LGBTQ

It's time for Georgia to choose

Two weeks ago, far-right thugs attacked the LGBTI community’s “March for Dignity” in Tblisi, Georgia. Dozens of people, mostly journalists, were badly beaten. It was a tragedy that could easily have been foreseen — and prevented. And it has triggered a historic fight led by the journalists’ union with the full support of journalists’ unions around the world. The attacks were orchestrated by supporters of the ruling party in Georgia, whose leaders bear some responsibility for what happened. Prior to the march, Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili said it was “not reasonable” to organise such an...

Three protests on 26 June

As the well-advertised, heavily union-backed People's Assembly (PA) march moved off on 26 June, I cycled from it to join the trans rights protest assembling at Wellington Arch. It was a good few thousand. It was smaller than the PA protest but not that much smaller. It was younger and livelier; and, as far as I could judge from literature sales and conversations, pretty much as left-wing on "average" but in a more positive, less addled, way. There were contingents (small contingents, but contingents) from a clump of National Education Union (NEU) branches (Haringey, Waltham Forest, Newham...

Who will stop Orban?

The European Union is expressing itself more forcefully than usual over the issue of LGBTQ+ rights in Hungary. 16 EU leaders have signed an open letter vowing to fight discrimination. Not content with banning material that supposedly “promotes” homosexuality, Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán now conflates homosexuality with paedophilia. A bill passed by the Hungarian Parliament last week bans gays from being depicted on prime-time TV, educational programmes and much else beside. Hungary’s stance on gay rights clearly contravenes the EU constitution and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte went...

Pushing back for trans rights

Trans Pride in London is on 26 June (2pm from Wellington Arch, Hyde Park Corner). The organisers are emphasising that it is a protest. There is a lot to protest about. Formally the Equality Act legislates against most forms of discrimination that trans people might face. The Gender Recognition Act (GRA) allows birth certificates to be issued in the acquired gender. The NHS provides hormone treatment, and surgery to help with “gender reassignment”. But in reality trans people face a huge level of persecution even today, even on the streets of London. Public humiliation, harassment, and violence...

Tories cut 83% from HIV response

The Tories’ plans to cut foreign aid, from £14bn to £10bn a year, include an 83% cut to the UN agency that fights AIDS and HIV. UK funding to UNAIDS will fall from £15m to £2.5m. UNAIDS’s total core budget this year was £132m. UN agencies are generally restrained when they criticise governments, but UNAIDS pointed out: “It affects the provision of live-saving HIV prevention and treatment services around the world. “It affects the empowerment of young women and adolescent girls and their access to sexual and reproductive health and rights across the world, and Africa in particular. It impacts...

Women's Fightback: Trans woman’s rights breached, rules judge

Requiring a trans woman to show she suffered from a “disorder” is an unnecessary affront to her dignity, the Northern Ireland High Court has ruled. The obligation required in order to secure official recognition of her preferred identity is incompatible with human rights, said the ruling. Judicial review proceedings brought against the Government Equalities Office (GEA) focused on the terms of the Gender Recognition Act 2004. The woman, who has chosen to stay anonymous, began her transition more than 20 years ago, and took legal action in a bid to obtain a new birth certificate. In order to...

Women's Fightback: Russian woman faces jail for feminist sketches

A Russian woman is on trial for “production and dissemination of pornographic materials” for sharing her drawings of the female body online. Activist Yulia Tsvetkova was arrested on 20 November 2019 and put on house arrest two days later after being charged. The charges relate to body-positive pictures including sketches of a woman’s vulva, which she posted on social media as part of her women’s empowerment campaign. When she was arrested, police raided her house and her previous work. She says that the officers verbally abused her, saying she was a “lesbian, sex trainer and propagandist...

Three decades after "It's a Sin"

The excellent It’s A Sin, brilliantly reviewed in Solidarity 580 here, has propelled queer pop star Olly Alexander — Ritchie — into greater fame. The deeply moving 2017 documentary Olly Alexander: Growing Up Gay (directed by Vicki Cooper, available on BBC iPlayer) has got greater coverage. The documentary looks into the experiences — mental health difficulties, and bullying — of young gay people today, growing up three or four decades after the people of It’s A Sin. The contrast between Olly and Richie is perhaps starker even than the unimaginably different contexts. Where Richie was secretive...

Diary of an engineer: Nest of vipers

Work is depressingly slow. The fewer jobs there are, the more lethargic we become. L keeps suggesting: “We’ll do that tomorrow — spread it out. Our problem today was that we started too early, that’s why the morning’s dragging.” A trip to the control room turns into a drink in the control room, then long discussions that become increasingly awful to listen to. I offer to make a round of drinks and A says says to N — “It’s International Women’s Day, you should offer to make drinks.” N doesn’t offer. Instead everyone goes silent and looks at me, as if they expect me to make a speech. I feel...

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