channel 4 had misled its audience "In keeping with its remit as a public service broadcaster, it is essential that Channel 4 continues to produce challenging programmes about controversial issues which are responsibly handled. In this case the Dispatches team did not shy away from a difficult subject and upheld British broadcasting’s strong tradition of investigative journalism."

19th November 2007

Tutu hits out at Church of England over treatment of gays

by writer
Archbishop Desmond Tutu has criticised the Anglican church for being "obsessed" with homosexuality, in a BBC radio interview to be broadcast on Tuesday. He said that if he believed that God was homophobic, he wouldn’t be a Christian.
The Nobel Peace Prize winner, said he was ashamed of his church because of its treatment of gays. He said that Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and spiritual head of the Anglican communion, has not demonstrated the attributes of a "welcoming God" to homosexuals.

"Our world is facing problems — poverty, HIV and AIDS — a devastating pandemic, and conflict," Tutu said. "God must be weeping looking at some of the atrocities that we commit against one another. In the face of all of that, our Church, especially the Anglican Church, at this time is almost obsessed with questions of human sexuality." He said that the Church acted in an "extraordinarily homophobic" way during the election of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire.

Asked if he still felt ashamed, he replied: "If we are going to not welcome or invite people because of sexual orientation, yes. If God as they say is homophobic I wouldn’t worship that God. It is a perversion if you say to me that a person chooses to be homosexual. You must be crazy to choose a way of life that exposes you to a kind of hatred. It’s like saying you choose to be black in a race infected society." During his visiting Professorship at Kings College, London in 2004, he spoke out against homophobia.

22nd November 2007

Echoes of Diana as Queen shakes hands with HIV+ man

by Tony Grew
Her Majesty the Queen visited a clinic for people with AIDS for the first time today. During a state visit to Uganda the monarch shook hands with Steven Wakodo, who is HIV+, echoing the famous handshake between Diana, Princess of Wales and an HIV+ person in April 1987. The Princess’s gesture helped overcome the fear of AIDS, demonstrating that the HIV virus cannot be transmitted by touch.

"The scourge of HIV infection and AIDS has touched the lives of too many Ugandan people," Her Majesty said in a speech to patients and staff. Centres such as this, which the government of Uganda has done so much to encourage, are essential in achieving our common aim of controlling this cruel disease." The Queen is on her first visit to Uganda since 1954 and tomorrow she will open the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in the capital Kampala. The meeting, held every two years, is expected to be dominated by discussions about the situation in Pakistan. 53 heads of government, among them Prime Minister Gordon Brown, are in attendance. In a speech to the Ugandan parliament today the Queen stressed the importance of democracy, a clear reference to Pakistan. She also praised Uganda.

"The deliberations and decisions of this House, together with your respect for the rule of law, have had and will continue to have an essential bearing on the country’s success in addressing many serious challenges," she told MPs.

CHOGMs are one of the most important events in the Commonwealth calendar and take place every two years in a different country. Almost one third of the world’s leaders are in attendance, and they come together to adopt common positions through consensus. There were protests from gay rights activists at the decision to hold the three-day meeting in Uganda. Last month James Nsaba Buturo, the country’s Minister for Ethics and Integrity, told All Africa news agency that the government is committed to stopping LGBT people "trying to impose a strange, ungodly, unhealthy, unnatural, and immoral way of life on the rest of our society."

Members of Parliament in Uganda have urged the country’s government to speak out against gay rights at the CHOGM. One MP, demanding a "clamp down" against lesbian and gay Ugandans, said that the international event, to be held in the capital later this month, would be a good opportunity to "send a clear message that gays are not welcome in Uganda." Ishaa Otto claimed that the gay community is growing: "It’s unfortunate that the government is silent as if there is nothing happening. The society must rise up against homosexuality before it’s too late," he said. The government should urgently table a new bill that criminalises homosexuality with punitive amendments that guarantee arrests to prevent the spread of gay practices."

Gay sex is punishable in Uganda by life imprisonment, under laws originally introduced by the British colonial administration in the nineteenth century. 2007 has seen the first gay rights press conference and the first anti-gay rally in Uganda. In August gay rights activists in spoke out about the prejudice LGBT people face in the country. 30 people gave a press conference drawing attention to the state-sponsored homophobia and transphobia they face every day. They called themselves the "homosexual children of God" and demanded that attacks on LGBT people stop. Some of the activists wore masks for fear of being identified, while others shocked journalists by outlining the brutality they had faced at the hands of police. Trans people are also targeted by police and regularly subject to abuse and harassment. The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall are also on a state visit to Uganda for the CHOGM.

23rd November 2007

New gay HIV infections at highest rate ever

by staff writer
The latest figures released today from the Health Protection Agency reveal that the number of gay and bisexual men diagnosed with HIV in the UK is at its highest rate since the start of the epidemic. 2,700 gay and bisexual men were newly diagnosed last year, the highest number ever. Across the UK 1 in 20 gay and bisexual men are now living with HIV and estimates suggest this figure is as high as 1 in 10 in London. The increase in diagnosis comes at a time when the National AIDS Trust claims funding for HIV prevention is inadequate. In the past 10 years the number of people being seen for HIV care has more than trebled, but a recent National AIDS Trust survey into Primary Care Trusts revealed that in the same period the amount spent on HIV prevention has decreased.

Deborah Jack, Chief Executive of the National AIDS Trust, commented: "For over ten years the government and health services have been failing to bring HIV in the UK under control and diagnoses among gay and bisexual men continue to rise. Funding for prevention and testing must urgently be increased and the Government must make informed policy commitments to control the epidemic. But the gay community must also act – gay men, gay businesses, the gay media all must respond to what is in essence a public health crisis for gay men. If amongst the general public there was over one in 20 with such a serious infectious disease, it would dominate politics and priorities. If we want wider society to act on HIV, the gay community must take the lead."

7,800 people were diagnosed last year, and the numbers living with HIV in the UK were 73,000 by the end of 2006. One in three people do not know they are infected.

Nick Partridge, Chief Executive of HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust, said that urgent action was required. "Twenty five years on from the discovery of HIV this just isn’t good enough," he said. "We need to renew the fight and we need everyone, from the NHS to individuals, to join us. One in 20 gay men are now living with HIV, and levels of STIs are at their highest for 20 years. That’s why we’re launching a Call to Action to improve gay men’s sexual health. Gay men, businesses, politicians, media and the voluntary sector all need to play their part, and act now."

THT has outlined five action points for each group and suggestions range from asking politicians to make sex and relationships education part of the core curriculum to asking gay men to have regular tests for sexually transmitted infections. In 2006, an estimated 31,100 men who have sex with men (MSM) were living with HIV in the UK and there were approximately 2,700 new diagnoses. Around a third of people with HIV don’t know they have it.

23rd November 2007

Tatchell to celebrate 40 years of activism

by Steve Leng
One of the best-known gay rights advocates in Britain will soon be celebrating his 40th year of human rights campaigning.
Peter Tatchell began his first campaign in 1967 in his native Australia against the death penalty and opposition to conscription and the Australian and US war against the people of Vietnam.

"It is a great honour and privilege to have been part of the international human rights movement," said Mr Tatchell. "Over the last four decades, I have been involved in campaigns that have contributed to many spectacular human rights achievements: the fall of the dictatorships in Spain and Chile, independence for East Timor, an end to apartheid in South Africa, peace in Vietnam and the north of Ireland, and the transition to democracy in the former Soviet bloc states of Eastern Europe and the Baltics."

He will celebrate 40 years of human rights campaigning on 10 December 2007, Human Rights Day, by staging a protest. In the evening he will attend the Human Rights Awards 2007, which is jointly organised by Liberty and Justice. After moving to London in 1971, aged 19, he became a leading activist in the Gay Liberation Front (GLF); organising sit-ins at pubs that refused to serve "poofs", and protests against police harassment and the medical classification of homosexuality as an illness. Recently he was assaulted while taking part in a Pride demonstration in Moscow, and was detained by Russian police.

As well as his campaign work he also regularly writes for The Guardian and hosts a weekly current affairs programme broadcast on internet channel 18 Doughty St, entitled Talking with Tatchell. He is the Green Party parliamentary candidate for Oxford East, and party’s spokesperson on human rights.

30th November 2007

10% of London’s gay men have HIV

by Tony Grew
As we commemorate World AIDS Day tomorrow across the world, the National AIDS Trust has highlighted the high rates of HIV infection among the London gay community. At a fundraising event on Wednesday, hosted by Gaydar parent company QSoft Consulting, the trust’s chief executive urged the gay community to do more to tackle the problem. Earlier this month the Health Protection Agency revealed that the number of gay and bisexual men diagnosed with HIV in the UK is at its highest rate since the start of the epidemic.
2,700 gay and bisexual men were newly diagnosed last year, the highest number ever.

Across the UK 1 in 20 gay and bisexual men are now living with HIV and estimates suggest this figure is as high as 1 in 10 in London. Furthermore, nearly half (47 per cent) of HIV infected gay men who visit a sexual health clinic leave without being tested for HIV. From 10am tomorrow GaydarRadio will feature a special World AIDS Day line up of music celebrities and DJs broadcasting live from and the Profile bar in London, during a 12 hour red ribbon radiothon. The line up includes rugby international star Ben Cohen and celebrated singer/songwriters Sam Brown and Alison Moyet. The increase in HIV diagnosis comes at a time when funding for HIV prevention is inadequate. In the past 10 years the number of people being seen for HIV care has more than trebled, whilst a recent National AIDS Trust survey into Primary Care Trusts revealed that in the same period the amount spent on HIV prevention has decreased.

Deborah Jack, Chief Executive of the National AIDS Trust, said: "For over ten years the Government and health services have been failing to bring HIV in the UK under control and diagnoses among gay and bisexual men continue to rise. Funding for prevention and testing must urgently be increased and the Government must make informed policy commitments to control the epidemic. But the gay community must also act – gay men, gay businesses, the gay media all must respond to what is in essence a public health crisis for gay men. If amongst the general public there was over one in 20 with such a serious infectious disease, it would dominate politics and priorities. If we want wider society to act on HIV, the gay community must take the lead."

Overall diagnoses in the UK remain high. 7,800 people were diagnosed last year, and the numbers living with HIV in the UK were 73,000 by the end of 2006. One in three people do not know they are infected. If rates continue the National AIDS Trust says that by 2010 there will be 100,000 people living with HIV in the UK. The report also reveals worrying findings among young people with 1 in 10 (11 per cent) new diagnoses last year among 16 to 24 years old.

Nick Partridge, chief executive of the Terrence Higgins Trust, said: "We need more investment in HIV prevention, more HIV testing in local communities and stronger national leadership. This is a real test for national government and local health services – and one we can’t afford to fail." Campaigner Peter Tatchell has highlighted recommendations to slash NHS funding for HIV prevention work among gay men in the capital by 36% in 2008 – a cut of more than £650,000. "Cutting finance for prevention work among the highest HIV risk group is just plain stupid. Prevention makes more sense, and is more cost effective, than treatment," he wrote on The Guardian’s website.

"The proposed cuts were announced without proper consultation with gay and HIV organisations, and against the advice of expert HIV agencies and professionals, such as the Terrence Higgins Trust and Gay Men Fighting AIDS. "Gay and bisexual men remain the highest risk group for HIV in the UK, accounting for 80% of all domestically-acquired HIV infections. The rate of HIV infection in the gay community has risen by 20 per cent in the past five years. The need for education and prevention work is still very great." Mr Tatchell added that condom use and safer sex messages are not reaching many men who have sex with men, especially teenagers and members of minority race and faith communities. Almost half of HIV infected men who have sex with men left sexual health clinics last year unaware of their HIV infection.

"There is an obvious and urgent need for more and better HIV prevention campaigns for gay people, rather than penny-pinching cutbacks," he said.

To view a list of UK events for World AIDS Day click here.

30th November 2007

Archbishop of Canterbury’s meeting with LGBT clergy

by staff writer
Yesterday the Archbishop of Canterbury attended a meeting of the Clergy Consultation, a support group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and intersex clergy and their partners.
Dr Rowan Williams presided and preached at a service of Holy Communion and later addressed the members present, responding to questions.

The Rev Colin Coward, Director of Changing Attitude, was present at yesterday’s meeting. "The Archbishop of Canterbury met with over 80 members of the Consultation yesterday," he said. "He preached on the lectionary readings for the day, A Day of Intercession and Thanksgiving for the Missionary Work of the Church. The readings were Daniel 6.12-end and Luke 21.20-28. He then spoke to the members present about the constraints which are affecting the Church of England and the Anglican Communion. He responded to questions and listened to our response. The Archbishop addressed us in his sermon and his remarks which followed as mature, adult Christians. As Director of Changing Attitude, I felt that the tensions we experience in our work was acknowledged by Dr Williams. We experience ourselves as being at the centre of an intense dispute about the presence of LGBT Christians in our Communion."

Rev Coward described LGBT clergy as "mostly invisible" to bishops, congregations and other priests. "We remain invisible because of the intense prejudice expressed by many Christians towards us and because of the hostile environment in many societies. The Consultation provides a safe place in which clergy and partners can meet in confidence and talk openly about our lives and vocations. To meet with the Archbishop of Canterbury yesterday was both a privilege and an appropriate opportunity to engage in listening to one another in the presence of God in the context of worship and prayer."

He claimed there are more than 1,000 LGBT clergy in the Church of England alone, and many more in Anglican province. "If every LGBT clergy person were to be inhibited from their ministry tomorrow, the Church of England would be thrown into crisis. The majority of bishops will be able to identify the parishes and areas of sector ministry which would be vacated were all their lesbian and gay clergy to be prevented from preaching or taking services this coming Sunday."

Earlier this year, Rowan Williams, the spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion, demanded that the US Episcopal church ceased from consecrating another gay bishop or approve official ceremonies for same-sex couples. The Church has been close to splitting over the issue of gay clergy since the ordination of openly gay Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003. American liberals and conservatives from Africa, Asia and Latin America have been locked in a battle for the soul of the 77-million strong Anglican Communion for over a decade.

According to Reuters, the dispute over the ordination of gay bishops and blessing of gay marriages is threatening to create a schism ahead of next year’s Lambeth Conference, a meeting of more than 800 bishops which is meant to cement the global communion once a decade.

18th December 2007

FCO confirms Spanish recognition of UK partnerships

by Tony Grew
The British government has published information on an embassy website confirming the new agreement between the UK and Spain regarding recognition of UK civil partnerships. Gay couple Paul and Martin Ward signed the civil partnership register in Devon on Valentine’s Day this year, having been advised that it would be recognised in Spain, where Paul lives. When they found out this was not the case, they began a campaign to receive recognition for their partnership, supported by MEPs Glenys Kinnock and Michael Cashman and human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.

In a statement to, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: "The issue of Spanish recognition of UK civil partnerships affects many British nationals. Resolving it has been a priority for our diplomats in Spain. The case of the Wards gave us a concrete example to take up with the Spanish authorities. We have sought throughout to work in partnership with the Wards to obtain clarification from the Spanish authorities on the status of UK civil partnerships. We are pleased that, after only four months of high level engagement with the Spanish government, we have achieved a satisfactory outcome for those British nationals in Spain affected by this issue."

A page on the website of the British Embassy in Madrid states: "The Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed the British Embassy in Madrid in a Note Verbale dated 16th November 2007 that same-sex couples who have registered a civil partnership in the UK should be treated as spouses for legal purposes in Spain. Implementation of this guidance is a matter for the Spanish authorities. Copies of the Note Verbale can be made available to Spanish authorities on request. British Nationals living in Spain are responsible for ensuring their own local administrative arrangements comply with Spanish law. UK civil partners should consult a lawyer/accountant over any concerns relating to next of kin/property/inheritance tax/tax issues. British nationals wishing to obtain information about marriage or civil partnership must also contact the relevant local authority to be sure of the requirements that they need in order for their ceremony to go ahead."